” However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.”
After the ship ran aground and all the passengers and crew arrived safely on shore, it would not take long for the onlookers to see who was who. Even after saving the lives of the entire crew, Paul is still treated as a criminal, and is sent to gather sticks for the fire. While reaching for a stick, Paul encounters what many people fear the most… a snake.
I have seen grown men scream like little girls, push their friends out of the way, and even leave friends stranded in the dark, at the sight of a snake. Paul did not just see a snake, but it struck him and refused to let go. What a sight that must have been! The darkness illuminated by the fire’s flames, and in the shadows, Paul swinging his arms around, attempting to get this poisonous viper to release its grip. The natives of the island, seeing this scene, determined that Paul must be a guilty man; although he was able to escape the sea, the viper got him. As they looked on, expecting him to be killed, their opinion drastically changed. They began to think that he was not a guilty man or even a man at all, but that he must be a god, for only a god could survive such things. What would cause them to have such a drastic swing in their opinion of Paul? I think it was due to their lack of a spiritual foundation upon which to build their understanding of God.
While we probably are not often mistaken for gods, we certainly live in a time when people seem to have little or no spiritual foundation. Outside the church, we find people searching everywhere to find spiritual encounters. Just the other day, I saw signs around our town for a “Psychic Seminar,” where people could come and have a spiritual experience. Within the church, emotions and experience are often mistaken for the moving of the Spirit; and popular opinion shapes our view of the love and holiness of God. We live in a time when a firm spiritual foundation is essential to develop our understanding of God; and that foundation can be nothing less than the Word of God.
Rather than being tossed around, wondering what God is really like, we need to take the time to see who He declares Himself to be, within the pages of His Word. It is very common to hear people say, “We can’t limit God” or “You cannot put God in a box.” While it is true that we often limit God and miss out on what He wants to do in and through us, it is also true that God has put boundaries upon Himself. Those boundaries are found in the pages of His Word. God is not different from who He declares Himself to be, nor will He change His viewpoint based upon public opinion. Let’s determine today to get to know the God of Scripture, rather than the god of culture.
Questions for Acts 28
- Who would have ever thought that a snake bite could change the hearts of the natives in Malta? Sometimes our actions speak to people we don’t even know. 1 Peter 2:15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. God is waiting to use you in ways you could not imagine. Ask God now how He could use you today. Are you willing to take a chance that God would use you in a miraculous way?
- Paul kept his focus on the Lord. How would you have responded if you were there with Paul? Worry of the storm? Death by a shipwreck? Pain in a snake bite? Today is not eternity, but an opportunity to allow God to work in our situations of life. Roman 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Paul penned these words; he trusted in God, had faith in God and obeyed. Take time now to lay the things of this world at the feet of Jesus.
- Verse 20, Paul had hope for Israel (the Jewish people). Are you practicing the hope of God for yourself? Your friends? Your family?
- Psalm 42:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.
- Psalm 71:14 But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more.
- Psalm 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope.
- Psalm 147:11 The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.
- Lamentations 3:24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”
- Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
- Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
- 1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
- We see Paul now bound, living in a home he is renting in Rome. For 2 years, he welcomes all, explaining and solemnly testifying the Kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets. Some believe some do not; some are challenged with their tradition. Isaiah 6:9-10 is quoted by Paul but they still struggle. May the Holy Spirit speak to you now concerning your struggles, may God heal your heart, allow Jesus to come in and heal those things you do not understand. Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; Live in God’s grace and mercy, and be filled to overflowing with His Spirit!