Summary: Spiritual vipers often appear out of the fires of life.
SHAKE OFF THAT OLE SNAKE INTO THE FIRE
I. Background: The religious Jews (Pharisees & Sadducees) want to kill Paul.
Paul goes to the Temple in Jerusalem and is recognized by the Pharisees. They start to beat Paul but he is rescued by Roman soldiers. Paul gives a defense before the Sanhedrin. Then the- Sadducees get mad and want to kill Paul. Paul appeals to the Roman soldiers saying he is a Roman citizen. The Jews plot to kill Paul but he is taken to Caesarea by the Romans. The Lord has told Paul that he would go to Rome and witness there as he had in Jerusalem.
A. Paul is a prisoner in the port of Caesarea Maritina. At that time Caesarea was the most important Roman city in that part of the world.
B. Felix is the ruling governor.
C. Felix keeps Paul as a prisoner for two years. During that time Paul witnesses to Felix.
D. Felix is replaced by a man named “Festus”. (He later became famous on Gunsmoke.)
E. Jews come from Jerusalem and plot to have Paul killed.
F. Festus doesn’t know what to do with Paul.
G. Festus is visited by King Aggripa, Great-Grandson of Herod.
H. Festus is hoping King Aggripa can help him decide what to do with Paul.
I. Paul witnesses to King Aggripa and he almost becomes a Christian.
J. Paul asks to be taken to Rome and tried there.
K. Aggripa decides Paul is innocent but Paul insists to be taken to Rome so he can appeal to
Caesar, the Emperor of Rome. They send him on his way.
II. Paul is on a ship bound for Rome.
A. After several days at sea and changing ships the weather turns bad.
B. Paul warns the crew to stay Fair Havens, a bay on the island of Crete.
C. Paul is ignored and the ship goes on.
D. A storm (Euroclydon) hits hard. It’s a typhoon.
E. Paul tells the crew not to worry.
F. God has spoken to Paul thru an angel and said not to be afraid.
G. Angel assures Paul that he will go before Caesar in Rome.
H. Angel also says not one person will die.
I. The ship is grounded and the waves begin to break it up.
J. Everyone makes it to the island of Melita safely.
III. That brings us up to the scriptures in Acts 28:1-6. (READ VERSES 1-3)
1 And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. 2 And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. 3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. 5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. 6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
A. It’s winter. Everyone who swam ashore is wet and cold.
B. The people who lived on the island welcomed them and built a fire.
C. Paul pitches right in and starts gathering firewood.
1. He’s been through a lot.
2. The storm has last lasted 2 weeks.
3. Everybody except Paul had lost all hope of coming thru alive.
4. At one point the crew wanted to abandon ship, leaving Paul and others without help to guide the ship.
5. Roman soldiers wanted to kill prisoners, including Paul so they wouldn’t escape.
D. What next? A viper crawls out of the firewood and sinks its teeth in Paul’s hand.
1. What does Paul do? - He shakes it off into the fire.
Natives said nobody has ever survived after a bite like that.
If that had happened to some of us: "Help! Emergency here! Put on a tourniquet – put on another one. Get the captain! Somebody boil some water and lots of it. Lay down, get your feet up!! Is there a doctor on the island? What, only a Witchdoctor?"
Here’s the word for today: Shake that old snake off into the fire!
IV. Point number one: Let’s talk about “vipers”. Vipers often appear out of the fires of life. Not physical vipers but spiritual.
A. It’s when troubles come that our faith is tested.