“Now when much time was spent and when sailing was now dangerous, because the Fast was now already past, Paul admonished them 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.’ Nevertheless, the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship more than those things which were spoken by Paul.”
As Oswald Chambers said, “God never gives the gift of discernment for criticism; it’s always for intercession.”
Oh the agony of soul when words of counsel fall on deaf ears and hardened hearts! Like one who’s seen that the trestle bridge over the ravine has collapsed. . .or there’s a massive waterfall around the bend that awaits a boatload of partying newcomers, oblivious to their danger. . .we try to warn them, crying “There’s danger ahead! Stop what you’re doing! Can’t you see your peril that awaits you?!?”
But, they don’t listen. Like blind and deaf people, they ignore your pleas—pressing on full-steam ahead toward death and destruction.
That’s likely how Paul felt that day when common sense told him the season for safe sailing was past. The Fast/Feast being referred to here is the Jews’ annual Day of Atonement, which occurs on the 10th day of the Jews’ seventh month (around September 20th on the regular calendar). Even though he wasn’t a seasoned seaman, he knew the “winds were already contrary” because of the leg of the journey they’d just completed (vv.1-4). And, he’d listened to enough seafaring travelers to know you don’t often set sail that late in the year.
Yet, his counsel went unheeded.
The centurion, named Julius, who’d later save Paul’s life (vv.1, 43), refused to listen to the aged prisoner. The reason: Because “he believed the master and owner of the ship more than he did Paul.”
Isn’t it amazing how money talks? Even more, the centurion was a man “under authority” and trained to obey those over him. In this case, the ship’s owner said it was okay to set sail and set sail they would.
In reading the rest of the story (vv.12-44) we read how Paul’s premonition was right with regards to great damage to the ship and cargo; however, because of God’s Mercy, intervention and Sovereign Will not a single one of the 276 passengers onboard would suffer harm in the danger that awaited them—IF they stayed in the boat (vv. 21-25, 31, 43-44).
Oh, dear Pilgrim, do not lose hope when those around you will not listen to common sense or God’s counsel. Our responsibility is “sowing the seed,” but we’re not responsible/accountable for the soil’s response. There’ll always be those who refuse to believe even when confronted with the facts. Oh how deep the darkness of self-willed blindness!
May Almighty God give us the Grace, Love, Patience and Courage to faithfully warn others of the danger and Judgment that awaits them—even as Noah and the watchman on the wall did (Gen. 6:1ff; Ez. 33:1ff). And, let us pray in faith, hoping one day they’ll hear and heed.
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated October 11, 2009