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READING: Acts 12 – Persecution by Herod & His Death

Verse of the Day: “While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.” (Acts 12:5)  

Wanting to please the leading Jews, Herod became violent against the church and killed James (son of Zebedee and brother of John). Seeing that this pleased the Jews, he arrested Peter and put him in charge of four squads of soldiers to make sure he did not escape, as Herod proposed to kill him after the Passover. “While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.” 

The night before he was to die, Peter, bound with two chains, was asleep. An angel appeared and a light shone in the cell where Peter was. The angel woke Peter, saying, “Get up quickly.” The chains fell off his wrists. The angel urged him to fasten his belt, put on his sandals, wrap his cloak around him, and to follow him. 

Peter thought it was all a dream. They passed the first and second guard, and the iron gate to the city streets opened of its own accord; they went through it and down a lane, when the angel suddenly disappeared. Then Peter realized it was real, so he made his way to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark. Many had gathered there to pray. 

Peter knocked at the outer gate; a maid named Rhoda came to the door, recognized Peter’s voice, and ran back to say Peter was at the gate, without opening the door. The people inside said, “It is his angel.” Meanwhile, Peter was still knocking at the gate. When they opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. Peter described how the Lord’s angel led him out of the prison and asked them to tell James (brother of Jesus and leader in the Jerusalem congregation) and the church. Then he went elsewhere. Flight is better than fight. 

The next morning there was a commotion at the prison about where Peter was. Herod searched for him but could not find him, so he put the guards to death for letting him escape. 

Herod left Jerusalem and went to Caesarea. He had a quarrel with Tyre and Sidon. They petitioned Herod, asking for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for food. He gave an oration dressed in a royal robe that shone in the sun from silver woven into it. As he spoke, the people said, “The voice of a god and not of a mortal.” Because he did not give God the glory, an angel of the Lord struck him down and he died, eaten by worms. Josephus says it was five days of agony before he died. 

This is what happens when you kill God’s people and try to be a god. 

Persecution was real for the early church. Twenty-two of the twenty-eight chapters of the Acts of the Apostles have incidents of persecution, with some chapters having multiple incidents.  

How faithful would you and I be in that kind of persecution? 



Father, I know that our national constitution provides for freedom of religion; yet that freedom is being eroded in our day. How can we prepare ourselves for the time when we will be persecuted as the early church was? Help us to gain strength in trusting You to keep us safe in Your loving embrace. This is my prayer in the name of Jesus, my Savior and Lord, who gave everything for me, AMEN!  

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for me)  

Father, I pray for all who may read these words, and for myself, that we may do what we can do to accept persecution, if and when it comes, and to pray for the persecutor as Jesus taught us to do. Help us to bless and not curse, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus, AMEN! 

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