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Divine Intervention

Acts 12:6-10
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. 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. Then the angel said to him, 'Put on your clothes and sandals.' And Peter did so. 'Wrap your cloak round you and follow me,' the angel told him. 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. 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. (NIVUK)

Insecure Herod wanted to kill Peter, because he had recently gained public support for killing James (Acts 12:1-3). Meanwhile, the church was praying earnestly for Peter's safe release (Acts 12:5). What would happen? Well, Peter's work was not finished, and Jesus had promised that he would live to an old age (John 21:18) - so God intervened. The detailed account of that unique, life-saving event shows its authenticity. It was not a vision or a dream, although the event was unlike anything Peter had ever experienced before, because it started with Peter being on death row and ended with Peter walking down the street away from the prison.

It all started at night when Peter was asleep, shackled to two guards while two other soldiers kept watch outside the cell. Then the Lord sent an angel (the word means messenger) to release the apostle. The first Peter saw was a bright light as the angel prodded him awake. In an urgent whisper, Peter was told to get up. As he did, the shackles on his arms fell off. "Get your cloak and shoes", the angel ordered, "and follow me."

It all seemed so unreal as he walked past the guards, through two doors and then the strong iron gate opened by itself to let them out. Having got out onto the street, Peter walked with the angel for a while until he disappeared. He was free.

The problem of interpreting unique events is that because they are unique, they will never happen again in the same way. When God intervenes in human history, He will do whatever He chooses and use whatever method is best to achieve what He wants to do. Millions of believers can share their own unique experiences of God's unique interventions in their lives. But we need to be careful not to make our description of what God has done into a prescription of what God will always do. However we can confidently say that God loves us and that He answers prayer uniquely. Therefore there is no situation or circumstance we cannot pray about, and nothing too difficult for Him to resolve (Exodus 33:17). So dare to pray, and keep praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17) until you know you have received His answer ... and then give Him the glory.

Loving Father. Thank You for all my many prayers which You have answered uniquely. Forgive me for sometimes assuming there is no point in praying or failing to see Your answer because I was not expecting one. Please help me to pray and trust with expectancy that You will surprise me with Your unique answer. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams