God’s Hand of Destiny in the Storm

Acts 27: 27-41

The sea to the ancient was a dreadful and terrible and ominous thing. The seafarers had no compass so when the sky was blotted out by heavy storms, the sailors had no idea where they were or whither they were being blown. Not only that, but they had no engine, they could not face into the wind. All they had were sails and oars and in a tempestuous hurricane they were helpless before it. You see that imagery of the terror of the sea all through the Holy Scriptures. In the story of Jonah, he is thrown overboard to appease a raging sea. In the story that you read out of the life of our Lord, even on the little tiny Sea of Galilee, a raging wind and storm threatened to capsize their little boat and so the disciples cry to the Lord Jesus: “Lord, carest thou not that we perish?” [Mark 4:38] In 2 Corinthian 11, Paul speaks the fact that three times he was shipwrecked and a day and a night he was in the open sea. In the Book of Jude, Jude refers to the raging waves of the sea. In the thirteenth chapter of the Revelation, the first verse says, “I saw a beast rising out of the sea.” That’s the final Antichrist. But in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation, John says, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old first heaven and the old first earth were passed away and there was no more sea.” [Revelation 21:1]

Paul the prisoner became the leader of the 276 crew. Everyone was scared and panicking but Paul was in control of all his facilities. He moved in when the other men could do nothing in the crisis situation. The ship continues to be driven by the hurricane. The struggle to stay afloat has been so intense that nobody has eaten for two weeks. They haven’t the faintest idea where they are, they don’t even know what direction they’re going, and here they are in the midst of this situation without any hope of being saved. But the apostle Paul moves in and tells them, “God says you’re all going to survive.” This proved to be true.

Paul the Encourager Encourages Them

Why was Paul was calm cool and collected while the sailors were in a panic, full of fear. His simple faith and firm conviction was anchored in God, the Rock of Ages. He believed God would fulfil His promise. The pagan sailors must have cried and prayed to Castor and Pollux, the twin guardian gods of the ships, as the Romans believed. But though they had prayed to their gods day after day there was no response. Like the prophets of Baal on Carmel, their gods could not hear because there is no God but Jehovah. Paul stood forth in the midst of this group of 275 men and exhorted, comforted and cheered them. He reminded them of his former warning that they should not have loosed from Crete. They all felt that they were lost. Then full of faith he said:

The Angel Encourages Paul

Vs 22 -23, 25 “And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve . . . Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me”. That got their attention, here in the awful conditions someone was hopeful, others may have thought he had lost his mind and sneered at him. He continued by saying, that there stood by him an angel of God, telling him not to fear for he must be brought before Caesar, and that God had given him, in answer to his prayer, the promise that all who were on the ship would be brought to shore alive.

Your Heavenly Father Cares When You Are in the Storm

Vs 25 “Be of good cheer, for I believe God”. Facing the future with God—for I believe God.

God was providentially in control. His invisible hand was moving everything. The 276 crew and soldiers, the captain, the owner, were saying, “All hope that we should be saved was taken away.” But God had his man in the midst of it all, he had confidence in his God who remained quiet and calm before the Lord. After prayer and fasting he speaks up for the Lord, “there stood by me this night, the angel of God, whose I am, whom I serve, saying, Fear not” Fear not, “God hath given you” not only your life but “all them that sail with thee” (Acts 27:23-24).  He had confidence and assurance, hope and peace in the Lord.

I would say to you who read this be of good cheer. We have a God who is  in control of all circumstances, all of life’s difficulties He knows the future trust Him. Even when taken to the point of disaster He can be trusted. When you are at deaths door, remember Jesus went through death and rose again so that you may also live beyond the grave.  He will not let you go before your time so long as you keep in fellowship with Him. Anything that happens to you in life must first be sifted through his fingers for Him to permit it.  The night there was an attempt on Pauls life the Lord stood by him Acts 23:11, “Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou has testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou also bear witness also in Rome”.

When the Storm Hits

You find yourself sailing through life and all seems to be well, the sun is shining and soft breezes blow. The journey will be pleasant and easy.  Happiness and joy is your portion, life is wonderful.  Then suddenly a storm can blow up and disturb everything. All is in disarray.

Elijah had a storm in his life when Jezebel went out her troops to kill him. Abraham had a number of storms, his son had to be offered, he had great domestic problems and his family life became a shambles. Isaiah had a storm in his life when he was put into a hallowed out tree trunk and was sawn in two. The storm can hit you at any moment.  Every one of us will have a tempest in our lives. We will see the gales and the waves pounding down on us.  Believer’s are to look for the Island of safety appointed by God.

Two Weeks of Hellish Circumstances

verse 27 “When the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and own in Adria, the central Mediterranean.” There they were lost in the middle of the Mediterranean in the Sea Adria. The boat was out of control and about midnight the sailors sensed that they drew near to land. They could hear the surf pounding upon the shore.  The fierce storm continued to rage.  This terrible typhoon lasted 2 weeks, there was no sun, no moon, no light, no hope, no cheer, no stars—nothing but tempest and shipwreck. God often comes in the night time, when things are dark, at their worst. This is when he sent an angel to Paul who told him to fear not God had a plan for him, a future for him and that “Thou must stand before Caesar.” And also that all on board would escape the storm with their lives.  This gave Paul courage and he then turned to encourage the people, “I believe God. Be of good cheer, break the fast. Let us eat, let us ask for strength.” And when he had thus spoken, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all, and when they saw it they were all of good cheer, and broke bread in hope and faith with the apostle.

Have you been through tempest? Have you been through gloom of night, storm and stress, disaster and shipwreck? Did the sun, moon and stars disappear? When you were going through it did some prophesy awful things about you. This church has had numerous attacks, people have prophesied its doom, told others it would close within a week. It would not have the finances to pay the bills. There were Job’s comforters, without hope, and without faith, and without loyalty, and without love.  But God has brought us through those storms to a safe haven.

God can take the tragedies and make them work together for our good (Rom. 8:28).  When we face a storm, a time of darkness, a time of testing of our faith, the tragedy can be made to work for us. Remember there is no darkness with God, He is light. He knows all and has answers for every situation, every problem. He can bring you though the “valley of the shadows.” No storm, no tragedies, no sorrows take Him by surprise or overwhelm Him. He can send help and encouragement. “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer, for I believe God that it will be even as He said unto me.” And finally, our deliverance is in a tribulation.

Vs 28 “They sounded and they found they were twenty fathoms (120 feet).” Then they went a little further and about a half an hour later. “They then sounded again and found it fifteen fathoms.” They are getting into shallow water. The sailors heard the sound of the waves crashing into the rocks. They were terrified.

Vs. 29 “Then fearing lest we should fall upon rocks they cast four anchors out of the stern and wished for the day.” They began to panic and cast 4 anchors on the stern, which meant they would be facing the shore. When daybreak came and they could see the shore they would cut the four anchors and the waves would drive them to the beach.

Do you hear or see the rocks ahead? Are you frightened? Remember God has a plan though all the circumstance “When thou passeth through the water I will be with thee.” Do you feel your about to crash and He does not know about it? How wrong we are, He sent the storm to prove us to test our faith, to build us up, to strengthen us. The people on the boat thought all was lost, they would hit the rocks and die. If only they had the power to guide the ship to safety they would be happy. But there was only one who could give beauty for ashes, only one who could overrule the devastation, that was the living God.  He overruled their plans and turned his 14 day journey with its unexpended disruption into His plans. They ended up in the small island Malta many hundreds of miles from Italy.

The Ship Wreck

Vs 29 -30 “And as the sailors were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the life boat or the dingy into the sea under pretence as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship.” One could see the panic, feel the fear and the crew had a plans to flee the ship in the dark night. They pretended to put the lifeboat into the water but once they got it in the water they were going to get in it and flee, and let the rest die. .

Vs 31 “Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, ‘Except these abide in the ship, you can’t be saved.'” Paul caught them and warned the centurion. If they get away you’re in trouble. God wants everybody in this ship or nobody’s going to make it. The centurion believed Paul and accepted what God had told him.

Vs 32 “Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat and let her fall off.” They stopped the sailors from jumping ship. They just went over there and cut the lifeboat loose before the crew could get in it.

Vs 35 “And when he had thus 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.” He was looking after the spiritual and the physical. So Paul really sets the example for them.

Paul Cheered Them All Up

Vs 36, “Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some food and were all in the ship 276 souls.” Everybody had their breakfast. The courage of Paul became infectious. Paul put courage into their souls. He knew God would get them out of the situation.

Vs 38, “And when they had eaten enough they lightened the ship and cast out the wheat into the sea.” They threw the rest of the cargo in to the sea. The salt and water had made it worthless. The idea was the ship would be higher on the water and that would give them a better chance when it beached.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel – Joy comes in the Morning

verse 39, “And when it was day, they recognized not the land, but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into which they were minded, if it were possible to thrust in the ship.” They saw the shore but they didn’t know where they were. They didn’t know that it was Mileta or Malta.  They were heading for a beach.

Vs. 40, “And casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea while at the same time they were loosening the ropes of the rudders, and hoisting the foresail to the wind, they were heading for the beach.” It probably means a shoal or a reef.

Ves. 1 “Falling into a place where two seas met they ran the ship aground and the bow stuck fast and remained unmovable, but the stern was broken with the violence of the waves.” It probably means a shoal or a reef.   The bow is stuck in reef or sand bar a great distance from the shore and the terrific waves just smashing the stern of the ship into pieces.

Vs. 42. “The soldier’s plan was to kill the prisoners that none of them would swim away and escape.” The soldiers were afraid of not only losing their own lives but of losing their prisoners, because when a Roman soldier lost his prisoner he had to take his prisoner’s sentence, remember that? So he didn’t want to lose his prisoner so the soldiers panicked. So they were going to slaughter Paul and all the rest of the prisoners on the ship so they wouldn’t get away. But the centurion moves in and saves Paul’s life and all the rest of the prisoners could thank Paul too for having their lives saved.

Vs. 43, “but the centurion, wanting to bring Paul safely through, kept them from their intention, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to  land.”  God’s providence was at work in using the centurion. Without him there would have been no chance. He stopped the soldiers from killing the prisoners. He called to everybody to abandon ship.  They went overboard in a frenzy grabbing any piece of the broken wreckage they could find. The 276 people diving into hurricane water, struggling to grabbing any floating debris and trying to make it to shore.

Verse 44 “and the rest should follow, some on planks others on various things from the ship. And thus it happened that all were brought safely to the land.” They all survived to stand on the shoe in the middle of the hurricane. They were all amazed that Paul had got it right. They all saw that the God Paul worships, is the one true God. His word is true. He said this would happen. And it has happened. Paul, had a relationship with him.  God’s word is always fulfilled. Jesus said in Matthew and Mark, both places, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” God’s word is reliable and God established that in this marvellous incident.

God Controls the Forces of Nature and what comes into Your Life

God controls all the forces of nature. It seemed it was out of control. Sometimes our lives and circumstances seem like that also. It seems as though the troubles, the hindrances will sink us and that will be the end of us. But God was and is in control He would bring Paul to Rome as He promised but in His way not Pauls. We often have our own way “There is a way that seems right unto man but the ends therof are death”. It is better to let God have control. God took Paul by a way that he knew not. He had assured him before he started that he should reach Rome, and He assured him again in the midst of the sea that he would stand before Caesar.

The typhoon which drove the ship so many days through the sea was under the perfect control of God. When people in Rome would hear about this they would show Paul great respect and know he was a servant of the Lord. It would give Paul great courage when he would speak up to clear himself of the charge that was laid against him. The Lord had sols he wanted to reach with the gospel in Rome and God brought him through his ordeal in the sea, in the courts and got him his own hired house at Rome, to witness and to teach.

God was in control. He had a destiny for Paul. God is in control of your life He has a destiny for you.  Don’t give up, don’t cave in, He will bring you through.  “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).  You may not be able to see Gods power but His invisible hand is guiding you through life. God knew what was about to take place and was able to preserve their lives. If He done that for those who were pagans will He not do much more for us?

“He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven” (Psalm 107:29, 30).