Acts 27 - A Tale of Two Journeys (Jonah & Paul)

Acts 27 – A Tale of Two Journeys
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 27

In trying to find a lesson in chapter 27, I became fascinated from what could be learned by comparing and contrasting Jonah's and Paul's shipboard journeys.

So to that end, I have done something I have never done, which is cover an entire chapter in one lesson.


God’s Call – Proclaim God’s word to the Gentiles:
Jonah 1:2 (ESV) — 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”
  • God called Jonah to Nineveh to proclaim the word of God.

Acts 23:11 (ESV) — 11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
  • God called Paul to Rome to proclaim the word of God.

Their Responses – Quite Different from one another:
Jonah 1:3a (ESV) — 3a But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
  • Jonah rebelled and fled.
  • His heart was hardened towards the Gentiles.
  • He did not want them to be spared from God’s wrath.

Acts 25:11 (ESV) — 11 If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.”
  • Paul had already fully submitted to God’s will time and time again.
  • And here he did what he could to grease the skids.
  • He used the Roman legal system to appeal his way to Rome.

How do we account for the difference between Paul and Jonah?
  • Paul’s will was aligned with God’s and Jonah’s was not.
  • Paul used to despise the Gentiles like Jonah, but what happened to account for the change in his life?

Their transportation – Coincidentally the Same BUT Different:
Jonah 1:3b (ESV) — 3b He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.
  • Jonah went the opposite direction, literally, that God wanted him to go.
  • And in so doing, Jonah boarded the U.S.S. Rebellion.
  • Jonah was alone.

Acts 27:2 (ESV) — 2 And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium, which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica.
  • Paul went the exact direction God wanted him to go.
  • And in so doing, Paul boarded the U.S.S. Submission.
  • Paul had 2 dear friends with him – Luke & Aristarchus
    • Acts 19:29 (ESV) — 29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel.

How is rebellion from God lonelier that submission to God?
The words of David:
  • Psalm 22:1 (ESV) — 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
The words of Jesus:
  • Mark 15:34 (ESV) — 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Forsake - to leave in the lurch, forsake, desert, abandon (Zhodiahtes)
When we rebel and give way to sin, we, like David and Jesus (who bore our sins) feel alone.

Storms Came to both the Rebellion and the Submission:
Jonah 1:4 (ESV) — 4 But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.
  • The creator of nature unleashed an unexpected storm upon Jonah’s ship.
  • God was credited for causing the storm directly.

Acts 27:13–15 (ESV) — 13 Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore. 14 But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. 15 And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along.
  • A powerful northeaster overtook them and blew them off course.
  • Interestingly, this storm was not a surprise and it could have been avoided altogether had they listened to Paul.

The storm Jonah faced was clearly an act of judgment by God on Jonah.
  • However, Paul was being obedient and we have no indication his storm was an act of judgment.
  • Yet, keeping in mind that Paul would soon be martyred, was it fair that he should face yet another hardship?
    • Job 38:4–11 (ESV) — 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, 9 when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, 10 and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, 11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

God, as he makes clear to Job, is sovereign and though that can be emotionally satisfying in answering the question, it often fails to satisfy our intellectual cravings; it is just too easy.

Oh would it be that we were so submitted to God that His sovereignty as a reason for His actions would be enough to satisfy on all levels!
  • Job 42:2–6 (ESV) — 2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ 5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

POI - God gave warning of the storm on the USS submission but it was not heeded.
Acts 27:9–12 (ESV) — 9 …Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 11 But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. 12 And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.
  • Interesting that God issued no warning for the U.S.S. Rebellion that we know of.
  • Perhaps when in rebellion, we can’t hear God’s warnings?
  • Or perhaps his discipline serves as our warning?

Human Efforts to Save Were Not Enough:
Jonah 1:5-7 (ESV) — 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.” 7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.
  • The crew fought for their lives and Jonah slept!
  • How is it that he slept? (On Paul's boat they couldn't even eat.)
    • I think, in forsaking God, he became desperately apathetic and just didn’t care?

Acts 27:16–20 (ESV) — 16 Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. 17 After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along. 18 Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. 19 And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.
  • The crew did all that they could do and yet all hope was lost.

We should do all we can.
  • And with regards to the U.S.S. Submission, they did all they could and God used it to bring them to Malta.

Jonah’s Rebellion/Sin Found Him Out – Paul’s Submission Vindicated Him:
Jonah 1:8–10 (ESV) — 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.
  • The crew rightly blamed Jonah, not God, for their circumstances.

Acts 27:21 (ESV) — 21 Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss.
Acts 27:43 (ESV) — 43 But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land,
  • He made his point and had thus established his wisdom and knowledge.
  • Now they would listen to him and benefit from his God granted wisdom and protection.

We can take something important away from the above.
  • In our rebellion, God can choose to discipline us.
  • In our submission, God can choose to sustain us.
  • In both, God will find a way to glorify Himself.

The next topic details this process of glorification perfectly.

How God Delivered and Brought Glory to Himself:
Jonah 1:11–16 (ESV) — 11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they called out to the LORD, “O LORD, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.
  • Jonah, having been found out, spoke God’s word – “hurl me into the sea…the sea will quiet down.”
  • In other words, lose Jonah and save your lives.
  • Jonah was tossed overboard, the storm stopped and the crew feared the Lord and so He was glorified.
Acts 27:22-26 & 34–38 (ESV) — 22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.” 34 Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 (We were in all 276 persons in the ship.) 38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea.
  • Paul, having been uplifted in stature by God, had a vision and spoke God’s word of promise.
  • Paul’s words – “no loss among you”… ”stood before me an angel of God”… “not a hair is to perish”
  • Paul’s presence preserved everyone’s’ lives.
  • The crew and those aboard were all encouraged and God was glorified.

3 Principals to Take Away:

First Principle
  • And so it seems that in our rebellion we are part of the problem.
    • Jonah the prophet, in his rebellion, brought the wrath of God to bear on the U.S.S. Rebellion.
  • And in submission to God we can be part of the solution.
    • Paul the prisoner became the leader and deliverer of all those on the U.S.S. Submission.

Second Principle
  • And in our rebellion against God, we can bring others down with us and have a negative impact.
    • A direct result of Jonah's rebellion was the partial destruction of the ship he was on.
    • This would have hindered the crews ability to make a living until repairs were made.
  • But in our submission to God, we can encourage them and have a positive impact.
    • The destruction of Paul's ship was a result of failing to heed his warnings.
    • But in spite of the loss of the ship, Paul brought hope and assurance that all lives would be spared.

Third Principle
  • God will glorify Himself in our rebellion through disciplining us.
    • The crew of Jonah's ship worshiped God and saw His power first hand.
    • God brought this to bear in unison with his disciplining of Jonah.
  • He will glorify Himself in our submission by challenging us.
    • Though faced with yet another hardship, Paul again put his trust and faith in God and God saw fit to vindicate Paul and deliver every life.

What ship are you on – USS Rebellion or USS Submission?
  • Luke has clearly taught us that you can’t know that by whether there is a storm or not.
  • But, it appears you are on the USS Submission if you seek out, know and “hear” God’s word.
  • And, if in the midst of the storm, you have peace and godly companionship.
  • But, if you are in loneliness and despair or, in your apathy, you just don’t care that the ship is going down, you are surely on the U.S.S. Rebellion.
    • Jonah 2:3–4 (ESV) — 3 For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight...’ 

We asked earlier how Jonah could sleep during the storm.
We also need to ask ourselves if we are asleep in our rebellion and apathy?
  • If we are not leading our wives by example in our walk with Christ
  • If we are not teaching our children by example that Christ is the most important thing in life
  • If we are neglecting our duties as Christian men in our Church and communities
  • Then we are asleep in the storm.