The Quest of Four Boats
There is something universal about the need to be rescued. It seems to be the theme of almost every book and movie. People need saving. Salvation is certainly the theme of Scripture as it brings glory to God. In the books and movies, sometimes the people who need saving don't even know it. Sometimes they do know it, but still refuse it. In reality, this is still the case. Many don’t know how much they need saving; others know and still refuse. Usually, when they finally see how dire their situation is, they look for a way to be rescued and are finally relieved when that salvation comes. Are we really much different? Do we see our dire situation apart from God and the need to come to Him for this salvation?
Have you noticed how often boats and water are used in showing the need for salvation? This is true in Scripture, so consider the lesson of four boats:
1. Noah's Ark: God was fed up with the sin and violence on earth, so He determined He would destroy the earth with a flood. He would have Noah build a giant ark so that he, with his family, and many animals, could be spared to start over again (Gen 6-9). For 120 years Noah was a preacher of righteousness, striving to warn the people. Because they saw no need to be rescued, they paid no attention and ultimately perished.
Noah shows the need to act on faith: “By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Heb. 11:8). What happened in the flood also became a type of salvation in Christ (1 Pet. 3:20-21).
2. Jonah's Ship: Jonah was commanded by God to go to Nineveh to warn them of judgment. Jonah, instead of obeying, tried to run in the opposite direction. He boarded a ship headed to Tarshish. But storms created a situation where Jonah finally had to “fess up” to his rebellion. The people on the ship, recognizing their need to be saved, were directed to throw Jonah overboard. They did, and they were spared. The irony, of course, is that it was the gentiles here who recognized the need to submit to God, not one of God's own people.
Jonah shows us the folly of fighting and rebelling against God. He also shows us why we ought to care about lost souls as opposed to what is merely convenient for us.
3. Paul's Ship to Rome: Paul was headed to Rome as a prisoner. Because the captain would not listen to Paul’s advice, the ship was in deep trouble, in the middle of a storm that threatened the lives of all. The people, seeing their need to be rescued, listened to Paul, who assured them that no lives would be lost (Acts 27). The ship ran aground and was lost, but all the lives aboard were saved. Paul’s faith saved many.
A key verse here is Acts 27:25 — “Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told.” Even in the middle of great difficulty, we can rely upon God. He will always stay true to His promises to deliver His people.
4. Jesus' Boat on Galilee: Jesus was sleeping on the boat when a storm arose on the lake (Matt 8:23-27; Mark 1:35-41). The waves were coming over the sides, and the disciples began to fear for their lives. They woke Jesus up, asking Him if He cared that they were perishing. Jesus, rebuked them first for their lack of faith; then He rebuked the winds and told the sea to be still. The disciples were obviously impressed: “Who then is this that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” They knew they needed saving. Thankfully, the One who could save them was right there.
Again, the lesson here is about the need to put our faith in the Lord. We can so easily be scared by the storms of this life, then try to somehow rely on ourselves to deal with it all. That, however, is a mistake, for left to our devices, we will ultimately fail. The Lord offers us His own help, and by His strength, we may overcome.
What we so often portray in books and movies, and sometimes even experience physically, is but a shadow of our true spiritual need. We need saving. But if we don't recognize the need, we will be lost forever in the worst way possible. Don't ignore the warnings. See the need to be rescued and go to the only One who has the power to save us. Our own salvation begins with the recognition that we need it.