The Bible speaks of a trilogy for the times in which we live. It is now the last days (2 Tim. 3:1); it is the time of the end (Dan. 12); it is the last time or (in the Greek) the last hour (1 John 2:18; Rev. 3:10, a crisis hour in the earth where many antichrists appear prior to the Antichrist). We are witnessing an explosion of powerful personalities rapidly rising in the earth. More and more they are pressing for the emergence of a global government. Only the providence of God can bring about any hindrance to their evil designs.
We cry amidst the urgency of this hour, “Master, the tempest is raging!” The powers of the sea of humanity are swirling at whirlwind proportions. Our Beloved Lord has aptly warned us:
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken (Luke 21:25, 26).
With all that has transpired since the beginning of 2021, accelerated paradigm shifts in our country will profoundly have global effects in the coming months. How long can the Master of the sea permit the raging and fomenting of this sea of humanity before He declares His final peace upon it? Amidst this crucial, ominous hour we look for principles and patterns from the Word of God to know how to live in our perilous and troubled generation.
Principles and Patterns for Our Times
The New Testament is the interpretive key to the shadows and types that grace the pages of the Old Testament. Patterns and principles in Scripture should become identifiable with what I am facing in my generation. Seeking these out, I gain living insight from those patterns and principles.
The Israelites were a pastoral and agricultural people who had no inducements to pursue a seafaring life. Although they possessed a considerable amount of coastline along the Mediterranean, the character of their coast gave little encouragement to explore sea navigation. The coastline of the land of Israel from Carmel southward had no bays or river inlets to offer havens for ships. Joppa was about the only seaport referenced in the Old Testament. However, we do read (according to the blessings of Jacob and Moses) of Zebulun and Issachar connected with the sea through tributaries of waters that eventually flowed into the Mediterranean Sea. Dan and Asher are also spoken of as connected with the life and work of the tributaries flowing out into the sea (Judges 5).
In the New Testament Israel is more acquainted with sailing activity on the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee exclusively belongs to the Gospel writers as the place of the sea and boats specifically identified with fishing. This sea was known for its sudden storms and high winds rushing down from the mountains that surrounded it.
By the Book of Acts, we leave the Sea of Galilee and are familiarized with the coastline of the Mediterranean, entering the vast potential powers of the Mediterranean Sea. It became the most important waterway of classical antiquity. In the Old Testament it was called the “great sea” (Josh. 1:4) and “the sea.” The name Mediterranean has the meaning, “in the middle of the land”; it is geographically found between the continents of Africa, Asia, and Europe. Its vastness covers 965,000 square miles, connecting to the Atlantic by the Strait of Gibraltar (only 8.7 miles wide). The Mediterranean Sea has an average depth of 4,900 feet, and the deepest recorded point is 17,280 feet in the Calypso Deep of the Ionian Sea.
In the unfolding story of Paul the Apostle, we become acquainted more with this great sea. It is the historical narrative of Paul’s voyages which yield us the knowledge we possess of the biblical sources of ships in New Testament times. Luke the physician and oft companion of Paul records for us the details of this large body of water. Being a true Greek, he had respectful feelings for the sea. In his writing of Acts, he precisely uses many nautical terms peculiar to his understanding of the sea.
Paul’s Voyage to Rome
In this first article we are drawn to the voyage of Paul in Acts 27, which is a detailed presentation by Luke concerning Paul’s voyage to Rome. The question may be asked how many ships Paul had sailed on over the years as a Christian in his journeys for the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 11:25, we read that three times he suffered shipwreck. Historically, in his epistles we are not told of these three; the shipwreck in Acts 27 occurred several years after the writings to the Corinthians. In the incident revealed in Acts 27, the Holy Spirit wanted us to know about this particular journey with detail; this journey was Paul’s final voyage recorded in Scripture before his death.
This journey began with a ship that sailed along the coast; at Myra they found a large grain ship of Alexandria, Egypt, sailing for Italy. The ship was large enough to carry 276 persons, including crew and passengers. No name is given to this ship by Luke. This ship suffered from a great storm called Euroclydon. Euroclydon is a compound word referring to the strong east or northeasterly winds that can arise over the Mediterranean Sea. Acts 27:14 records that this storm arose and beat upon them.
The Ship of Zion
Before continuing this perspective of Paul’s last voyage, we must consider the ship an apt metaphor for the church. One of the great truths to arise during the Philadelphia Church Age (1750–1900) brought with it a fresh view of the church. The Roman Catholic Church had been in apostasy for centuries (yea, the oldest continuing apostasy of church history). But by the latter part of the 1600s, the Protestant movement was also experiencing a falling away.
It was at this time that God began to raise up movements within these apostate Protestant churches that revived a biblical view of the concept of the church. God’s men began to view the church as the Old Ship of Sion or Zion. They found within the New Testament the pure understanding of the term church and the Lord’s true purpose for it presented in Ephesians 4:11–16 (a context prefaced by God’s “gifts of the Spirit” to Christ’s men of the church). Also note the apostle Paul’s words to Timothy:
These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:14, 15).
Philadelphia Church leaders noted with care the words “that thou mayest know [Gr., eiden, “with insight”] how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God.” The previous words of 1 Timothy 3 speak of how those who reside in the house of God are to live. This fresh view of the church they came to understand was that the local church was to be part of the Ship of Zion, the true church of Christ. They saw with greater detail the purpose of the local church being an expression of the true church.
In the Philadelphia Church Age many churches were birthed with a growing greater insight about the necessity for God’s people to be ready for the second coming of Christ. In this same hour of church history, the greatest move of revival came to a segment of the institutional church. People trusted what was being preached from the pulpit; people knew how they were to behave themselves—how they were to live. The people saw clearly that the church was to be the kirk. The word kirk is combined from two Greek words Kurios (Lord) and oikos (house), or Kur-K, “House of the Lord.” Its fuller meaning communicates “belonging to the Lord.”
In 1 Timothy 3:15, the church is not the truth. The church is to be the pillar of the truth, a support of the truth in its principles and standards; it is to be the support of the truth from generation to generation. But it is to also be the ground of the truth.
Why did God bring into existence the church? What is its purpose? The church was appointed for God’s saints; it was not for sinners; it was not for unbelievers. The church was to be like a ship that the new believers stepped aboard with the intent it would aid them to their heavenly destination.
What has been the failure of Christianity? Sad to say, it has been the failure of the local churches over the ages to collectively reveal the understanding of Christianity. The local churches have lost their way; they have lost their purpose and their understanding of why the Lord brought them into existence. Sad to say, the Laodicean Church has gotten rid of the ship metaphor in order to build itself a kingdom on earth. Much money is spent on the glory of the edifices of its earthly kingdom, rather than on the message.
This ship is only a means to an end; it is to carry us for an appointed duration of time in history. We must stay on board until the final dismantling in God’s providence. Sad to say, ships change their course. The local churches over the various centuries have changed their course; heaven is no longer their direct destination. Such ships have either shipwrecked or been refashioned into a cruise liner for religious tourists of the sea.
In my younger years of ministry, I used the phrase “the rapture of the church.” The End-time apostasy, however, has profoundly affected people’s view of “the church”; the public church of public Christianity is in apostasy. Therefore, it is now best to use the expression “the rapture of the saints.”
As our church age is in its Laodicean grip of apostasy, the institutional church views its outward splendor to be the commentary of its relationship with God. Yet, it does not know the truth of the biblical church anymore.
While the ship for God’s people is certainly a ship for passengers bound to glory, it is additionally a ship to transport much grain (like Paul’s ship sailing from Alexandria to Italy). These symbols speak of the old parched corn of the land of Canaan (Josh. 5:11) and wheat (the finest of the saints).
Foundations has raised its sails into the winds of providence. These winds have taken us around the world via the internet into homes and geographies we never dreamed would be ours to know. We have picked up passengers who were stranded on sandbars (their own shipwreck from churches and Fundamental identifications). Additionally, we are conscious we sail amidst the watery instability of humanity’s increasing vicissitudes. Our ship symbolically is made of wood (taking us back to the Cross). But this symbol of the wood also takes us back to the message of Christ, Who took upon Himself the human nature, the wood of humanity. In this present hour, we are witnessing the coming of the darkest and most perilous hour of history to arise upon this great sea.
Daniel 7:2 declares, “the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.” Revelation 17:15 reveals that the waters of the sea “are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Daniel continues in 7:3, “And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.” We know these beasts to be Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greco-Macedonia, and Rome.
With this understanding, consider Christ’s words in Luke 21:25, “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring” (emphasis added). Dear Reader, we are in another striving of the sea. The waves are roaring with such anger and deafening sounds that there will finally come another beast—out of this sea of mankind. It has been two thousand years since we have seen this sea of humanity rage in such a propensity of evil; that beast was the rise of Rome. Now we are witnessing the rise of the final storm of the great sea.
The End-Time Storm
Paul’s final voyage in Acts 27 includes a unique storm that the Scripture calls Euroclydon, a word denoting the combination of both the north and east winds. When the Bible speaks of various winds, each one has a meaning and purpose. In Scripture the east wind is the scorching wind; it is the destructive wind. It was the wind that destroyed much of the possessions of Job; it was also the strong east wind that blew all night to cause the Red Sea to part. The strength of this wind makes it dangerous for ships at sea. The psalmist spoke of the east wind that would break the ships of Tarshish (Ps. 48:7).
We saw the effects of much wind in the year 2020; but have we now entered the storm of 2021? Are we now facing the Euroclydon storm of End-time history that will be the prelude leading to the beast that will rise from the sea—the Antichrist? This storm that Paul faced was a demonic storm, motivated and produced by the Devil to destroy the apostle and not permit him to get to Rome. This was an End-time storm, the end time of the Book of Acts. Will this be a shadow and type of that which will be the final assault of the roaring sea against God’s people?
In observing this ship (especially in the more recent years), it is evident God has prepared this ship for the remnant to face a great storm. This striving of the winds includes the governments of the earth, the global economy, the food provisions, the legality of Christian churches, schools, ethics, and the institutions appointed by God in marriage and family. It will be ships like Foundations that the storm will try to destroy because of its cargo of truth and the people who have come aboard seeking to safely reach heaven. We may witness a piece-by-piece dismantling by the storm, its winds, its waves, and its forces striving against us.
Only God knows the outcome of this present increasing storm now come to our country and the world. In some way, it will affect us all in the near future.
As in Acts 27, in the providence of God we may have to start discarding pieces of the cargo for the Remnant—only God knows. The ship will be caught by the storm, and to what extent it will be able to face, to bear up, to stand against, and resist it, we have yet to see. Acts 27:15 says, “And when the ship was caught . . .” This catching is an aorist-passive verb expressing the force of the storm that caught the ship. At what point in the storm will the ships of our local churches be caught? When will the Euroclydon seize our ships with its aggressive power? Whenever this happens, we must bear up into its winds, looking into the eye of the storm. Yet, in Acts 27 Luke notes they “could not bear up into the wind.” At that point he says, “We let her drive.” They eventually gave way to the wind, being driven (imperfect passive) along.
In North Carolina, God has given us this ship called Foundations for our lives and our families on this immense sea of humanity. We are carrying a precious cargo of a variety of blessings. Even some at a distance are with us on this ship.
Nevertheless, this ship no doubt will be caught in the greatest of storms erupting from the world of humanity and abounding powers. In that crucial hour, we will have to commit ourselves to God’s providence. Perhaps these verses in Acts will give us wisdom and guidance for such a time.
Every true remnant church of the End Time finds itself caught in the rising of a coming demonic storm. It will include not only assaults by powers of the state but also persecutions from professing Christians, including those who have left us—those who were not of the same heart, principles, and spirit.
We most likely will witness a change from a calmer south wind to the tempestuous northeastern wind. This may be a storm different than what we have known before. Its weapons may be different. It is a storm upon the sea whipped by powerful winds. We will need the consciousness of God’s providence more than ever before, yea, the consciousness of His grace and Word. We will need the discernment of the small things in the providence of God amidst the striving of great powers against God’s people.
And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven (Acts 27:16, 17).
In these verses there appeared a small island as a windbreak; this provided an opportunity to haul up a small boat onto the ship. No doubt the boat had been swamped by the storm, being battered by the winds and waves. God may provide providences that will temporarily temper the winds of this coming storm but will not alleviate the storm. They took the boat on the ship and secured it tightly. A somewhat smaller vessel than what God has given to us may be needed later in these coming days. We may need to downsize in God’s providence at a most crucial time.
In Acts 27 their hope was to drift westward, not southward. They knew this little boat may be needed later if the ship were stranded in the quicksand. Preparations must be made for what possibly may lie ahead. These preparations inevitably may not be what we originally intended for it. We must do all we are supposed to do to get ready as we see the storm approaching.
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 tackling of the ship (Acts 27:18, 19).
The tossing of the ship prompted them to lighten the load. Luke includes himself in this assistance. We may have to lighten the ship of Foundations, such as ceasing our internet streaming services that could become a liability in our nation’s increasing technocracy. We wonder how much longer we will be able to make the trips to Ghana and other geographies, limiting our influence to others at a distance. But we must with care be wise in what we get rid of and how we get rid of it. There will be a reducing of the sail, especially the mainsail, and we will not be expanding as we have been (it is evident that they labored exceedingly with the storm). The maintaining of all that God has given us in our tangible, fruitful stage may find us one day in the storm getting rid of precious things that God gave for our earlier days. We may have to get rid of it, but we must do so with prayer and commitment to God. We will do so with our own hands. It will be with the intent of heart and desperation of will to continue the ministry 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 (Acts 27:20).
We will need to be careful that we do not despair amidst our disappointment. We may not see any natural light of the sun and moon, while the storm is blocking all earthly sights for bearing and direction. All hope in the natural might seem to be gone, yea, for many days. Nevertheless, the ship’s salvation is a spiritual, not a natural salvation. We must hope in God in the worst of what we may experience.
We write this in the burden of sobriety: Foundations may be lost in this storm, but our lives must be saved.
But after long abstinence 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 of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve (Acts 27:21–23).
Past warnings and prophecies must come back to us that this is what we will have to face. We observed that Paul was warned of the storm he was to face in Jerusalem; yet, he continued. Though the warnings have been given over these years, we must rise and trust the simplest of God’s promises to “be of good cheer” (v. 25, Gr., “be of good courage”). There is the hope of the individual life or soul—thank God, it will be saved through it all. “There stood by me this night the angel of God [2 Tim. 4:17, the Lord stood with Paul], whose I am, and whom I serve.” Even in the present storm Paul continues to serve God. In the very storm that will come upon our lives and upon our ministries, we must continue to serve God. This was the reason for Paul’s confidence.
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 [courage]: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.
We are promised that He will take us all the way to our divinely appointed end.
Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island (Acts 27:26).
We may lose the ship, this precious ship, and be cast on a certain island before this storm is over.
Oh, how we have prayed for the Rapture to take place while we are still in this ministry at Foundations, but it may be that God will permit this ship to be taken in the storm. We believe if this happens in the Lord’s providence, there will be a certain island appointed for each of us, where we will find refuge amidst the storm.
Note in Acts 27:27–29 the evidences that they were getting closer to the end. We may witness the fathoms diminishing.
Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day (Acts 27:29).
We will desperately need these four anchors for the days ahead: (1) holding faith—trust in God and His Word; (2) holding a good conscience before God and man (1 Tim. 1:19, 20); (3) having hope unto the end!; and (4) praying always and not fainting (Luke 18:1).
In Acts 27:30–32 we read that we must remain with the ship until we see God pressing the abandonment through providence. Then we read in verses 33–37 of the hope and strength in the Bread of Life of Christ and His Word. There will be times God may lead us into fasting, but there will be the need of eating of Christ and giving thanks amidst the storm. Those who have left the ship, who abandon its protection and care, will lose their lives in this world.
And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea (Acts 27:38).
We may need to cast some wheat out, but we must trust God that with the casting of our cargo (this wheat) into the sea, this bread is going to come back. Will there be others who will benefit from this discarded provision?
And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land (Acts 27:42–44).
In these final verses, the ship was destroyed in the storm, yet all those on board were saved.
We must get ready for the coming of this greatest storm of history. There is hope in and through Christ Jesus. We must discern that in these crucial days a local church—on fire for God, bathed in the Word of God, living by the Spirit of God—is the best natural protection and security for God’s people. The local church is to take the place of the world when we become a Christian. Such a church should become a haven of hope for our families. If the ship has been a true ship of Zion, and its message has been the clear Word of God, becoming a strength and pillar of spiritual support to the believer, if that local church is destroyed or dismantled by the End-time storm in God’s providence, the boards, part of the message proclaimed from that ship will help us to the Haven of Heaven. No matter what happens in the future, no matter if ministries are publicly shut down, God’s people will have to go on in their living for Him and drawing from what was learned from that good ship! Even a part of its message will get you to the Haven.
There are many local churches that have been caught in the Neo-Christianity of our times and have no power in Christ for this hour. But a solid, biblical local church is still the best contribution to an individual and home at this time. We need to find a strong Bible church and climb aboard and let it take us on this voyage through the End-time sea of humanity and through the mandate powers of the nations.
Pray for the Remnant Churches! That they will remain true to the Word of God without compromise and be the “pillar and ground of the truth” for those who have found such a gift from Christ in the storm.
We cry, “Master, the Tempest is Raging!” Yet, He knows! And no matter the power of the storm, its darkness and evil, God has His hand on it! And HE will see us through safely to our Haven in Heaven.