It has been described as one of the most informative accounts of an sea voyage by ship in ancient literature, and you can certainly tell why.
Luke tells us about the wind directions, the coastline they were following, the ports they visited. He describes the ships they sailed in, the anchor that the sailors hauled up, the tackle they throw overboard and even the ship’s lifeboat the sailors tried to escape in. And of course, he tells about the incredible storm that brewed up and how they could not see the either the sun nor the stars for days so they were literally lost at sea.
It is a fascinating and gripping account of an ocean adventure. However, you have to stop and ask why. Why did Luke include so much detail about anchors and tackle and planks of wood? In so many other places in the book of Acts, Luke just said “they sailed to Cyprus” or “they sailed to Antioch” or “we sailed to Syria”. Why so much detail here? Why not say “we sailed to Rome but got caught in a storm and ran aground on Malta”? That’s just 14 words which summarises well the story that took Luke 800 Greek words to tell. Isn’t it worthwhile to cut a long story short, particularly when it has so much inconsequential maritime details?
All the detail certainly shows that the person who wrote this account actually experienced the voyage and the storm himself. To get so many of the geographical details and ancient maritime details correct shows that this was no mythical account that was hatched up hundreds of years later.
However, there is another reason for why Luke would have gone to the effort of writing such a detailed account. It shows that God was carefully watching over his weathered missionary Paul because He still had a mission for him to accomplish at the centre of the Empire. No matter what Satan might throw up, God was still watching over him and taking care of him. And amazingly, through Paul’s intercessory prayers, all of the people on that storm-stricken boat were saved too.
Do you realise that God has a purpose for your life? Are you aware that He is watching over you? As you head out to work each morning, and change from first gear into second as you drive down the road, God knows all of those details of your life.
As Luke himself said, “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
God cares for you! He knows where He is leading you in life, even when that journey takes you right through the middle of a storm.
The book of Acts is drenched with the Holy Spirit. Reading it is like taking time to play out in the tropical rain! Read the full stories for today in: