Faith in Time of Peril

MEMORY SELECTION: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” —Psalm 46:1

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Acts 27:21-26, 39-44

IN OUR previous lessons we have briefly outlined some of the experiences the Apostle Paul encountered during his consecrated ministry. The 27th chapter of Acts is a continuation of those experiences and indeed is quite exciting, especially in relation to the memory selection, which points the way to faith in God’s abundant ability to care for his own. As the psalmist has reminded us, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” And surely during the perilous journey in which Paul was transported from the little port of Caesarea to stand trial in Rome, he must have been continually strengthened by the assurance of that passage of scripture.

The apostle was being sent under Roman guard from Judea to Rome to stand trial. He had been in prison for about two years, during which time the Jews sought ways to take him and dispose of him. Their latest attempt was to convince the new governor, Festus, that Paul should be tried by the Jews in their own Sanhedrin as a religious prisoner, rather than in a Roman court. Their plan failed only when Paul chose to be tried in Rome as a Roman citizen.

The first leg of the journey was made in a small sailing vessel which took them to Myra, a city of Lycia. (Acts 27:5) The weather was fine and there was no difficulty on that part of the voyage. At Myra, Paul and the others who accompanied him were transferred to an Egyptian ship bound for Rome. It carried 276 passengers as well as a cargo of wheat. After they left Myra the pleasant weather continued for a few more days, but then it began to storm and the ship abandoned its scheduled route to take advantage of the port at Fair Havens. While they waited for calmer weather the sailing season was getting late. “Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was already past [the fast was on the tenth day of the seventh month, margin], Paul admonished them, and he said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives.”—vss. 9,10

Paul’s warning went unheeded, and the vessel set out again. They had not gone far when they were caught in another storm, which forced them to take refuge on the tiny island Clauda. (vs. 16) There they were forced to make certain repairs to the boat before attempting to continue. Setting out again they floundered in the storm and were forced to begin throwing things overboard to make the vessel lighter. With conditions steadily worsening, the captain was unable to determine his course, and because of the rough weather the passengers and crew were unable to eat regularly. Finally after two weeks the ship was wrecked on the island of Malta.

It was, of course, a harrowing experience for all, and Paul took the opportunity to remind his masters of the previous warning he had given them. “But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.”—vs. 21

No doubt there was little the masters of the boat could say in answer to Paul. But then he spoke to them a message of hope and assurance which he had received from God. “And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.”—vss. 22-25

There are numerous and important lessons in the experiences of Paul. All of the Lord’s people must pass through the stormy conflicts of life and learn to heed the providences of God on their behalf. There may be good days and bad, but even as God was with Paul, so shall he be with all of his people.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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