Acts 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
This was Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod, the one who tried to kill the baby Jesus. He also was a killer. This made him politically correct and popular with the Jews, for the Jewish leaders hated the Christians out of envy as they hated Jesus out of envy.
Mat 27:18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
Acts 12:2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
Herod under satan's direction kills one of the 12 Apostles. This is a bold step in opposition to the powerful ministry of God through the disciples of Jesus.
James was called with John as they were in a boat mending their nets, ( Mat 4:21-22) they followed immediately. James was the first to be martyred while John lived perhaps the longest life, each called according God's purpose, each inheriting eternal life. James was not the first to die, Judas had betrayed the Lord and hung himself, the deacon Stephan was martyred and now the first apostle, James was martyred.
Acts 12:3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
Popular support gives satan an opportunity to continue his warfare, this time against Peter. Satan moves through those who do not put their trust in God's Spirit and he moves through others who need to blame another for their own sins.
Luke 6:41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Luke 6:42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
Herod wishing to go along with the Jews did not kill during the Passover time, (as Jesus was killed being the Passover Lamb of God). We are in a war, and the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.
2 Cor 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
2 Cor 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Acts 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
Peter is placed in prison and was to be killed after the time of Passover. Four squadrons of four soldiers were to guard him. Here was the first mention in the Bible of "Easter" as the Passover time.
Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
It was seemingly an impossibility for man to free Peter from such a secure guarding. Yet, prayer was made without ceasing from the church interceding to God for Peter. Here natural reality is without hope, yet with God all things are possible. (Mat 19:26) We must always trust God in all things for our lives. We would go down in hopeless defeat, if all we have is our own abilities. But, if God is for us, who can be against us?
Rom 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
God will deliver his people through prayer.
Acts 12:6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
They did not want to take any chances. Two inside chained to Peter and twelve outside guarding the locked prison door. For a prisoner to escape, it would be death to the guard, so it was as secure as possible.
Acts 12:7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
An angel of the Lord appeared, and a light. I have heard of this light coming with an angel. He poked Peter to get his attention; image waking up to an angel and a light. He commanded him to rise, as he obeyed the chains fell off.
Acts 12:8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
Acts 12:9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
Get dressed, we are leaving. The guards, where were they? Perhaps the angel had blinded them or given them sleep. Peter followed as if in a dream.
Acts 12:10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
They walked through two wards with locked doors, they left the 16 guards and even the iron gate of the outer prison wall swung open. They passed through the door and down the street and then the angel left him. Prayer opens doors!
Acts 12:11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
Peter became aware of this great miracle, maybe he pinched himself to see if he was dreaming, no he was out on the street. He had been delivered from the politician and the expectation of the Jews that he was imprisoned awaiting his execution.
Acts 12:12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.
He went to the prayer gathering at Mary's house, John Marks mother. Mark who was a cousin of Barnabas and would author the gospel of Mark.
Acts 12:13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
A young lady answers named Rhoda (Rose)
Acts 12:14 And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
Acts 12:15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
What were they praying for? Was it not for Peter's well being and release? The prayer of unity is powerful with God, yet I am reminded of James;
James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
James 1:7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
James 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
What does it take to get someone to exercise faith? They prayed, God answered and they would not believe. "It is his angel, " Indeed, his angel had come and he had brought Peter out of prison. Unbelief will believe almost anything, anything but truth and the hand of God.
Acts 12:16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.
Peter continued to knock, they finally opened the door and were astonished. I see this as a parallel story to the disciples huddled in fear after the crucifixion of Jesus. They were praying but were fearful and unbelieving. Remember the Lords strong rebuke to them when he being risen from the grave met them in their room at mealtime?
Mark 16:14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
Unbelief and hardness of heart, must Jesus come to you personally? Must Peter knock the door down to enter. Must Jesus continue to knock at the door of your heart? Want you open up the hard heart and believe?
Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Why is it we are often willing to believe an angel, perhaps a deceiving angel of darkness at the door of our heart, but refuse the presence and power of our Lord? How often we get discouraged by dark thoughts and believe not the deliverance of our Lord.
Acts 12:17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go show these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.
Peter tells them to be at peace, just as Jesus told his astonished disciples after his resurrection.
Luke 24:36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Luke 24:37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
Luke 24:38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
Oh we also at times struggle with thoughts, we must put the word in our hearts, believe in the promises of God, then we stand firm. Peter said go, show these things to James (the brother of Jesus) and the brethren. Jesus also after showing himself said, go.
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
How many miracles must we see before we obey the Lord's commands?
Mat 12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
Mat 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Do we need a greater miracle then the gospel message before we believe and obey the Lord? Remember the story of the rich man and Lazurus; the rich man had nothing to do with the beggar Lazarus in this life. But in Hades he cried out to God to send Lazurus to warn his brothers of hell.
Luke 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
Luke 16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
Luke 16:26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
Luke 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
Luke 16:28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Luke 16:29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
The sin of self reliance and unbelief. Even the resurrection of Jesus is ignored by unbelief. Prayer will be the way to move God's hand against unbelief.
The world is heading for destruction. Peoples minds are being shaped by the world to not receive the gospel truth. The witness must rely completely on God by faith. Prayer in unity will overcome problems and move mountains. Again I remind you of Jesus' ministry in Is 61:1.
Isa 61:1 The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
We are to do as Jesus did. Our power is in his Spirit, believing, going forth and through unity in prayer. Prayer brought Peter out of prison. The gospel message brings many out of captivity and into freedom. The word of God in their hearts keeps them free. All is by faith in Jesus, we are people of faith.
Peter leaves the story of Acts and is only mentioned briefly in a later chapter. Why was the Apostle James martyred and Peter released miraculously? The answer belongs with God. If God has a purpose for us to fulfill, we will meet that purpose. Our lives will be spared, even by an angel if necessary. God will use us for his purpose to serve others. Peter would write two Epistles of great value to the church. We can rest in the hand of our God, not worrying, but being what he wants us to be.
Acts 12:18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.
The soldiers were very upset, because to loose a prisoner meant death to them. To serve evil is to die, for satan seeks to kill and destroy.
Acts 12:19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.
No grace in this tyrant king. He had imprisoned the Lord's Peter and after questioning the soldiers, who no doubt told him the truth as they saw it, he did evil to his servants. There was no grace and mercy in this man. God was watching.
Acts 12:20 And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country.
Herod was upset with the Christians and Jews of Tyre and Sidon and upset that Peter had escaped. Yet God had helped them in their time of famine through Blastus, who fed them and they desired peace.
Acts 12:21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.
The historian Josephus said he was clothed in material made of silver that shone in the morning light. Herod spoke to the people.
Acts 12:22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.
Herod was worshipped as a god, which apparently he did not deny.
Acts 12:23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
Acts 12:24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.
God would no longer allow this evil man to receive glory, an angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory. He was eaten of worms and died. The persecutor of the Christians perished.
Rom 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Yes, even Herod was subject to the power of God. He received his power from God but did not honor God, so his life was required of him.
Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Mark 8:37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
This should get all of our attention. We know that God's angels protect us, but what of those who seek there own glory? One preacher had a message taped to his pulpit "we would see Jesus," we are to glorify Jesus and God the Father. We do not need celebrity Christians with their glory advertised like movie stars.
Herod was a type of the "Antichrist." He had the antichrist spirit. He opposed Jesus and his work. He persecuted the church and its leaders. He was politically motivated and set himself up to be worshipped. He became as "a god" giving no glory to our God.
The coming man of perdition also will do this. Judas was called the son of perdition,( destruction, damnation) betraying Christ for 30 pieces of silver.
John 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
Will we fail to glorify God, giving our affections to money or some other form of idolatry? Not if we are of his Spirit. Yet there is another spirit, the spirit of antichrist. The final Antichrist is described;
2 Th 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
2 Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
2 Th 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
Showing himself, but God will not receive this mockery.
2 Th 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
2 Th 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
2 Th 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
2 Th 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
2 Th 2:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Will we be deceived by the antichrist? Who may he deceive? I have made a list of those who may be deceived and be destroyed at Christ's coming.
The "tolerant" ones - Yes it is politically correct to be tolerant, but is it Biblically correct. Does tolerance glorify God? This is what we must always do, we are to glorify God. If we say all beliefs are equal, we are giving satan equality with God. God is not glorified if satan is glorified. He will not share his glory.
Isa 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Isa 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
Isa 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Isa 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
Another danger is:
We may ignore God - too busy
Mat 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
Rev 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Deu 4:29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
1 Chr 16:10 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
We may be angry with God
If we are angry at God, then our heart must be turned from him. If we are not blessed, we have placed our affections somewhere other than with God.
1 Ki 11:9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice,
1 Ki 11:10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.
1 Ki 11:11 Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.
Psa 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
Eph 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Eph 4:27 Neither give place to the devil.
Beware of pride - needing only self makes you your own god
Many false religions worship the self or the god within, this is idolatry
Deu 6:14 Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;
Deu 6:15 (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.
Glorify God, if you are his child you are brought out of darkness and kept by the Holy Spirit. Those who will glorify God worship him in Spirit and in truth.
Rev 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
John 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
John 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
John 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Herod was removed for not glorifying God. This gave the apostles new freedom to witness. God has those who will serve him, he had given the go ahead to his ministers to spread the good news of the gospel message.
Acts 12:25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
A new team will go out, Barnabus the son of consolation, his nephew Mark who was yet not mature in the faith and Saul who would be called Paul, a forgiven persecutor of the church and a mighty servant of the Lord by the grace of God. May God be glorified for his great grace and mercy to us through his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.