5/27 Acts 16:16-17

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."

This is a fascinating insight into fortune-telling and the spirit realm. We can see that this girl had what many would call "a gift." Paul called it "a spirit." The spirit was telling the truth. I suppose there are preachers today who would love to have someone following them around declaring that they are proclaiming the truth. However, after a few days, she had become so annoying to Paul that he cast the spirit out of her. The Holy Spirit was the only spirit they needed to help them proclaim the gospel.

The men who used this girl to make money realized their business was ruined, so they stirred up people against Paul. It is likely these men didn't believe the girl's gift was consistently true, or they would have listened to what she said about Paul and his team. The crowd brought Paul and Silas before the magistrates and had them beaten with canes and imprisoned.

Remember, this painful outcome occurred after Paul had the vision to go to Macedonia. They were seeking God's direction and being obedient, yet they were suffering physically as a result. Submission to God does not exclude us from trouble and pain in this world. Nothing spares us from the results of living in a fallen world. Submission to God does guarantee us that God is with us to see us through and assures us that troubles will ultimately serve God's purposes. In this case, it led to a household, and probably a number of prisoners, coming to salvation.

Consider: Fortune-telling is forbidden in Scripture because it involves another spirit and is not always true (Leviticus 19:31). Even if it appears to be helpful, it is dangerous and will be detrimental in the long run.