A Storm, a Shipwreck and a Snake.
Acts 27:1 “And when it was determined that we should sail unto Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band.”
Several years earlier, Paul had gone to Jerusalem to reconcile his people with the gospel; but instead, had been arrested for causing a riot.
After a plot to murder him was discovered, he was taken to the governor, Felix. (Acts 22-24)
There, he preached to Felix, “who hoped that money would be given him of Paul, that he might loose him”.
Paul was kept for two years there.
When Felix was relieved of duty and Porcius Festus came as governor, Paul showed his case again, several times.
Finally, appealing unto Caesar.
Festus, and king Agrippa both agreed that there was nothing Paul had done, that required his being judged.
So now, Paul is going to Caesar.
He is given into the charge of a centurion named Julius; where he is loaded onto a ship to sail to Italy.
All the way along they are moving slowly, “because the winds were contrary.”
Acts 27:7-8 “And when we had sailed slowly many day, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us,….
And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called the Fair Havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.”
The time for good sailing was past, so Paul warns the centurion not to listen to the ship’s captain (he wants the pay from Rome for transporting the prisoners, and goods).
Paul warns him to stay put in this port; for there was going to be loss if they continued.
Acts 27:10 “And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.”
But the port was not a very good place to winter, so the centurion chose to believe the captain, and they began a very dangerous part of their journey.
Acts 27:14-15 “But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.
And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.”
The Lord had told Paul that He would “bear witness also at Rome”(Acts 23:11); but the weather, and sea are blasting against them!
Everything seems as though what God said would not happen!
(Isn’t it the same with us….we have been given promises, and claimed them.
But circumstances are not going as we think they should….Should we continue to believe God? Even when the “storm” comes?)
The sailors do what they know, and “struck sail”. Even so they were driven.
Acts 27:18-20. “And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;
And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.
And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.”
With such a storm, who could survive? (How many times doubt and despair knock us down, trying to convince us to give up on God’s Word.)
So for days they fast: no one can eat…the storm sends them up and down and here and there, without their control….they just do the best to stay a float…and hope that the storm stops.
Then Paul steps forward….reminding them that he warned them of this very thing….and then speaking again, God’s Word that was told him, to encourage.
Acts 27:22-25 “And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for their shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.
For their stood by me this night the angel of God, Whose I am, and Whom I serve,
Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.”
Here is faith. Paul prays and gets an answer from the Lord, about himself and those who were with him.
He tells them what the Lord said….great news!
But he also testifies that he is a servant of God,…and that he believes God!
This is a powerful testimony, especially in the situation they were in….for it was several more nights before what the Lord told him, was brought before their eyes.
Acts 27:27,29 “But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country;
Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon the rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.”
Everything seems to be working out! Hurrah!
But the sailors are thinking of self-preservation…..
Acts 27:30 “And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under color as though they would have cast anchors out of the fore ship,”
We get one problem solved, and a lot of times, another appears.
Selfish men were going to take the life boat and escape. Leaving the others to see to themselves.
But no, God saw to them….all of them.
Acts 27:31 “Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.”
So they cut away the boat, believing Paul.
Then Paul encourages them to eat, for “there shall not a hair fall from the head of any of you.”
Then he prays (Again testifying of the Lord)
Acts 27:35-36 “And when he (Paul) had spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it, he began to eat.
Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat.”
Soon as it was light, they saw a creek with a shore, which they might point the ship into and get out of the sea, and storm.
So they loosed the rudder, and put up the mainsail; and went toward the shore in this creek.
The front of the ship ran aground on the sand, but the back swayed violently and broke off.
The soldiers, seeing the ship break apart, wanted to kill all the prisoners.
Even though Paul had told them that all would be saved, still some are looking out for themselves, still. (Had the prisoners been missing, the soldiers would have been punished…even unto death, for it)
Was God going to fulfill His Word and get Paul to Rome? Of course….He had the centurion save Paul….
Acts 27:43-44 “But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land:
And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.”
“All safe”. Just as the Lord said…it happened.
That was the end of the troubles, right? Paul was taken on his way to Rome…end of story?
As Paul testified before, that he was a servant of God, “Whose I am, and Who I serve”…..that is everywhere he was, at any time.
It should be the same with us….what ever the circumstances we are placed in; we are the Lord’s, and His servants, we will do what He wants, here.
The people who were on the island welcomed them, and started a fire. Paul (and probably the other prisoners) went out to gather sticks….
Acts 28:3-5 “And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.
And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.”
Now why did this happen? Surely Paul had been through enough. (That is the way I would look at it.)
It happened to open doors of service for Paul, there on that island, while they were there (three months Acts 28:11).
This was a poisonous snake, recognized by the locals….and they were looking waiting for Paul to fall over, dead.
But when that did not happen, they thought he was a god….
When this was told around, the chief of the island, lodged them.
The Lord repaid their kindness, by Paul praying for the chief’s father who was sick of a fever; who was healed.
After that, many who had diseases were also healed by the Lord through Paul’s prayers.
What a witness of Christ Jesus…and all because of a snake.
Paul has believed the Lord, and by faith come through a storm, shipwreck and the bite of a venomous snake; all, on the way to Rome, where God promised He would take him. “…so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”
Yes, Paul, as we know got to Rome. He was kept two years in his own house, receiving all who would come to him and hear:
Acts 28:31 “Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.”
He was tried…released…and arrested again…and kept in a dungeon (it was cold, for he asks for his cloak. 2 Timothy 4:13)
All the while, preaching and testifying of Christ…his greatest love, even among Caesar’s household. (Philippians 4:22)
Till at last he died: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.”
It wasn’t in the storm, shipwreck, or snake bite…for God promised He would take him to Rome; but now it was time.
2 Timothy 4:7-8 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day:…….”
We would say, “Of course Paul deserves a crown!” But notice what he promises next:
(2 Timothy 4:8) “….and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.”
Yes, we too are promised a crown, if we love Christ’s appearing!
Our “way” to where we are going next, and next, and next with Christ Jesus is full of many “storms”, or “wrecks”, or “poisonous things”.
If we are going because He is guiding us….then, He will get us there….and give us opportunity to share our faith and testimony of Him along the way.
Do we love Christ Jesus? Then we must follow Him wherever He leads.