Acts 12:1-17: Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
Peter was kept in prison, but constant and earnest prayer was offered to God for him by the church. And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were guarding the prison.
Then an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” So Peter went out and followed him and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
When they were past the first and second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”
So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was Peter. So they said, “It is his angel.”
Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go tell these things to James and to the brethren.” And he departed and went to another place.
The chapter begins by talking about King Herod moving against the believers. He moved so strongly that he killed the Apostle James by beheading him. James was one of those who Christ called Sons of Thunder in Mark 3:16-17. He and his brother John were two of Jesus’ disciples who, when you read about them, you see why Jesus named them Sons of Thunder because of their aggressiveness.
Toward the end, I believe that the zealousness of James was focused on godly things, because John wrote John 1, 2 and 3 in which John became known as the Apostle of Love.
We don’t have an account of how James went out, but I believe he was zealously preaching the word of God.
James was beheaded, and Peter was waiting to be beheaded as well. We know this because Herod saw that what he did to James pleased the Jews. The problem was it was the time of the Passover celebration; therefore, he had to wait to do his evil works. There is no question that the enemy was working through Herod to destroy God’s people, and the first assignment is to go after the head. The battle is always in the mind. Your breakthrough and your breaking has to begin in the head.
The last weeks I have been hearing so much talk about the mind and how, if we can get the mind right, everything else will fall into place. One thing is for sure, the enemy is not after your stuff, your job, your marriage, your money, or anything else you may be focused on, because he knows that if he can get your mind, then you will mess up everything else. As we look at the scriptures in Acts 12, we see that there is a first door, a second door, an iron gate, and a door that was not opened even after hearing the right voice. We read that Peter was in prison bound, and there was double protection used against him. He was bound on every side with no way out. Peter was chained at both wrists to each guard, and there were soldiers guarding the doors. It appeared that Peter had gotten relaxed in his position, and the scripture reads that Peter was sleeping. Often, because of the battle that has gone on in our mind, we condition ourselves to be content with the position we are in, bound by the chains of man, bound in relationships, bound in poverty. Everything around him was designed to confine Peter.
You have the ability to change your situation, but because you haven’t taken the time to renew your mind in the things of Christ, Satan has you bound. Constrained where you can’t move, you try moving out of it a little at a time. You convince yourself that this is the way it should be, and if God wants me out, He will let me know. You are still bound. I believe that where there is a church full of saints and those who care who are earnestly praying for your deliverance and your breakthrough, no one can keep God from you.
Suddenly a light shines into the darkness that surrounds you, and the Lord may have to slap you to get your attention to move out of a dysfunctional situation. Often it may not feel good, but He will get your attention. The angel of the Lord slapped Peter on the side to awaken him. The angel told Peter, “Quickly, get up.” There comes a time where you have to stand up to it. It doesn’t matter how long you have been in this situation, it is time to stand up, strengthen yourself, and you don’t dare give in because of how bad it is. When Peter got hold of what the angel was saying, the chains began to fall.
Then the angel told Peter to get dressed, gird himself for the journey, and put on his shoes so that he was able to walk this out. Ephesians 6:10-15: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and, having done all, to stand firm. Stand, therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. Get ready for the shift. A shift is coming. Put on your garments and the shift will begin.
Verse 9 tells us that Peter didn’t know whether this was a dream or a vision, and he didn’t believe that it was really happening. When you begin to take the path that God has laid before you, He will do something so quick and amazing that you will not know whether it is a dream or a vision. But keep going; don’t let it go. Peter and the angel walked through the first door, and walked through the second door, and then the third door opened by itself. Verse 11 says that when Peter came to himself, he said: “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel and has delivered me from
the hands of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”
The first door—The attack of Herod. The enemy will raise up an adversary to try to stop you when you are getting ready to step into God’s plan for your life. The attack is not where you are now; it is where you are going.
The second door—The expectation of people. When God gets ready to do a shift, the attack will come from those who don’t understand. Where you are going will be so out of the norm for those around you, but you don’t dare abort God’s plan. Push past the expectations of people. You may have to be by yourself for a season until God fulfills His purpose.
The third door—If you can get through the attack of Herod and get through the expectations of people, when you get to the third door you won’t have to open it. God will open it, and all you have to do is walk on into your destiny. Those around you will be astonished. Some will say you are mad, crazy, or out of your mind, just as they called the girl named Rhoda in the following verses who heard Peter’s voice.
People will hear of what the Lord has done when you get set free from those bondages and will be in disbelief, but go on and praise Him anyway. Go on and declare what the Lord has done even if they don’t believe you.
Rev. Stephanie Whitted