Trying to Save a Sinking Ship
By Chris Rathbone
Have you ever tried to help someone but they wouldn’t listen? Has there been a situation where decisions have been made, even by a group, that you knew weren’t going to end well, but no one would listen? Have you ever counseled someone on the right thing to do but they went ahead and chose the opposite? Have you ever seen the boat taking on water and no one would let you mend the hole and refused to do it themselves? Do you see people on the wrong road but no one will look at the map or GPS? Most of you likely answered yes to every one of those questions. That means we’re not alone.
In Acts chapter 27, Paul came across the same situation. In Acts chapter 21 we read that the Apostle Paul is arrested in the temple by the Jewish leadership for preaching the Gospel. The following chapters leading up to chapter 27 describe how he is brought before the Jewish leadership, before government leadership, etc. The Jewish leaders want him put to death so Paul has to appeal to his Roman citizenship so he can at least get somewhat of a fair trial so to speak. During this time there are hearings, an assassination plot, and many times Paul is allowed to present his defense. In the end, because he appealed to his Roman citizenship, it was ordered that he be taken to Rome to have a hearing there (Acts 26:32).
Chapter 27 describes the events that took place as they began this journey. They sail a while and end up in a place called The Fair Havens near a city called Lasea. In those days ships navigated by the stars. Sailing at that time of the year was risky in September and pretty well impossible by November. These events happened in October. The time for safe travel on the seas was over. The master of the ship did not want to winter there and he desired to make it to another place in Crete to finish out the winter. Then things get interesting.
Acts 27:9-10 states, “Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them. and said, unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with much hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.”
Now Paul wasn’t necessarily telling them of some great prophecy that the Lord had revealed to him. It is possible that could be the case. However, most likely Paul was simply using discernment. History had taught that it was dangerous to sail that time of year. The loss of lives in the many failed attempts of the ships that had sunk in the past had caused many to learn the lesson not to sail during that time. So it wasn’t so much a great spiritual revelation as it was common sense. However, the centurion that was in charge of getting Paul to Rome, believed the master of the ship, going against Paul’s counsel and common knowledge of what will most likely happen if they set sail. The master of the ship was most likely thinking of the money he was going to make from the passengers he would be transporting, so his decision was influenced by monetary gain, and not common sense or possible consequences.
Sailing started smooth, but as the weather tends to do that time of year, a strong, terrible storm hit. They did everything they could to save the ship, throwing cargo overboard, lowering the sails, raising the sails, and even trying to anchor it, but nothing worked. Verse 20 states, “And when neither the sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.”
Against sound advice, they had chosen the opposite of what they knew to be wise and best. Now they were suffering the consequences. After what looks like spending some time in prayer (vs. 21) Paul tells them they should have listened to him and all this would not have happened. He tells them to take cheer, for an angel of God had appeared to him saying that he would make it to appear before Caesar and they all would survive.
Eventually, the ship has to be run aground and some have to swim and others cling to broken pieces of the ship and through much loss and peril, they make it to shore safely.
I know you are probably thinking, “Preacher what are you getting at telling us all about this story?” This story gives me such a picture of what has been happening in our nation for the last several decades. Our leaders seemed determined to take our nation in a direction that will not end well. They ignore the many warnings that have been given by great men of God. They refuse to even learn from the history of what always happens to nations that adopt the Godless philosophies and principles that communism and socialism promote. We sound the warning, they continue to simply ignore us. No matter how many times these things have failed in the past, they seemed determined to repeat them. And for the most part, money is the deciding factor. All that the majority of our leaders see are the dollar signs and the masses jump on board with the promise of a utopia that history teaches us will collapse every….single….time! And the rest of us? Well, we just have to endure the trip!
What do we do? Well, we do as Paul did. He sounded the alarm even though they ignored him. We remind them when the storm hits that they should have listened to us, to begin with, and hope that they will learn the lesson. We continue to minister to them in Jesus’ name even when it seems that all hope is lost. Paul told them to eat so they would have the strength to endure and that they would make it even though they will likely lose everything in which they were trusting. We continue to minister the Word to a spiritually starved world so those who will can be saved. It might be that many will swim, others will cling to broken pieces of the ship, but if we trust Him, we’ll make it to shore.
It’s a tall order children, to try and save a sinking ship………
Clinging to Jesus,
Preacher Chris Rathbone serves as Pastor at Mine Creek Baptist Church.
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