Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Strange doings in Makedonia (Acts 16)

This chapter begins Paul in his old home territory again, traveling around present-day Turkey. He is meeting with continuous frustration. Encountering stop signs every way he turns. It is at this point, in Troas, near Homer's Troy, that Paul gets "the Macedonian call."
Act 16:9 O gece Pavlus bir görüm gördü. Önünde Makedonyalı bir adam durmuş, ona yalvarıyordu: "Makedonya'ya geçip bize yardım et" diyordu.
Let's look at a few words:
  • O gece Pavlus bir görüm gördü. -- That / night / Paul / a / vision / saw.
  • Önünde Makedonyalı bir adam durmuş, ona yalvarıyordu: -- In front of him / Macedonian-appearing / a / man / stands / to him / he implored:
  • "Makedonya'ya geçip bize yardım et" diyordu. -- To Macedonia / come / to us / assistance / be / he said.
Note, please that this supernatural leading was a last resort, not a first. Paul had already been energetically exploring his options. Trying one thing after another. A beloved pastor once spoke of "guidance by bloody noses." Run into one closed door after another, until the right door finally turns out to be open. Sitting around "praying for guidance" is a recipe for frustration, most of the time. God guides those who are already doing everything they know they should be doing.

Today, to make up for lost time, we'll add a second sermonette. We will look at a curious thing that happened after the apostles got to the principal city of their destination. Once again, we encounter supernatural channels of information in action:
Act 16:16 Bir gün biz dua yerine giderken, karşımıza, falcılık ruhuna tutulmuş köle bir kız çıktı. Bu kız, gelecekten haber vererek efendilerine bir hayli kazanç sağlıyordu.
Act 16:17 Pavlus'u ve bizleri izleyerek, "Bu adamlar yüce Tanrı'nın kullarıdır, size kurtuluş yolunu bildiriyorlar!" diye bağırıp durdu.
Act 16:18 Ve günlerce sürdürdü bunu. Sonunda, bundan çok rahatsız olan Pavlus arkasına dönerek ruha, "İsa Mesih'in adıyla, bu kızın içinden çıkmanı buyuruyorum" dedi. Ruh hemen kızın içinden çıktı.
Let's look at the message of the fortune-teller:
  • Bu adamlar yüce Tanrı'nın kullarıdır, size kurtuluş yolunu bildiriyorlar! -- These / men / the high / God's / servants are, / to you / of salvation / the road / they are making known!
There's a cynical old saying, all publicity is good publicity. Apparently, Paul disagreed. Something about this girl's testimony disturbed him. Perhaps, these true words were being uttered in a mocking way that contradicted their denotative meaning. Or, maybe she was kibbitzing in a way that was disturbing, distracting. From time to time, if you go to informal prayer meetings, you may encounter someone who is under the spell of a demonic spirit. That person's words might sound kosher, but something about the way they are said is disturbing, incongruous, inappropriate, and distracting.

is more than a computer language. The Greek text informs us that this young woman had a "spirit of python," a spirit of divination. In America, Edgar Cayce, "the sleeping prophet," would go into a trance and generate verifiably factual information concerning things he had no way of knowing. Once he had his audience hooked, he began proclaiming reincarnation and other eastern mystical notions.

I guess the bottom line is, friends, dial back on your lust for the supernatural. God will make His ways known, almost always through routine means. From time to time, He will also provide an extraordinary moment of clarity and direction. But evaluate what you hear, how it is said, and the purpose for which is it said.

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