Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Voyage of the Ship of State - a Look into the Future

After the election  I sought the Lord on what is ahead for the next several years, in the USA, in the State, City and in our lives. Elections always have consequences. This one certainly will.  I was shown a pattern that takes place when a Prophetic word is ignored, a ship casts out into unknown troubled waters with majority consensus, a blinded pilot and governmental authority to back him up. This pattern is revealed by the story in Acts 27-28. Paul shipwrecked on Malta on the way to Rome.

The story is familiar, but it contains instructive nuances many of us miss.  Paul had argued to be sent to Rome.  He had received a visit from Jesus that assured him that his purpose would be fulfilled.  He stepped onto the boat knowing that while the trip had peril in it, that the expected end was assured.

As we explore the story if you hover over the scripture reference you can read the passage in full.  The prophetic meaning of all this will become clear at the end.  A summary:

Acts 27:1-8 Paul had appealed to Cesar, the Government was required to send him to Rome.  As you read the passage, you will see that there was already difficulty in the voyage as they embarked to Rome. Things were not going as expected or hoped for.  There was opportunity to sail to a safe place. A  better place even than a place called fair haven. They might have harbored over winter and made the trip without incident.

Acts 27:9-12 Paul using the gift of prophecy, warned the captain, the pilot, his guard and shipmates of the danger to come. He said, IF we embark on this course we will not make it.  A vote was taken and by a majority, the vote for going down a path of destruction was decided.  It was a democratic act. It over rode a word from the Apostle.

Acts 27:13-20 Gentle winds blew.  It seemed as if things were going to be OK.  That all these warnings Paul brought were of no account.

Things got rough.  A strong wind blew up from Europe and the seas became very rough.  Steering the ship became impossible in the storm.  Much of the equipment was discarded to keep the ship afloat.  The storm got so bad that most of the passengers and crew on the boat were convinced they were going to die.  Giving up hope.

Acts 27:21-26 Then Paul addresses the passengers and crew.  He doesn't demean them.  He tells them what is about to happen and tells them to prepare for an eventuality.

Paul who had every right to demean and condemn, rather offers hope:  “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”

Now the ears of the those who had decided otherwise were open.  They were ready to hear.

Acts 27:27-32 It got worse then they thought it would become.  His words of hope were not enough when things got rough.  Some of the crew decided to abandon ship.  Run away. Paul warns them. Now they are ready to listen to the word of God's man. 
Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.”
That was a wake up call.  Now they knew, if they didn't hang together, they would not make it.

Stay with the ship was Paul's cry.

It had been 14 days and in the battle no one had eaten much.  They were exhausted.  Hopeless.  Paul admonishes them to eat something. He breaks bread, gives thanks to God.  They all eat.  He becomes the head and not the tail because he hears from God.  Yet in the flesh he is still a prisoner.
"I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.”
Acts 27:33-38   That was a big claim.  276 people were on the ship in the middle of terrible storm and Paul says, NOT ONE will be lost.  They ate and the rest of the food was thrown overboard.

The crew saw what they believed to be HOPE.  A sandy beach appeared on a distant island.   It became the lure that drove them onto a sandbar that caused the ship to designate.  It became unrecognizable by anyone.  Beaten to pieces. 

Acts 27:39-41   It looked pretty bleak

Acts 27:42-44 But in the middle of the catastrophe when it looked as if even the soldiers would kill the prisoners including Paul, there was reprieve.  Even the men who would kill them were set back by a higher call.  Leadership intervened and told them NOT to harm any.  Everyone who could swim did, others hung onto scraps of wood and drifted.

Acts 28:1-6 The whole of the crew and passengers made landfall.    The people of Malta showed them kindness.  They brought them to safety.   Gave them food and warmed them by a fire.  Paul was bitten by a viper from the fire, many assumed he must be evil and will soon swell up and die ...but he lives.  They revere him as a God.  NO he says. He gives glory to the True and living God.

Acts 28:7-10  Soon God moved on the population. Paul ministered to Publius family who was the chief on the island. His ministering of healing caused the whole island to come to understanding the Power of God. 

Many came to receive healing at the hands of Paul.  Paul and his shipmates stayed the winter and when they were ready to go, the islanders blessed them with provisions for the journey the next spring.

As a result of this, God brought Paul to Rome, Paul stood before Cesar and Rome was eventually converted.  The Gospel came to Italy.

What does this have to do with today and our current ship of state? MUCH.

The USA has been sailing in troubled waters for some time now.  The advice has been to find a better course, more proven leadership.  That advice not been heeded.  The ship of state has been put on a dangerous course.  Despite warnings of the Prophets, our shipmates have voted for a course that has shipwreck at it's end.

There have been brief breezes that seem to be favorable.  Those have caused the captain with the approval of the crew to set out to sea.  There have been some difficult winds, but Fair Haven has been sought.  Now a strong opposing wind is blowing hard.  The next event will be a difficult time that will drive the ship of state without any direction from the captain.  This will cause our shipmates to become fearful.  There will be measures taken to lighten the load but the opposing winds will become so strong that the ship will become one of terror.  People will consider abandoning ship.  Trying to get away.  We see it already.  There is no getting away.  There is no safety in the lifeboats.  There are no lifeboats.  Not Gold, not silver.  The only safety is staying with the ship.  It will be an event that will shake everything that can be shaken. I do not know what that event will be, but it is certain to come.  There will appear to be a place to find safety.  A sandy beach will seem to be just the place.  Yet as the wind drives the ship of state toward illusive safety, disintegration will take place.

There is good news in this however.  Refugees will end up on the shore.  They will carry the truth of Christ in their midst.  Revival, conversion, healing, miracles will be the result.  This will the the greatest time for the manifestation of God's glory ever seen.  This will change everything.  Many people see potential apocalyptic events as negative, yet supernatural potential is in them.  God does his best when things seem to be the worst.

THE KEY IS... stay with the ship.  Do not lose your faith in the Word of God from the Prophets and Apostles nor from His written Word.  Pray for the leaders who are trying to steer the ship, yet understand that the ultimate destiny is in the hands of God.  No matter how the winds blow.  HE will bring us to HIS expected end. There will even be a time when it will appear we are snake-bit and have no hope.  YET. That will be the very thing to reveal the Glory of God in our midst.

Rough seas are ahead.  Times are going to get rough. God is about to use what seems to be impossible to bring justice to an unjust age.  To bring adjustment to things out of alignment.  For some it will seem like Judgement.  It is not.  It is making wrong things right.

Have confidence, what looks like catastrophe is about to be turned for our good and for God's Glory!.

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