SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Herod was an evil king, so the followers of Jesus dealt with the persecution of their faith everyday. Herod had James arrested and put to death. Now he sought to kill Peter also.
- But, the church was praying for Peter to be saved. And saved he was! An angel rescued him from prison in the middle of the night. He then fled the city in order to escape death. Herod was so angry and embarrassed that he had all the guards on duty executed.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Both intervention and non-intervention are a part of God's plan. Sometimes God intervenes, as in the case of Peter's rescue, to spread His message. Other times, however, God does not intervene, as in the case of James' death. It can be difficult to understand God's decisions sometimes. We may never know the "why" in them. But, our faith can still deepen. This is why Romans 5:3-4 says, "...but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." And hope is what led the early believers to still pray for Paul even though God chose not to intervene in James' life.
- Herod was arrogant and addicted to his own celebrity. He arrested Peter because the Jews liked him for it. He executed his guards because they made him look bad. And, he traveled to Tyre and Sidon to gain public support and popularity. Arrogant pride destroyed Herod, and it can destroy us too. Herod was too proud to admit that he wasn't God. So, God put an end to him! He was a living demonstration that "God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble" (James 4:6).
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- We live in a free country where it is hard to understand what religious persecution must feel like. Maybe your life isn't in danger, but you've probably experienced someone mocking you or making fun of you for your faith. Maybe you've been called stupid for believing in that "Jesus crap." How do you handle it? How does it make you feel? Do you pray about those struggles that frustrate or discourage you like the early followers did? Take your concerns to God. He cares and wants to hear from you.
- Do you pray regularly like the early followers of Jesus? Prayer is what saved Peter's life. It could save yours. Do you trust God to intervene in your life? Do you trust Him even when He does not?
- Who gets the credit for the good things that take place in your life? Do you take the praise or do you give it to God? Take time each day to thank God for His work in your life. Praise him verbally, not just mentally, for all that he's done for you.