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The Great Escape! Acts 12:6-11

02/08/2020

The Great Escape

Morning Service at Ballymacashon – Lord’s Day,  2nd August 2020

Opening Prayer.

Praise,    Psalm  126 (Tune Brother James’ Air)

1 When Zion’s fortunes God restored,
it was a dream come true.
2 Our mouths were then with laughter filled,
our tongues with songs anew.

The nations said, “The LORD has done
great things for Israel.”
3 The LORD did mighty things for us,
and joy our hearts knew well.

4 Restore our fortunes, gracious LORD,
like streams in desert soil.
5 A joyful harvest will reward
the weeping sower’s toil.

6 The man who, bearing seed to sow, 
goes out with tears of grief, 
Will come again with songs of joy, 
bearing his harvest sheaf.

(Sing Psalms)

Bible Reading.   Acts 12:7-11

Prayer.

Address:

Peter, in a humanly impossible situation, is about to be delivered, – not by any human intervention, by a powerful sovereign work of God.  God, in his mercy, the God who is Almighty, hears the prayers of the church, and sends an angel, and sets Peter free from his imprisonment.

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 It’s an exciting and amazing story, the Lord himself reaching down into the depths of human darkness and bringing deliverance. So, let’s look at this incident, and see if we can get some understanding of the sovereign deliverance of God.  

To listen to the PODCAST click:  PODCAST

1 Peter is Rescued by God. Acts 12:7-8

Let’s think about this…

  • The angel STOOD OVER him.  Abandoned by men, he was never forgotten by God!  Nothing can keep the Lord out of our difficulties!  Psalm 27:3. He sent an angel to deliver Peter, a messenger of God.  It’s not the first time that this happened.  When Daniel was in the lion’s den, he was protected by an angel,  Daniel 6: 22   We must not ignore the doctrine of angels. But we must not over exaggerate their work either, – it is wrong to trust in angels as some do.  Peter’s deliverance was wrought by God, and the glory is all his.  Then:- 
  • A light shone in the prison darkness.  (The light was not from the angel – but from the Lord – it is always God who sends light into the darkness, – Jesus is the Light of the World). What were the guards doing, for example, when this great light was shining? Were they physically blinded – or perhaps spiritually blind – is this why unbelievers do not see the glorious light of the gospel?  2 Corinthians 4:3  
  • Peter was awakened.  Again we see an interesting and even humorous aspect to this incident – it’s all too detailed to be a fabrication! Peter is asleep.  Soundly asleep, even though it was meant to be his last night on earth!   The angel had to poke him in the side to wake him up!    
  • His chains fell off.  His handcuffs just dropped off!  Now remember he is not just chained to an inanimate object like a wall – he is chained to two men, one on each side, who would feel any movement, any slackening in the manacles, any movement from Peter – but the lock are opened and the the chains top and it doesn’t disturb the guards! 
  • He was told to dress himself.  Peter must have been still groggy.  You know how it is when you are awakened out a deep sleep, and you take some time to figure out what’s actually going on around you!  The angel has to remind him to get dressed….  
  • He was led to safety.  He went out, and followed him.  And even then Peter was still all bait confused by what had happened!  Acts 12:9  

From then on it was plain sailing.  They just walked past the guards. And came to the iron gate from the prison to the streets, and the gate, securely locked, just swung open before them, and out they went!  The angel’s job was done, his assignment on earth completed, and he left.  Acts 12:10.  

 

2 Peter is Reassured by Grace. Acts 12:11

Peter is standing on an empty street – outside the prison, and he expresses his certainty that the Lord and the Lord alone has rescued him. It’s a wonderful lesson, and there are a number of very important spiritual lessons in this narrative for us, as well as for Peter. 

  • That it is the Lord who rescues us from all our earthly foes.  For Peter his foes seemed overwhelming.  He was up against the political ambition and ruthlessness of Herod, and the hatred of the Jews.  His foes are overwhelming, but the Lord is his deliverer!   
  • That God exercises sovereign choice. Why did God rescue Peter, and not rescue James?    There is no easy answer to why God allows some of his people to die in their early ages, and others remain in this world until great old age.  All we do know is that all our days are in his hands, and we will not leave this world one split second before he has determined in his will.    
  • That God rescues sinners from eternal judgement. Many have likened Peter’s deliverance from the prison as a visual aid for our spiritual rescue from the dark prison of sin.  There is no doubt that there are many parallels. 
    • Our natural state is one of darkness and imprisonment, we are bound and chained by our sin, held prisoner by the devil.   
    • We cannot rescue ourselves former sin, or spare ourselves from sin’s consequences. We are helpless, and our circumstances are terrifyingly hopeless. We need someone to rescue us.  
    • God, in his mercy sends a deliverer! To rescue Peter he sent an angel.  To rescue us from our sin he sent his own Son, Jesus, to pluck us out of the darkness and bring us to the safety of God’s kingdom. And he did that through his saving work on the cross. 
    • God deals with our sin-trapped condition. He enlighteners our eyes, spiritually speaking, so that we see our lostness and see the Way of Salvation in Jesus, he releases us from our bondage, and he lifts us up out of the mire and mud, and brings us out of our bondage and sorrow and night.   
  • That when we are first delivered, we are sometimes not fully aware of the greatness of our deliverance!  Like Peter, staggering in wonder along that street with an angel, we are stunned by the goodness of God, we are thrilled by his saving work, but as we progress in the Christian life, we should daily become more fully aware of the greatness of the work that God has done in us!  The Psalmist expressed this in Psalm 126:1-3  
  • That when we are delivered from darkness we must follow our deliverer!  I’m trying to imagine what would have happened if Peter had got set free, and then told the angel, “Right, that’s it, I’m rescued now, I’m saved, so I can just go my own way, thanks!”  When delivered, he needed to follow his deliverer to be brought to a place of safety!.  Jesus has rescued us from our sins, – we must follow him. 

In wonder at the spiritual lessons learned that night, Peter reaffirms his faith and trust in the God who is our deliverer. The same God who so miraculously rescued Peter from his prison cell is the God who has rescued us, and who keeps us until we too are brought home to glory.  

Prayer and Benediction

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