Sunday, 1 January 2012

Acts: Part 2 of 3

This is part 2 of the 3 part series by Declan Doran. Enjoy.

Acts 27 – Paul on a death list of the Jewish Leaders, persecuted and imprisoned for up to 3 years since he returned to Jerusalem boarded a ship for Rome as prisoner to stand trial. Paul had just been told through the Spirit by his fellow believers not to go to Jerusalem Acts 21:4 and then a while later was told by Agabus the prophet in Acts 21:11 that he was going to be bound hand and foot in Jerusalem.

The disciples (believing community) tried to stop him but Paul said in Acts 21:13 “not only am I ready to be bound, but I am ready to die for the name of the Lord”. As they sailed, the seas grew dangerous and much time had been lost. They landed in a town and Paul prophesied v10 “Men I see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo and to our own lives also”. Neither the centurion, pilot nor owner of the ship listened to Paul. The next day a gentle south wind began to blow bringing warmer weather and better conditions and the pilot thinking he obtained what he needed set sail again. Before very long (v14) a hurricane force wind caught them. The ship could not head into the wind so they gave way to it and were driven along.

Remember, Paul was wanted dead; the enemy had enough of him and stirred the Jewish leaders to kill him. In one sense Paul though a prisoner got away from the Jewish leaders grasp but now the enemy took command of the wind and seas to continue the harassment and pursuit of Paul. Notice the pilot gave way to the storm and lost his control and drifted along. The consequences of us giving way in the storm will cause us to drift and lose control of our destiny. The next day they threw their cargo overboard (their wealth), the following day their tackle (their means to provide for themselves) and then the sun and stars disappeared for many days and they lost all hope.
When we give in and allow ourselves drift in the spiritual storms, we let our light drift also (Jesus is the light of the world). You know the sun and stars are still above just like God is, but the oppression of the enemy becomes so intense that we let go of our hope in God and therefore take upon us the standing of one who does not believe. (Ephesians 2:12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world).

In other words we lose our saltiness and without God we are just like non-believers. Paul’s yesterday’s blessings or yesterdays “manna” did not help him, now he like the rest “had given up hope” (reminds me of me). This guy needs a fresh encounter (can you believe it).

I just love Paul’s response and this should encourage each one of us. Paul gets up on his high horse and says in v 21 “You should have listened to me, I was right, then you would have been spared” – now what does this add to their current predicament, nothing, absolutely nothing, Paul let us have a solution rather than a brag about how right you were, or something positive besides a moan. How many times have you responded like Paul, I know I respond like this often and it achieves nothing? Now we see in v22 Paul become the man of God he was. Paul realizing he was doomed because of the storm, wet, hunger, cold and the atmosphere of hopelessness about him, spoke out to a foreign unbelieving, God-ignorant crew on board the ship and started telling them about angels and dreams and the like. (They must have thought he was hallucinating in the extreme conditions).

Question - Why if he was so spiritual did he not step in to help as soon as he awoke? why did he wait? did he not believe what the angel spoke in the night? had he forgotten? did his earlier rant cause on reflection a change within him? Did actually being face to face with death cause him to stand up? in Acts 21 he said he was ready to die (It did not take long for God to allow the enemy test him on this one). I believe when push came to shove, face to face with death with few options to hand, he realized and activated the authority he carried being “in Christ”. Remember he did not need a visitation of an angel during the night because in Acts 23:11 we know he had already received a word from the Lord in the night that he was going to stand trial in Rome. But I suspect because of the Lords great mercy, seeing Paul take on hopelessness, forget (in the light of probable death) this “great promise” he received of “standing trial in Rome”, that Paul had let this word and promise fall to the ground, the Lord in His grace appeared to Paul again and reminded him of this promise and told him he would indeed be spared (the Lord gave him a second chance so to speak).

Why did Paul allow himself lose hope (v20)? (remember this is Paul I’m speaking about), maybe when surrounded with a spirit of hopelessness and fear it grips us without our notice and takes hold of us. During the night the visit from the angel told him in v24 God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you. Now that’s a call and a half for anyone and it reminds me of Jeremiah 5:1 where the Lord said if you can find one honest and righteous man in the city, he would spare the city. (Forget your brothers and sisters for one second and ask yourself – are you that one righteous and honest person that can bring Gods covering and save a city?). This whole crew of 276 including Paul were in Paul’s hands. Now Paul was just a few days ago in v10 after saying that “there would be great loss to the ship, cargo and crew”. I suggest Paul was seized with the realization that his very own mouth had uttered words of death and condemnation over this very same company of 276 people that the angel of God had now said were in Paul’s hands. (Remember Satan took dominion from Adam when he sinned but Jesus won back dominion on the earth at the cross and gives it to the redeemed of God).

Realizing who he was in Christ, Paul as a son of God took dominion on earth as God intended it in the beginning as we see in Genesis 1:26 “rule over all the earth”. Paul had this dominion as we have if we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour and accept his redemption work on the cross as the only means by which me must be saved (Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved”). Realizing who he was and the authority he carried Paul spoke out those words in v22 “not one of you will be lost” and it came to be. Paul knew the Kingdom of God is voice activated just like it says in Genesis as God spoke his kingdom was created, David said in Psalm 2:8 “Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession”, Ezekiel in Ezekiel 37 spoke life into an army of dead bones, Jesus over and over again spoke healing and deliverance and it was so and even the “food distributors” of Acts 6, mere men like you and me, appointed so that the apostles could concentrate on the “spiritual things” transformed cities with their words and power.

I believe Paul may have died had he not spoken these words of life in his situation and certainly many of the crew would have died. V10 “Men I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous, and bring great loss to ship and cargo and to our lives also”, now a good question to ask yourself, did Paul speak a lie here .. the answer is no, was Paul deceived by a false spirit .. again the answer is no, did God change his mind then .. again the answer is no. Paul spoke a prophetic word and most of it came to be. But the real amazing bit that’s hidden here is in v22, he speaks “not one of you will be lost”. In v 24 the angel of the Lord said to Paul “God has given you all that sail with you”. This did not necessarily mean that “not one will be lost”. I suggest Paul realizing he carried God given responsibility for the crew, chose life for the whole crew and spoke it into the heavenly realm over the ship as the storm raged. You could argue that I’m incorrect here, if you are of this belief just consider my suggestion and think for a few moments – what if I’m right, what if God is waiting for us to just stand and be who he made us to stand for the city about us, speak and declare life into it and its people. I suggest as Paul took his responsibility and spoke the words “not one of you will be lost”, those exact words created Paul’s break-through.

Declan D.

No comments:

Post a Comment