Acts 16:16 tells a story about a woman who was tormented by an evil spirit - a python spirit, or spirit of divination. Many people came to her city, a centre of Arts, wanting to know their future, and she made a lot of money for her owners by fortune-telling. What is the source of this power? How does it gain access to our lives? What does the Bible say about our destiny? How can we be set free?
Let’s open the Bible up to Acts 16. We’ll read from verse 16.
”Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” 18 And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.”
So, the Bible tells us very clearly that Jesus came to set people free. This is a story about a woman tormented by an evil spirit. It was in a particular place in Greece where they worshipped the god Apollo. It was the centre of the creative arts and in that place, there was the practice of divination. Another word for divination means fortune-telling. It means consulting spirits to try and find your future. So, there was a special temple there in this place.
There was what they called the oracle of Delphi. There was a woman who used to prophesy using demonic spiritual power. People would come to her and they would pay money in order to be able to get their fortunes told. This was a very famous city. People came from all around to try and find out what their future held. When there were major decisions to be made in business or in arts or in drama, they would come there. They would pay money in order to discover words about their future.
This is very common today. We want to know what the future holds. We want to know whether our life will be blessed. We want to know about tomorrow. We want to know about things in the future. This hunger for the future, hunger to know what’s ahead is found in all cultures. The Bible tells us our life is in God’s hands.
In Ephesians 2:10 it says: “God has planned works for us to accomplish with our life”. You are not an accident. You were born into this world by God’s design. There may have been difficulties in your family. You may have been born unexpectedly. Maybe you weren’t what your parents expected. The Bible says, God had a destiny, a plan, something for you to do with your life. Long before you were ever thought of, God was thinking of you.
There are many examples in the Bible where God reveals He knew about people before they even turned up in the earth. For example, Jeremiah 1:5 – God says to Jeremiah, “While you were in the womb, I formed you and ordained you to be a prophet to nations.” So while he was still in the womb, barely conceived, God saw a prophet. God had a destiny for him, and called him into that destiny.
In the Old Testament there’s another king by the name of Josiah. Would you realise this, that over 600 years before he was born, a prophet prophesied one day there’ll be a king called Josiah who will be a restorer of the nation and he’ll overcome all of these idols and alters. So, 600 years before he was born, God knew he was coming, knew his name, knew where he’d be born, and had a plan for him.
You go back into Genesis; God prophesied to Adam and Eve that there would be a saviour coming into the world called Jesus Christ. That’s 4000 years before He came. The Bible has many prophesies that were fulfilled in Jesus. In other words, God looks ahead and sees your life. He has a plan for your life and no matter what happens in your life, if you have faith in your heart to Him, He is able to use even the negatives for good in your life.