Acts 27: 27 – 44: The prophetic in the public arena.

“27 On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic[a] Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. 28 They took soundings and found that the water was forty metres deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was thirty metres deep. 29 Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. 30 In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. 31 Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, ‘Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.’ 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away.  33 Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. ‘For the last fourteen days,’ he said, ‘you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food – you haven’t eaten anything. 34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.’ 35 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. 36 They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 Altogether there were 276 of us on board. 38 When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea.  39 When daylight came, they did not recognise the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. 40 Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. 41 But the ship struck a sand-bar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf.  42 The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.”NIV

F.B. Meyer notes that in this chapter Paul emerges as ‘the commander of the entire company.’ Devotional Commentary p.501. In this section we find that the soldiers and the other passengers owed their lives to Paul’s discernment in seeing what ‘’the sailors’’ (30) were up to. Note that Paul said to Julius and his company: ‘’Unless these men stay with the ship you cannot be saved’’ (31). He didn’t say ‘’we’’, he said ‘’you.’’ He was absolutely confident regarding what God had said to him (23, 24). Paul operated in the prophetic gift in ‘the public arena’, you might say. It’s not just for church services and prayer groups. What we clearly hear from God will sometimes require vocalising out on life’s rough seas; in settings where the audience will not always be friendly.

Paul’s concern for all his fellow-travellers is touching (33, 34). Fourteen days is a long time to go without food, and they must have been bone weary. His simple offering of thanks to God ‘’in front of them all’’ (35) is inspiring. He was not ashamed. His godly example, demonstrating trust, sent ripples of confidence towards everyone on board. So can one faithful Christian exercise the most remarkable influence, even in less than pleasing circumstances.

God intended that Paul should get to Rome, so along the way He ensured that His man should be providentially cared for (42, 43). Is it not enough to know that we are in God’s Hands? We can relax there, knowing that nothing can harm us without His permission.

PRAYER: Lord, I am so grateful to know that I am in your Hands. Thank you.