Sailors, Take Warning!


And when we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board. We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.

Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, 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.” But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. 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.

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. Acts 27:5-13 ESV

[The Lord says:] I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and bring their fears upon them,
because when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, they did not listen;
but they did what was evil in my eyes
and chose that in which I did not delight. Isaiah 66:4 ESV


In 1856 there was a man named George Goyder, and he was the surveyor-general of South Australia. He had the important job of setting a boundary in Australia between land that was good for farming and land that was too dry to farm. This was important because Australia had experienced a great drought from 1864 to 1865. If an area received 30 centimeters or more of rain a year, it was considered suitable for farming. Goyder researched the problem and drew his line on the map, called Goyder’s Line, and farmers were told only to buy land and plant crops south of this line. But in the 1870s there were a few unusually wet years, and some farmers ignored the warning of Goyder’s Line and bought land for farming north of the boundary. When the drier weather came again in the 1880s, these farmers were ruined.

Something similar happened to Paul. He was transferred to another ship, and that ship continued its difficult journey against the wind. Soon the time came when ships would stop sailing on the Mediterranean Sea. During the winter months there were often storms, and it was dangerous to keep sailing during that time. But the ship had anchored in a place called Fair Havens, which didn’t have a good harbor for spending the winter. The captain and his sailors didn’t want to stay there, and they thought they might still safely reach a better harbor called Phoenix off the island of Crete. Paul warned them that it would be dangerous to keep on traveling, but they didn’t listen to him. The wind was blowing gently, so they ignored Paul’s warning and continued to sail.

People often ignore even more serious warnings that put their lives in danger, and the most serious warning of all is the warning to turn away from sin and turn to God for forgiveness. God is ready to forgive everyone who turns to him, because he sent Jesus to pay for the sins of the whole world on the cross.But there are some people who just won’t listen to God, and sadly, they will have to face his judgment someday. Because of Jesus, we never have to worry about facing God’s judgment, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to make us able to repent and trust in Jesus. We listen to the warnings and the promises of God’s word and trust our lives to him.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, our Savior, and for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Please help us to always listen to your warnings and to your promises. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.