Acts Chapter 12
Peter’s Release from the Prison:
(Read Acts 12:1-19)
About that time king Herod Agrippa began to persecute the church. He was the nephew of Herod Antipas and a grandson of Herod the Great. Agrippa enjoyed unusual popularity among the Jews by persecuting the church. He killed James, the brother of John. Having executed James, Herod plans to murder Peter also. Peter was arrested and put under heavy guard in the prison. The church earnestly prayed for Peter. This helped them to take their eyes off their helplessness. They prayed fervently and specifically on Peter’s behalf. What made their prayer so effective? They directed their prayer to their heavenly Father God. They prayed with intensity or earnestly. It is the same kind of prayer Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. They prayed united as a church. A praying church is a dynamic church. Someone has said, “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saints on his knee”. Luke tells us that God sent an angel a second time to rescue Peter (Acts 5:19). The angel woke Peter from his sleep. What was the secret of his sound sleep? Because the Lord had promised Peter that he would live to be an old man before his violent death (John 21:18-19). David wrote” I will lie down in peace and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe” (Psalms 4:8). Peter’s escape was an answer to the prayers of believers. We should never underestimate the power of prayer. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power (James 5:16). Peter came to the house of Mary the mother of John and knocked on the gate. A young girl named Rhoda, standing on guard to warn the praying disciples, recognized Peter’s voice and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. Their immediate response was one of unbelief. Peter continued knocking and when they saw him, they were amazed. Peter explained to them how the Lord rescued him out of prison. And he instructed them to tell James and other brothers about his release. James is the half-brother of Jesus. He was a leader in the church at Jerusalem. Why was Peter released and James was allowed to die? The only answer is that it was the sovereign will of God (Acts 4:24-30). When King Agrippa came to know about the escape of Peter, he ordered that the guards should be put to death. Then Herod left Judea for Caesarea. When we pray, our Father in heaven is eager to answer our prayers. Pray that God would strengthen you for the challenges that lie ahead.
The Death of Herod Agrippa:
(Read Acts 12:20-25)
The people of Tyre and Sidon depended on King Agrippa for their food and at peace with him. On an appointed day Herod put on his royal rob made of silver and sat on his throne. People who heard his speech said, “It is the voice of a god and not a man”. Agrippa loved their praise and did not give glory to God (Isaiah 42:8). Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down. He was eaten by worms and died. The Old Testament warns that when a person exalt himself above God, he will be judged (Daniel 4:19-27). With Herod’s death, the Word of God spread rapidly, and disciples were multiplied (Acts 12:24). God will not share his glory with others. Only the humble and lowly will be exalted. No human can stand in the way of God’s work. Christians prayed fervently in the midst of persecution and God works beyond what they ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). At this point Barnabas and Saul return to Antioch after they finish their mission in Jerusalem. They took John Mark with them. Pray that We would be motivated to live for God's glory above all else.