Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Peter Walks With An Angel!

Acts 12
5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.

Ironically tonight at church I taught on the 4th Advent Candle, the Angel Candle. We talked about how the angels were the primary messengers to communicate how Jesus would be born. Angels appeared to Joseph to calm his fears about Mary's pregnancy. The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary telling her she was going to bear a son, and she was to name him Jesus. And the shepherds, while they were watching their flock by night, were visited by angel and later an angelic host. The angel told them to go to Bethlehem and find the baby Jesus wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

In today's text, as Peter is thrown into prison by King Herod, an angel appears in his cell at night, and frees him from his chains. There are two soldiers bound to him by chains, and two sentries by the door who are kept unaware of Peter's escape. Not only does the angel miraculously free Peter, but walks with Peter the length of one whole block before he leaves him. We read about angels singing, praying, and even speaking to people, but this is one of the only stories about an angel walking someone down the block.

In this case, the angel is not only a messenger of God, but also a deliverer. There are 17 appearances of angels in the New Testament. There angels around Jesus' birth, his ascension, and his appearances to his disciples after he rose again. Angels attended Jesus after his temptation, stirred the pool for the paralytic in John 6, and spoke to Cornelius before Peter visited him. Here is a good link about angels and their role in the bible and as God's messengers.

We could talk a whole lot more about angels, but the important thing is that God provided a way to free Peter from prison. It was another sign to the newly gathered church that God was with them and would give them what they needed to carry on the mission. I am not sure this could lead us to say things like we all have our own personal angel. We need to be careful not to be too preoccupied with angels or worship them in any way. But it is clear in the Old Testament and New Testament that they played a prominent role in God's communication with His people about His plans. If that is the case there is no reason to think that angels are not as active today, as they were in Jesus' day. It reminds as well that we are never alone, God is watching over us and his angels too.

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