Day 53

Acts 11 & 12

Book of Acts Christianity is supernatural Christianity. Almost every page in Acts has some reference to the supernatural. In Acts chapters 11 and 12 we find visions, a specific prophecy about impending world events and several dramatic appearances of angels. As we return to book of Acts authenticity in our Christianity we can expect to experience more and more of the supernatural.

Chapter 11 opens with Peter’s account of the gospel coming to the Gentiles (which involved visions, angels, prophecy and speaking in tongues) and the chapter closes with a prophet named Agabus prophesying in the Antioch church about an impending famine. Agabus gave this prophecy in the year A.D. 44 and we know from the Jewish historian Josephus that this famine occurred the following year. Agabus was a true prophet of the Lord. We will meet him again in the book of Acts.

Chapter 12 opens and closes with events pertaining to King Herod. Herod is a family name and it is difficult to keep all the Herods in the Bible straight. This Herod is not the Herod from the time of the birth of Jesus (Herod the Great), and this is not the Herod from the time of the crucifixion (Herod Antipas), and this is not the Herod that Paul will preach to later on (Herod Agrippa II) — this is Herod Agrippa I. He is the grandson of Herod the Great and the nephew of Herod Antipas. And just to show you what a strange family the Herods were: Herod the Great murdered his son Aristobulus, who was the father of Herod Agrippa I. Herod Agrippa I was son of first cousins and he himself married a first cousin and somewhere along the way an uncle and a niece in the Herod family were married (yikes!), but I can’t keep it all straight. Herod Agrippa I was born in 10 B.C. and reigned as king from A.D. 37 until his death in A.D. 44.

Herod steps onto the stage of the Bible by executing James the brother of John. James was one of Jesus’ triumvirate inner circle and he was the first of the Twelve to die a martyr’s death. After Herod had executed James by the sword and saw how it pleased the Sanhedrin, he then arrested Peter during Passover and intended to put him to death as well. Of course you read the story of how the church prayed and an angel delivered Peter. I wonder if after the death of the Apostle James the church learned the importance of praying for their leaders?

I find it very interesting that on the eve of his execution Peter was sleeping so soundly that the angel had to smack Peter to wake him up. This seems to be amazing peace of mind. I suspect Peter knew he wasn’t going to die yet. Remember, Jesus had told Peter that he would die when he was old (see John 21:18). Peter was about 45 (and that’s not old!). Peter would live another 22 years.

Chapter 12 closes with the death of Herod. Josephus supplies some more details and tells us that Herod gave his oration by the sea wearing “a garment made wholly of silver” and that when the rays of the sun touched his garments it “shone with surprising splendor.” And like Luke, Josephus tells us that the people flattered Herod by calling him a god. Josephus records that King Herod died five days later. Luke tells us that this too was the work of an angel who brought the judgment of God upon Herod for accepting blasphemous praise.

So we see angels at work; delivering messages, engineering prison breaks and even conveying the judgment of upon impenitent political leaders. As we progress further in the last days — and as the church learns to pray more — we can expect to see a dramatic increase of angelic activity.

I’m glad we’ve got the angels on our side!