THE ACTS 21
GOD IS IN CONTROL, HEAR YE HIM
At the beginning of chapter 12, we have the record of King Herod executing James the brother of John. Luke says that because this pleased the Jews, Herod also arrested Peter and put him in prison. I feel we should pause here in the story to note something important. When it says, “He saw that this pleased the Jews”, we must understand that this does not mean the Jewish citizens. It means it pleased the Jewish leaders, the Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees. The people loved the preaching of Peter. It was the leaders who hated it because it was not according to their interpretation of the law, and it did not support their dream of a Jewish kingdom.
It is a sad fact that most people who call themselves Christians today do not have a faith of their own. It is borrowed from their family heritage, their church or their teachers. It is a second-class
faith. Unfortunately, leaders are most often like the Jewish leaders. They interpret the Bible to suit their own desires. As a result they have a power structure over which they exert authority, and the masses follow their leading. This means the majority of people in Christendom today are related to a church, which they believe gives them a relationship to Jesus Christ and to the Father. Thus, unfortunately, they have no personal relationship with the Lord, nor any real knowledge of His will. Millions end up worshipping men, which is the very antithesis of what the Father wants, or what Jesus taught.
In our story here in Acts 12, part of the Jewish leaders’ anger at Peter was the fact that the people loved him, and they were jealous.
But God had plans for Peter, and no power on earth could stand against that. The guard placed on Peter was extensive. He was guarded by sixteen soldiers, and as he slept he was chained with two chains and a soldier on each side of him. But an angel of the Lord came and woke him, told him to get dressed, caused the chains to fall off, and led him out past the guards into the street where he left him.
Only after the angel left did Peter realize that this wasn’t just a dream.
God had further work for him to do.
The last part of chapter 12 records Herod making a speech, and dressed in his royal robes. The people shouted, “This is the voice of a god”. Herod accepted their praise, and God struck him dead. If the same happened today, there would be many dead church leaders.
The worship of men is blasphemy to God. Peter, Paul and even the
angel who came to John on Patmos all vehemently insisted that only God was to be worshipped, and none of His servants.
Again we see God’s personal hand directing and controlling the events in these early days of the church. He had given His Son to make possible the message of salvation for the world, and He would not allow the weakness of men, nor the perfidy of their leaders, to stand in the way. This is a fulfillment of Jesus’ statement to Peter when He said, “I will build my church, and the forces of hell will not prevent it”.
Now He has given us the written record of God’s purpose for the church and His nurture of it through direct action in the early days.
We are now commissioned to make it strong, increase its borders, and keep it true to His word. The tool we have is the power of the written word, and we should read it often, meditate upon it deeply and use it as our only source of faith and practice. It is not an organ for rituals, rules and regulations. We do not have a legal relationship with God. It is a personal message, to be read by every person who would accept Him as Lord of their life, and would create a personal relationship with Him.