Suffering and Deliverance (Part 40) - Peter


32. Peter from prison A. Peter had been used by God to open the door of faith unto the Gentiles (Act 15:7 c/w Act 14:27 c/w Act 10:1 – 11:18). B. The next thing which happened to Peter that is recorded was that Herod put him in prison after he killed James with the sword (Act 12:1-4). i. High mountains are often followed by deep valleys. ii. One moment Samson is glorying, saying, "heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men" (Jdg 15:16). iii. The next moment he is lamenting to God, "Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?" (Jdg 15:18). iv. Such is life in this world. C. Herod imprisoned Peter because he saw that it pleased the Jews when he killed James (Act 12:3). i. Politicians will do just about anything if they think it will score them political points with their constituents. ii. "It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first." - Ronald Reagan iii. Pilate likewise delivered Jesus to be killed to placate the Jews, even though he knew He was innocent (Mat 27:20-26). iv. When we see travesties of justice like this, just remember that God sees it too, and He will recompense the wicked for what they have done (Ecc 5:8 c/w Rom 12:19). D. Herod delivered Peter to four quaternions of soldiers to guard him (Act 12:4a). i. Quaternion n. – 1. A group or set of four persons or things. ii. Soldier n. – One who serves in an army for pay; one who takes part in military service or warfare. b. A man of military skill and experience. iii. Peter was therefore guarded by 16 highly trained and heavily armed men. iv. It was humanly impossible for him to escape from prison. E. Herod intended to bring him forth after Easter to the people (Act 12:4b). i. The use of the word "Easter" for the Passover is not a corruption in the KJV. a. It is simply another name for the Passover. b. Easter n. – 2. The Jewish Passover. (cites Act 12:4 in the KJV) c. The Passover was referred to as Easter in English Bible versions which preceded the KJV, such as in the following verses. (i) "And the Iewes Easter was nye at hande, and many went out of the countrey vp to Hierusale before the Easter, to purifie them selues." - Joh 11:55 – Bishops Bible, 1568 (ii) "Vpon ye xiiij. daye of the first moneth ye shal kepe Easter." Eze 45:21 – Coverdale Bible, 1535 (iii) "Pourge therfore the olde leven that ye maye be newe dowe as ye are swete breed. For Christ OURE ESTERLAMBE is offered vp for vs." 1Co 5:7 – Tyndale Bible, 1534 (iv) "Pourge out therfore the olde leuen, that ye maye be new dowe, like as ye are swete bred. For we also haue an EASTER LAMBE, which is Christ, that is offred for vs." - 1Co 5:7 – Tyndale Bible, 1534 (v) "…For Christ oure EASTERLAMBE is offered vp for vs." - 1Co 5:7 – Matthew's Bible, 1549 ii. Herod had no qualms about leaving a man of God to suffer in prison in order to not disrupt a national holiday being celebrated by his persecutors. iii. The situation was ironic. a. The Jews were celebrating the Passover which was a type and shadow of Jesus Christ who was the fulfillment of what the Passover typified. b. The man who was preaching to them about the "lamb of God" whom their Passover celebration pointed to was put in prison for their pleasure during that celebration. F. While Peter was kept in prison, "prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him" (Act 12:5). i. We are to pray without ceasing, in every situation, throughout the day, habitually (1Th 5:17). ii. God honors diligent, continual, faith-filled prayers made with importunity (Luk 18:1-8; Luk 11:1-10). iii. Importunity n. – Troublesome pertinacity in solicitation. iv. How especially important it is for us to pray fervently for our brethren when they are going through a hard time. G. The night came that Herod planned to bring Peter out of the prison and most likely execute him like he had done to James (Act 12:6). i. That night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers bound with two chains. ii. Even in life's most trying times, the Lord gives His beloved sleep (Psa 127:2). H. An angel of the Lord appeared in the prison who awoke Peter and told him to get up, and at the same time his chains fell off his hands (Act 12:7). i. This is the second time that Peter was going to be delivered from prison by God using an angel (Act 5:17-20). ii. God has assigned angels to protect and watch over each of His children (Mat 18:10; Psa 91:11-12; Heb 1:14). I. The angel told Peter to get his clothes and shoes on and follow him (Act 12:8). i. Peter did as he was told despite thinking it was not really happening and that he was seeing a vision (Act 12:9). ii. They walked out of the prison with no resistance from the guards, and the angel departed from him (Act 12:10). iii. When Peter came to himself, he was then certain that God had sent His angel and delivered him out of the hand of Herod and the Jews (Act 12:11). iv. This is a picture of salvation. a. God saves us from prison and death by His grace and power. b. It is only after we have been saved that we can know and understand what the Lord did for us. J. As soon as Peter was freed from prison, the first place he went was the place where the church was gathered (Act 12:12). i. This was not the first time that Peter, being let go, went to his own company (Act 4:23). ii. The first place that we should desire to go to when we are freed is to church to worship God with the brethren. a. This applies to when we are freed from sin and false doctrine when we are first converted. b. This also applies to being freed from prison when persecuted. iii. This tells us a lot about Peter's character and priorities. a. He didn't avoid the church in an attempt to avoid future persecution. b. He didn't go visit his family first. c. His first thought was to go to be with the brethren. iv. What brethren do out of desire, not out of compulsion, tells me a lot about their zeal for the Lord and His truth. v. "Every normal man has a "company," however small, where he feels at home and to which he will return when he is tired of being alone. The important thing about a man is not where he goes when he is compelled to go, but where he goes when he is free to go where he will. The apostles went to jail, and that is not too revealing because they went there against their will; but when they got out of jail and could go where they would they immediately went to the praying company. From this we learn a great deal about them. The choices of life, not the compulsions, reveal character. A man is absent from church Sunday morning. Where is he? If he is in a hospital having his appendix removed his absence tells us nothing about him except that he is ill; but if he is out on the golf course, that tells us a lot. To go to the hospital is compulsory; to go to the golf course, voluntary. The man is free to choose and he chooses to play instead of to pray. His choice reveals what kind of man he is. Choices always do." - A.W. Tozer K. Peter knocked on the door and a young girl named Rhoda went to the door and heard Peter's voice, but was too excited to let him in, and instead went and told the others (Act 12:13-14). i. Her emotions stopped her from thinking straight and letting Peter in. ii. They didn't believe her and told her she was crazy (Act 12:15). a. Although they had been praying for Peter's release from prison, when it actually happened they didn't believe it. b. God is merciful to our human weakness and sometimes answers the prayers of those who are weak in faith. iii. Peter kept knocking (Act 12:16). a. This is good reminder to us to keep knocking until the door is opened (Mat 7:7-8). b. Persistence pays. iv. When they finally let Peter in and saw him they were astonished (Act 12:16). a. Astonished ppl. – 1. Bereft or sensation; stunned, benumbed. 2. Stunned or paralyzed mentally, bereft of one's wits; stupefied, bewildered. b. If they would have believed that God was going to deliver him, or at least that God could deliver him at any time, they would not have been stunned when He did. L. Peter told them how God had brought him out of the prison (Act 12:17). M. When Herod found out that Peter was escaped, he commanded that the soldiers be put to death (Act 12:18-19). i. Let this be a lesson to anyone who takes part in the persecution of God's people. ii. "I was just doing my job" doesn't cut it with God. N. There are some lessons we can learn from this. i. Even the greatest of the saints will face persecution. ii. Expect trials and tribulations after God gives you great blessings. iii. The powers that be will persecute us just to please those who have influence over them. iv. It is often people who claim to be God's people who are our most troublesome persecutors. v. God can deliver us out of a situation which seems humanly impossible. vi. God hears and answers the prayers of his faithful people which they make for persecuted saints. vii. The LORD will often wait until the 11th hour to deliver us to try our faith. viii. God uses angels to deliver us from trouble, and we often don't realize it. ix. If we are in prison or forced to be away from church, the first place we should desire to go once freed is back to church to be with the people of God. x. God is merciful to His children who are weak in faith and will sometimes hear their prayers for deliverance despite their spiritual weakness. xi. Those who persecute the saints will be judged by God in due time.
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