During his last visit to Jerusalem, Roman soldiers save Paul from an angry mob by arresting him (Acts 21:33). Because of an inability to receive a fair trial in Jerusalem, Paul as a Roman citizen appeals to Caesar (Acts 25:11). After being handed over with other prisoners to a centurion, Paul boards a ship bound for Rome. Though leaving Judea late in the season of fair weather, the ship makes it safely to Crete.
Paul advises the centurion to postpone the rest of the voyage to the following spring. Understandably enough, the centurion follows the opinion of the ship owner and presses on (27:9-11).
Soon a hurricane has the ship at its mercy (v. 14). Even after the crew throws all the cargo overboard to help keep the ship afloat, they despair of surviving the storm. Paul fails to resist the temptation to tell them, “I told you so” (v. 24).
So far this little tale could be ours. We all have had people misunderstand us, treat us unfairly, and ignore our advice. Perhaps we have even had the chance to say, “I told you so.”
But now God enters the story of Paul. An angel appears to Paul in the night (v. 23). He brings a message straight from God: God will have Paul witness to Caesar in Rome and will bring every person with Paul safely through the storm.
These words spoken by the angel to Paul echo words spoken by God to Abraham some 2,000 years earlier. God’s first words to Abraham were that he would bless Abraham and would bless the peoples of the earth through Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 12:1-4).
We may rest assured that these ways of God continue with us. God has and will bless us and bless others through us. One interesting implication: for us to be able to respond creatively to challenging circumstances, everyone need not adopt our point of view. We need only continue to hear and affirm the word which God chooses to speak to us every day. If we do, then God will continue to bless us through that word and everyone else with us.
After fourteen days of ceaseless storm, the ship runs aground close to a beach on the island of Malta. In a panic, the soldiers wanted to kill all prisoners to keep any from escaping. For Paul’s sake, the centurion vetoes their plan (v. 43). All make it safely ashore.
God’s word proves true. That word saves Paul and all his fellow passengers from the destructive caprice of a storm. That word also saves Paul and all his fellow prisoners from the destructive caprice of some soldiers. We too may remain joyfully confident that God’s words of blessing to us today will also prove true despite all threats to the contrary.
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