Our Vision 2020 reading this week is from Acts 12-28, finishing the book of Acts.
As Patti and I began our week’s reading together we both were immediately impressed with a few observations and thoughts.
Beginning in chapter 12. note in verses 1,2, King Herod chooses to kill the Apostle James. We are told that Herod simply determined to mistreat our brethren, the church. When Herod sees that murdering James pleased the religious Jews, he decided to capture Peter, fully intending to kill him as well. In verses 6-10, God sends an angel to rescue Peter out of prison and out of the hands of Herod. In other words, God allowed James to be murdered, but he protected Peter. Why? Did James do something wrong? Did he sin? Was his faith lacking? Nothing in the text indicates that James’ murder had anything to do with James. It seems just to be an evil action by an evil man...Herod. In other words, James did not fail. Yet he died. Last Sunday, during the message, I mentioned that if God was finished using us to proclaim and glorify Himself here on earth, He would take us home. Well, James for sure went home. Remember, absent from the body, home with the Lord (2Corinthians 5/8). The most I can say about the different responses from God regarding the circumstances of James and Peter is that it was time for James to go home, but not time for Peter to go home.
Another observation from chapter 12 comes from verses 18,19. When the angel helped Peter escape, he did so without disturbing the jailhouse or the 16 soldiers keeping Peter in jail. In other words, no one knew he was gone. The day after the escape, Herod wanted Peter brought to him so he can kill him. “What!?” “He’s not there!?” “Off with your heads!” Apparently, the 16 soldiers were then executed for allowing Peter to escape. Except they didn’t. God did. For some reason, in God’s sovereignty, He allowed those soldiers to be executed based on an action he took. Make no mistake, it was the evil Herod, with his evil heart and mind, who was forcing these issues. Nevertheless, God carried out His plan, at the cost of the lives of those soldiers. Our God is Holy, Just, Omniscient and Omnipotent. He is not to be trifled with and He will have His way.
One final observation that Patti and I noticed: In chapter 13/16-42, we have the record of the first and longest message delivered by the Apostle Paul. We were struck with a number of similarities between Paul’s first message here and Peter’s first message at the birth of the church in Acts 2 ;
They both began their messages by calling the “Men of Israel”.
They both mention that these events were all prophesied and predetermined by God.
They both mention the role of Israel in bringing the Messiah and the promise to that nation.
They both mention the public’s awareness of Jesus.
They both mention that Jesus died on the cross.
They both mention that Jesus RESURRECTED.
They both verify the resurrection by emphasizing the prophesy of King David regarding the Holy One not undergoing decay (Psalm16/10). They state clearly that David died and his body is still buried. In other words, David was not talking about Himself.
After all of these observations, brethren, do you see the marvel and clarity of God’s Holy Scriptures? He wrote them, for us (all of mankind), so we might know Him, receive Him and live with Him forever. Hallelujah!