We got back a couple days ago from our tour of Northern Greece, during which we visited Delphi, Meteora, Vergina, Berea, Philippi, Kavala (ancient Neapolis), and Thessaloniki. It was a great trip with lots of stuff to see and write about. Hopefully I can stay up with it and fill everyone in before we head to Egypt next Tuesday.
This was our first stop, which you may recognize from the movie 300. Delphi is the home of the legendary oracle who would be consulted by leaders and businessmen alike. She was a high priestess of Apollo who would go into a subterranean chamber below the Temple of Apollo where there was a crack in the ground along a faultline from which a strange mixture of gases would be released. She would breathe in these gases and go into some sort of trance during which she would mutter incoherently. The priests would then “interpret” these “prophesies” and bring them to the one inquiring. The catch was that the priests would frame the prophesies to have a double meaning so that they would be right no matter what the actual outcome of the event in question was.
I was very impressed with the actual ruins at Delphi. The city was never a significant location as far as government or military power goes. It was a sort of neutral ground for various Greek city-states. The city itself is located on the side of sheer mountainside. The landscape is gorgeous, and Delphi would have been a very picturesque location in ancient times. Much of the city is well preserved and much is undergoing reconstruction. Surprisingly enough, Delphi is home to the best-preserved stadium in all of ancient Greece.
Whenever we were told about the kind of prophecies the famous oracle would give, I couldn’t help but think of all the prophecies in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. The prophecies from the priestess and priests were vague, often self-fulfilling prophecies. But the Old Testament prophets told all about the coming Messiah – where he would be born, where he would grow up, how he would be born, how he would die, and the list goes on. God’s promises are never vague or misleading. He has told us exactly what we needed to know, and his word never fails us.