Summary: An open door is not always open. We have choices to make in life as to which doors of opportunity we will pass through.
Let’s Make a Deal
Another of those "What is this world coming to" weeks. For example..........
I wonder if Paul or Silas ever asked that question? Perhaps. That familiar story of the conversion
of the Philippian jailer begins with Paul and Silas curing the madness of a young woman of the
city whose insanity had been used by some scam artists for their own personal gain. This slave
girl in Philippi was possessed by a snake spirit--a python spirit, as we read in the Greek. There
was the belief in those days that insanity was a strangely special gift from the gods, a tool which
they used to convey their messages to mere mortals; it was based on the idea that since the
insane girl had no mind of her own, the gods could put their own divine thoughts out on earth
through her or others like her. Thus, she was thought to have a gift for soothsaying or
fortune-telling, a most marketable commodity then and now. This girl would go into a trance
and then the demon would speak through her, predicting the future. This was extremely
profitable to her owners because in those days the Greeks and Romans did nothing important
without first hearing from an oracle. A commander going on a military campaign, an emperor
who was about to make an important decree, or an ordinary citizen making an important
decision would always consult an oracle to find out what the future held. So, this slave girl was
very valuable to her owners. We read, “and brought her owners a great deal of money by
Paul and Silas were “going to the place of prayer” when they were set upon by this girl. And she
shouted, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be
saved.” What she was saying was true, but she kept this up for many days, causing a distraction
to the message Paul and Silas were trying to get across to the people. Pagan religions then
commonly referred to a Most High God, who was just one of many gods. This is a common
tactic of Satan, trying to confuse the issue and suggest that you can worship more than one god.
While, at first, this girl was an annoyance, her repeated rantings became a major hindrance.
Truth from the wrong source or delivered inappropriately can cause more damage than good.
Paul, like Jesus, didn’t want any publicity from demons and therefore cast the python spirit out
of this slave girl.
This clairvoyant slave girl was in double bondage. She was a slave of her masters as well as a
slave of the python spirit. She was a tool of the business corporation and a tool of Satan.
Obviously, since she was insane, she was not marketing herself or profiting from it. So when she
was healed, those SANE people who had taken advantage of her were suddenly out of business.
They did not like it, trumped up some charges against Paul and Silas, had them beaten and
thrown into jail. "What is this world coming to?" they might have asked.
Needless to say, they weren’t happy about being thrown in jail, but they made the best of the
bad situation, even to the extent of spending half the night singing hymns and praising God,
despite the fact that they were locked up in the deepest part of the dungeon, in stocks, chained in
an upright sitting position with a chain around the neck as well - so if you nodded off to sleep,
you would begin to choke.
Picture for a moment how many doors we walk through everyday. The bedroom, the bathroom,
the front door, the back door, the car, the garage, and bus doors. There are the school doors, the
office doors, the church doors as well as the elevator, revolving, and automatic doors. Our lives
seem filled with going in and out of doors. Some doors are open and left that way, some are kept
closed, some locked, and some unlocked.
So while behind locked, closed doors, Paul and Silas choose to commune and to suffer with the
other prisoners. About midnight they were praying and singing hymns. Calling on the presence
of God is the way they knew to keep their spirits up. Because what else did they have to expect.
Their Master was scourged and crucified; and they might expect the same treatment. There was
no whining about their situation or complaining about their pain. No, they were singing and
Then suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were
shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. Now
you’d think that the initial reaction would be one of getting out of there as soon as