Summary: God’s in the business of setting captives free. Throughout the Bible He's freeing prisoners. In Acts 12 we see God answer intense prayer to free Peter from Herod's clutches. He's a chain-breaker!
HE’S A CHAIN BREAKER!
1. An airline company was disturbed over a high percentage of accidents so they decided to eliminate human errors by building a completely computerized plane.
2. On its maiden voyage, the plane was filled with passengers. "Ladies and gentlemen," came a voice over the PA system, "It may interest you to know that you are traveling on the world’s first completely automated and computerized plane. Now just sit back and relax, because nothing can go wrong....go wrong....go wrong....go wrong....."
3. Wanna bet? THINGS DO GO WRONG IN LIFE! And you don’t have to live very long in this world to find this out. We’re going to read about a man in Scripture who had something go wrong, and the measures God took to straighten it out.
C. HE’S A JAIL-BREAKING GOD
1. God’s in the business of setting captives free. He started way back there with the Israelites in Egypt. He broke their chains and brought them out of the land of slavery to live in the Promised Land.
2. God continued that Chain-Breaking career by sending Jesus, the Deliverer, who said, “He has sent Me to…proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…” Isa. 61:1-2, NKJV.
3. Then God invaded the Book of Acts, where in
a. Acts 5, God broke all the apostles out of Jail;
b. In Acts 12, He broke Peter out of Prison;
c. And in Acts 16, God broke Paul & Silas out of jail at Philippi with a prison-exploding earthquake!
4. This morning we’re going to look in detail at one of God’s best Jail-breaking episodes. The title of this message is “He’s a Chain-Breaker!”
1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church….2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also….4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. 5….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. 11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.” 12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” 15 “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” 16 But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 [Then] Peter…described how the Lord had brought him out of prison.
I. THE VICIOUS, BRUTAL DICTATOR - HEROD
A. HIS DOMAIN
1. He commanded an area as great as his grandfather, Herod the Great and had annual revenues of 12 million drachmas.
2. In A.D. 41, King Herod Agrippa I was given rulership over Judea and Jerusalem, so he had just gotten control AND was trying to curry favor with the Jews by persecuting Christians.
B. RULED BY TERROR
1. Some evil natures must have someone to abuse. He wasn’t concerned whether they were good or bad.
2. Herod was Murderous – he killed James with the sword.