Herod began to persecute those who believed in Jesus, it’s told in the twelfth chapter of Acts. James was martyred by the sword and Peter was seized, though there had been no criminal facts.
The church was offering up constant prayer for Peter–imprisoned by Herod Agrippa, the king. So in the dark of the night, God sent an angel to visit Peter there, who was asleep despite everything.
Four squads of soldiers had been assigned to him; and he was chained as he slept that night. A soldier on each side of him and guards were there, who were keeping the prison door barred tight.
Suddenly, the angel of the Lord stood by Peter, and a light shone inside the prison cell. The angel struck him on his side and raised him up; and from Peter’s hands, the heavy prison chains fell.
At the angel’s instruction, Peter dressed quickly to follow him–though it all seemed to be unreal. They went past the first and second guard posts. This must be a “vision,” was how it made him feel.
They came to the iron gate that led to the city, which simply opened to them of its own accord–then went out and down one street, and the angel departed. What a rescue from an angel of the Lord!
Peter came to his senses, realizing it had actually happened–he’d escaped Herod and leaders of the Jews. He proceeded on to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where they’d fervently prayed for this news.
Peter knocked at the door of the gate to the house, and a girl by the name of Rhoda came to see who was there. In her joy at hearing his voice, she ran to tell the others it was Peter, and that God had answered prayer.
They just couldn’t believe her, so Peter had to continue to knock, until they opened the door themselves to see… that God, indeed, had heard their prayers for Peter, and had sent His angel–to miraculously set him free!
At dawn, back at the prison, there was a commotion among the soldiers, as to how Peter’s captivity was defied. After a search was endeavored, Herod ordered the soldiers’ deaths; but the Bible records that he, too, soon afterward died…
“But the word of God grew and multiplied!”
P. A. Oltrogge
(From the account in Acts 12)
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