Updated: Aug 1
Herod was a constant problem for the disciples who were sharing the message of Christ. Those followers had a boldness that intimidated the leader so he had James, the brother of John executed, and when he saw it pleased the religious Jews, Herod arrested Peter and put him in prison. Here is the scripture in Acts 12: 1 Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church, to do them harm.2 And he had James the brother of John executed with a sword.3 When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter as well. (Now these were the days of Unleavened Bread.)4 When he had arrested him, he put him in prison, turning him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending only after the Passover to bring him before the people.5 So Peter was kept in prison, but prayer for him was being made to God intensely by the church.
Herod apparently thought he would look better if he imprisoned Peter, who was seeing a lot of momentum in sharing the gospel. When you are taking a bold stand for Jesus there will always be those who want to bring you down and snuff you out, but keep going!! The ones who try to scoff at you and hurt you will have to deal with the one who called you and they don't want to mess with God. God will do some miraculous things to keep the message of hope growing, and a few jealous religious people will not stop the messengers. Just as Herod thought putting Peter in prison would stop him and elevate Herod himself in the eyes of the Jews, the tables turned on him. Prison bars could not keep God's man down and the other believers prayed "intensely" for his release. The following is what God did to alleviate the situation. Acts 12: 6 On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison.7 And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly stood near Peter, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands.8 And the angel said to him, “Put on your belt and strap on your sandals.” And he did so. And he *said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.”9 And he went out and continued to follow, and yet he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.10 Now when they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
When the people prayed intensely, they may not have known how quickly and powerfully God was going to work to get Peter out of prison, but they prayed believing and God showed up as only God can. Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. NO PROBLEM FOR GOD! Peter apparently wasn't that worried about the whole thing because he was asleep and the angel God sent to free him had to wake him up! So the chains fall off Peter's hands and the angel reminded him to put on his belt. Why? He wasn't coming back here! The angel led him out of that cell through the prison guards and even opened the gate for Peter to walk out. When the deed was done the angel was gone. Peter had apparently been walking in some kind of dreamlike state as they exited the prison, but once he was out he came to himself and said to himself "This is real."
We are so used to doing things for ourselves and worrying about how to do them. When God does something extraordinary, we almost miss it. We need to come to our senses when God does something awesome and just give Him praise. And then continue to live our life in the realization that God is still working, no matter who wants to shut us up! God always comes through. ALWAYS!
A funny part of this whole story is when Peter goes to the house of the ones who were having a prayer meeting to pray for his release and Rhoda, a slave girl is the one who goes to the door when Peter is knocking. She recognizes his voice and is so joyful she doesn't let him in and went to the group and announced that Peter was at the front gate. They didn't believe her and said "It's his angel." Then they heard the knocking on the door and opened and they were amazed!! God had answered their prayers. DUH!!
God had truly done a great work in Peter's situation and the very people who prayed for him were amazed at the way God had delivered Peter. When we see God do a miracle in a person's life today, usually the first thing we do is doubt it. Oh c'mon. You know it's true. We explain it away and come up with some other explanation that is more humanly understandable. Just in the same way that Herod thought he would elevate his position by stepping on Peter's freedom by imprisoning him, some who are more religious than relational in their faith will try to put down those God works through and explain it away. In their jealousy, they don't realize they are taking praise "away" from God and trying to minimize God's power. In the end, they don't get elevated but they do get demoted in their faith walk and they need to have a revival in their walk with God. If there is a walk with God?
Don't use your faith to elevate yourself, but lift up the name of Jesus when God comes through and you will find yourself turning more and more over to God because He still works!
James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. That scripture still applies today no matter what others try to do to keep you down. God is the one exalting and we should be praising Him for doing that. Oswald Chambers wrote: All of God’s people are ordinary people who have been made extraordinary by the purpose He has given them.
God takes the ordinary and makes them extraordinary through His power.
The Pilgrimage Continues