We departed Athens for the three hour journey north west through central Greece to Delphi, home of the famed oracle. After two days of heat, predicted rain was a pleasant relief. Passing by the Plain of Marathon where, in 490 BC, the Greeks first defeated the Persians, we saw 5000 year old Thebes, home of Oedipus, before ascending into the beautiful hills and valleys of the third most mountainous country in Europe. Josiah commented that it reminds him of Tolkein's Kingdom of Dale. In the New Testament it is in Philippi where we see an oracle in action. There Paul and Silas 'were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future.' Literally, the girl was 'filled with the spirit of python'.
In Greek mythology there was a place called Pytho at the foot of Mount Parnassus where a python was said to guard the oracles of Delphi. At Delphi temple priestesses prophesied the future. According to mythology, Apollo came down and slew the python and all of the serpent's oracle power was transferred to Apollo. People believed that Apollo now spoke through the oracles at Delphi.
This girl was thought to be a pythoness with the gift of clairvoyance. She would go into frenzy to reveal the future and she made her owners a fortune. Omniscience truly belongs to God who sets his face 'against the person who turns to mediums and spirits.' (Lev 20:6) Little has changed through the centuries. Billions of people, including those in the intellectual West who have inherited the boastful omni-competenct Enlightenment mind, remain thoroughly superstitions. And millions of women and girls are still forced by men into economic evil. The slave girl represents all those of her gender who are exploited and abused. She'followed Paul…shouting, 'These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.'The python spirit proclaimed the truth. Paul and his party were God's servants and were proclaiming the way of salvation. Just as C.S Lewis' describes in his novel, 'The Last Battle', how the Narnian dwarfs are deceived by the Calormene king Rishda Tarkaan into following the evil Tash by believing the mantra, 'Tash is Aslan, Aslan is Tash', in Philippi the danger was that people would think there was no difference between Python and Paul. That deception is alive and well in the world. There are many 'Python is Paul' mantras. Have you heard them? 'All paths lead to God!' 'Right and wrong are relative!' 'Hetereosexual and homosexual marriage have equal meaning!' Do you believe them? Are you with python or with Paul? In Delphi the clouds rolled in as we approached the ancient site. Our guide Stelios prefers this weather for, he says, 'it makes the atmosphere feel magical.' Paul wasn't conned by the clairvoyant. He would not allow magic to be mixed with the message of the Gospel. Instead, he exorcised the spirit in Jesus' name. With ironic humor the writer of Acts, Doctor Luke,suggests that as the python spirit went out of the girl the profits went out of her owners' pockets. In Philippi the oracle was silenced by the powerful Word (logos). One of Israel's advantages over the nations was that they had been entrusted with the oracles (logia) of God (Romans 3:2) The timeless, reliable record of God's name, nature and acts is found only in the Hebrew Christian Scriptures. Its promises and prayers are the sure foundation of our faith. One traveller, Trevor, wrily suggested that he might have the wrong Bible since he could not find mention of Delphi in it. He need have no concern. Peter confirms that we have the 'prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to light shining in a dark place…' (2 Peter 1:19-21) As the rain arrived, loud thunder boomed from black leaden skies, symbolic of Delphi's dark oracles, and lightning flashed biblically bright all around. The Word of God inspired by God's Spirit is Light! Which oracle has our ear? The Father of love or the father of lies?