Practical Reflections on Acts - Acts 27:7-18

Acts 27:7‑18  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 8
7. “And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone.”
Six times wind is mentioned in the account of Paul’s voyage to Rome (vss. 4,7,13,14,15,40). Every time, save one, it proved a hindrance to their progress, while in verse 13 its gentleness lulled the sailors into a false sense of security. How much better to go through life trusting the One who controls the wind, rather than the wind itself. “He commandeth even the winds... and they obey Him” (Luke 8:2525And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him. (Luke 8:25)). “Fire, and hail; snow, and vapor; stormy wind fulfilling His word” (Psa. 148:88Fire, and hail; snow, and vapor; stormy wind fulfilling his word: (Psalm 148:8)).
8. “And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called the Fair Havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea.”
God, sovereignly using contrary winds, brings the ship to a place of safety—The Fair Havens—a site near a city where all their needs could be supplied. He has lovingly given guidance in His precious Word showing believers moral havens where they can anchor meant to protect from the violent storms of life the assembly, marriage, home and, above all, a “Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. ”
9. “Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them.”
The first words spoken by the Apostle in Acts 27 (as recorded by the Spirit) are words of warning. Are we willing to heed the warnings God sends through His Word, His servants, and even the circumstances He allows? The voyage of life is fraught with dangers. May we soberly heed God’s warnings.
10. “And 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.”
Eager to set out on their journey, Paul’s solemn warning to the shipmen carried no weight with them. Perhaps they made the fatal error of judging according to the appearance, for Paul’s “bodily presence [was] weak, and his speech contemptible” (2 Cor. 10:1010For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. (2 Corinthians 10:10)). May we not become so occupied with God’s messenger that we miss God’s message.
11. “Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul.”
Power (master) and wealth (owner) are valued by those in authority (centurion), for the “natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him” (1 Cor. 2:1414But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)). Paul presented no appearance of power or authority to the natural eye, yet he spoke the mind of God. Are we willing, by faith, to believe God’s Word, or are we moved by sight?
12. “And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is a haven of Crete, and lieth toward the southwest and northwest.”
We now are presented with a fourth thing that persuades the mind of men, along with power, wealth and authority popular opinion.
The “majority” did not like the conditions of the Fair Havens there evidently was not enough there which outwardly gave promise of satisfaction during the coming, long, cold winter. So it is with the things of God. To the natural heart, there is not to be found in company with Paul at “Fair Havens” that which warms and satisfies its empty void. Thus the “majority” rules and the ship leaves the safety of the harbor.
13. “And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.”
Circumstances are a poor guide in following God’s will. The south wind, pleasant, soft and gentle, seemed to prove they were right in rejecting Paul’s warning. Sailing close to Crete apparently soothed any who may have had troubled consciences.
A dear brother used to say, “No one leaves the Lord’s presence at right angles.” The path of self-will for a Christian may at first seem quite safe, for it does not move very far from the truth or from God’s Word—staying close to land. Present circumstances (the south wind) are allowed to confirm the path as an acceptable one. How subtly the little foxes bring ruin to a happy and obedient walk with God!
14. “But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.”
It did not take long for the circumstances they had formerly trusted as a positive sign in their rejection of Paul’s warning to disappear in a sudden and unexpected raging storm. The wind they now encountered was not a soft, gentle south wind helping them on their way, but a violent tempest blowing against them. “He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and without remedy” (Prov. 29:11He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. (Proverbs 29:1) JND). Our blessed God loves His children far too much to allow them to continue happily and peacefully in self-will.
15. “And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.”
Having assumed they were in control of the ship, the mariners now begin the dreadfully painful process of “losing” everything they had thought to have gained. The first thing they lost was the control they had taken by disregarding Paul’s warning. A self-willed believer is, at first, quite sure of being in control and all being well. But sooner or later the realization comes that control is lost.
When he had been seduced by Delilah into revealing the source of his strength, Samson’s first words, when “he awoke out of his sleep,” were, “I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him” (Judg. 16:2020And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him. (Judges 16:20)). Self-will caused Samson to lose the Lord’s presence, his discernment, his strength, his sight and finally his liberty. What an awful price to pay!
16. “And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat.”
They could have been resting quietly and safely at Fair Havens rather than frantically working to save their ship in the midst of the savage tempest. The path of self-will and rejection of the Word of God brings hard work rather than the “still waters” and “green pastures” to which the Good Shepherd leads His sheep to rest.
17. “Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.”
They first lost “control” (vs. 15), then they lost “rest” (vs. 16), and now they lose “confidence.” The mariners well knew they were being driven towards an inevitable and fatal destruction the quicksands of the North African coast. Having lowered the sail, they were “driven.” How sad when a self-willed soul finds itself being driven against its will, unable to do anything except fear the seemingly inevitable approaching destruction. May we daily heed the blessed Lord’s tender words, “Follow thou Me.”
18. “And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship.”
The fourth thing lost was the valuable cargo which the ship carried along with its prisoners. How much that is precious and valuable is lost when self-will brings its violent storms into Christian lives! The Lord desires an abundant entrance for each of His own. Self-will brings spiritual poverty instead.