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The Lord Releases Peter

(Acts 12:1-16)

Lesson 9 -- fourth quarter 2005
October 30, 2005

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2005, Christian Light Publications

Probing Your Own Heart

Is your heart at peace, resting in God?

Are you on a teaching and encouraging mission for God?

Building on Some Foundational Concepts

God delivers whom He will.

Herod first seized James, then he apprehended Peter. He kept both men in prison, intending to execute them. James he put to death. Peter got away from him. God could have delivered James from death just as He delivered Peter from death at that particular time. But He didn't. Blessed be the Omniscient Sovereign One.

Prayer must persist.

We do not know how long Peter had been in prison. Neither do we know at what time of the night God delivered him. But we do know this: "Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him" (Acts 12:5). As long as they knew Peter yet lived, the church would persist in petitioning God in his behalf. (Be sure to note that they did this corporately.)

Peter was sleeping.

Not so long before, Peter had slept when he should have stayed awake (Matthew 26:40). Now, despite his looming appointment with the executioner, Peter slept. Perhaps he rested in this assurance: "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety" (Psalm 4:8). Maybe he thought of Psalm 127:2 and Proverbs 3:24.

God is undeterred by obstacles.

Personal guards, chains, inner ward, iron gate, prison guards -- the level of security around Peter posed no dilemma for God. He hasn't weakened since then! Does that matter to us at all?

Questions and Responses

Why did the Lord deliver Peter from death but not James?

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33).

"He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" (Daniel 4:35).

Were the Christians praying for Peter's deliverance?

The Scriptures do not inform us as to the specifics of their praying. All we know is that their prayers were "for him." How would you pray for someone facing execution for his faith?

"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 10:22).

"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul" (Matthew 10:28).

"But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not" (Luke 22:32).

"And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word" (Acts 4:29).

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord" (2 Timothy 1:7,8; see also Revelation 2:10).

"Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me" (2 Timothy 4:17; note also 1 Peter 5:10).

"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7).

What role should prayer have in the life of the church?

Prayer is our primary means of communion with God. It naturally follows that it should have a vital place in the life of the church (Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Peter 4:7).

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" (Ephesians 6:18).

"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.... Always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God" (Colossians 1:9; 4:12).

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