At Fair Havens, the apostle and those with him spend an extended period of time, waiting for favorable sailing weather. As Fair Havens was not a suitable harbor to spend the winter, the captain, the owner of the ship and those under their authority voted to sail on to Phoenix which was a better location for the ship, crew and passengers.
Though the centurion who headed the envoy, a Roman named Julius showed favor toward Paul, he sided with the sailors and ordered the trip to continue on toward Rome in spite of Paul’s warning of forthcoming doom.
“13 When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete.” (Acts 27:13)
When the weather seemed suitable for sailing, the Alexandrian grain ship put out to sea, and sailing along the shore of Crete, headed toward Phoenix as its harbor faced both southwest and northwest, which would have protected the ship from the violent Northeaster winds.
“14 But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon. 15 So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive. 16 And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty. 17 When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven.” (Acts 27:14-17)
As prophesied by Paul, the ship was caught up in a Euroclydon, a cyclonic tempestuous northeast wind the like of a hurricane which typically blows in the Mediterranean during autumn and winter months. When its sails were rendered useless against the northeast gale, the captain ordered them lowered as the ship drifted off course.
As they approached Clauda, an island south of Crete that provided shelter from the Euroclydon, the sailors were able to pull the skiff onboard and secure it as they prepared for more wind ahead once their ship cleared Clauda. And, to prevent the ship from breaking apart should it run aground, they used cables to undergird the ship, a method still used to reinforce hauls on wooden boats to this day.
“18 And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship. 19 On the third day we threw the ship’s tackle overboard with our own hands. 20 Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.” (Acts 27:18-20)
As the storm gained strength, the extreme tossing of the ship forced the sailors to throw large or heavy objects overboard to lighten the vessel and hopefully smoothen the ride. And, to lighten the ship’s load even further, the passengers helped the crew toss tackle overboard. The challenging weather continued for days and drove those on board to give up any hope for a positive outcome.
“21 But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. 22 And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.26 However, we must run aground on a certain island.” (Acts 27:21-26)
As each crew member and passenger was stressed beyond reason, nourishment was low on the totem pole. Paul stood before the men and reminded them of his warning, made back at Fair Havens, of the fate that awaited the ship. The apostle also shared a message brought to him by an angel who informed Paul he would indeed make it to Rome where he was divinely chosen to preach the gospel to Caesar. The angel’s message also prophesied that although the ship would be lost, no one would die in the shipwreck.
“27 Now when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land. 28 And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little farther, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms. 29 Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come.” (Acts 27:27-29)
The Adriatic Sea was the central basin of the Mediterranean, between Sicily and Greece. Two weeks after they departed Fair Havens, it appeared as though the ship was approaching land. The sailors measured the depth of the water and came up with twenty fathoms, or approximately 120 feet. When they realized the sea floor was rising, they assumed land was nearby, as such the sailors dropped as many anchors necessary to prevent the ship from running aground on the rocks.
“30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved. 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off.” (Acts 27:30-32)
To prevent sailors from leaving the ship on the skiff, Paul called on the centurion and soldiers to cut away the ropes to the boat, which he claimed would be devastating to all those on board.
“33 And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. 36 Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves. 37 And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship. 38 So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea.” (Acts 27:33-38)
Anticipating the foretold shipwreck was close, Paul reassured the crew and passengers they would be safe, but first each one should eat and drink to gain strength before throwing the remainder of the grain overboard. Doing so would lighten the ship and ensure that, when it came aground, the vessel would wreck as close to the shore as possible. Let’s pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives and for your servant Luke,
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this scripture,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of your faithful apostle.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre