As I was reading through the middle of Acts last week, I got to Acts 12 and the account of Peter's arrest and deliverance from prison by an angel. As we start reading in Chapter 12, we notice that "Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword." (v. 1-2) Herod Agrippa I was looking to gain favor with the Jews and these actions would have greatly pleased the Jewish community. Seeing the results, he doubles down and arrests Peter as well. We see, though, that "it was during the days of Unleavened Bread." (v.3) So this is done during the holy days just after the Passover. Thus, Herod decides he will keep Peter locked up until after all of the obervations of Passover and the Unleavened Bread are complete (v.4). This allow time for the church to pray fervently for Peter (v.5) and God answers that prayer in magnificent fashion, delivering Peter on the very night that Herod intended to bring him out and kill him before the Jews (v.6-11). After the iron city gate mysteriously opens by itself (this is the gate to keep bad people out!), Peter goes to a house where the believers are praying for him and they don't believe it is him at first...but eventually they let him in and he has to calm them down so they don't cause any commotion and bring attention to themselves (v. 12-17). Clearly we see that God worked to deliver Peter from prison and display His glory. I'm sure that most of you have read this story before...I have read it many times and have enjoyed it greatly...but when I read it this time, something stood out.
Maybe many of you have already made note of this, but the thing that really stood out in my mind was that this all happened during the time of Passover/Unleavened Bread. Herod was no stranger to the religious activites of the Jews and surely understood the importance of this observance. Just back in the gospel accounts, we read that the Jewish leaders did not want to kill Jesus during the Passover observance and also saw that they had to have the bodies removed before the Sabbath when they did crucify Him. I personally believe that this is a wonderful demonstration of the sovereignty of God because I don't think Herod really wanted to wait to kill Peter...he surely didn't seem to hesitate in killing James. And while God could have delivered Peter even if Harod had acted more quickly, this extra time allowed for the saints in the city to pray for Peter's release and see how God works to answer faithful prayer. Surely these saints would have been bolstered to pray more fervently and know that God hears them when they saw God act in this instance.
When I mentioned this to my sweet and wonderful wife, she reminded me of how often we overlook how God works everything out for the good of His elect. The drought we're enduring here in Texas...He's working that out for my good and the good of other believers here. All of the ungodly laws and the worldly society that we see around us today...God is working out all of that for our good. The love we feel from our families every day when we wake up with them, come home to them, and go to bed...He works all of that out for our good. First and foremost for His glory, but also for our good. And it is all wrapped up in His holiness, which humbles me because I get to enjoy His holiness while still dealing with my sin.
So let me encourage all of you to see God's sovereignty in everything. Every time you read the Bible, look for it because it is there. Just the fact that we are reading His Word and being edified by it shows His sovereignty in our lives. Enjoy and relish the opportunity to realize and live in His holiness and glory on display...I guarantee it will bring you joy every day.