Summary: The God-ordained trip for Paul consists of a very difficult voyage. We see his faith in God despite the ordeal. God is sovereign, present and in control in our trials and tribulations.
How often do your plans start well but then somehow moved into chaos? You make all the arrangements but then disaster strikes.
• Where do you turn to in times of crisis? When you have done all that you possibly can, what’s next? Are we going to give up or still stick with God?
• Welcome to Acts 27-28. You have the answers here.
We are going to continue the voyage with Paul and the rest of the 276 men on board.
• Luke recorded this exceptional trip as an eye-witness because he was with Paul, together with another of Paul’s companion Aristarchus.
• They were thrown into a massive storm. We ended the dreadful situation midway last week, right in the middle of the sea, with a word from the Lord.
• The next part of the journey was equally, if not more, life-threatening and scary.
Luke did a wonderful work in writing this narrative, giving us a very detailed and graphic description of what took place.
• We were not just informed of what happened, we could almost feel the tension and anxiety of the people on board.
• Luke did not summarise the trip in one or two paragraphs; he gave us two chapters on it.
• And we believe, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it serves a purpose.
We see here the faith of Paul, the man of God, in real life.
• We have seen him in many roles, but here we have a portrayal of a Christian living out his faith in very real and practical circumstances of life.
• Over surprisingly very difficult situations which God has allowed, and that’s what Luke wants us to see and understand.
Let us recap the first half of the journey before we continue with our passage today, which is Acts 27:27-44.
• They set sail in a coastal ship from Caesarea to Sidon and then Myra, where they were transferred onto a larger cargo ship heading for Italy.
• The trip from Myra was difficult because of the strong wind. Luke stressed it, they arrived with difficulty off Cnidus (v.7) and coasted with difficulty (v.8) to Fair Havens.
• Precious time was lost because the wind has been against them. It was now monsoon season and Paul advised them not to sail on.
• He was speaking from experience, having travelled frequently in his mission trips and also survived three shipwrecks before, he mentioned in 2 Cor 11:25.
But the centurion listened to the pilot and owner of the ship instead and decided to move on, hoping to reach Phoenix just further down the coast. They failed.
• A hurricane struck and they were driven out to sea.
• Luke said it was again “with difficulty” they managed to hoist the ship’s boat up and secured it (v.16).
• They lost all control and were helplessly “driven along” by the wind (vv.15,17). That was the first day.
• On the second day (v.18), they had to throw the cargo overboard, and on the third, the ship’s tackle (v.19) [the pulley].
Then came many days under the dark sky without the sun or stars (v.20), meaning they could tell their course.
• Luke summed it all up: “…all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.” (v.20)
• Hopelessness set in after days of darkness, seasickness and hunger, and when even the experts say there is nothing more they can do.
When all hope was lost, the word of hope came to Paul.
• 27:23-24 “For this very night [when Paul and the people needed it most] there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’”
• The first promise was a repeat; the second new. Everyone will be saved.
Let’s read today’s passage - Acts 27:27-29 Drifting in Open Sea
27When the fourteenth night had come, as we were being driven across the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. 28So they took a sounding and found twenty fathoms [each 2m]. A little farther on they took a sounding again and found fifteen fathoms. 29And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come.
• After drifting in the open sea for two weeks, they heard the sound of the breaking of waves and guessed they were nearing some land.
• They checked and confirmed that they were moving towards shallow waters and decided to stay put until daylight comes.
Meanwhile, knowing that they were near some land…
Acts 27:30-32 Nearing Land