Intro. In our last lesson, Peter had been put in jail by Herod Agrippa, who intended at the end of the feast to bring him forth for execution. But the night before he was to be executed, an angel came and delivered him from the prison. Peter thought it was just a dream until the angel disappeared and he was free in the streets of Jerusalem.
I. AND WHEN PETER WAS COME TO HIMSELF, HE SAID, NOW I KNOW FOR SURE, THAT THE LORD HATH SENT HIS ANGEL, AND HATH DELIVERED ME OUT OF THE HAND OF HEROD. PETER NOW REALIZED THAT HE WAS ACTUALLY FREE.
II. WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT ANGELS.
A. We know that they number into the millions. Rev. 5:11
B. They were created before the universe.
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou have understanding.
Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou know? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
C. They are ranked according to power and authority. Principalities, powers, might, thrones, dominions.
1. Michael is an archangel, which seems to be the highest rank.
a. The angel Gabriel called him one of the chief princes.
2. The angel Gabriel appeared by name to Daniel around 550 B.C.
3. 550 years later he appeared, again by name, to Zacharias the father of John the Baptist. There he declared that he stood in the presence of God.
4. About that same time, he appeared to Mary to inform her of the great blessing that God had bestowed upon her, that she was to be the human instrument by which God would bring His Son, the Messiah, into the world.
5. The word angel means messenger, and in the Bible they were often used to bring God's messages to man, especially in the Old Testament.
6. There is a class known as Cherubim. They surround the throne of God and declare His holiness.
a. Cherubims were sent by God to protect the entrance to the garden of Eden to keep Adam from returning to the garden and eating of the tree of life.
b. Satan was created as one of the cherubs. He was referred to as the anointed cherub that covereth. J.Vernon McGee suggests that he was the choir director in heaven, and when he was cast to earth, he landed in the choir loft.
7. God has given angels charge over us.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in [their] hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
a. This is the passage that Satan quoted to Jesus when he was tempting Him to jump from the pinnacle of the temple.
8. In Hebrews concerning angels we read:
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
a. This was certainly the case with this story of Peter.
9. Though they are spirit beings, they evidently can sometimes appear in the form of ordinary people.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 10. They are of a higher order in creation than man, in that they cannot die.
a. Jesus had to be made a little lower than the angels that He might suffer death. 2Pe 2:11
b. Peter said that they were greater in power and might. 11. When our redemption is complete in Christ, we shall become greater than the angels, and will one day judge the angels.
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
III. PETER WHEN HE REALIZED HE WAS FREED CAME TO THE HOUSE OF MARY, THE MOTHER OF JOHN MARK.
A. This would be the young man who was a nephew to Barnabas, which means that possibly this Mary was a sister to Barnabas.
1. This is the Mark that went with Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey, but for some reason left them and went home possibly he became homesick and left them to go home.
2. When Paul and Barnabas planned their second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take him again, but Paul refused, and the dispute was so great that Paul and Barnabas parted company.
3. This difference was later resolved as Mark proved his commitment, and when Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy he said: Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
B. At that time they had no church buildings, and the churches met in the homes for the most part.
C. Many of the church had gathered in Mary's house for a prayer meeting.
1. These were desperate days for the church. James has been beheaded, Peter is in jail waiting execution. There seems to be a serious threat against the church, it would seem that the survival of the church is at stake.
2. I would suppose that they were praying for Peter's release.
VI. AS PETER KNOCKED AT THE DOOR OF THE GATE.
A. It seemed that the church often met behind locked doors for fear of the Jews.
B. A young girl name Rhoda responded to the knocking by Peter.
C. When she heard Peter's voice, she was so excited she did not unlock the gate but ran in where they were praying and declared that Peter was at the gate.
D. They said to her, "You're crazy."
1. Probably someone had just prayed, "Lord You can do anything, You could free Peter from prison, if it be Your will. Lord please set Peter free."
2. The others were probably saying "amen, yes, Lord," when little Rhoda came running in saying that Peter was at the gate.
E. These people of faith said to her, "You're crazy."
1. We put a lot of emphasis on faith when we pray, and rightfully so, for Jesus said that whatsoever things you desired, when you pray, believe that you shall receive it, and you shall have it.
2. I believe that God sometimes answers our prayers in spite of our lack of faith, just because we are asking something He wants to do.
3. It was almost as if they were upset with her for disrupting their prayer for Peter's release.
F. When she continued to insist that Peter was there, they then said, "It must be his angel."
1. They knew that he was being guarded by 4 quaternians of soldiers, and how he was chained 24 hours a day to a soldier on either side while two were watching the door, and the guards were changing shifts every 6 hours, to insure that they were fresh.
2. They knew how impossible it would be for Peter to escape.
3. This is the same mistake that we often make when we pray. We consider all of the hindrances standing in the way. We know all of the difficulties.
4. We look at things from a purely physical standpoint.
5. We so often leave God out of the equation.
6. I wonder how many things that we pray for, we never really expect God to answer.
V. PETER WAS STILL OUTSIDE, SO HE CONTINUED TO KNOCK.
A. When they opened the door and saw Peter, they were astonished.
1. He beckoned with his hand for them to hold their peace.
a. They were probably making a lot of noise, the excited squeals of the ladies, and the shouts of the men, and Peter was fearful that the neighborhood would be alarmed.
b. Peter testified to them of how the Lord had delivered him from prison and ordered them to tell James, who seemed to have a prominent role of leadership in the early church.
B. Peter then departed and went to another place. I take that to mean that he went into hiding.
1. In the morning there was no small stir among the soldiers as to what had possibly happened to Peter.
2. This is the second time that the Lord had delivered Peter from prison in a miraculous way.
3. Back in chapter 5, we read how the angel of the Lord had come at night and opened the prison doors for them.
C. When Herod had sought for him and could not find him, after questioning the guards, he had them put to death.
1. This confirms that this was the intention of Herod against Peter. For if you were a guard, and your prisoner escaped, then you received the punishment that was intended for the prisoner.
2. The feast being over, Herod returned to his home in Caesarea.
D. We will see the fate of Herod in our next lesson.