In Acts 12, King Herod has arrested some of the believers of the Church. James, the brother of John, has been put to death, and it pleased some of the Jews, so Herod had Peter arrested also. It was during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so Herod decided to wait until after the Passover and have Peter brought forth for public trial. Peter was being guarded by 16 men (four squads of four soldiers each). Verse 6 tells us, “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.” So Peter wasn’t just sitting in a cell. He was sleeping between two guards, he was in chains, and two stood at the entrance. And then Peter was struck on the side, his chains fell of, and an angel of the Lord told him to get up, put on his clothes and sandals, grab his coat and follow him. Peter did as he was told, but really thought this was a vision. They passed right by the guards, an iron gate opened for them. When they got to the end of the street, the angel left Peter and he realized he had been saved from Herod and he went to the house of Mary, John Mark’s mother, where people were gathered and were praying. Can you even begin to fathom the power of God? Paul was in, what seemed to be, a hopeless situation, BUT GOD, rescued him. How strong is your faith when you are in a hopeless situation? Do you have Godly friends you can go to after God rescues you from the grip of sin? Paul knew he had a safe place to go for support and love. I pray we can have hope and faith during those trying times, and we recognize when God delivers us from sinful lives and habits, and He has in place for each of us, a godly refuge to support and love us.
Now, I see this next section almost like an episode of a sitcom. Peter knocked on the door where these people were in prayer and one of them, Rhoda, went to the door, saw Peter, and was so overjoyed that she ran back to tell the others, without opening the door. Then, as she exclaims, “Peter is at the door!” No one believes her, so Peter just keeps knocking. Finally, someone goes and lets him in. He quiets their excitement and describes what the Lord has done for him. He asks them to share with James (the brother of Christ) and he left for another place. When we hear the news of what God has done in another’s life, do we sometimes not want to believe it? I pray that we can hear the miracles of God with an open heart, with wonder and with awe and share that work with those around us.
Herod traveled from Judea to Caesarea and stayed for a while. The people wanted peace over an argument, and they had asked him to come. They depended on Herod’s country for a supply of food. The day he met with them, he was decked in his royal robes and addressed the people from his throne. They all exclaimed that his was “the voice of a god, not a man.” Herod did not correct their thinking, nor did he give praise to the one True God. Because of this, an angel of the Lord struck him down, he was eaten by worms, and he died. This is one event in history that we have an actual eye witness account. Josephus, a historian from this time, wrote that Herod was dressed in dazzling silver robes and he was struck down with severe pain and died 5 days later. Do you often take praise for the things that happen in your life, without giving the praise to God? I pray that we can see that everything we accomplish is through the mighty power and working of God. God put Herod in this place and time and removed him. And the Word of God began to increase and spread.