What does God’s will look like? What does His sovereignty mean? What does trust in Him involve? What does service to Him require? Let’s consider these questions through the lens of the fifth chapter of Acts.
Several of the apostles are preaching the good news of Jesus Christ when “the high priest stood up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public prison.”
Okay, stop there: the apostles are in prison. Think about that. What would you be thinking and feeling in this circumstance?
“But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison ...”
Wow! Divine deliverance! What joy! What excitement!
“... and, leading them out, he said, ‘Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple area the whole message of this Life.’”
Wait ... go back immediately to preaching? The very thing that landed them in prison in the first place? How about a little time to “lay low” and let tensions die down? Nope ... never even crossed their minds: “Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple area about daybreak and began to teach.”
Now, that takes courage!
In the morning, the empty prison cell caused a lot of consternation among the religious elite. When they found out that the apostles were right back at it, they “proceeded to bring them back without violence” to the Council. They were questioned and rebuked, but “Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”
That response certainly did not go over well. “When they heard this, they became infuriated and nearly decided to execute them.”
After some discussion, they decided not to kill the apostles. But ... “after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them.”
Pause and think about this. Within 24 hours, these men had been arrested twice. The first time, God miraculously released them. The second time, God allowed them to be tortured. With this in full view, go back to the questions we started with:
What does God’s will look like?
What does His sovereignty mean?
What does trust in Him involve?
What does service to Him require?
As you ponder these questions and what the answers mean for you personally, be sure to dwell upon the incredible end of this story:
“So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and preaching the good news of Jesus as the Christ.”