Today’s Readings: 1 Chronicles 9:1-10:14, Acts 27:21-44, Psalm 8:1-9, Proverbs 18:23-24
Have you ever been in a desperate situation where you life was at risk? Paul and those on board the ship in Acts 27 were in grave peril. They were at sea in a winter storm and they were trying everything they knew to simply stay alive. They had already lightened the ship by throwing much of the ship’s tackle overboard. They had not eaten for 14 days – I’m not sure if they were trying to conserve food or if they were simply too scared to eat. Perhaps it was not possible to cook on the storm-tossed seas.
Paul was seeking God in this situation because he earnestly wanted to carry the Gospel to Rome. And God answered by sending an angel to assure Paul that he would stand trial before Caesar. As the night wore on, Paul was instrumental in thwarting two plots and in strengthening the people with food.
- The sailors tried to abandon ship in the hope that they could survive by taking small boats ashore. Somehow Paul knew this and convinced the ship’s commander and the soldiers to stop them by cutting the ropes for the lifeboats (does not make sense to me, but that was Paul’s advice from God).
- The soldiers wanted to kill all of the prisoners. The reason was simple. If the prisoners escaped, the soldiers would forfeit their lives in exchange. But the ship’s commander wanted to spare Paul, so he intervened.
- He convinced everyone to eat so they would have strength to swim to shore. I would have like to hear his prayer before he broke the bread. Maybe there will be video replay in heaven and we’ll get to see the scene for ourselves.
In the end everyone on board made it safely to shore. To make that statement, there must have been an accounting of everyone on board – sailors, soldiers, prisoners, passengers, galley crew, etc.
The phrase in the title, “When morning dawned,” jumped out at me in this passage because I can remember sleepless nights when I was facing difficult situations and praying for the sun to come up. My life was not threatened as Paul’s was, but these restless nights usually occur to me when I face a difficult or unpopular decision, or when I have sinned and must face the consequences or seek forgiveness from someone close to me.
There is something about seeing the sunrise in the morning that brings me hope. Perhaps it is the reminder that the majesty of God described in Psalm 8 is ever present with me. I also sense that majesty when I look at the moon and the stars (Psalm 8:3), but when the night is dark, then I am desperate for the morning. Psalm 130 speaks to this, when it talks about sentries waiting for the dawn.
1 From the depths of despair, O Lord,
I call for your help.
2 Hear my cry, O Lord.
Pay attention to my prayer.
3 Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
who, O Lord, could ever survive?
4 But you offer forgiveness,
that we might learn to fear you.
5I am counting on the Lord;
yes, I am counting on him.
I have put my hope in his word.
6 I long for the Lord
more than sentries long for the dawn,
yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.
7O Israel, hope in the Lord;
for with the Lord there is unfailing love.
His redemption overflows.
8He himself will redeem Israel
from every kind of sin.