Acts 27: 1-32
In Acts 27 we find the story of one of the most famous detailed and vivid shipwrecks in ancient history. It is a tale of high adventure on the seas, full of action. It would make a wonderful movie. It is an account of the apostle Paul on his way to Rome. It is one of the most detailed and vivid shipwrecks in ancient history. The Holy Spirit used Dr. Luke to give us the smallest details. It records the state of the weather, the condition of the ship, how those people conducted themselves in a time of crisis and stress.
The spiritual lesson are priceless, it teaches us about the providence of God. We see that He is in control of all things. God is the God of the seas, of the whole earth. Jesus Christ could calm the wind and the waves, and God can stir them up for His own ends. He can do what he wants with water, with nature. He does what pleases him, what fits into his plan.
God ordains the people we meet in our everyday lives. There are no accidents with Him, no chance happenings, (Ruth and Boaz). In the providence of God Paul being a Roman citizen had appealed to Caesar, he was put in custody of a kindly Roman centurion named Julius and placed on a ship destined for Italy. He was allowed to take Dr Luke and Aristarchus, a devoted Christian brother from Thessalonica with him. This is true brotherly love since they would also be captive on the ship. They went because they wanted to encourage Paul. God had told him he would preach in Rome that probably made him more certain that he would survive this ordeal. Paul is the kind of man you want with you in a crisis. He remains calm in the situation. Paul was shipwrecked three times and a night and a day he was in the deep. (2 Cor. 11:25). So shipwreck was something he was used to.
Although Paul was a prisoner he was well treated as the next day when they arrived at Sidon he was allowed to disembark and visit friends there. From this point on the journey becomes rough. After leaving Sidon they had to sail around Cyprus, rather than go straight forward to Italy in the west. Finally landing in Asia Minor, the centurion transferred Paul and the other prisoners into a large Egyptian grain ship. Most Egyptian grain ships were about 140 feet long, thirty six feet wide and thirty three feet deep. It had no rudder but was steered by two great paddles at the stern. It had only one mask on which there was a square sail.
Departing Myra the reached nearby Cnidus with great difficulty. They were forced to sail south under the shelter of Crete were they reached a small southern port of Fair Havens. What a long detour. Sometimes we cannot understand why God does not take us straight to our desired destination but He has his reasons. We must look for them at the end of our journey.
Vs 9-10 Paul the experienced traveller warned the centurion they should all stay at Fair Havens because it was the Passover (mid-October) and everyone knew it was dangerous to make a voyage that time of year.
Verse 13, “When the south wind blew softly,” that looked good but all is not as good as it looks. The captain decided to set sail for the much larger port of Phoenix, about forty miles away.
Vs 14 Since setting sail all the forces of nature broke loose upon them. A great gale called “Euraquilo or Euroclydon.” which was a terror to the seamen blew strong, driving them to destruction. Now they were in a battle in the grips of a deadly “northeaster” that was driving them west along the length of the Mediterranean. It would come down from Asia, just blowing down and it was a severe wind. It was so fierce and it was one of the greatest feared winds of all winds. It was a wind of hurricane or typhoon proportions. They were in a hurricane. The sea began to swell then swirl and they were in the midst of this hurricane.
The 276 crewmen and passengers became more frightened as they fought to control the ship. They had two options: if the hurricane didn’t dump them into the sea and capsize the ship, then the hurricane would drive them into the graveyard of ships known as the Greater Certies.
verse 15 “When the ship was caught, and couldn’t bear up into the wind, we let her drive.” It didn’t capsize her but it began to drive her to the sea. One moment the hull was reaching upward to the heavens the next it was plummeting down into the depths
verse 16, “And running under the lee of a certain island, which is called Cauda, we had much work to secure the boat.” They began to secure the boat. They proceeded to pass great ropes round the hull and winch them tight in an effort to tie the ship together as she was breaking up. The jettisoned the cargo and cut away the tangled gear. They ran back under this island as a protection against this fierce wind.
Vs 17 They began to secure the boat after they brought the small lifeboat on board. “When they had hoisted it,” hoisted the lifeboat in.
“fearing lest they should fall into the quicksand.” The Greek word is certies. They were afraid of winding up on the Certies it probably means the reef or the sandbar where they would be smashed to pieces.
“They struck sail,” they dropped the mainsail.
Verse 18- 19, “And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship.” They jettisoned the cargo. They were throwing other stuff too. “on the third day “ out of Fair Havens they jettisoned their cargo and their baggage and tackle overboard.
They were in a Hopeless Situation
verse 20 “Now neither sun nor stars appeared for many, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we should be saved was finally given up.” Totally lost hope. This is where God wanted them. No one could help but Him, no one could rescue but him, no one has any hope outside of Him. They were in a hopeless situation. But God was going to deliver. He had just the man for the emergency – Paul. It also a picture of salvation, when there is no hope He can save.
Verse 21, “Being long abstinence from food.” They either were sea sick and couldn’t eat or they may have been too busy to eat. It was over 14 days they’d gone without eating. 14 days they had fought that storm without any food. Some of Gods people go through long periods of storm and are tested in their faith. “then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men you should have listened to me and have sailed Crete, and incurred this disaster and loss.” He was not arrogant sand saying I told you. He wanted them to know he was no fool and he knew what he was talking about. He had credibility.
Vs 22 “And now I urge you to take heart (exhort you, be of good cheer.) there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.” These men are hanging on for their lives, huge waves were assaulting the ship, smashing over the ship, it is rolling back and forth, you can’t see anything and Paul says this. “Be of good cheer, for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, only the ship.” He was anchored in a way the rest knew nothing about. He has great courage.
He Witnesses For God
Vs 23 -25“For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong , and whom I serve, saying, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought to Caesar, and indeed God has granted you all who sail with you”. Paul you’re going to make it to Caesar and everybody with you is going to make it. God gave him confidence because a) the Word of God declared it, our first port of call is always His Word b) the presence of God was with him, it a wonderful assurance knowing He will never leave or forsake you, c) the messenger of God assured him. God sends angels to minister to believers (Heb.1:14). We need our eyes open just like Elisha’s servant o see the unseen. Moses endured as seeing Him who is invisible. Every believer soul hold on to these truths.
Paul Demonstrates His Faith in God
Vs 25 “Therefore take heart (be of good cheer) for I believe God, that will be just as He told me” . He knew who he belonged to. On the deck of a sinking ship, in the midst of the raging storm he introduces God into the situation. God had brought them there in order that they may hear about Him. These people are looking for a God, to help them. Their false deities cannot help and so the come face to face with the true God. When we are anchored in God’s presence we display great courage in the storms of life.
Vs 26 “However, we must be cast upon a certain island.” God is always directing His people to a certain place in order that He will be glorified. Even through storms and difficulties in life.
Courage in Life’s Storms
When a hurricane comes into ones life without warning, when a storm hits it is so important to find courageous people. We can encourage others. We need to encourage God’s people. In times of the storm, in the dark days it is wonderful to have someone stand by you and encourage you or when you can encourage them. The Lord Jesus Christ draws alongside and whispers “I will never leave you or forsake you”. The holy angels are sent to minister to us. Our eyes are opened and we see the angels of the Lord encamped around us. He is with you in the storm. He is our shepherd, God is our Father, we belong to Him. Paul is saying I belong to Him and He looks after me.
Nothing Can Harm You Unless God permit its it
Paul knew nothing could harm him unless God permitted it. God permitted Jonah to be cast into the sea but the end result was to glorify God. Peter began to sink when trying to walk on the water but the end glorified God.
Trust God With Your Life and Circumstances
Vs 24-25 God knew what he was doing. This was God getting the hard pagans sailors attention. He was going to save every one of them. They cried to their pagan god s but they did not answer You may be the means of saving people. Jonah was used of God to turn a pagan city to God in revival. God permits storm and shipwrecks. He controls the winds and the waves. Whatever He allows to come our way he gives sufficient grace to endure and remain faithful. Storms and shipwrecks can be for our benefit.
Gods Destination Was Malta
Vs 27-44 “Now when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near land.”
Vs 29 “…they prayed for day to come.” Some of the sailors wanted to get of the ship another way. Some people try to get into heaven by another door instead of doing what God says.
Vs 33-34 Paul urged them all to take food. He was practical and cared for their health.
Vs 35 He then broke bread in the presence of them all and gave thanks to God. He was no ashamed of his God.
Vs 41-4 After eating they ran the ship aground. They wanted to kill the prisoners but Julius wanted to save Paul stopped them. They all got on dry land. God saved them all for His glory. He has a multitude of ways of reaching people. Ask God why is the storm in your life. Why are things going wrong. Aboard ship they were in danger of dying but God turned it around He had other plans. I wonder how many trust Christ? I wonder did Paul leave many new believers in Malta? Do your remember to witness to the Lords salvation? When the storm strikes do you trust the word of God? When the storm comes are you aware He will be with you as you go through the waters? Are you like Paul, do you remember whose you are and whom you belong to. Will you be His servant in times of trouble and help others and encourage them? Are you in a storm Paul said “ …I have faith in God” Have faith in God , don’t waver. He knows what he is doing.