The story of Paul’s voyage in Acts 27 is like that of a movie or suspense novel. The story begins earlier in the book of Acts with Paul sensing the Holy Spirit’s leading to go to Jerusalem. Paul publicly testified about his conversion on the road to Damascus, declaring that Jesus is the Christ prophesied about. Religious leaders were upset, with Paul ultimately being arrested for what he had said. He stood before the Sanhedrin sharing the gospel of Christ before appearing to Caesar, which is where we pick up in Paul’s journey to Rome by ship.
Acts 27 opens by detailing the account of boarding the ship and noting the different places where they would dock on the journey. Paul boarded the ship along with Julius, the centurion who was in charge of the prisoners. In total, there were 276 on board the ship including, Paul, the other prisoners, the ship’s owner, and the captain with his crew. As they continued their journey to Rome, the season considered safe for sailing was coming to an end. In verse 10, Paul warned Julius and the officials of the danger saying, “Men, I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on – shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to our lives as well”. The crew ignored Paul’s warning and continued their journey to reach Phoenix, believing that it would be a safe location to spend the winter season.
The men encountered a severe storm that battered the ship and made any control of the ship impossible. As the storm raged for days, the voyage quickly became a fight for survival. The crew jettisoned the ship’s tackle and cargo, released the lifeboat, and even passed ropes under the ship to try and hold it together. After 14 days of weather so severe that the sun and stars weren’t even visible, all hope had seemed lost.
It's at this moment, Paul reminds them of his warning, but he also offers encouragement and hope. “But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down…Take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said”. You see, an angel of the Lord had appeared to Paul and gave him this message of hope and safety not only for himself, but for everyone on the ship.
The storm continued and tore apart the ship, but Julius instructed everyone to swim, and make their way to land. Just as the angel had prophesied to Paul, all survived the shipwreck, arriving on the island of Malta.
Today my hope is that you never face a literal storm at seas like this one, but I know that as believers we will face figurative storms in life. Paul shares a list of his sufferings as an apostle in 2 Corinthians 11:25 when he says, “Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea”. Paul walked through tremendous difficulty, but in each situation, he understood that God was with him.
What we find in Acts 27 is that storms reveal our faith. When storms hit, what is our response? Who do we listen to? At first, Julius listened to the owner of the ship and the captain instead of listening to Paul’s warning about the coming danger. When the storm hit the ship, the crew and everyone on board were scared. They tried to jump ship and save themselves because they had lost hope. How often do we do this same thing? When we face storms in our life, our first reaction is to doubt our faith. We begin to wonder if God really does care about us, if He really is walking with us through our trials.
What I want you to see is that in the midst of the storm, Paul listened to the voice of God. He could have acted in fear and looked for a way to jump ship like the others, but God spoke to him and gave him assurance of the outcome. So, when storms hit, what about your faith is revealed? Do you trust God even when it doesn’t seem to make sense humanly? Do you act in fear and put your faith in others or yourself? My prayer is that when we face storms, our faith would be revealed to be strong. That no matter what storms we face, we trust God to provide strength, encouragement, and protection.