Acts 12: God at Work

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Today's Bible Reading: Acts 12

Selected Biblical Text
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, "Get up quickly." And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, "Dress yourself and put on your sandals." And he did so. And he said to him, "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me." And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, "Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting."
...But the word of God increased and multiplied. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark. (Acts 12:1-11, 24-25, ESV)

Reflecting and Thinking
In the previous chapter, we noted that God was at work behind the scenes. In this chapter, his work is more clearly seen. Peter's arrest by Herod is short-lived (as is Herod!) because God delivers Peter from prison by an angel. The intrigue and surprising twists continue as we meet the praying believers doubtful of Peter's release (for which they have been praying). Herod steps over the line in claiming to have divine power and God strikes him dead. Meanwhile, the work of God increases more and more, and Barnabas and Saul return to Antioch from Jerusalem along with John Mark. We are ready for the next step in the spread of the gospel -- "into all the world."

Two miraculous events in this chapter are concluded with the simple observation that the word of the Lord was increasing and multiplying. What was the purpose of the miraculous events? Can the word go forth without miraculous support? Think about some of the ways God is at work in this chapter. How is God at work in your life and in the life of the church today?

Our God and Father, impress upon us afresh the power of prayer. Teach us dependence; teach us humility. Work among us and in us and through us so that your word may spread with great power today. Help us reflect your glory, in the name of Jesus, Amen.

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Last updated January 2019