By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: Acts 27-28
Key Scripture Verses: Acts 28:3-6 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, ‘This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live. But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.”
As you may remember from a post last week on the book of Acts and Paul’s arrest, Paul was visited by the Lord and told, “‘Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.’” Paul was sent to Rome as a prisoner, because he had appealed to Caesar to hear the case against him—this was his ticket to Rome to preach there. God had plans for Paul to be there to preach and nothing was going to get in the way of that happening.
The trip from Jerusalem to Rome was difficult, overall—in fact, Paul and the ship’s crew were in danger of losing their lives because of severe storms. Paul advised the ship’s crew re: safety, but they did not listen to him at first; and, when they were at the point of giving up hope of being saved, he told them that he had been visited by an angel the night before and that if they all stayed with the ship, not one of them would be harmed.
The crew did not listen and planned to take a lifeboat down and to escape in it, although they feigned putting down anchors. Paul told the centurion who was with him and the soldiers that all who wanted to save their lives had to stay with the ship, so the soldiers cut the life boat loose on behalf of the crew. All had to stay with the ship, but they ran it aground at the nearest island, the island of Malta.
Shipwrecked but safe, Paul and all of the crew made it safely to Malta where they were treated well and the islanders helped them with repairs and supplies.
It was at Malta that this incident with the viper occurred. They were not yet in Rome, but Paul knew he would get there, because God wanted him to preach there. He had to endure a lot because of his faith, but not even a poisonous snake was going to take his life and keep him from completing the plan.
Paul made it to Rome and preached the gospel there as he had wanted to and as God had wanted him to. He trusted that he would get there safely. In spite of all the obstacles that would keep him from his mission, God was in control and worked all things for Paul’s good, because of his faithfulness. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
May we have the faith we need to carry out God’s will. May we trust him enough to diligently do what is necessary, in spite of all obstacles that would keep us from carrying out his work through us.
“If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)