Old Testament: 2 Samuel 3 & 4
Poetry: Proverbs 18
*New Testament: Acts 12
The Bible was written for the purpose of revealing theological lessons. Throughout the whole Bible we can see cross references and common themes that unite every book into God’s complete and perfect word that he wrote for His creation. There are times when the Bible seems to be more historical or moralistic, but overall, everything can be tied back to a theological lesson on who God is and how we can have a relationship with Him. We can learn so much about the character of God. We can also see how a passage of scripture fits into the big picture of God’s plan of restoring the world to what it was in the garden of Eden.
Acts chapter 12 records Peter’s miraculous escape from prison. This comes in the middle of the apostles and the early church being under persecution by the Jews, and right after the apostle James became a martyr for the sake of proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. Verse 3 says that King Herod arrested Peter once he saw how much the Jews supported the execution of James. The Jews did everything they could to resist the early church from growing. But here we see God step in and provide protection to Peter because of all the work that God had chosen in advance for him to complete. We just learned in the previous chapters that Peter was the disciple that God specifically assigned to proclaim Jesus to the Gentiles and extend salvation to them.
This shows how important the message of the Messiah Jesus is to God. God was prepared to intervene and open and close doors in order for Jesus to continue to be proclaimed. No tactics of man, neither from the Jews nor royalty could thwart the plans of God. God’s will will come to pass. God provided a way for Peter to escape prison – and all without him even understanding what was happening. This happens all too often because God is all-knowing, and we are limited in our knowledge as humans.
When you first look at the account of Herod’s death, it simply looks like a historical record of a king. But is there a theological lesson that is beneath the surface? What was the point of including this story in this chapter of Acts? Well first of all, in this case, there is significance from a historical perspective because we can see a very similar account written by the Jewish historian Josephus. The historian recorded that Herod was compared to a god and did not reject the claim and therefore died. This can be used as proof of the accuracy of the Bible and the information recorded in it. The Bible is real and can be accepted as truth. But when it comes to a theological message, we can see that God is a jealous God who does not put up with idol worship. It’s sad how the Jewish people refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah, yet they were so quick to exalt Herod Agrippa to the status of a god. Men cannot come close to being worthy of the glory of God, God deserves it all. Herod Agrippa was the grandson of King Herod the Great, who ordered the killing of the baby boys at the time of Jesus’ birth. Herod Agrippa was also the nephew of the Herod who beheaded John the Baptist. Therefore Herod grew up surrounded by influences that persecuted those who followed God, yet God consistently found a way around the plans of these men so that the name of Jesus could be proclaimed.
The chapter ends with a common theme of the whole book of Acts. It says, “But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.” Herod did not have enough power to overcome his fate nor the spread of the name of Jesus. Instead, we see the minuteness of Herod compared to God. By the end of this single chapter, we are reminded that God is playing a game of chess while all His enemies are stuck playing checkers. He has all his moves planned out and he can see how the game ends when it will all come to fruition.
- Where have you seen God’s plan trump man’s plans? Is everything that happens part of God’s plan?
- How can we work at being a part of God’s plan rather than going against it?
- What else can we learn about God in our Bible reading today?