About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
Notice this statement: “… but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.”
- When does that happen today?
- What does that look like?
- What battles are we winning by prayer?
- What was the result of the earnest prayer?
- Acts 12:6-11 shows us an angel of the Lord rescued Peter from prison.
- Acts 12:11
When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
What’s the Personal Application here?
- When was the last time you entered into a season of earnest prayer?
- What were you praying for?
- What happened?
When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.” Then he departed and went to another place.
Where did Peter go when he was released?
- The house of Mary, the mother of John Mark.
What were they doing?
- Many were gathered together praying.
What was Rhoda’s reaction when she opened the door?
- In her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. (Acts 12:14)
- They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” (Acts 12:15)
- But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” (Acts 12:15)
Put yourself into this story or imagine a similar one today. What would you think? How would you react?
- It’s important to remember that James the brother of John was already killed by Herod’s orders.
- When Peter was arrested, everyone was assuming the same fate. That’s why they gathered together in earnest prayer.
- You know what’s interesting about prayer? We pray for miracles but are almost always surprised when the prayers are answered and the miracles happen!
- It’s not surprise due to unbelief; we had a mustard seed of faith otherwise we wouldn’t have prayed.
- I believe the surprise is because we’re excited and encouraged to experience God’s supernatural work.
- Here’s the humorous part of the story: Verse 16 says, “But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.”
- I love the visual of Peter still standing there and knocking while all this commotion happens on the other side of the door.
- It’s so great that the bible captures these little nuances that speak to both the human and miraculous elements at the same time.
- Peter tells them the story, tells them to pass the news along to James and to the brothers, but quickly departs to another place.
Now when day came, there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and spent time there.
Peter’s absence was no small matter.
- Ultimately, this made Herod look bad and thwarted his plans.
- Herod ordered for the soldiers – Peter’s guards –s to be put to death.
Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.
Wow! Look at verse 23… that’s decisive and dramatic!
Why did the angel of the Lord strike Herod down?
- “… because he did not give God the glory.”
- Far too many people today minimize God’s glory.
- Some people deceive themselves and actually steal God’s glory.
What does it look like for us to truly give all the glory to God?
- It’s authentic humility, not false humility.
- It’s knowing this was totally supernatural, thus beyond the natural.
- It’s gratefully embracing our identity as servants.
- It’s being surrendered and submitted to His will regardless of circumstances.
What happened next?
But the word of God increased and multiplied.
And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark.
- What does it look like for the Word of God to increase in your life?
- What does it look like for the Word of God to be multiplied through your life?
- What should this look like today through our churches?
- Ask God to show you how He wants to increase and multiply the Word of God in and through your life.
- Listen and journal what you hear Him say.