Welcome to Expound, a verse by verse study of God's word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Father, it's going to be 30 weeks that we will have been in the Book of Acts by next week. And we have seen how the gospel has gone from, as Jesus said and promised, Jerusalem, all Judea, Samaria, then to the utmost or uttermost parts of the Earth, the ends of the earth. And the key to that fulfillment is found in Paul's desire to go to Rome, how he has longed for that.
And now finally, that desire he has always had nurturing in his heart will be realized. And we'll get to see it and, in a sense, though removed by two millennia, rejoice with him. Because it is because the gospel went to Rome that we really enjoy it today. And we're going to see that. And we thank you for it. In Jesus' name. Amen.
So last time we were together, Paul was in the midst of a crazy storm at sea called in Greek, [GREEK] or [GREEK], as it's mentioned in our text. So they didn't do a whole lot of translating from that. That's what it was called.
It was this crazy nor'easter wind that was not uncommon in Mediterranean Sea in the sailing of the Mediterranean Sea between autumn and winter. It didn't always come. But when it came, it stirred things up.
So it is like a typhoon force wind, a gale, that rendered the ship inoperative in terms of control. Paul was on this ship. 276 people are aboard.
He is overseen by a guy named Julius, a Roman centurion. There's the maritime captain aboard this vessel. But he and all of his crew were unable to control this ship, because of the storm.
Now, I can't prove it, but I'm guessing this was the same kind of storm that a prophet named Jonah experienced several books earlier in the Old Testament. It doesn't say that word. The word [GREEK] or [GREEK], as mentioned in our English text, only appears once in all of scripture. It's a Greek word.
But it says in the Book of Jonah that he experienced and all those aboard the ship that Jonah was on experienced a mighty tempest. And then Jonah was thrown overboard and that tempest ceased. God was in control of that storm, like he is in control of this storm that Paul is a part of.
Now, if you remember when they were aboard this ship, they couldn't see the stars for weeks. They couldn't read the skies. And navigation was done not by compass, not by radar, not by sonar, not by computer, not by your phone or GPS. It was done by looking at the stars, plotting the course.
So they were unable to know where they were and where they were going. They had no point of reference at all. That's the storm that Paul was a part of.
And while they were taking this journey and that wind took them from one place to the other, their biggest fear was that they would be beached on the sands, the shoals, of North Africa. They came close, but they were afraid that the wind was going to take him right there to North Africa. And there was an area that was famous for these sandy shoals where ships would often get stuck.
But as God would have it, he has a plan for another place. And that's the place that they end up. So in the storm, they start throwing things overboard.
They throw the tackle overboard. They throw the grain aboard the grain ship that was sailing from Alexandria, Egypt to Rome. So all of its cargo is thrown over. And, eventually, finally, the boat shipwrecked.
Now, Paul, as I said, and as we have probably repeated almost weekly, always wanted to go to Rome. But he probably didn't picture this. We saw last week how difficult it was verse after verse after verse sailing into the wing, doing it with difficulty, getting pushback along the way.
Still, he is in the will of God. And he knows it. He believes it. And it's confirmed even during this storm.
But it's not what he anticipated. How many times have you made plans, and God change your plans? So you even get to a point where, like, you know, should I even make plans? Well, you should, but you should always say, James counsels us, if the Lord wills.
That's a good caveat. Well, I'll be there tomorrow if the Lord wills. James said that that's how we ought to live our lives. And so I have friends who will always say that. You can count on it if the Lord wills.
In Isaiah 55, God through the prophet in Verse 8 and 9 of that chapter said, "my thoughts are not your thoughts, says the Lord, neither are my ways your ways. For as the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." I don't know why this storm happened like this and it took Paul so long to get to Rome with such difficulty.
I know partly why. And part is revealed in the text that we read last week and the text that we read this week. All I know is God is good at changing our plans. I didn't plan on being a pastor.
I would have been upset if somebody would have prophesied over me, you're going to be a pastor. Get out of here. You're a nut case.
I wanted to be a photographer. I wanted to be a musician. I wanted to be in medicine. But God put this on my radar screen. And even when I was planning to go to medical school, my friend, my roommate, who is a medical doctor said, don't do it. I've told you his story.
And so the Lord had different plans. The Lord had different plans for this apostle in this storm. Also, he has great calm in the midst of this storm.
And he has great calm when he gets to land, as you're going to see. Some amazing things will happen to Paul and the 275 other passengers. And Paul is calm throughout all of it.
And that's partly, because not only did he know he was in God's will, but he knew that he would be safe. And all those aboard the ship would be safe, because the Lord gave him a vision one night. In Verse 23 of Chapter 27-- I'm going back to a little bit for reference-- "Paul said to the men aboard the ship, for there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve saying, do not be afraid Paul. You must be brought before Caesar."
Well, if you're going to be brought before Caesar, you're going to go to Rome, because that's where Caesar lives. So if the angel of the Lord said, you're going to talk to Caesar, that means Paul knows he's going to Rome. So now, it's confirmed in a vision that he's going to appear before Caesar.
"And God has granted, this messenger says, you all, those who sail with you, therefore take heart, Paul says. For I believe God that it will be just as he told me." So it's difficult, but he knows the end game.
He can see the horizon. He knows this road that he is on will end in Rome. The road ends in Rome. Paul's long road to Rome-- we did a series on that a few years back.
I've quoted before to you Corrie ten Boom. I did it just a few Sundays ago on a Sunday morning. Corrie ten Boom was Dutch, lived in the Netherlands.
Her father was a watchmaker. I visited his shop and the old home that the ten Booms were in and the special places in the wall and in the home where they hid Jews during World War II from the Nazis. The family was captured, incarcerated.
Corrie and her sister were sent to concentration camps. They survived two of them. And Corrie ten Boom had a perspective on life and God's will and suffering so clear that it rivals any other treatise on suffering and the will of God.
And she had a lot of great sayings. And one of her sayings was that if God sends you on stony paths, he provides strong shoes. And she went on a stony path finding herself in a Nazi concentration camp and being persecuted and being hurt.
Even though you're a believer in God, you're wondering, God, why would you let this happen to me. She saw how God provided strong shoes. When God sends you on rocky paths, he will also send strong shoes.
We might also say, given this narrative, when God sends you into a storm at sea, he sends lifeboats. He provides a way of escape. And they will escape.
Also, just to make mention of this, though Paul did not go to Rome the way he thought he was going to go to Rome, he probably thought he was going to take a fourth missionary journey. He had three. He thought he was going to take a fourth.
But I think you realize that to take a boat around the world and travel to all the places Paul traveled, that's expensive. That takes an enormous amount of finance. And we know from the New Testament that Paul was financed by the generosity of churches.
But the Lord allowed Paul to get to Rome with all expenses paid by the Roman government. Now, what that shows me, among other things is that not only is God, as my friend Murray here says, working a trick with the people on Malta, but God is interested in economy. If you can get a good deal, if you can get a better deal, get it.
I remember when I was young and I didn't have a car and my father wouldn't buy me a car, my father said, get a bicycle. Go get a job. When you get enough money, buy a motorcycle. When you get enough money after that, buy a car.
That's my advice. It's free. That's all I'll give you. Any extra, I'll charge you for, but that's free. So I wanted a car. And I was a believer.
I prayed for a car. Well, I ended up buying my brother's '67 Plymouth. Now, today, it would be a classic. It would be a collector's item, but probably not his.
They normally would be, but probably not his. Because the car was all digging up and filled with Bondo. And it was not a good Bondo job. So it was like half pink Bondo and half primer gray, the entire car.
It also lacked second gear. Second gear had busted. It was burned out. So I had reversed first and third gear in this car. It cost me $37 from my brother.
I rejoiced for a day. Every day after that, I thought, Lord, this is not what I had in mind. But then I read this passage. And I thought, God is interested in economy.
And so mine was the '67 Plymouth Bondo gray. Paul's was a Roman ship, an Alexandrian Egypt ship on the way to Rome with grain as a prisoner. But he makes it.
Now, if you remember back in Verse 21, there was a change in this storm. Can I just refresh your memory? Do you remember that Paul gave counsel and said, don't go?
And the Centurion listened to Paul, because he liked Paul. But then the captain of the ship said, don't listen to Paul. He's a prisoner. What does he know?
I'm a captain. Let's go. Well, they went, and they got into trouble. And when they got into trouble, Paul in Verse 21 said, man, you should have listened to me and not have sailed from Crete in incurred this disaster and loss.
And then he encouraged them. After saying you should listen to me, he gave them encouragement and gave them a promise that the Lord sent an angel to appear to me. You're going to be safe. We're going to make it. Everybody on board, if you stay on this ship, is going to make it fine.
But what we see is that Paul goes from captive on the ship to captain of the ship. He sort of takes charge. And now, everyone wants to listen to Paul so much so that when Paul says, you guys haven't eaten for two weeks, eat breakfast, they all ate.
And he prayed publicly, and he thanked God. Now, some of the men thought that we'll take the skiff-- that's the little ship, the dinghy aboard the big ship-- lower it into the sea, and we'll escape at night. Paul said, no, you don't. You bring that skiff back on board. Unless you stay in this boat, you're going to die.
God will get you to land, but you have to stay in the boat. Stay on the ship. And I didn't have time last week to just say, you know, that's good counsel for us.
Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. One of our hardest things to do in life is to wait on the Lord. You know it's true.
We hate to wait for the Lord or to wait on the Lord. But let me encourage you to do that. When things don't go our way, we want to jump ship.
The marriage isn't going our way, I'm going to jump ship. The job isn't going our way, I'm going to jump ship. Stay put a while.
If you don't have a clear green light from the Lord, then see it as a red light for you now or at least a yellow light. Slow down. Slow your horses. Stop. Wait. And then when it turns green and the Lord shows you this is where I want you to go, then go.
I have learned that lesson painfully on so many different occasions. Don't jump ship. Stay aboard.
So now to Verse 39 of Chapter 27, we'll just sort of take this last part of the journey to Rome all in one swoop. "When it was day, they did not recognize the land, but they observed a bay with a beach onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea.
Meanwhile, loosing the rudder ropes, and they hoisted the main sail for the wind and made for shore. But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground, and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable. But the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.
And the soldier's plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape. But the centurion--" remember, Julius liked Paul the Apostle. "The centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land.
And the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship, so it was that they all escaped to the land." Now, they're going to a land that they have no idea it's identity. They don't know which land it is.
Paul said, we're going to run aground on a certain island. They don't know what island this is. Now, they will discover, and we will discover what they discovered in the very next Verse, Chapter 28 Verse 1, it's the island of Malta.
And Malta is an archipelago. It is a series of little islands between Sicily and North Africa. And the biggest island, which is considered the island of Malta in that archipelago, is a small island. It's only 17 miles long by 10 miles wide.
Now, they would have recognized had they gone to the main port of that island, the main port being Valletta, they would have recognized, oh, I know where I'm at. This is Malta. I recognize the port. We've been here many times.
The crew members of the boat would have recognized what island this was. But because they were run aground where two seas meet and it was a violent storm, it's raining, they have no idea where they're at. But they are in Malta
They're going to end up spending their winter there. The next three months will be spent on this island of Malta. And you're going to see that God has a plan for this island.
Now, by now, it's early to mid-November. And in that part of the world, that's when the rains start, sort of a California style of weather pattern where the rains, the winter rains, the early rains, can start in November. And when you have a storm and you have rain and it's a torrential downpour, those raindrops feel like darts, like bullets.
So it's cold. They're in the sea. They're in the rain, full exposure to the elements. And they go now to the shore. And they'll be there for three months.
Now, can't resist this. I'm going to read to you. If you don't want to turn there, you don't have to.
But I'm going to read a little portion out of Psalm 107 where the Psalmist says this in Psalm 107, and I'm beginning to read it, Verse 23-- "those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters--" this is one of those ships. It is a cargo boat. "They see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep. For he commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up the waves of the sea.
They mount up to the heavens. They go down to the depths." If you've ever been in a storm on the sea, you know this reality. It's up high and down low. And you think with each one, it's going to break the boat and capsize.
"Their soul melts, because of trouble. They reel to and fro and stagger like a drunken man and are at their wit's end. Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brings them out of their distresses.
He calms the storm, so that the waves are still. Then they are glad, because they are quiet. And so he guides them to their desired haven. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for his goodness."
Now, God is in this storm of Acts 27 and 28. At the very least, what he is doing is getting the attention of the 276 passengers on board or 275 other ones to at least now listen to Paul and respect him, because he was right the first time and right the second time. And now, they're going to at least listen to this crazy preacher, this man of God.
God has their attention. God is in this storm. So back to our text in Chapter 27 of Acts, I want you to just notice what we read just a little bit. Notice it says in Verse 40 that they "let go the anchors and left them in the sea." Do you see where it reads that?
Now, go back a few verses to something we read last week, Verse 28. "And they took soundings, and they found it to be 20 fathoms. And when they had gone a little farther, they took soundings again, and found it to be 15 fathoms.
And then fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for a day to come." So they took soundings. That is, they put a weight on a rope.
The rope was marked. They threw it overboard. When it hit the bottom, that could read the rope.
They knew how far from the bottom they were. So they were 120 feet, then they were 90 feet. And they put the anchors down at 90 feet.
In the next section, they just let the anchors go. They just cut the anchors. The boat was being disintegrated. And they came to the land.
If you were to go to the city-- or the island of Malta today, there's a couple of famous churches built in homage of the shipwreck of Paul. One is called Shipwreck Cathedral. It's in the main part of Valletta, but there's another smaller one in what's called St. Paul's Bay, what most people believe to be the area where the ship ran aground.
In the 1960s, an old sailor and an old diver along with the team was diving off the coast of Malta. And they found from the Roman era four anchors. Now, who knows what they are?
But it's interesting, because somebody was snooping around Malta and asking about the biblical account. And this guy-- Ray Ciancio I think was his name-- said, oh, I was part of the team that found those four anchors or at least found four anchors. And he said he described the place as a place where two seas meet where there is a sandy beach and at the precise depth of 90 feet.
And then he showed them. They dove down to show him where they found the anchors. Now, the anchors have been exhumed.
And they are presently-- the ones that are found, the four Roman anchors, very basic anchors, probably would fit the description being off of an Alexandrian grain ship. They're currently in the National Maritime Museum in Malta with no special sign on them, just sort of in the corner. And the sign reads four Roman anchors.
Now, we don't know if those are the four anchors, but it's interesting that people day after day in this museum walk past these four anchors completely oblivious to the tale that those four anchors might have told. So some believe that these are the anchors from the shipwreck that Paul was on. They certainly fit the date archaeologically.
They fit where they were found. And it's just interesting. Next time you're in Malta, check it out.
Now, we're in Chapter 28 Verse 1. Now, "when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta. Now, I'm going to guess something.
I'm going to believe, it's my conviction, that when Luke wrote Verse 1 of Chapter 28, he was giving us a play on words. The word Malta is a Phoenician term. The Phoenicians were the sea going group off of the northern coast of the Mediterranean, north of Israel, the area of Lebanon. And they conquered that area, and they settled Malta.
And their word for escape is malta. The word malta means escape or a refuge. So it's as if he's saying, and when we had escaped, then we found out that the island was called escape. Or when we found refuge, we discovered the island we were on was called refuge. That's what the Phoenicians called it.
So all 276 passengers escaped to this little island of Malta. And the natives showed us unusual kindness. For they kindled the fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold.
I really liked this. You know, to be hospitable to one or two people, that's nice. But being hospitable to 276 and a bunch of them are prisoners on their way, perhaps, to be executed, to show kindness? Not just kindness, but an unusual kindness-- the Old King James, no little kindness, which means a big kindness, a whole lot of kindness.
Did you know-- and by the way-- these are unbelievers. These are pagans. They have a pagan worldview. You'll see it.
Did you know that the Bible places a high value on a character trait all Christians should exhibit, and that is the trait of hospitality? We should be given to hospitality. It's required in church leadership to be hospitable. But it should be exemplary in all Christian's lives.
The writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 13 says that we are to show hospitality or show love to one another and to entertain strangers. For some, by doing that, have actually entertained angels without knowing it. Let me drill down just a little bit.
Not only are we called to be hospitable, but did you know that unbelievers, unsaved, unchristian people, that God will often treat them based on how hospitable or not they are to God's people? And you know that's a principle all the way through scripture. It's an interesting principle. It goes all the way back to Genesis 12.
I will bless those who bless you, God said to Abraham. And I will curse those who curse you. You are my people. You are going to be the progenitor of my people, the Jewish people. I'm going to bless those who bless you, curse those who curse you.
I just think that's interesting. And I'm going to show you that in the text. In Matthew Chapter 10 of your New Testament-- and, again, you don't have to turn to these. I can just tell you where they are, and you can write it down and go back later.
This is Matthew Chapter 10 in Verse 40, Jesus talking to the 12 disciples whom he sends out on a mission says, "he who receives you receives me. And he who receives me receives him who sent me. And he receives the prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward.
And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward." Isn't that interesting?
Furthermore, Luke tells us in the same chronology of Jesus sending out the 12 disciples, he just expands on it and includes the detail. Matthew doesn't. Jesus said, "when you go into a village, if they, the unbelievers, don't receive you, when you leave their territory, shake the dust off of your feet as a testimony against them.
It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for them." Kind of a radical thought, isn't it? So be nice to Christians, right?
So they showed us an unusual kindness. They kindled a fire. It's a big fire to warm 276 people. That's quite a fire. That's a bonfire.
"They made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out of the heat and fastened on his hand." And this is getting good.
"So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, no doubt this man is a murderer, whom though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live. But he shook the creature off into the fire. And he suffered no harm."
Now, I have a simple question. What's Paul doing gathering sticks? He's an apostle. And not only that, but, I mean, you have a huge bonfire to warm 276 cold wet souls. And Paul gets up and he just starts gathering sticks.
Now, there's an obvious reason for this. And that is any fire that is burning needs to be replenished with more fuel, more wood. And there was a brushwood on Malta that it was famous for.
So he's gathering a brush wood, putting it into the fire. That makes sense. But why Paul? Man, Paul made incredible promises, because an angel of the Lord appeared to him.
He's the guy that got them to land safely without getting killed. They kind of owe Paul their lives. Paul could have just barked out orders and said, I'd like room service, please.
I'd like you, you, and you to go get me more wood. And, in fact, the centurion, I saved your life. Why don't you go get wood? But he doesn't do that.
And here's just an insight into Paul's character. Paul the Apostle, the great leader, is picking up sticks. It's what leaders do. No job is too small for a true leader of God.
A leader doesn't say, well, you know, it's not really in my job description. I'm the anointed of the Lord. I don't pick up sticks. I preach to Caesar.
For Paul the Apostle, little things like picking up sticks were just as important for him to do as preaching salvation to Caesar in Rome. That's a leader. Jesus washed the disciple's feet.
Paul said, let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. He emptied himself. Let that mind be in you. Jesus said, the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.
So any leader who says, I'm too important to pick up sticks, is really not all that important at all. I just love this about Paul. He's so practical. He sees that something needs to be done, and he just does it.
He sees trash that needs to be picked up, he picks it up. Something needs to be straightened up, he straightens it up. I love this about Paul. I'm amazed.
So he's putting these sticks, the bundle of sticks, putting them on the fire. The only problem is one of the sticks is alive, happens to be a viper. Interesting-- history shows us that there are no more poisonous snakes on the island of Malta.
They've eradicated them all. Isn't that interesting? But back then, it was a problem. And I tend to think, and I'll show you in a minute why, it was a problem around the Mediterranean world in general.
So this snake grabs a hold of Paul. And all of the Maltese people, and it probably spreads throughout the 276 others on board, just, well, we know what this means. This means that this guy's a bad guy. Now, this will give you insight into their theology.
And it's a very important insight for you to see, because it's still an insight in many people's theology today. And notice that it says in Verse 4, "no doubt this man is a murderer whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet--" what's the next word?
Justice-- justice does not allow to live. There's a problem in my Bible. Justice is not capitalized. It should be.
Because justice, when used here, is the word dike. And Dike was the Goddess of Justice, Lady Justice, the daughter of Zeus, one that they worshipped on Malta. So though it says justice, small J, as if to describe the attribute of justice, they were actually saying a description of the deity, that Goddess Dike, the daughter of Zeus, whom they call Lady Justice.
Now, we're not that astonished. We have in our country somebody called Lady Justice depicted in American art as a blindfold woman holding the scale. She's blindfold, so she can't be partial to one party or the other.
That's Lady Justice. That's a throwback to paganism and this belief in Dike. So they say Justice, they mean capital J.
But they say, justice does not allow him to live. But he shakes it off. Now, here's what I want you to see.
These are unbelievers. They are pagan. They have a pagan worldview. But they have an interesting belief in right and wrong.
They're not Christian. They're not Jewish. But they believe in right and wrong. They have a sense of morality.
And I'm bringing this up, because I'm questioning you. Where did they get this sense of morality from, this right and wrong, saying, well, this is wrong and wrong gets punished, and this is right and right gets rewarded? Because that's what they believe.
That's their worldview, that wrong will get punished either right now or eventually. We Christians believe that as well, that eventually wrong will all be dealt with by a loving holy just God. And right will be rewarded, eventually.
They had this belief system. Where'd they get it from? God put it in their hearts. That's where they got it from.
He puts it in the hearts of all men. It's called a conscience. It's that stamp of God and of sovereign eternal God in the lives of every single human being.
It started way back in the garden when they took of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And just a few chapters ahead in the book of Romans, it tells us this. This is Romans Chapter 1.
I told you. It's a different study. We're turning a lot tonight. Romans 1, that's easy to turn to. You have no excuse for not turning there.
Romans Chapter 1 Verse 18, "for the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." That presupposes they know the truth or they, at least, hold at one time to the truth. It was given to them. They had it. They held it, but they suppressed it.
And they did it in unrighteousness, because "what may be known of God is manifest in them. For God has shown it to them." So God places that innate knowledge of right and wrong, good and evil. And even the pagans of Malta had that.
They're in error, because they think that the gods immediately punish and immediately reward rather than the God, the only true God, Yahweh, will ultimately and eventually judge all mankind based on their faith in Jesus Christ or not. But at least they have that. And that was placed there by God.
So Paul reaches in. A viper, a poisonous viper-- that's the word that is used, a deadly poison viper. Not a little garter snake, just like this-- think a rattlesnake.
They're thinking, he's going to die. They're kind of waiting for him to keel over. But it's funny. Verse 5, he just sort of shakes it off.
You know, he just glances it off. He just throws it away. He's calm. He doesn't go, ah-- just shook it off and suffered no harm.
However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. Why would they believe that? Because they knew those snakes. They knew their island. That's what has happened before.
But after they looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god. So something interesting about their theology, it was very fickle. First of all, he's going to die. He's angered Lady Justice.
Not now. He's a God himself. He didn't swell up. He didn't die.
Now, Paul, flicking off this little serpent, is a fulfillment of prophecy. That's probably why he was so calm. He's fulfilling a prophecy made by Jesus Christ.
I'm going to share with you out of the Gospel of Luke. In Luke Chapter 10-- now, I pre-marked my Bible. So I'm not expecting you to turn there as quickly as I can. I have a little cheater tab. See that little yellow tab?
So Jesus sent out not just 12 around the Sea of Galilee, but 70 disciples. And they returned, they were all psyched, because of their success. "And the 70 returned--" Verse 17, Luke Chapter 10-- "with joy saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name.
And He said to them, I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven." Of course, they're subject to my name. I was there when Satan fell out of Heaven. "Behold--" now watch this-- "I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and overall the power of the enemy. And nothing by any means shall hurt you."
So, evidently, serpents were a common problem in that era, because Jesus made that part of his promise package to his 12 and to his 70, expanded it to others. Not only that, but in Mark Chapter 16, Jesus said to them, "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. But he does not believe will be condemned.
And these signs will follow those who believe. In my name, they will cast out demons. They will speak with new tongues. They will take up serpents.
And if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them. And they will lay hands on the sick. And they will recover."
So Paul has a viper grab his arm. And you go, oh yeah, I remember what Jesus said. Didn't think anything of it, because he knew this promise.
Now, this promise does not mean that you can have a church service and bring snakes and pass them around and, if it bites you and you die, that it shows that you had no faith. That is ludicrous, but it happens in the southern states in some churches. Jesus was making a promise that, as the gospel is being spread, there will also come with the spreading of the gospel protection.
And Paul knew that. Paul knows, look, it'd be stupid for me to die here. Because I was just aboard a ship, and God preserved me on that boat. Plus, he told me I'm going to make it to Caesar.
And I don't see Caesar walking toward me right now as the snake is holding on to my arm. So I'm guessing I'm not going to die from this. So-- shook it off. He knew the promise of the Lord.
Verse 7-- let's see if we can make it all the way down to our end text, Verse 16. That's where we want to end tonight. If not, we'll finish the book next week.
"In that region, there was an estate of the leading citizen of the island." That phrase could be translated the Roman governor of the island. That's who this guy was, the leading citizen, the Roman governor of Malta whose name was Publius, who received us and entertained us courteously for three days."
You know, you might want to be hospitable. And I do, too. I have friends that come out of town. And I'll often say, stay at my house.
But I usually check with my wife. Say, hey, there's a guy or there's a couple. They're going to spend a few days at our house. But to bring 276 people home for three days, can I just say you've got to have a big house, right?
It shows us the kind of estate Publius must have had to be able to house 276 people. And he did. He entertained them courteously.
Now, they're going to spend three months there. But the first few days, this guy's taking care of them. And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery.
Paul went into him and prayed and laid his hands on him and healed him. This fever was a gastric fever. That's what most scholars believe it was.
And the word fever is put in the plural, fevers. So it was a fever that came back and back and back. It recurred.
Now, there was a goat on Malta. The milk of Maltese goats carried a microbe that brought a gastric fever that lasted between four months and up two to three years. So this guy has a gastric fever, plus dysentery.
That's a disease. It's an intestinal disease. I had a friend who suffered from it. I took him to India. He got dysentery while he was there. Lack of sanitation can breed dysentery.
So you just got a picture of this guy for at least months suffering with recurrent gastric gastroenterological issues, right? Paul comes in, does two things-- prays for him, lays hands on him. Why does he pray for him?
Because Paul doesn't heal anybody. Because God is the one who heals. He's addressing the source of all power. That's why he prayed.
Now, he laid hands on him, not because Paul's hands were special. We lay hands on people, not because our hands are special. Anything our hands have are germs.
And Paul had germs. Paul's hands weren't glowing. It wasn't like Paul said, watch this, oh!
The reason he laid hands after he prayed was to show them that this man, Paul, was the instrument through which God healed. And once this man is healed, do you think everybody is going to be listening to Paul and what he has to say? Absolutely.
Here's a guy who shook off a snake, and he's still alive. And he prays for people, and they get healed. Let's listen to what he has to say.
So when this was done, Verse 9, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed. This is not unlike Jesus in Capernaum. He heals a couple of people, and the whole countryside finds out about it. And people swarm him.
"They also honored us in many ways." Let me just stop there before we finish this out. It doesn't say that Paul preached the gospel after he healed them, though I am absolutely certain he did for one reason.
I've read the rest of the Bible. I see what Paul does everywhere. And the reason it's not mentioned is because I think Luke imply-- it's like it's so obvious. Do we really need to say it again?
And so I'm certain he did. Because the Lord used this as a confirming sign to preach the gospel-- the serpent that didn't kill him, the laying on of hands. Just like Mark said, just like Jesus said in the Gospel of Mark, it happened. So with that came the preaching of the gospel.
Now, many believe that a church was established then and there. I wouldn't doubt it. And some even believe that the pastor of that church was none other than Publius.
We don't know if that's true. When you get to Heaven, check the Lamb's Book of Life. See if his name is there, and you'll know for certain.
"They honored us, though--" Verse 10-- "in many ways. And when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary." They loaded them into the boat for their travel. So hospitality ranks high in Malta.
"After three months, we sailed in an Alexandrian ship--" which is what they had gotten shipwrecked on, this is another one-- "who's figurehead was the twin brothers--" which had wintered on the island. The twin brothers are Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of Zeus.
It was believed they were like the patron idols of the ancient world. And sailors, they believed that these twin gods protected sailors. So they would often carry an emblem of them or a figurehead on the front of the ship, so as to please those gods to ask for protection, not unlike people will superstitiously place a statue of Mary or a Saint on a dashboard and think this is going to protect my car.
My mom used to do that. And I remember sitting there thinking, mom, you have Mary kind of like facing us.
Shouldn't you turn her around, so she can see where we're going? Maybe the problem we would get in wrecks is because she's turned the wrong way. You know, that's how a kid thinks.
"And so they leave the island," Verse 11 and 12. And I can almost be certain that they didn't leave that bay of St. Paul. They left the capital port Valletta, still the capital port of the island. Because that is where cargo was loaded. And they would embark and disembark from that port.
So they left that main port. And landing at Syracuse, which is on the east of that island of Sicily-- you know, how Italy looks like a boot kicking a football? So that football, on the eastern part of that island, was Syracuse. "We stayed there three days."
Tradition says, during those three days, Paul started another church. Can't prove it, but I wouldn't doubt it. Paul worked fast.
And Verse 13-- "and from there we circled around and reached Rhegium, which is the tip of the toe or tip of the boot of Italy. And after one day, the south wind blew. So the next day, we came to Puteoli, which is the Bay of Naples.
"And while we were there, the brethren were invited to stay-- where we found brethren and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we went toward Rome." Quick FYI-- as Paul was walking on the journey now to Rome where he's going to end up-- we're going to see that in just a few verses. He ends there. And we'll see next week what he does there.
He would have passed between Puteoli and Neapolis a very famous tomb on the Appian Way, the tomb of Virgil the Roman poet. And why that is important is that Virgil, in one of his poems, anticipated a savior, the need for a savior to come and save the world and save Rome in one of his writings. And it's interesting that the one who announced that God had indeed sent the savior is going to be walking past his tomb in just a little while, just an interesting twist of history.
He would have walked past that tomb from Puteoli to Neapolis. So we found brethren. We stayed with them a week, seven days. Now, we get to the climactic part of this book.
"And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God, and he took courage. This indicates that Paul may have been, at this point, discouraged.
I don't know why. He could have been sick. It's taken him a long time. "And when we came to Rome--" ah, just take a breath in, just feel that.
Finally, he came to where he always longed to be, the imperial city of Rome. "The centurion delivering the prisoners to the captain of the guard-- but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him." We're going to stop here.
We're going to finish the book next week and do justice to Paul in Rome in the last study. Paul goes to Rome. He wanted to go there. It's an ungodly city.
Seneca, the historian said, it's a cesspool of iniquity. So you might be wondering why does Paul want to go there. Easy answer-- light always shines in the darkest places. It's always more prominent the darker it is.
You know, there's an old saying. And I'll say it, and you'll finish it. All roads lead to--
Rome. That's an ancient saying from way back then. All roads lead to Rome. Paul knew that all roads lead to Rome.
Now, if all roads lead to Rome, then all the roads lead from Rome. So to get the gospel in Rome and to get Christianity established at the center of the empire would mean it can now flow around the world, around the world. And the reason we got the gospel here in America, the uttermost parts of the Earth, is because Paul knew God put it in his heart for him to go to Rome and get the gospel to Rome.
That's the theme of this book. But we'll take one last study. It might be a short study next week. But we'll end it in praise and worship, maybe even if we have time do Q and A. Let's pray.
Father, we want to thank You for this incredible human being. Frankly, I'm glad that there's men like Peter that we can relate to and other apostles who failed that we can relate to. Because we look at a guy like Paul, and he's just head and shoulders above so many.
This incredible man who is unafraid, through whom you did miracles, but he wasn't too important to pick up sticks, he was the servant. He didn't see himself as being in a more important position, a glamorous position. He was a slave of Jesus.
And if a slave of Jesus needs to help keep the fire warm, that's what he did. And if a slave of Jesus needs to talk to Caesar, that's what he does. Lord, I pray that we as Your people would see every opportunity of being around unbelievers as an opportunity to shine Christ by some word, some act, some prayer, some deed. Use our lives, Lord.
We love that thought, that the treasure of the gospel is in clay pots-- foolish things, weak things, imperfect people. But you get the greater glory, because of it. And we thank you for that in Jesus' name. Amen.
For more resources from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit calvaryabq.org.