- Gwen Diaz
Marooned on Malta
NOVEMBER 28 - Nº 332 Acts 27:44 – 28:14
Some swam, some floated-on planks and debris from the ship, but all 276 men that had been on board the sinking vessel made it safely to shore. Soon they realized that the small island they had reached was Malta. This was good news. They had not landed in Africa where they could have been enslaved or killed. Instead, they were on an island ruled by the Romans. The castaways were drenched and exhausted. A cold rain only made things worse. But the inhabitants of the island were kind. They built a fire and welcomed their bedraggled guests. Paul helped by gathering firewood. As he placed an armload on the fire, a viper, trying to escape from the heat, crawled out and bit him. When the islanders saw the venomous snake dangling from Paul’s hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer. He escaped from the sea, but the goddess of justice will not allow him to live.” Paul, however, just shook the snake off into the fire. Everyone watched him carefully—expecting him to swell up and fall over dead. But nothing happened! Eventually they changed their minds. “He must be a god!” they exclaimed. The governor of the island, a man named Publius, had an estate near the scene of the shipwreck. He welcomed the survivors into his home and treated them very generously for three days. Meanwhile, Publius’ father was sick in bed with a fever and severe intestinal problems. Paul went in to see the elderly gentleman. He prayed for him and placed his hands on him, and God healed him. News of this spread quickly and soon all the sick people on the island came to be cured. The island residents were extremely grateful and treated Paul and his friends with great honor. No doubt Paul used every opportunity he was given to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Tradition tells us that a church was started there at this time and that Publius was the first pastor. The crew members and passengers stayed in Malta for three months as they waited for winter to end. Julius then booked passage for them on another Egyptian cargo ship that had wintered on the far side of Malta and was going to Rome. The people from the island furnished them with all the supplies they needed for the trip. The ship sailed about 100 miles to Syracuse on the east coast of the island of Sicily where it docked for three days. Then it sailed to the southern tip of Italy. There the captain anchored for a day while he waited for the south wind to help them sail through the straits of Messina. This was a treacherous part of the journey, not because of the legendary mythological creatures that were supposed to inhabit the waters, but because the rocks of Scylla and the whirlpool at Charybdis were dangerously close together and very difficult to navigate. Once they made it through the straits, the ship headed up the coast to the port of Puteoli. There they went ashore. Paul, Luke, and Aristarchus spent seven days with Christian families who welcomed them into their homes. Their new friends then helped them continue their journey to Rome. Paul was still a prisoner.
God did not prevent the ship from breaking up in the storm, but he did provide a safe place for Paul to land. God did not prevent the snake from biting Paul, but he did keep it from killing him. God did not prevent the people from judging Paul, but he did redeem Paul’s reputation and bring him great honor. What are you struggling with right now? How do you think God can use it and bless it? He will if you let Him!
Romans 8:28; Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17; James 1:2-4