Friday, November 26, 2010

Acts 27--The Shipwreck

Rejoining Paul, we find he is about to set sail on his great adventure to Rome.  He is accompanied by at least two men, by my reckoning, Luke himself (the narration has turned again to first person, indicating that Luke was along for the ride) and Aristarchus, who joined Paul back in chapter 20 when Paul was in Macedonia.  Verse 2 here calls Aristarchus "a Macedonian of Thessalonica."  I call him a Macedonian Thessalonian.  It trips nicely off the tougue.  Try it.  I think you'll like it : ) 

They sail laboriously along for a while, apparently having problems.  We read phrases like, "the winds were contrary" (v. 4) and "the wind not suffering us" (v. 7). Then as they are about to set out once again, things start to pick up.  Paul tries to warn them that they're gonna face trouble, but they do not listen.  They set out anyway.  With a bit of mild weather, they did okay for a while, but "not long after there arose a tempestuous wind...and the ship was caught" (v. 14, 15). 

Paul remains silent about this for days, watching and, no doubt, working alongside all his shipmates--"undergirding the ship," securing rigging,* and tossing cargo overboard--to keep the vessel afloat.  Finally, he speaks, telling them, "You should have listened to me, but you didn't, and now we're in a pickle.  But don't worry.  I had word from an angel of God last night.  We're all gonna live, but we'll lose all the cargo and the ship." (ASV--Andrea Strong Version)

About the time the begin to drift toward land, Paul has to stop some crooked sailors from sneaking off with the lifeboat.  Then he tells everyone, "Eat something, you've been through a lot, and you haven't eaten a bite in days." (ASV). 

I love the beauty of the words in the KJV and the promise God makes here, "there shall not an hair fall from the head of anyone of you" (v. 34)   I can't manage to get through a shower and shampoo with out losing a handful of hair, let alone a shipwreck.  Usually that phrasing is used as a figure of speech, but here I think it means exactly what it says.  I am in awe of the God who, in the midst of saving the lives of 276 people from a shipwreck, can still count the hairs on their heads and make certain that they all stay put.

Paul blesses the food and starts to eat.  Apparently the people took his words and his promises to heart because, "Then they were all of good chear, and they also took some meat" (v. 36)  Isn't that why we like to talk to our Christian friends when we have problems?  They remind us of God's promises and tell us that everything is going to be all right.

In verses 42 and 43 the soldiers guarding the prisoners wanted to kill them all.  This is probably because they feared the harsh consequences they would likely face if any prisoners escaped.  But Paul's presence saved the lives of all the other prisoners, "But the centurion, willing to save Paul kept them from their purpose" (v. 43).

Those who could, swam.  The rest floated in on pieces of the ship.  "And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land" (v.44) just as God had promised. Amazing!

*This is a phrase I learned as a child watching The Little Mermaid.  I think it makes me sound smart.  What do you think?

I managed to meet the goal this week. Yes!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Don't wear yourselves out too much with shopping and Christmas decorating.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on meeting your goal even with all you have going on in your life. WOOT!!!