WHILE THE CHURCH PRAYED
“Then the time came for Herod to bring him out for the kill. That night, even though shackled to two soldiers, one on either side, Peter slept like a baby. And there were guards at the door keeping their eyes on the place. Herod was taking no chances!
“Suddenly there was an angel at his side and light flooding the room. The angel shook Peter and got him up: ‘Hurry!’ The handcuffs fell off his wrists. The angel said, ‘Get dressed. Put on your shoes.’ Peter did it. Then, ‘Grab your coat and let’s get out of here.’ Peter followed him but didn’t really believe it was an angel — he thought he was dreaming.” Acts 12:6- 9 The Message).
While the church prayed, God was up to something! There were a few unusual things about this scenario. Firstly, Peter was on the eve of possible execution yet he was asleep and the guards were awake. Shouldn’t he have been awake, given the circumstances, tossing and turning with anxiety about his fate on the morrow? What does that say about Peter’s state of mind?
Was he, like Paul in similar circumstances later on, at perfect peace knowing that God was in charge? Whether he lived or died was not the issue. To live was Christ and to die was gain. That tells us a whole lot about Christ’s victory on the cross. “Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-15 (NIV).
While Peter slept, the church prayed. The guards were watching; the church was praying; and God was working! He dispatched an angel and set the ball rolling for an amazing rescue. The prison cell was ablaze with light, yet the guards saw nothing. The angel woke Peter and spoke to him; his shackles clanked to the ground — yet the guards heard nothing. Were they blind and deaf?
Peter responded like a sleepwalker — no questions, no protests. Like a robot he got up, put on his clothes and shoes at the angel’s command and followed him out of the prison cell while the soldiers kept on guarding him! He thought he was dreaming — wouldn’t you?
Even though he had slept like a baby, what was going on in his subconscious mind that would trigger dreams? In the natural, he would probably have been morbidly dwelling on the outcome of tomorrow. Nightmares, not dreams, should have plagued his sleep. But he didn’t. Instead, he thought he was having a pleasant dream about being rescued.
“Past the first guard and then the second, they came to the iron gate that led into the city. It swung open before them on its own and they were out on the street, free as a breeze. At the first intersection the angel left him, going his own way. That’s when Peter realised it was no dream. ‘I can’t believe it — this really happened! The Master sent His angel and rescued me from Herod’s little production and the spectacle the Jewish mob was looking forward to.'” Acts 12:10-11 (The Message).
While the guards continued to watch, Peter and the angel slipped quietly out of the prison, locked doors and gates opening and closing for them, and neither guards nor prisoners stirred. Only when the cold night air touched his face did Peter realise that this was no dream. He really was free! God had miraculously thwarted Herod’s little macabre entertainment and left a whole group of soldiers with egg on their faces.
It is God’s way to partner with His people in getting His will done on earth. John Wesley said, “God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” The church in Jerusalem did not need to be made aware of Peter’s situation. They prayed and God acted. And that’s how God still administers His will on earth today.