Paul’s Shipwreck

Paul's Shipwreck

Paul's Shipwreck

The following concerns what I believe is about to take place
in the earth and is based on a revelation that God gave me some
time ago. As time has passed I am convinced it was God that spoke
to me and I have no reason whatsoever to doubt it. I believe that
this revelation I received is a prophetic overview of the Church
and God’s dealings with mankind at this end of the age.

Acts chapter 27 begins with the previous chapter’s
declaration that Paul must appear before Caesar at Rome. This
story reveals a rather enlightening fact which we all need to
take heed to, simply, that we must realize that no matter what
happens, God is in total control of our lives.

Verse 1 begins "…it was decided that we should
sail"
. Stop and analyze this for a moment. It is saying
the decision was determined or decided by others. Like the
Apostle Paul, the decision making for our journey and destiny
many times seems to be in the hands of others, and not our own.
Decisions are made on our behalf without our consultation and
this chapter demonstrates this. Others decided that Paul and
those on board were going to Italy whether they agreed or not.
They (the authorities) delivered Paul and certain other prisoners
for this purpose, so here we see confirmed the truth just
mentioned.

We must realize however that God never takes His hand off our
lives even when others seem to dictate. God is our ultimate
authority and He never gives that responsibility to anyone. We
need to be secure in that.

The men were placed in the hands of a centurion, a commander
over one hundred soldiers. His name was Julius of the Augustan
Regiment. Augustus was Caesar, and therefore this centurion
obviously had a great deal of respect given him because he
represented a high position of command. Entering into an
Adramyttium ship they launched intending to sail by the coast of
Asia. Aristarchus a godly man was with them.

The word Adramyttium is unusual. It means ‘we shall
abide in death’, and interestingly was about to become a
reality for them all. The journey would become the very essence
of life or death to them. A very real fact is that each
experience we face in life produces either life or death and
which in turn is determined by how much we are persuaded God is
in the vessel with us. If we are convinced God is in control we
will not fear, but if we are not convinced we will be tested to
our limit and maybe found destitute of faith. Paul obviously had
the respect of this soldier because Julius gave him freedom to go
to his friends and be refreshed at Sidon.

Yet in no way did the centurion respect Paul’s wisdom
enough to receive his counsel, for when Paul speaks a warning in
verse 10 about heading to sea no one listens to him. Julius
trusted Paul enough to let him follow but not enough to let him
lead. Many Christians are like this.

Verse 4 shows they should have read the signs but we are the
same now as they were then. We ignore the warnings and press on
even when the winds are contrary against us. If this scripture
tells me anything it is this - that we need to discern; is the
contrary wind a thing God would have us confront or is it
something God is using to persuade us to exercise restraint for a
season. Verses 5 and 6 show they pressed on, the centurion again
wielding his authority and control, in choosing another
Alexandrian ship and putting them all on it for Italy.

Verse 7 shows they were not making much progress after many
days at sea - just like our western churches today. They sought
shelter behind the island of Crete, but this was just the calm
before the storm and they were not reading the signs. History is
repeating itself.

They finally arrived at a place called Fair Havens. Surely
this ought to have been a loud enough message. Obviously not, for
they pressed on. Much time had elapsed so rather than seek
counsel and advice from those who could help, or from God
Himself, we like them, determine we know best and press on. Even
when, as it states in verse 9, sailing is now dangerous. The old
adage - ‘fools rush in where angels fear to tread’
– is seen here.

Why was the season dangerous? Because it was coming into
winter. This verse also records that the fast was now past and
this certainly is prophetic and gives meaning to the whole
chapter.

The fast was for the Day of Atonement. This festival falls in
late September, early October and is the ultimate Jewish High
Festival in their tradition. You can read about it in Exodus 12
and again in Leviticus 23. It was the day we know as Yom Kippur,
which is Hebrew for "The High Day."

This was the day that the High Priest had to enter into the
Holy Place and God’s presence, sprinkling blood on the
mercy seat at the Ark of the Covenant and making the ultimate
atonement for the nation’s sin through the entire year. If
this was not done, then none of the preceding sacrificial
offerings for sin meant anything even though they were offered
daily. This once a year high day validated every other offering
made through the preceding year. This day and its offering was
considered so holy to God that Josephus the historian tells us
the High Priest had a rope tied around his ankle and if he spilt
one drop of blood or disdained God in any way he died instantly
and they would pull him out by the rope from the sanctuary.

This day is considered in Israel the day of national cleansing
and eradication of all past sins, and always fell on the tenth
day of the seventh month of the Jews religious calendar. They
were told they could not work or toil on this day. It was a day
of introspection and soul searching - a day of reconciliation
towards God and man. He who did not do this was cut off from
Israel and God. Every individuals’ sin had to be purged
thus as it was called a day of affliction.

This feast was followed with the feast of Tabernacles when
they would go out and gather in the harvest of olives, figs, and
grapes. A special rain would fall to produce a bumper crop. The
book of Joel tells of this feast being fulfilled in reality just
before the coming of the Lord, when God will send this special
rain, the former and the latter rain together, so the fruit crop
would produce a bountiful harvest and then He will gather it
in.

James 5:7-8 mentions it prophetically also as taking place at
the end of time. This harvest would be gathered in, then the Jews
would gather palm branches and form a little booth or tent that
they could use as a temporary shelter when they came to Jerusalem
for this festival. Every man, woman and child had to attend this
feast, no exceptions, and after they gathered in their fruit
harvest they would feast in the temporary tabernacle or as it is
called in Hebrew – "booth". The book of
Revelation states God is going to come down after He gathers His
fruit from the earth and He will tabernacle (booth) with His
people, just as He did in ancient Israel.

This feast isn’t ritual. It is a symbolic foreshadowing
of a significant prophetic truth awaiting fulfillment. In Acts 27
this feast had taken place already when they journeyed out. There
is coming a day when God is going to clean up His Church and draw
a line in the sand and from that day forward he who steps over it
will find himself outside the fence of Gods protection. Dangerous
times yet truly days of awe, times of incredible soul searching
but also times of incredible fruitfulness.

Paul stood up to admonish them, saying "Sirs I
perceive this voyage will be with hurt and much damage not only
of cargo and the ship but also to our lives."
As
always, the power of influence normally rests with those of
title, not those of maturity. So who took notice of Paul?
Precisely no one! They did not hear his warning. He did not have
any control or say in the matter.

We foolishly today negate the words of the aged and wise and
tend toward youthful exuberance and charisma. So the centurion
took direction from those who had a vested interest - namely the
ships owner and its master in charge. Who is Paul when it’s
all summed up? He just wants to extend his time here to evade
going to Rome and is just trying to save his own skin. We know
best - we have a business to run and schedules to meet.

Verse 12 reveals the fact that the men in charge looked at the
negatives and decided it was not a good port to winter in, and to
try for Phoenix, a harbour of Crete. Phoenix is the word for
‘palm’ and Crete is a word meaning
‘fleshy’ and herein is a lesson to our contemporary
church we should heed. They, like us, were looking for a more
pleasurable haven with beaches and palms that appeal to the
flesh. So the majority decided again and they departed on their
way.

My wife gave me a plaque to hang on my wall one day when I was
having a hard time dealing with committees. The wording said
‘Sometimes a majority simply means all the fools are on the
same side.’ How true! We should realize that sometimes the
voice of the multitude just adds to the confusion.

Verse 13 is characterized by human presumption. Because of
gentle winds, they supposed they had obtained their desires. The
modern church is much the same. It does not hear from God. It is
guided mostly by circumstance. So in Acts they loosed the
moorings, weighed anchor, and sailed for Crete.

Raising the anchor in time of storm is folly indeed, but that
is happening everywhere at present, taking no heed of the signs.
Not long after, a tempest arose which opposed them. It was a
typhoon, in Greek ‘typhonikos’, a particular wind
called Euroclydon, a wind which rages down from the north country
Europe. Isn’t that interesting? Europe is where the storm
will come from in the last days sweeping down from the northeast
of Europe into the Middle East.

They could no longer keep control so they surrendered the ship
and let it be driven. Today, in the same way, the church is
driven by the world and opposing winds. So they tried to get
shelter behind the island of Clauda (meaning lame), just like the
testimony of today’s lukewarm church.

It states they pulled up the life raft with great difficulty
and then dropped down helps. These are ropes and chains for
frapping the hull. This process entails lowering ropes over the
bow into the oncoming tide and as the waves drive the ropes or
chains down the length of the hull they would then, in stages,
secure the chains and ropes by immediately pulling them upward
onto the hull and twisting them with a turnbuckle so that it
tightened up, pulling the planks of the hull tightly together
from outside the hull.

The Greek word here depicts the art of under-girding or
lashing the hull to give it additional strength and carries the
same meaning exactly as the word ‘paraklete’
(comforter), the name for the Holy Spirit; He who comes alongside
our vessel in time of storm and lashes us to Himself enabling us
to ride out the storm.

We are entering a time of religious confusion whereby opposite
opinions prevail and we are like this story - not sure whether to
proceed or hold fast, but driven by fear because of quicksand
(unstable ground). By not exercising faith we conclude we must
hoist sail and let ourselves be driven. This is the catch cry of
our western Christianity - driven people. Purpose driven not
peacefully led as in Psalm 23.

Verse 18 says "the next day, being oppressed or held
down by the force of the tempest, they decided to lighten the
ship."
They literally ejected the cargo. The carrying
of cargo is what justifies the ships existence and earns its keep
but when you are fighting for your life, making money is of
little concern. Likewise only when we realize the baggage we have
accumulated through the history of the church is totally
peripheral and unnecessary for the journey will we willingly
jettison it overboard. It is a hindrance in time of storm and
will destroy the hull from smashing around on the inside.

The day after that they threw overboard the tackling of the
ship, this is the eating utensils, furniture and anything
superfluous and kept in store for a future need such as extra
ropes, chains, sails, masts etc. When urgency demands only the
absolute minimum equipment is kept. Jesus warned to not get
weighed down with the cares and riches of this world. Paul said a
good soldier does not entangle himself with the affairs of this
world but we think we know better. In coming days, this
disobedience may cost us our salvation.

Verse 19 adds we are to cast it overboard with our own hands.
God will not do what He asks you to do. No amount of prayer
compensates for disobedience and God demands obedience in the Day
of Atonement. Do your spring clean now while there is yet time,
jettison your excess baggage and comforts, for if a man judge
himself he will have no need that another judge him.

The story continues, verse 19, "When neither sun nor
stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all
hope that we should be saved was taken away".
Let me
ask who takes our hope? The Devil. Hope of getting out alive is
now abandoned. It then states after a long abstinence from food,
Paul stands forth. The best way to mans heart they say is through
his stomach and this proves it. In their hunger and desperation
God pierces their heart. He uses the natural appetite to draw
attention to the spiritual one. Notice it states Paul stands
forth, not stands up. In other words, he now takes the lead or
holds the high ground. He wisely reinforces his former words
reminding them of his counsel – "Sirs you should
have hearkened unto me and not have loosed from Crete and to have
gained this harm and loss."

Do you see what has just taken place? A spiritual transfer of
authority! Suddenly, because of the storm, the very ones who
seemingly had the control are now unable to maintain it, and the
real holders of spiritual control take the high ground and lead.
"I exhort you," Paul declares. "Be of
good cheer, don’t give up. There shall be no loss of life
among you, only of the ship."
Real value is not assets
but people. Every material thing you gave your life to will sink
but your lives will be spared. What are you giving your efforts
to – wood, hay and stubble, or gold, silver and precious
stones?

Paul continues. "An angel of God stood by me, whose I
am and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not fear Paul. You will
appear before Caesar.’"
He is now in charge and
everyone in the boat including the Centurion, the owner and the
shipwright are all listening intently. It takes a storm for the
real authorities to emerge, and they now acknowledge their lives
are in his hands. Paul again continues. "God has given
me everyone in the boat so take courage for I believe it will be
exactly as God has said."
This is where the church
should be but sadly we are far from that place. Wisdom is
considered archaic, character is considered a hindrance and
maturity is considered an enemy. What fools we have become. We
think we know more than God and we defile His Word with our
pompous idiocy.

Paul’s composure demonstrates apostolic authority. The
Greek word for Government (kubernesis) used in conjunction with
church oversight in 1 Corinthians 12:28 is the same word
translated ‘master’ in Acts 27:11 - it means
‘to steer.’ Thus the man in charge of the helm. Hence
the helmsmen steering the church. In Isaiah 9:6 it tells us the
government will be upon His shoulders. Christ is the head of His
body and the two shoulders are the governmental offices of
Apostle and Prophet. Ephesians 2:20 describes this. So here you
see in this prophetic story a time when the true apostolic and
prophetic voices will be seen taking the helm of the church. The
Apostle is the pilot and the Prophet is the navigator.

In verse 26 Paul predicts they will be cast up on an island.
On the fourteenth night whilst being driven up and down in the
Adriatic sea at midnight (specific time also prophetic, when the
call of the bridegroom comes) they sense they are near land.
Natural rational minds never give up, the seamen deemed (this
word means to ‘surmise’ or ‘conjecture’),
they were approaching land.

Driven by fear and refusing to accept Gods’ Word as
facts showed it was getting shallower, the seamen decided to
throw four anchors over the stern. These anchors are sea anchors,
large canvasses tied at the four corners with four ropes each.
They are thrown over the stern. The sail-like sheet catches the
running tide opening and pulling the stern around so the bow
points into the oncoming swell and tide protecting it from
capsizing.

These seamen had an ulterior motive, pretending to have the
interest of the ship at heart. What they were actually doing was
letting the life raft down to escape on their own. How devious
human nature is. We save our own skin when in crisis. Paul was up
to their deceit, just as it will be in coming days. God will
expose the hearts and individualistic agendas that are not for
His body.

Paul calls the centurion, exposing the plot and tells him,
"Except these abide in the ship you cannot be
saved."
This is Gods’ way of making the body face
its biblical responsibility. No short cuts. No place for
dishonour. We all must take our stand and if we will not maintain
it jointly and faithfully we all are at risk. We will certainly
learn the truth in that day that every man is his brother’s
keeper and there is no place for betrayal. The centurion cut the
ropes of the life raft letting it fall into the sea. We are in
this together like it or not.

Paul was aware of the timing. As daylight began to approach on
the fourteenth day, having eaten nothing, he charged them all to
take some food and thus get some strength for the final
confrontation as they could not continue without it. We need wise
counsel from strong spiritual fathers in the faith. He also
encourages them by saying, "Remember God’s
promise? Not one hair will fall from the head of any of
you."
Paul leads by example, takes bread, gives thanks
and breaks it giving it to them, they then become of good
cheer.

Two hundred and seventy six people were on board. This is no
small ship. When they had eaten their fill they finally cast over
board the very food they had in store. Paul knew this was their
last meal on board and by his counsel directs them contrary to
logic. When daylight broke they saw the estuary of a river so
they thrust the bow of the ship toward the river mouth. They
pulled up the sea anchors, loosened the rudder bands hoisting the
mainsail, allowing the wind to drive the ships bow toward the
shore.

Here two opposing currents met. That is significant also as
two currents speak of converging forces good and evil and that is
what this final conflict will be all about. The vessel is
destroyed but the lives are all saved. The soldiers wanted to
kill the prisoners for fear of them escaping but Paul’s
authority and the centurion’s respect for him prevents the
soldiers from harming any of them. God knows who is in control.
The problem is the Church will not trust Him. If only the saints
today would take the time to hear what the Spirit is saying to
the Churches instead of rushing madly on to destruction, ignoring
the very distinct signs of the times.