Introduction:There is a close analogy between the course of a person's life through the world, from his birth to his grave, and the progress of a ship from port to port. Of Paul's journey to Rome, many lessons from his experiences can be applied to our lives. He had an exciting, adventurous trip and throughout the journey we find Paul, God's dedicated servant, as the outstanding hero. Let's study the story.
The Warning -- Vs. 1-12
Paul had been in prison in Caesarea for two years and had demanded that he be sent to Caesar, for he saw no other way to get a fair trial. God had told him he would get to Rome. (Acts 23:11)
Vs. 1-2 -- Julius was the commander of about 100 soldiers (Augustus band). Certain other prisoners were also sent. We don't know who they were but Aristarchus, who had been with Paul at Ephesus (Acts 19:29), was one and Luke was another. Note the pronoun "we".
Vs. 3 -- At Sidon, they docked and Paul was given liberty to be with his friends there. The centurion didn't send a guard with him. He trusted Paul though he had only known him a few days. He knew Paul was different. A Christian ought to be different.
Vs. 4-5 -- Show the students Paul's trip on a good map. "The winds were contrary" speaks of the fact that in life we often are confronted with troubles and trials. Job 14:1. We will need one to walk with us who can and will see us through these troublous times. That >one' is Jesus. Hebrews 13:5; Revelation 3:20; John 14:16-18; Romans 8:28.
Vs. 6-8 -- "The Fair Havens" -- Isn't it wonderful of our Lord, that although we must have troublous times in life, He will see that we do spend much time at peace, at the place of the "Fair Havens."
Vs. 9-12 -- It was considered by the Jews to be dangerous to sail in the Mediterranean between the five days after the Day of Atonement (which was the Fast or Feast of Tabernacles) and the Day of Pentecost. Paul, as God's man, felt that the ship's captain should be warned of the fact that he felt it was extremely dangerous to sail at this time. They wouldn't listen. They should have. It's a wise course to listen to men who walk with God. If they had listened to Paul they wouldn't have lost their ship and their cargo.
The Winds -- Vs. 13-14
They started out with a fine soft south wind and no doubt the captain, with the others, was chuckling over Paul's warnings. But soon the tempestuous winds arose. On the Voyage of Life, tempestuous winds will arise. Some say, "I am strong, I can weather them." But strength and health can quickly flee. "But I have money." That too, can quickly be lost. "But I have friends, they will help me." You can have friends today and they may be gone tomorrow. It's much better to have Jesus who is the master of contrary wind. CF. Matthew 28:18; Mark 4:35-41. Every true Christian has had this experience. Troubles came, but they looked up to the Lord and felt courage and strength entering their souls. Then, they have gone on, knowing that the One who was with them was greater than all those who were against them.
The Worries -- Vs. 15-20
Vs. 15-17 -- The Euroclydon was a northerly wind. It was like a hurricane (Tempestuous). When they got on the south side of the island of Clauda they had a brief respite. The "boat" that trailed the ship, which was used for unloading, was brought aboard ship lest they lose it.
"Fall into" means "to be cast upon" or "driven upon."
Vs. 18-20 -- They put out to sea and finding it again too terribly tempestuous, they began to throw their expensive cargo of wheat overboard. This didn't help enough so they also threw over the ships' sails. These things were valuable and important, but human life is more important. Mark 8:36.
When the tempestuous wind continued for many days all hope (the hope of 275 men) disappeared. Let's remember, as long as there is life there is hope. As long as there is life, one can be save. John 6:37.
Even Luke had given up. Note: "We should be saved." Luke should have known better. God had promised Paul he would testify in Rome. Acts 23:11. God cannot lie. Titus 1:2. Let us never doubt God's word regardless of circumstances. Our constant motto should be: "God said it, I believe it, that settles it."
The Word -- Vs. 21-26
Vs. 21 -- Hope had died out for 275 of the 276 men aboard the ship. But not for Paul. When the time was ripe, Paul spoke and reminded them of his previous warning. He was not saying, "I told you so"; he referred to his former advice in order to induce them to listen to him now. He wanted them to say, "He was right the other time -- we will listen to him this time."
The time was ripe. In the hour of crisis men are always ready to listen to the man whom they believe has been in touch with God; therefore, we should show the world that we are in touch with God by our living dedicated, separated lives for our Saviour. Then when people are in trouble they will listen to us and we can point them to Christ.
Vs. 22 -- Our God is a God of "Good Cheer." Especially to those who will hearken to Him. There is no need for any man's life to be lost for Christ's message will save any person. John 3:16. But "the ship" (the things of the world) will soon pass away.
Vs. 23 -- Paul belonged to God -- Divine Possession. I Corinthians 6:19,20. Paul served God -- Human Privilege.
Vs. 24-25 -- In the midst of the storm there was a heavenly message. Its source: God. Its content: A message of hope, cheer, comfort and salvation. Its certainty: "I believe God." He did not say, "Our vessel is seaworthy," or "the storm is dying down." No, he based his hope on his faith in the reliability of God's Word. Paul did not say, "I believe in God" or "about God", but, "I believe God." Do you believe God about Salvation being free, certain, eternal through Christ? I John 5:9-13; Revelation 3:20; John 14:6; 6:37. Do you believe God about everyday problems? Romans 8:28.
Note that Paul was not ashamed of his relationship with God. Boldly he asserted, I belong to God (that is the inner life); I serve God (that is the outer life).
The Wishing -- Vs. 27-29
After 14 days the ship was still being driven up and down on the sea. They wondered why it didn't go down. God often tests our faith. He was holding it up.
Then they felt they were near some shore so they cast out anchors from the stern (back) of the ship so that it would not get in any shallower water. Then they wished (longed for) the day.
They cast out four anchors to keep them from drifting upon the rocks. Note: Our soul needs some anchors to keep us from drifting with the tides of life, which can bring heartache and unnecessary trouble upon us. Some anchors we need are: The Bible, prayer, the cross, church relationship, fellowship with other Christians, service to others and for our Lord, the blessed hope of the Lord's return.
The Waiting -- Vs. 30-41
About this time the sailors decided that they had better save themselves. They did not care for the prisoners and the passengers. How shameful it is to be more concerned for self than for others.
Then near daybreak, Paul said, "For fourteen days you've been so worried you haven't eaten. I advise you to eat now. I promise you that not a hair on your head will be hurt. Let's give thanks to God." Then he prayed. After the prayer, they were of good cheer. Note: When people turn to God there is good reason for good cheer. I Peter 5:7.
The Wonder -- Vs. 42-44
In time of common peril, some men become heroes and some beasts. The soldiers forgot all about what Paul had done and planned to kill him and all the prisoners. However, God moved upon the centurion to prevent this murder. He took his stand for God against this ungrateful band of soldiers. It took much courage to do this and faith, for had the prisoners escaped, the soldiers could be executed. Knowing God's will, he trusted God and it came to pass as God had said. They were all soon ashore, dripping wet, but safe and sound.
Conclusion: The great lesson in this chapter is how God works behind the scenes to care for His people and to carry out His own Divine purpose. On the Voyage of Life, if we will put our hand in His, He will lead us and protect us all the way.
"My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow."