Summary: Luke shares with us the story of the salvation of the Pythoness - 1. Luke shares the story of her divination (enslavement) 2. Her Declaration concerning Paul and His mission and 3. Her Deliverance and salvation
Scripture: Acts 16:16-34 (cf. verses 16 - 18)
Theme: Paul and the Pythoness
Proposition: Luke shares with us the story of the young Pythoness - 1. Luke shares the story of her divination (enslavement) 2. Her Declaration concerning Paul and His mission and 3. Her Deliverance and salvation
Lessons to learn:
1. The importance and power of prayer. 2. Nothing or no one can hinder or stop the ongoing message of the Gospel of Jesus. 3. The power of intercession and intervention.
Grace and peace from God our Father and from His Son Jesus Christ who came to take away the sin of the world. Praise to the LORD for the leading and anointing of His Holy Spirit.
This morning, do you know what John Edwards, Terry and Linda Jamison, Theresa Caputo and Lisa Williams all have in common? They are listed among the top five psychics in our world today. In the midst of all our modern technology and emphasis on science and reason, the world of soothsaying, fortune telling and psychic readings is very much alive and well. In fact, according to a recent survey 1 out every 7 people in the United States have paid for someone to tell them their fortune.1 That means that over 45 million people in our country have paid someone to tell them their future.
Acclaimed psychic, John Edwards has been able to convinced so many people of his skills that he longer has to make a living as a ballroom dancer. He is now one of the most well known and well paid psychics in the world. People have handed over millions of dollars for his predictions or for him to communicate with a loved one on the other side. Edwards has authored over eight books and has appeared in numerous TV shows, movies and talk shows.
Born in Hicksville, New York, Ms. Teresa Cuputo has done even better. She is known as the "Long Island Medium" and for the last eight years has had her own reality show on The Learning Channel. She is estimated to be worth around 5 - 10 million dollars through the sale of her books, her TV appearances, seminars and private readings. Her psychic concerts are sold out and just recently Wal-mart has picked up her newest best seller. The day of soothsaying, mediums and psychics is back in full force.
In Acts, 16 Luke shares with us a story that involves a young soothsayer or fortune teller. It is the story of Paul and a young girl called a Pythoness ( py•tho•ness - a female who is possessed by a soothsaying spirit from the god Apollo) . After Lydia's conversion, we know that Paul and his missionary team spent some time living in her home. The Apostle used her home as his first missionary base headquarters. Each day he and his team would go throughout the city of Philippi to share the message of Jesus. Each evening they would come back to Lydia house and debrief and retire for the night.
In our passage, Luke shares that one Sabbath as they were all going to the place to pray they encountered this rather unusual slave girl. She had not come to the river to pray but being led by an evil spirit she came to create confusion and chaos. Her demon host was determine to confuse the message of Jesus Christ. This demon was determined to stop Paul's missionary team before it ever got started. Luke shares with us her story here in verses 16 - 18. Like those top five psychics we mentioned earlier, this young slave girl was also making quite a bit of money. In fact, she was the meal ticket for her owners. She provided them a living. Let's look at her story in more detail this morning and see what the Holy Spirit wants us to glean from it.
I. The first thing we see is a young girl possessed with a spirit of Divination (fortune telling)
Fortune telling and predicting the future back in Paul's day was an even bigger business that it is today. For centuries the Greeks believed that the god Apollo (son of Zeus) had granted certain women the supernatural ability to tell the future2. The greatest of these women was the Oracle or Phythia who resided at his temple in Delphi. It was believed that the Oracle could channel the spirit of Apollo. Her word was said to be infallible. Each month on the seventh day (except during the winter months) she would go into the temple and come out to share her supernatural insights and prophecies.3
Historians tell us that Philip of Macedonia and his son, Alexander the Great spent a great deal of time consulting the Oracle before they would go into battle. They wanted to make sure that they would be victorious. They wanted to make sure that they had the Oracle's blessings. Leaders as far away as Egypt ( 1,000 miles or more) would come and bow at her feet seeking her wisdom and knowledge. For nearly a thousand years (560 B.C. to A.D. 371), the Oracle of Delphi would serve as the most prestigious and revered fortune teller in the world. Her answers guided the civilized world for the timing of wars, the establishment of new settlements, and wisdom to appease the gods.