Dear Student of the Word,
Wow, the time got away from me. Here is the long overdue update to our study of Acts, that we began at the beginning of the year. This week we look at the increasing persecution that the believers experienced as the power of the gospel became more prominent, confronting forces of wickedness in high places. Yet we see how the Lord helped and protected His people in the midst of the increasing warfare they encountered. This week I wrote in part-two of this seven-part series:
Study Fifteen, Part Two
5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. "Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, "Put on your clothes and sandals." And Peter did so. "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me," the angel told him.
12:5 – The church was praying for Peter, but the church also didn’t believe that God would hear their prayers! Are you praying with expectation of God answering, or are you just praying with no thought or expectation that you will be answered? If you aren’t hopeful that God is listening and will act, why are you praying?
12:6 – We saw yesterday that sixteen soldiers guarded Peter, four at any one time. So two were acting as sentries and two were on either side of Peter, who was bound with two chains. I would say that Peter was secured and guarded well, wouldn’t you? It would also seem that there was no means of escape, unless someone were to come and overpower the guards.
Does this relate to your current situation? Are you in a tough place, with no means of escape or assistance? If so, then this story can bring you hope. Peter was about to experience his second jailbreak, both of which were initiated by angels. Where is the hope in this situation? The hope is in the fact that God knows where you are and what you’re going through. This story doesn’t promise that God will miraculously release every believer from jail or who is in a tough place.
The story shows that God can do that, so if He doesn’t, it’s not because He can’t. Rather He chooses not to do so because He is doing something else in your life. It comes down to faith, not for escape, but for God’s plan to work for your ultimate good and His purposes. You must have the same attitude that Daniel’s friends had if you are in a hard place:
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
12:7 – The angel smacked Peter on his side and told him to get up! They had places to go and people to meet. The angel brought his own light with him, so they could see. God will always light your way, whatever that way is for you. At any rate, where were the guards? Did they see or hear anything? It doesn’t seem that they did. So God is able to speak to you and make it clear, yet keep others around you in the dark.
12:8 – It seems that Peter had no clothes on, which makes sense to me. That is how they keep the inmates at night in many prisons outside the United States. How humiliating for a Jew to sleep naked between two Romans. It must not have bothered Peter too much, for he was asleep. Could you sleep in a similar situation? Anxiety would probably have kept me awake, but Peter was sound asleep, which shows the peace that he had.
Notice how “bossy” the angel was. He was acting urgently and needed Peter’s full cooperation. When God is getting ready to deliver you, you need to pay attention and carry out His instructions to the fullest.
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the unpublished volume of The Faith Files.
THE BIG BLESSING: In the coming weeks, I want to let you know how you can help me distribute The Big Blessing (TBB) in Kenya on my next trip. TBB is my most ambitious goal yet to raise $22,500 for several crucial projects in that drought-stricken land. Read my first installment here, be watching for more in the coming weeks and then give generously to this noble effort. Thank you in advance for your help and support for the orphans pictured here who are sitting on new mattresses you helped me purchase. Also remember that the children need food now, so give to The Sophia Fund while you are also supporting The Big Blessing. Thanks again!