16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.
19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.”
Did you notice how this played out? Paul and his crew met Lydia and are basically staying at her house. She is some kind of hub of the Jewish exiles in Philippi that go to the river to do their ceremonial cleansing and prayers.
The slave girl is a fortune-teller that makes her owners a lot of money by channelling a demon that tells people things that only a spirit would know.
Now the 21st century American pop-culture me thinks that Paul would have some kind of battle-fight with this demon as soon as he met it. He would cast that demon out and the whole city would be moved to follow Jesus, right?
“She kept doing this for many days.” Paul didn’t solve this problem the first time he saw it. And if you add to that the fact that they may have only gone to the river to pray every Sabbath…this is only a weekly interaction.
The other bit to remember is that Satan is the father of lies. He always wants to twist the truth. In this case, this demon was saying things that were true in order to cause trouble for them. In a pantheistic culture, it’s not fashionable to say that your god is better or “Most High” over all of the rest.
So Paul basically showed that what she was saying was true. Jesus is the Most High and no other evil stands a chance against Him. No drama here. Your fortune teller is out of business.
Which is another problem. While it was a religious/belief problem, nobody cared. No persecution came. But when it turned economic, her owners got mad and got involved.
All too often I find myself like those guys. There are spiritual problems needing spiritual solutions all around me, but it’s not until the money takes a hit that I get involved.
Let’s not be like the Philippian fortune-teller salesmen. Let’s be like Paul. Let’s get “greatly annoyed” at the spiritual state of things around us and address them before it’s a money problem.
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