Job 25-27 Acts 12
“After Herod arrested Peter, he put him in jail and handed him over to be guarded by sixteen soldiers. Herod planned to bring Peter before the people for trial after the Passover Feast. So Peter was kept in jail, but the church prayed earnestly to God for him.” (Acts 12:4-5 NCV)
The peace between Jews and Christians couldn’t last forever and when Herod executed James, the brother of John, the Jews were pleased. Ever the political animal, this latest Herod, the last to bear the title of King over Judea, decided to expand his power by arresting and, eventually, executing Peter. Trial was scheduled for after the Passover, so Herod had Peter guarded round the clock by sixteen soldiers, grouped in squads of four. Meanwhile, the church prayed for Peter. When God freed Peter, the people of the church were the most surprised. At the same time, the soldiers who’d been assigned to guard Peter were executed.
There are a couple of things to learn from this passage. The first, and most obvious, is that God answers prayers – even the ones we pray because we’re supposed to pray without really believing He’ll answer. How many times have we told people that we’ll pray for them to give them comfort but not expecting a miraculous answer. Some would tell you that our prayers aren’t answered because we don’t expect God to answer them. Can’t you just imagine God sitting in heaven saying, “I really wanted to answer that prayer, but the people praying just don’t believe it enough.” God is sovereign and will answer those prayers affirmatively that He chooses to answer in that way. The other thing to learn from this passage is that Christians are supposed to be dangerous to society. Herod recognized the danger and not only put one of the apostles to death, he used 16 men to guard one of those dangerous Christians. And that wasn’t enough, thanks be to God. Christians are dangerous to society because when we’re following God, everything we do goes contrary to the wisdom of society. Society tells us to look out for ourselves; God calls us to care for the needs of others. Society tells us to accumulate wealth and get all we can; God reminds us to give it away – give it all away if necessary. Society tells us to gain power; God teaches us to empower others. Many in the church today are wary of being persecuted. The truth is that so many Christians follow the dictates of society that persecution isn’t our concern – faithfulness is. The problem with Christians today is that not only are we not being persecuted, we don’t think we should be. We’re no longer dangerous to society. We can be dangerous again if we stay faithful to God and live according to His desires. We need to remember that this world is not our home.
Lord, I’ve become too comfortable here in this world. I get along well with so many people because I fail to follow You. Help me to change this world by loving others, caring for those in need, and drawing other people into Your love and grace.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved