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Threats, Scripture and Prayer

Acts 4:21-26
After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old. On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. 'Sovereign Lord,' they said, 'you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one." (NIVUK)

Peter and John were released. The religious court could not decide how to punish them for preaching about Jesus and healing in His Name, because the crowd was praising God for His greatness. To deny that God had healed the man might result in a riot, and reprisals from the Roman occupying forces. To walk after forty years of having to be carried - it was a miracle. The worst the court could do was to issue more threats – even though the apostles had explained that they had to obey God and not the council (Acts 4:8-20).

The two men told the other believers what had happened in the court, and how they had courage to speak the truth about Jesus (before Pentecost they had been hiding behind closed doors – John 20-26). The church's first action was to pray. They praised God who is in command of everything and recognised that the same Holy Spirit who had inspired the Scriptures had been speaking through Peter and John.

God's Word through David had already said what would happen (Psalm 2:1-2). Rulers and their people would be angry with God's anointed Saviour, Jesus Christ. They would conspire together and yet their evil planning would be frustrated. That was true for Jesus and also for His apostles (John 15:18). The Lord even achieved His purposes through angry, evil people and their leaders (Acts 2:36).

This passage should be an encouragement to those who are in the middle of persecution or unjust treatment, because they belong to Jesus. Jesus said it would happen (John 16:1-4) and there is a blessing attached (1 Peter 4:12-14). The Scripture is full of reminders that the Lord is in command; even the wicked things are woven by Him into good for God's people (Romans 8:28). Courage in the face of hostility is a mark of loving Jesus and being filled with His Holy Spirit (Acts 4:13).

Almighty God. Thank You that everything is under Your command. I am sorry when I become frightened because I think that I have to protect or save myself, and fail to trust You. Please help me to draw courage from Your Word and inspiration from Your Spirit so that I will be a faithful witness for Jesus Christ. In His Name. Amen
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© Dr Paul Adams