Summary: Different forms of bondage, You don’t know, Physical, fear, control, How to over come the bondage with anger or love God will use it for good.
Have you ever been in the situation where you felt trapped? Not as much physical as mental. Some of us felt trapped in Jobs, others maybe a marriage, sometimes people feel trapped in a neighborhood because the area changed.
There are people that get trapped by the choices they make, and sometimes we have absolutely no control over what is holding us down.
In our scripture today we have several situations of bondage or people trapped. For some the situations are not so bad, and others it is horrible.
The setting is Philippi, the capitol of Macedonia, It is in today’s Grease.
The colony was setup as a retirement community for Roman solders with full Citizenship and rights. Lots of wealthy people. Lots of retired or disable military. The Jewish population was evidentially very low primarily because of the heavy Roman influence. The proof is that they did not have a synagogue. A synagogue is less of a building and more a count of Jewish men coming together for worship.
Paul and Silas ended up going out to the river to find a place of prayer. When no synagogue existed, the Jews would go out to a stream or river, because they had to ceremonially wash themselves then move to a time of prayer. They met Lydia and other women there worshiping and taught them.
So the Three men (Don’t forget the writer Luke) went back and forth to public places to share the Good news and each Sabbath the went down to the river to pray.
Since there were not many Jews obviously they would be teaching gentiles. This Slave girl is following them around and shouting “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.”
That sounds like free advertising. This girl is described as being a soothsayer, a fortune teller. For her to declare who these men were and that they know how to be saved was a pretty big deal. Like a church having constant radio and TV ads. Except a little better, because the people in town knew the young lady, knew about her gift. If she is telling you something it must be true. It was big business to consult a fortune teller about your life, business and any problems in your life. This was how this girl earned a living, not for her self but for her owners. She was the bread winner for her owners.
This slave girl is in bondage in at least two ways. First is pretty obvious, she is a slave. This was not uncommon in this day especially for young girls. A large percentage of people in cities were servants and slaves which was the bottom of the barrel socially. No rights and limited freedom, definitely not citizens of the empire.
This girl is identified as having a gift of prophesy, or perhaps could read emotions and tell what people were feeling, fears, anger. Her owners were being paid for this girl to tell their future, to have their fortunes read.
Her second form of bondage was that this gift. It was caused by some kind of spirit. It is not described as good or bad. For the girl it might have been a blessing, she could earn a lot of money for her owners, which meant that they would want to take care of her. However, that talent seems to have had a side affect. She seems to have acted a little compulsive, for days she has been following the men and shouting over and over.