Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A True Prophet

21 Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. 22 Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we must run aground on some island.” (Acts 27:21-26 (ESV)

“I told you so.” No this isn’t what Paul says. “You should have listened to me.” You have to wonder how those words hit upon the captain and owner of the boat, Paul’s guard, the rest of the men in the boat staring at their own death. It’s not cool. That any in the boat would survive would be a miracle of its own. This isn’t really the time to be trying to score credit for being right. But then that isn’t what Paul is doing. His words aren’t meant to be an, I told you so. They are only meant to establish credibility to what he is about to say. Now Paul is going to tell them that their lives have been spared. No one is going to lose their lives. Paul says this with a prophetic voice. He wants it to be taken as prophecy. And in order to do this he says, remember when I said? Well now that is happening, isn’t it? You can trust that what I speak is true. Now you can take heart when I tell you, none of us will perish on account of this storm.

Paul here draws on the Old Testament criterion for a prophet in doing this. A prophet had to establish the credibility of his words by successfully predicting what was going to happen within the immediate future. If what he said didn’t come to pass he was to be stoned to death. Of course, being as people have generally despised God’s word the true prophets would be stoned to death anyway. And false prophets would make a good living telling people what they wanted to hear, whether it became true or not. Always much safer being a false prophet when it comes to life in this world. False prophets were not known to suffer as much as Paul suffered for the truth. But then on this day, the passengers in the boat would be happy to know they had a true man of God in the boat that would spare their lives because he had interceded for them. A true prophet loves even those who do not listen to him, even as Jesus forgave those who murdered him. God’s prophets want all men to be saved because this is what God wants. And now those saved in this boat will take heart not only in their temporal lives, but they will listen to Paul concerning Jesus and the resurrection too. 

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