6 There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board. 7 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. 8 Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.
9 Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, 10 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.” 11 But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. 12 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.
You can get an idea of the difficulty of sea travel from this section. As the seasons change, the weather and travel are severely affected. Summer with a breeze is much different than winter with a breeze when you’re out on the deck of a boat.
Grain imported from Egypt to Rome was a common commodity in the summertime and fall. When winter came, it was still needed (Romans gotta eat!) and ships were paid a premium for bringing in wheat when the supply was down.
Ships also needed specific kinds of docks and towns if they wanted to stay all winter.
We don’t know if Paul is prophesying when he says they should stay where they are or if he is speaking from his experience in travel. We know he is trying to get to Rome, but he is also in no hurry. The Centurion and the owner of the ship have an incentive to get to Rome so that they can sell their cargo. Of course, losing their crew and or their ship would make it not worthwhile.
But it is a risk they are willing to take.
It’s easy to believe that the Holy Spirit would help us with spiritual things, like showing someone forgiveness, resisting temptation, etc. The Holy Spirit can also help us in the most practical of things. He can help us with decisions, choices, and even timing. This passage sets Paul up for an “I told you so” moment, but the Holy Spirit isn’t mentioned.
This gives me confidence that in the scriptures, just like in our lives, the Holy Spirit is so often at work in our lives, even if we don’t know it.
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