About that time King Herod Agrippa[a] began to persecute some believers in the church. 2 He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. 3 When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration.[b]) 4 Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. 5 But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.
6 The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. 7 Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. 8 Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered.
It remains to be true, no matter how much security measures are taken, there will never be an Angel proof prison.
It's important to point out a few details and set the scene about Peter's escape before I go into my main points of this blog.
This is a lot of security to provide for one street preacher. Sixteen guards on four man shifts. Two of the guards would chain themselves to Peter, and two would stand guard at the prison door. The only reason we know of for Herod Agrippa wanting this much security is that he really, really wanted to benefit from the death of Peter.
This is an incredible miracle that is unexplainable in the way we know the physical world. These guards who are chained to Peter and who are also definitely not sleeping on the job (they would have been punished with death if they were asleep), are completely unaware of the breakout. No one is able to perceive what's happening. Did time stop? Did Peter become invisible? Were the guards blinded or made dumb? We don’t know.
Peter is completely helpless and can do nothing for himself in this moment of God's sovereignty breaking through to rescue him. He has to be struck on the side by an angel to wake up. The angel has to then give him step by step instructions on how to get dressed and walk out of the prison he is breaking free from. This reminds me of what it's like getting my kids off to school in the morning. Just kidding. Though Peter’s child-like helplessness is most definitely an interesting detail.
Why spend time pointing these three details out? Because as much as this is an awesome miracle, this is also an almost perfect illustration of how God frees us, delivers us and leads us from the attacks of the enemy in our own lives.
Like Peter all of us are under attack and it doesn't matter how insignificant you feel, or how little you think of yourself. You are made in the image of God Most High, therefore the devil takes great pleasure in the idea of your destruction. Like Peter, like me, like you, the enemy has put a target upon each one of us that God has called His children. What’s worse is he is employing all the resources of hell to steal, kill, and destroy each one of his targets.
Though this is true, there really is no need to worry about such a big loser. The devil. Like in the case of Peter, Jesus has a supernatural key of freedom from any chain the enemy might use to bind us to any of his demons.
When the power of God shows up, depression is broken, pain is healed, hope is restored and every chain is broken beneath the weight of His Glory. At times it seems impossible, unexpected, and unexplainable, but no doubt, this is the consistent truth about our God. We don’t always understand how or why, but we can always trust that there is no greater name in heaven or on the earth than the name of Jesus.
Which leads us to the last point in Peter’s deliverance hour. Peter’s participation and role in his own salvation. Clearly, left to his own ability, Peter is a dead man chained to an overpowering enemy. Peter has literally nothing to offer in his own power that can give him advantage in the situation. The only thing Peter can do is yield himself to God, and follow his leadership with unwavering obedience.
I think you're starting to understand the picture. All of us are a target of the enemy. All of us are caught in his traps and held in bondage at different moments in our life. It’s ok to admit. It’s almost expected, walking in a fallen world that you would find yourself in painful situations that are outside of your control.
As God showed up with freedom and deliverance for Peter, God also desires to show up with the same for you and I.
As Peter did, it’s time to rest in His leadership. It’s time to walk with Him one step at a time, let go of control, and leave the prison chains behind. Mark my words, Jesus will do it. You may not be able to explain how, but you will be a testimony to God's goodness and grace to those around you as Peter was to those around him.
Love and with the strength of Christ,