The Mustard Seed
by Pastor Ron Friedrich
"My question is about Acts 16:16-19.
Can the devil really predict the future? I thought only God knows the future."
You are absolutely right. Satan and his demons are powerful, but they are not all-powerful, as God is. Satan and his demons know a lot, but they don't know everything, as God does. And, the Bible says, Satan does not know the future, as God does (see Isaiah 41:22-29; 43:9; 46:9-10).
Acts 16 tells the story about "a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a lot of money for her owners by fortune-telling." When Jesus freed this woman from the demon, her human masters were upset because "their hope of making money was gone." So, our reader's question here is, could that demon really predict the future?
While Satan and his demons may not be able to "see" future events, they can make predictions and then manipulate situations in order to make their predictions come true. They can do this in three ways.
First, people who seek guidance from the occult (horoscopes, astrology, fortune tellers, spiritism, etc.) have already surrendered their minds to Satan's deception. The Enemy will show them what they want to see. It will not matter that what they see is false; they already want to believe it, so they will.
Second, just as God the Holy Spirit leads His people to do His will on earth, the Enemy is also leading his followers to do what he wants. The sad thing is, most of the devil's disciples don't realize who is guiding them. It is not a hard trick for the devil to put his people in just the right place at the right time to deceive another victim.
Third, the Bible says that at certain times, God permits Satan to have supernatural power to control the forces of nature. We see this in Job chapters 1 and 2, where God gave Satan limited power to influence the weather and to make Job sick. It is hard for us to understand this. But the Bible is clear that God occasionally gives Satan this license in order to work some greater purpose that not even Satan himself knows. We see this in Job's life, and we see it most clearly in the story of Christ's suffering and crucifixion on our behalf.