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Acts 27:33-36

Act 27:33

Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food-you haven’t eaten anything.

Act 27:34

Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.”

Act 27:35

After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat.

Act 27:36

They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves.

Note 82: Paul speaks one last time

Just before dawn, probably more dark than light, and still not light enough to start making the life critical decisions needed to prepare themselves for whatever lies ahead, Paul speaks one last time.  Regardless of your personal religious beliefs, it must be noted that Paul once again gives these people great survival advice, which is critical in their situation.  The encouragement he provides and example he sets are in the best tradition of compassion and leadership, especially in a nautical crisis.

Note 83: Paul points out the problem

The first thing Paul does is state the challenges they face, which will set the stage for the advice he is about to provide.  He reminds them of three important facts:

First, he reminds them how long they have been in peril: “For the last fourteen days.”  Second, he emphases the intensity of the stress they have been subjected to: “you have been in constant suspense…”  I’m sure everyone who is reading this has been under stress due to something during their lifetime.  Do you remember how draining that suspense or stress was on you physically and mentally?  Stress is terrible and it can be a killer. Here he tells them the stress they have thus far endured has been constant.  They have had no relief.  Third, Paul states the most important fact under these circumstances when he says, “you have gone without food – you haven’t eaten anything.”  Today, medical science can scientifically tell us why not eating causes a person to get sick, be weakened, and not perform to their very best. In a survival situation, lack of food and the resulting loss of energy and alertness can be a death sentence. Even if we didn’t know the scientific reasons why, we would still know that we need to eat to keep up our strength.  Keep in mind that eating now will not only help them survive the wreck, but may help them to survive once they make it to shore. This may be the only food they will get for days to come, even once they are safe on land.

Where ever they end up, feeding nearly 300 extra people will be a substantial task for the local native population.

Note 84: Paul urges them to take action

Paul tells them what to do about this situation: “Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” It is important to note here that these people have been on a violently tossing boat in terrible seas for two weeks and that most, if not all of them have been seasick the whole time.  They almost certainly haven’t wanted to eat and probably do not feel like eating right now.. I also find it interesting that here he tells them, “You will need it to survive.”  Earlier, Paul told them an angel had told him that God had graciously granted him all their lives. Now they need to eat in order to survive? Is this a contradiction?  I don’t think so.

Personal Note 85: Follow the plan

Let me illustrate with a couple of examples.  The first is a personal one. When I was a SCUBA instructor, I taught a couple of hundred people how to dive and dive safely.  I always told my students that the sport of diving was safe and that once they completed my course they would be safe divers.  I genuinely believed then, and still do today, that this was factual.  However, it was always understood by those students that they MUST listen to what I said, do what I told them to do, and do it the way I told them to do it. Even if I didn’t say all those words, they were implied in my promise to them that they would be safe. When I taught diving I could teach anybody to dive safely, but they had to follow through and then DO what they were taught.

Back in verse 23, 24, Paul told everyone on the ship that God promised Paul everyone would be saved….but he never said they would have no responsibility or task they would have to perform.  His promise placed on each individual the responsibility to do what they needed to do to be saved.

Need another example? If the authorities tell you there is a hurricane coming and you need to evacuate your home to save your life then you need to leave, and leave immediately.  Remember Katrina! Hundreds died. Why?  They died for the most part, because they wanted to do things their way. This is not an editorial comment, just a fact.  You always have some responsibility to save yourself.  So why would that rule be any different if it is a promise from God?

Note 86: Leadership

After telling them what they need to do to be saved, Paul then leads the way by following his own advice. Paul took some bread, then gave thanks to God in front of them all. Aside from the obvious need for a follower of Christ to pray and give thanks, the prayer was also an important act that needed to be done in front of non-believing pagans.  The prayer reminded them that Paul had said this was all controlled not by the ship owner, captain, crew, centurion, soldiers or even luck, but by the God that Paul served and to whom he belonged. Next, Paul simply took the bread, broke it, and began to eat it.

Note 87: I love it when a plan comes together

And Luke tells us in Acts 27:36, “They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves.”

Enough said.

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