A Divine Appointment- Acts 27:21-44

As we resume our look at the story of Paul’s unexpected journey, we are at the point where the pagans on the ship have exhausted their own efforts and given up hope. Paul now stands before them and tells them that “an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve” (verse 23) said to him that “God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you”(verse 24). Paul tells them here that his God will do for them what their own efforts could not, that deliverance from his God comes not from trying, but from trusting. We should also note here that Paul doesn’t pray some great prayer of faith to make the storm stop, his faith is not in a God who delivers him “from” all storms, but in a God who delivers him “through” all storms. Paul realizes that this storm is from God and must have a purpose, that God is the one who sent the storm, and He will work good out of it somehow. Paul expresses absolute trust in God that his ultimate destination is Rome, and that Paul is certain he will get there (verse 24-25), but he also understands that this little “detour” is from God and must have a purpose. We see this expressed in verse 26, in which Paul tells them that we “must” run aground on some island. The Greek word translated must here is dei, and its literal translation is “it is necessary”. Its usage here indicates that their running aground is no random occurrence, but divine providence, that wherever they run aground, God is in control and can be unreservedly trusted, that this little “detour” is not an interruption, but an opportunity. In verses 27-44, we find the story of the ship running aground on some island (just as Paul had said). The sailors prepare the boat to run aground (verses 27-32), eat some food in preparation for landing on the island (verses 33-38), and run the ship aground on a sandbar just offshore (verses 39-44). We have skipped the details of this story in order to focus on the one detail which is vital, the one which shows us what this story is really about. We find this in chapter 28, verse 1, in that the island was called Malta. Without an understanding of the geography of this region, we will completely miss what has happened here, and what I believe is one of the most important things to be learned from this story. If we recall from 27:14-20, the storm consisted of winds coming from the northeast, which would drive the ship southwest. Southwest were the sandbars of Syrtis and certain doom (this is why they were all so afraid). The unusual thing here is that Malta is not southwest of Crete but northwest. This ship “should” have been moved southwest by the storm, but it ends up on an island slightly to the northwest, and there is no “natural” explanation for how this could have happened. Some, in the presence of a story like this, would assert that this is impossible, and therefore could not have happened, that the bible must be “wrong” here. Those who operate out of a Christian worldview, however, consider the bible as the ultimate source of truth, and if the bible says it happened this way, then it happened this way, and whether it is “impossible” according to science or all that we “know” is irrelevant, for with God nothing is “impossible”. The hand of God here sovereignly directs this ship northwest, when it “should” have gone southwest, because Paul had a “divine appointment” on Malta, and I believe it is in the “impossible” which happens here from which we may learn our greatest lesson from this story. We find from this that storms are from God, and that His hand is sovereignly directing us in the midst of them, that He will get us where we need to be when we need to be there, even if it takes “miraculous” intervention to do so. We also find that though the storms may seem to be “detours” and take us to unexpected places, that those storms and detours may very well lead us to a “divine appointment”, from which much good and blessing may come, as we will see from what happens on the island of Malta in Acts 28.

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