This article is about Acts 12 and answered prayers and enemies of God.

Source: Clarion, 1995. 2 pages.

Acts 12 – Worms and the Word

But the Word of God grew and multiplied.

Read Acts 12

King Herod hated the church. He killed James ben Zebedee. He arrested Peter and put him in prison under maximum security – sixteen soldiers. Better give Peter lots of guards, Herod! He has escaped from prison before (Acts 5:19). After the Passover feast Herod was going to execute Peter too.

There was one problem with Herod's plan. He did not take into account that the church was praying fervently for Peter. By means of this prayer, God delivered Peter. This does not mean that the church did not pray fervently enough for James. God answered their prayer for James' life with a “No.” He answered their prayer for Peter's life with a “Yes.”

The night before Herod was going to bring Peter out, an angel appeared in Peter's cell. Peter was sleeping chained to two soldiers. The angel woke Peter by hitting him. The chains fell off Peter's hands. The angel told him to get up, get dressed, and follow him. They left the cell, passed the first guard, the second guard, and ended up out on the street. The ministering spirit sent forth to serve Peter (Hebrews 1:14) disappeared. At that point Peter came to himself.

He went to the house where the fervently praying church was gathered and knocked on the locked door. The servant girl Rhoda went to answer it. She recognized Peter's voice, but, in her excitement, neglected to open the door for him. Leaving him standing in front of the locked door, she ran back to the praying believers and told them that Peter was standing outside. They did not believe her. “You're crazy,” they said. When she insisted, they said: “It must be Peter's angel.”

The answer to their prayer was literally knocking at the door, and they did not see it. Do we have our eyes and ears open for God's answer to our prayers? He always answers them. Often we are so nearsighted that we do not see the answer when it is staring us in the face.

Peter kept knocking. Finally they opened the door and were amazed to see Peter. Peter entered, told them the whole story, and went into hiding.

The next day the soldiers awoke to find that their chains were holding air. What a commotion! Where was Peter? They could not find him in Jerusalem, so Herod had them put to death.

Herod left Judea for his palace at Caesarea. One day Herod put on his royal robes. Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived at that time, tells us that these robes were woven from silver thread and brilliantly reflected the sun. Herod sat upon his throne and began to speak. The heathen crowds shouted that he was a god. Herod accepted that praise. As punishment, God sent an angel to smite him with a sickness. He was eaten by worms and died. Josephus tells us that Herod died after five days of excruciating pain. With his belly and intestines full of worms, he was eaten inside out.

Herod was eaten by worms, but the Word of God grew and multiplied (v. 24). The church's prayer had a double effect. As it often does in the Psalms (Psalms 69, 101, 137), rescue for God's people meant ruin for the church's enemies. God delivered Peter and destroyed Herod. The slaying of him who would stop the Word of God meant the advancement of the Word.

Let us continue to pray for the destruction of every power that raises itself against God and for the coming of the kingdom of God (Lord's day 48).

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