The previous chapter ended with what seemed would be smooth sailing ahead. But this was not
"But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon."
The most outstanding feature Luke thus far presents has been to describe one storm right after the other. Think about that. There's just no way all this was recorded in the Bible merely so that Christians could later reflect on an ocean trip which included Paul, a centurion and his band, the ship's company, and "certain" prisoners. Pictured here is Church-age conflict. To enhance the drama, now we come across a tempest that was even named! Euroclydon.
'Euraquilo' is the RV translation of this word, which is based on Euros, or 'east' wind, and Aquilo, as 'northeast' wind. Putting them both together specifically describes the wind's direction as East-Northeast. Surely the Law of Double Reference is in view here. That this wind was called 'Euroclydon' strongly suggests to me the affect of certain European powers upon the Church.
If you look at a map showing the ship's location at the time the Euroclydon 'tempestuous wind' struck, then look north and northeast, you'll see the nations which today comprise the Common Market and Russia. No nations on this earth have tried harder to destroy the true Church than powers within these regions. It was because of domination [often in the name of Christianity] that resulted in many people fleeing from Europe to America where they hoped to practice true faith more freely. Euroclydon pictures these events.
This particular wind would likely include the period of the Reformation. There were great
struggles in the Church at that time. One thinks especially of Wycliffe in England and Luther in
Germany, and other reformers of their day. These Godly groups tried desperately to bring purity
and right purpose back to the state and ecclesiastically-controlled churches. The powers of
opposition [similar to what Satan tried in the very early Church] were determined to destroy the
true Church, but actually this attempt would eventually backfire and further her cause. Satan will
never learn. He lost at the cross; he has lost throughout the ages; and he will lose in the end.
Jesus said He would build His Church and that "...the gates of hell would not prevail against it",
[not even the Euroclydon wind].
"And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive."
Remember, the ship was trying to reach Phoenicia, Crete, in order to bed down for the winter. Phoenicia was a little to the north. The ship not being able to "bear up" indicates they couldn't move northerly at that point. So, they "let here drive", meaning they allowed the ship to be pushed southerly by the tempest, Euroclydon.
The spiritual side of this once again indicates the sovereignty of God in action. To "let her drive" is a sailing term which suggests something everyone faces at times, that when the going gets tough, we must sometimes just let go and let God. This doesn't mean there's nothing for us to do---i.e., that we just lean back and wait on God to perform our work; it means to come to a realization that we can't always do what we think is the right thing to do. In these instances, God always has a better purpose for us when we think all is lost.
God had a higher goal for Paul and the others than they did. Following a long-established pattern,
the devil intended the tempest for evil; but God intended it for good. On the short side of things
(i.e., during that actual trip), God wanted to impress upon Paul and the others that through 'thick
and thin', He would be with them. But, with regards to the whole Church age, the view is that
God was preparing a further dispersion of the Gospel than the European scene. He "let her drive"
in order that she (the Church) might move towards another 'island'.
"And running under the lee of a certain island which is called Cauda, we had much work to
secure the boat,..."
This is the third 'island' used on this voyage to block strong winds. The first, Cypress, was identified as representing Israel; the second, Crete, pictures Great Britain; and the third now, Cauda, signifies the United States. This third island is the smallest of the three islands and doesn't really fit in terms of proportionate-land-mass of the nations. But, timewise, Cauda fulfills this symbolism because it falls logically into the sequence of historical reality, in terms of how the Gospel shifted from lands to lands during the past 2,000 years.
I again want to urge the reader to consider the logic that God surely used certain national powers during the Christian era, and that [just as surely] they are Biblically identified. Nobody argues about Israel and her involvement with the formation and propagation of the Gospel of God, because the entire Bible is filled with this truth. But when it comes to the national Gentile powers I believe the Bible infers [but doesn't specifically name], then skepticism flourishes.
This presents me with a dilemma, because I appreciate honest skepticism. But, I also find this
surprising, because the Church in Great Britain and America have done far more than Israel, in
terms of preaching, publishing, church building (both at home and abroad), Bible education,
training, sending missionaries, etc., including the financial sustenance of same. This is the Great
Commission in action. For this to be true [as is unarguably the case] and not be forecast in
Scripture, defies logic and makes havoc of God's consistency. In Bible days, God always
identified key powers He called and anointed. But in the dispensation of the Church age, He was
just more subtle in how He provided the revelations which identify them.
What many Christians need to understand is that as God's people have advanced in the knowledge of Him, His ways, and His plan of redemption, He expects us to eventually be able to recognize reality with less-obvious input. That's what God's metaphors are all about. This is why the Revelation of Jesus Christ [the last book of the Bible] is written in such symbolic terms. To see these things, it takes a combination of time, careful study, history, prophetic fulfillment, and most of all, God's call and anointing which produces spiritual discernment.
In Part I of this book, I referred to Jesus' command for believers to look at the "fig tree" and "all the trees" to gain insight in order to know when we reach the last of the "last days". We are living in the very time He was speaking about. I'm absolutely convinced that the "trees" (nations) He was alluding to are the very ones being identified for you right here in this book. [Many other "trees" are described in The Two Witnesses.]
How does the name itself, "Cauda", fit into the scheme of things insofar as identifying the USA? I don't know. Perhaps others who have some historical background here will later provide more complete information. [I will also admit that there will be more places in this chapter where I don't have all the answers. But, I believe there will be more than enough development here before we are finished for most people to see the whole, if not all the component parts, of the picture.]
Now, back to our study. The smallness of Cauda might suggest the following:
It's possible that when the ship got to Cauda (thinking symbolically now), America was not yet
discovered (i.e., the Columbus discovery). The tiny island could be referring to the small band of
people who had reached the American continent before Columbus. In my other books, I shared
the knowledge that there were ancient, English-speaking people in America in the 8th century,
having left the proof of their presence indelibly etched in caves of West Virginia. [Interestingly,
this small group inscribed in stone a brief account of the Gospel.]
Verses 16b - 19.
"...we had much work to secure the boat,"
"Which, when they had hoisted it, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, struck sail, and so were driven."
"And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;"
"And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackle of the ship."
The "boat" of 16b refers to the life boat, not the ship. They had a problem securing it because of the raging storm. Undergirding the ship means they strung large lines, or cables, completely around the ship's belly, up and over the top, literally wrapping the ship like a spool of thread; all this was an attempt to save the vessel. This gives some idea of the strength of the tempest they faced.
The ship remained a ways out from land at Cauda, for the Scripture says they feared "lest they should fall into the quicksands"; i.e., they feared the ship might float up on the seashore and be grounded. I can personally identify with Paul's predicament. Let me explain:
I was in the Navy during the Korean Conflict. In 1952-53, I was aboard an ammunition ship
called the USS Chara. We provided bombs and shells of all kinds to the whole U.S. task force
(destroyers, battle ships, cruisers and aircraft carriers) in the Sea of Japan and along the coastline
of North and South Korea. We were said to be a floating keg of dynamite. [The Chief Boatswain
Mate often reminded us that it would not be good to smoke in unauthorized places, for no person
ever survived an explosion on an ammo ship. We got the message!]
That winter, we were in a typhoon and had pulled into Pohang harbor and dropped anchor, expecting to be safe there for the night. But the storm was so strong, we began to drag anchor. Fearing "lest we should fall into quicksands" (I mean this literally), rather than risk being grounded, the captain of the ship issued an order to get underway and go back and face the storm at sea.
I've never witnessed anything so awful in my life as that storm. It was a tempest of magnificent proportions. Waves completed covered the huge ship and tossed it around like a toy duck in a bathtub full of splashing grandchildren. The rain and wind raged. You couldn't see any distance in any direction. We took 45 degree rolls and pitches; the whole screw (the part that drives the ship) would come out of the water during dives, producing a violent shaking of the ship. Every sailor not on watch was under command to be strapped into his bunk. You talk about fear! I know what it means. But we rode it out. The next day, all was fine.
[A little side story is in order here: As I lay scared-stiff and strapped in my bunk, I had a vision of my mother on her knees, praying. After that, much to my surprise, the fear suddenly vanished, and then I was even able to calm a few others, which was a bit remarkable to them, I think, since I was probably the youngest and greenest lad on board. Years later, I would learn from my mother that she had awakened one night and was prompted to get out of bed and pray for me, which she did until she felt everything was O.K. The next day, she heard about the typhoon which had hit Korea!
I did not know until 25 years later the meaning of the name of my ship. 'Chara' is a Biblical word; it means calm delight, cheerfulness, or exceeding joy, especially in the midst of severe circumstances. I believe I was actually given the privilege of seeing God validate our ship's name and proving Himself mighty in behalf of those who look to Him in times of need.]
My Christian friends, I can bear witness, by Biblical truth and experience, Jesus is always in the boat with us. Praise His Holy Name!
Perhaps this personal account will give you a clearer picture of the kind of storm Paul and the
others were in. You will note that the tempest was so bad, "they lightened the ship..." by
throwing things overboard, believing this might help save them and the ship. Now what does this
imply in the prophetic sense?
I believe in view here is that period when some in the Church (the true Church) were attempting to get rid of the excess baggage, if you will, of the ecclesiastical church. Included would be the problems created by the Catholic hierarchy, the Church of England, the Russian Orthodox Church, etc. Much of the Church structure had become too ornate, too rich, and seeking men's wealth rather than their souls, even through selling indulgences and the like. This is what Luther and Wycliffe spoke against so strongly. Thank God for the Christian remnant which tried fervently to rid the Church of its excesses. It was from these things that those who came to establish the Church in America were fleeing. They did not want this 'excess baggage' coming along with them. Unfortunately, they were not totally successful because the Church in America has not been completely void of these tendencies and perversions.
[To remind the reader, this is not really a book of Church history. The purpose here is to convey
an idea, along with just enough background to see the big picture unveiled, metaphorically, in
Acts 27 and 28. If you desire more than is being presented, surely many comprehensive works in
that regard are available which provide a broader scope and far more details of Church history.
This is especially true of the structured part, which is what's in view here as Luke speaks of
casting out with their "own hands" the "tackle", etc., in order to lighten the load of the ship.]
"And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all
hope that we should be saved was then taken away."
Surely the plain message here is clear. The sky was continually covered with storm clouds for many days, so dense that the sun and stars could not be seen during the period.
Prophetically, I won't try to say exactly what years, or even which century, this refers to, but I feel certain of what is implied. I believe not seeing the sun nor the stars for many days refers to the Church's dim view [seemingly absent] of God [the "sun"] and His angelic host [the "stars"]. Of course, the powers of God were not absent, but it appeared that way to humanityeven to the Church. In a storm, though unseen, the sun and the stars remain fixed above the clouds.
[We recently had a severe storm lasting for two weeks, creating flood conditions here in California. As you read this, think back when Sonoma, Roseville and Rio Linda flooded. When you are living in this kind of situation, it's sometimes hard to believe that the sun and the stars are still up there. Not seeing them requires a little faith as to their presence. This is the kind of picture Luke is conveying here.]
From Malachi to the coming of Christ was a 400 year period. No prophets came and no Scripture was written during this period. It must surely have seemed to Israel that God (the sun) and the angelic host (the stars) were no longer there; but they were. There have been periods like this during the Christian era, too. Certainly the Dark Ages would have to be included. Let me quote from The World Book Encyclopedia a statement about the time:
"We can rightly apply the term [i.e., Dark Ages] only to the period from the 400s to the 1000s... But civilization almost completely disappeared in much of western Europe during this period. Only a few places, such as monasteries, preserved Latin learning. Greek learning almost disappeared. Few persons received any schooling. Authors of the period had little sense of style, and showed great ignorance by accepting popular stories as true. People completely forgot many of the arts and crafts of the ancient world."
These were some of the "storm clouds" which blocked out evidence of the "sun" and the "stars" of this period.
This is reminiscent of Malachi, who was obviously foreseeing a period of apparent darkness, when seemingly no sun nor stars would be seen for a long time after his day. But he saw and promised the coming of the "Sun of righteousness" who would "rise with healing in His wings" (Mal.4:2), an allusion to Jesus, the Son of God. The Son was there all the time; so were His angels and a remnant of the Faithful. But, humanly speaking, things looked bad.
Luke said the tempest was so great that "all hope that we should be saved was then taken away." But God is always behind the scenes in the darkest hours, strengthening the inner man in those who will look to Him. When it seems like the light of the Gospel has gone out, there is always God's presence and His faithfulness.
The picture Luke is painting for us here is addressing some of the toughest times the Church has
had to endure. The outlook of Paul and the others had become hopeless. That's when God works
at His best. When it looks like there is nothing else we can do, He will make a way of escape.
Let's move on and check God's consistency.
"But after being long without food, Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss."
"And now I exhort you to be of good cheer; for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but only of the ship."
"For there stood by me this night an angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,"
"Saying, Fear not, Paul, thou must be brought before Caesar; and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee."
"Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer; for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me."
"However, we must be cast upon a certain island."
I grouped this rather large passage together because it is really one-cohesive-statement. Let me urge you to read the above six verses several times in order to get it down inside your mind and spirit......Pause. I shall assume that you did, and now thoroughly grasp the words themselves. Now, let me speak only with regards to the metaphoric content.
Being "long without food" alludes to that period when it seemed to believers that God and His angels [the "sun" and the "stars"] had abandoned the Church. In other words, whatever the dark and dismal period this metaphor refers to is now over. The "fast" is done. It's time to "cheer" up and move on.
Verse 22 nails down the doctrine of eternal security as absolute truth. Once God's metaphoric teaching here is understood, one can never return to even the possibility that one can lose his salvation once he is in Jesus' Ark. Notice what Paul says: "...for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but only of the ship." So clear.
[Because of this truth and other Biblical evidence, I will not seriously consider any argument contrary to the correct teaching of the permanence of salvation once one is in Christ. Listening to doubters of eternal security should only be for the purpose of clarifying the real meaning of whatever passage (s) they believe teaches one can lose his salvation.]
Notice too, though, that Paul is predicting that the ship itself will be lost! Amazing. Just imagine that you are at sea in an awful storm [like I was in] and a preacher [not a shipman] tells you that the ship is going down but not one person's life would be lost. That would be hard to believe [just like it is hard for some to believe in eternal security]. But Paul not only tells them this, he said to "be of good cheer". In other words, GET EXCITED MEN! WE'RE GOING TO THE OTHER SIDE!
What was the basis of Paul's confidence? Hey, a "star" had appeared! An "angel of God", he said, had come and told him to "Fear not...God hath given thee all them that sail with thee." Here is the second proclamation of eternal security for those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ; "all them that sail with thee...", he said.
[Later, we'll see what happens to the ship itself.]
That Paul must be "brought before Caesar" foreshadows the fact that the Church will see political,
Roman rulership at the end of the Christian age. "Caesar" (the re-established Roman Empire) will
again be in power. The ship that was carrying Paul (i.e., Church leadership) and the others would
be destroyed, but the people themselves will be saved. More later on this.
Paul closes this speech as he opened it, honorably, calling his hearers "sirs", again with what was surely a most welcome word of knowledge from the Lord, to men who thought they were finished. "Be of good cheer", he said.
I've never thought of what I said to my friends when we were in that typhoon as any great thing. But, as I recall, my confidence that we and our ship would be all right was very encouraging to them. I can't help believing that God, in His sovereign, gracious plan for my life, allowed my involvement in that whole ordeal, plus giving me a vision of my Mom praying, was so that, 42 years later, I would see the connection between that incident and Paul's situation.
Not to boast [except in God], but how could I not see the strong parallelism here and the fact of the insights God seems to have prepared for me relative to this whole Scripture passage? I truly hope the reader will see God in this, and be edified by it, rather than thinking I'm trying to draw attention to myself. I think it would be dishonoring to God, and possibly result in some of you missing out on a blessing, if I didn't tell you these things which He visited upon me. I don't know, perhaps some will need to have this information just to add credence and believability to the whole thesis being presented here. This I can tell you for sure: what happened to me in that tempest increased my confidence in God.
Paul's confidence here shows why God [at times] specially intervenes upon us in our Christian voyage. He said, "...for I believe God, that it shall be as it was told me." The angel of God had told Paul that He and the ship's company would be fine and that all would reach their destination. Paul believed this angel was from God and that which he said would become reality just as sure as the words were spoken. From there on, it would be just a matter of going through whatever difficulties awaited them. Paul knew that nothing would prevent the outcome of what God had said through the angel.
[As you and I read the Bible, we should be just as confident in the outcome of the promises it contains as if an angel of God had spoken those promises directly to us. But we weaken sometimes and our faith dims as the storm clouds of life come, blocking our view of the "sun" and the "stars". Even now, God may break through and provide a closer encounter with Him; perhaps just a quiet inner assurance from the Holy Spirit; perhaps through a word of knowledge from another brother or sister who God has sent for the occasion; or maybe through an angel. (Yes, angels still work for God and they are around the heirs of salvation; we have just become so insensitive and unbelieving to the ways and powers of God that we often miss what has truly happened. Pay attention!) But to prepare us for the tempest before it comes, God wants us to spend time in prayer and meditation on His Word. God's Word planted in a believing heart will bring great comfort during periods of hopelessness and despair. This last resource may be God's preferred method out of His many ways of communication with us.]
The final word of this speech "that we must be cast upon a certain island" is a prophetic metaphor of the highest order. In this little statement is hidden the most treasured promise God has made to believers in His Son. Have you seen enough evidence yet to identify what is implied? Before I share the 'secret', see if you can figure it out.
Let's think it through, logically. Assuming you are a Christian, we are on a ship [the physical Church] headed to Rome. And what have we learned this means? That the Church has been, and is, moving toward the last humanly-designed empire this world will ever know---the re-established Roman Empire. Now let me test your understanding of basic prophecy.
Will the Church face the very last days of this empire? That is, when the anti-Christ will be ruling in full power? No. The Church will be raptured---i.e., removed from this earth. There is variation on exactly when this occurs relative to the final, seven-year Tribulation period---pre, mid or post; i.e., prior to, half way, or at the end of the Tribulation. In my book The Two Witnesses I devote much attention to this issue. [My conviction: the Church will be raptured mid-way into the Tribulation.]
Let me briefly explain my position: the only reason for a rapture is to avoid the wrath of God. But the wrath of God is not even announced until the 15th chapter of Revelation---spelled out by seven "vials" in the 16th chapter after the "seals" and "trumpets" will have already been completed! The seals and trumpets [which the Church will face] are preparatory to the wrath, not part of it.
Make no mistake about it, Christians will be raptured! One day (when the "vials" are announced), gravity will lose its grip on the body of Christ. We shall be changed in the "twinkling of an eye". Those that are "dead in Christ" (the bodies of the saved now in graves) will rise first, followed by those "alive in Christ" (the alive-saved), and all these will "put on immortality" and we shall be caught up (raptured) to God. The question is, where will we go?
Where exactly remains a mystery. But it is a place designed by God and spoken of by Jesus to one of the thieves crucified alongside Him.
Have you yet figured out God's revelation in metaphor when Paul spoke about the "certain island" they must be "cast upon"? Yes? No? I hope some of you see this image, for it is a beautiful part of the whole.
Here's the 'secret': for the ship to be lost, and yet all those who had been on board to be saved,
refers to the Rapture; and the "certain island" alludes to where the Church will be taken ---
PARADISE. [More later on this.]
Glory be to God!