Day 36 - Acts 27:14-44 - 40 Days in the Book of Acts

Acts 27:14-44

14 But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. 15 And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship's boat. 17 After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along. 18 Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. 19 And on the third day they threw the ship's tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

Well it wasn't long before bad news blew their way.  A violent wind, like a hurricane, blew against them.  No matter what the sailors did, they couldn't steer the boat in the right direction.  Eventually they had to let it go and go with it.  

Even when they ran south of an island called Cauda, it didn't help.  They brought the life boat aboard and tied ropes around the ship to keep it from falling apart.  I think that you get the picture here of how bad things are getting.  

Now that they are headed in the wrong direction, took action to try to change their course.  They do not want to land in the quicksand of Syrtis, so they let the wind blow them in another direction, any direction will be better than that - or will it.  

It seems that we can learn a lot from this.  When we don't follow the will of God in our lives, we tend to be blown off course.  Then instead of staying put, we try to run somewhere else for a while.  But when that doesn't work out, we end up being blowing in the direction of certain doom.  So then we will take action to keep that from happening?  Have you ever seen someone live their life this way? 

The next day the storm is still blowing and they are in big trouble.  They start throwing everything overboard.  Wheat, furniture, tackle, everything.  Some suppose that by verse 20 that they have been at sea for 11 days.  Whatever it is, hope for survival is dim. 

21 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. 22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 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.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.” 27 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. 28 So they took a sounding and found twenty fathoms. A little farther on they took a sounding again and found fifteen fathoms. 29 And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come. 30 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, 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship's boat and let it go. 33 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. 34 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.” 35 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. 36 Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.) 

These 276 people hadn't eaten in quite a while.  Probably seasick.  Or probably sick from watching people getting seasick.  Then Paul declares that if anyone would have listened to him, they would be in this mess (he isn't saying I told you so, but I bet they will listen to him now) but that an angel had come to tell him that he was going to stand before Caesar, that the ship would be destroyed, but that everyone was going to live.  

Now, 2 weeks into this storm, (Yikes!) the sailors felt that they were getting closer to land.  They would throw out a weighted rope, that would sink to the bottom.  Then they would measure the rope. At first they were 120 feet deep, then 90 feet.  They threw out 4 anchors and prayed ( a better word here would be wished ) for day to come.  

The sailors are now thinking that they had better save themselves.  So under the pretense that they are casting another anchor at the back of the ship, they are letting down the life boat.  Paul tells the centurion that if they leave the ship, they will die.  As it turns out, they need these sailors to help them run the ship aground in the right place.  The centurion gives the order and the life boat is released.  

Paul then encourages everyone to get something to eat.  You're about to go for a swim.  He takes some bread, gives thanks, breaks it up and beings to eat.  Everyone else follows suit. 

38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.  39 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. 40 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. 41 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. 42 The soldiers' plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. 43 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, 44 and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.

Dinner was served to the people and the cargo was served to the sea.  Lighten the boat as much as possible so they can get as close to land as possible.  The sailors shut the anchors, turn the rudder loose, and raised the sail.  Pointed it in the direction of a beach and struck a reef on the way there.  The ship begins to break up and everyone begins to abandon ship.  

Now the soldiers are thinking for themselves.  If they let these prisoners escape, it will be their heads, literally.  So they seek permission to kill the prisoners.  But the centurion didn't want to kill Paul, so he doesn't give the order.  Instead he tells everyone, swim if you can.  Find something to float on.  But get to shore.  In the end everyone makes it, but as Paul has promised, the ship was a total loss.  

English Standard Version (ESV)

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