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The Scriptorium

Departures

What do we expect when we pray? Acts 12.12-19

The Right and Only King (4)

Pray Psalm 146.1, 2, 10.
Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
While I live I will praise the LORD;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being…
The LORD shall reign forever—
Your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!

Sing Psalm 146.1, 2, 10.
(Hallelujah! What a Savior!: Man of Sorrows)
Praise the Lord, my soul, give praise! While I live, His Name I’ll raise!
And exalt Him all my days – God forever reigns in Zion!

Read Acts 12.1-19; meditate on verses 12-19.

Preparation
1. How was Peter received? What did he tell the believers?

2. What happened to those assigned to guard Peter?

Meditation
If Shakespeare had written this story and featured it as a scene in one of his plays, we would be in the aisles, holding our sides. Even before this little “knock, knock” game. Knock, knock. Who’s there? Peter. Yeah, right (vv. 12-15). Didn’t these folks believe in the prayers they were earnestly making to the Lord (v. 12)? Certainly they did. But they could not have imagined how the Lord would answer their prayers.

We note they are gathered in a home, and we are introduced to John Mark (v. 12), whom we’ll meet again soon (Luke’s way of keeping his history moving forward is to give us these “previews”). This was probably one of many “house churches” in the Jerusalem church.

We also note that James, the Lord’s brother, had already achieved a place of prominence among the apostles (v. 17). We’ll see just how prominent in Acts 15 (here is another “preview”). A doubter throughout Jesus’ earthly life, James finally “got it” when the Lord showed Himself to His half-brother after the resurrection (1 Cor. 15.7) and enlisted him in the work of the Kingdom.

Staying in Jerusalem was not an option for Peter at this time, although he will return when things have settled down a bit – after Herod’s demise. He departed and went to “another place”, probably Antioch (cf. Gal. 2).

We read that “there was no small stir among the soldiers” about Peter’s being gone (v. 18). They understood what this meant. And this time there weren’t any Jewish religious leaders to keep them from Rome’s “justice” (Matt. 28.11-15). Failure of duty was a death sentence in the Roman world, and Herod was doing what the law required.

But what a callous king! He ordered the death of four squads of soldiers, then headed off on holiday to the seaside. Departures: Peter, Herod, and those poor soldiers. But not God. He’s there in the midst of it all, unfolding the ongoing work of Christ.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
So many amazing things happened throughout the Scriptures to unnamed people. And here, we will forever remember this named girl, Rhoda, for her unabashed excitement and profoundly unhelpful response. There’s that.

Then we have the prayer meeting. One wonders, “What were they praying?”

These were dedicated believers, praying together during very difficult times, in the middle of the night. Were they praying for Peter’s release? Or were they praying that his heart be strengthened as he faced death? Were they praying for their own courage? Or safety?

Whatever they were praying, they were not expecting Peter to show up at their door.

I think this group of believers might have been praying the prayer that Jesus taught them to pray:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who in indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Lk. 11.2-4)

That covered all the bases. And exuded pure trust and faith in God who knew and loved them. And knows and loves us.

As Moses prayed before his death:
“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
Who rides the heavens to help you,
And in His excellency on the clouds.
The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms…” (Deut. 33.26, 27).

In this we can all trust. Even for our own departure.

For reflection

1. Why is prayer such an important part of a healthy and fruitful walk with the Lord?

2. Meditate on Genesis 12.1-3 and 2 Peter 1.4. How should the precious and very great promises of God affect the way we pray? The way we live?

3. How important is prayer as preparation for our own departure from this life?

Although the soldiers had no guilt because Peter escaped, nevertheless it was an excessively great concession that the soldiers through their guarding collaborated with the godless king, so that the innocent Peter would be killed. It is fine if a servant suffers his fleshly lord treating him somewhat unfairly and unjustly, but he should never allow it to come to doing something godless to please his fleshly lord or helping him to carry out his godlessness or performing and completing such deeds by himself. Johannes Brenz (1499-1570), The Acts of the Apostles 12:19.14

Pray Psalm 146.3-10.

Commit your day to the Lord. Call on Him for all your provision and for strength to be a witness for Jesus. Praise Him that He reigns forever and ever.

Sing Psalm 146.3-10.
(Hallelujah! What a Savior!: Man of Sorrows)
Trust we not in prince or man – no salvation’s in their hand.
Death shall take them, breath and plans – God forever reigns in Zion!

Blessed are they whose hope resides in the Lord, Christ at His side.
By Him heav’n and earth abide – God forever reigns in Zion!

He is faithful evermore; He gives justice to the poor,
feeds the hungry from His store – God forever reigns in Zion!

Jesus sets the pris’ner free, heals blind eyes that they may see,
lifts those burdened painfully – God forever reigns in Zion!

He the righteous loves the best; wand’rers in His grace are blessed;
needy ones in Him find rest – God forever reigns in Zion!

But the wicked who defame His eternal blessèd Name,
Them He brings to ruin and shame – God forever reigns in Zion!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

Read more about the work Jesus is doing as King. Our books, The Kingship of Jesus and What in Heaven Is Jesus Doing on Earth? can help you understand the scope, focus, and power of Jesus’ rule at the Father’s right hand. Each is free, and you can order them by clicking here and here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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