1 Chronicles 9:1-10:14
New Testament: Acts 27:21-44
Summary: The Shipwreck
As we now turn our attention to the New Testament, we’ll be reading from the book of Acts, chapter 27, verses 21 through 44. Paul’s counsel gets rejected. I mean, what did a Jewish tent maker know about sailing a ship anyway? So the advice of the experts and the vote of the majority carried the day when you are impatient and uncomfortable and when the golden opportunity seems to come along, beware a storm may be brewing. And they hear Paul’s encouragement.
Paul was right to say, I told you so. But he followed it with a word of promise from the Lord and a word of encouragement from his believing heart. At a time like that, people need promises, not preaching. And they were following Paul’s example. Paul publicly gave thanks and directed their hearts to God, which encouraged everybody.
The weary passengers needed strength for what lay ahead, and that meant taking time to eat. Paul was practical as well as very perceptive. Although Paul started the voyage as a prisoner and passenger, he ended it as the captain of the ship. The ship was lost, but by the grace of God, Paul’s presence saved all the passengers. Can the Lord depend on you to sail by faith?
When you face the storms? Can others depend on you? And with that, let’s begin our reading today in the New Testament.
Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island.”
When the fourteenth night had come, as we were being driven across the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. So they took a sounding and found twenty fathoms. A little farther on they took a sounding again and found fifteen fathoms. And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the ship’s boat into the sea under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go.
As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.) And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.
Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned if possible to run the ship ashore. So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders. Then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach. But striking a reef, they ran the vessel aground. The bow stuck and remained immovable, and the stern was being broken up by the surf. The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.