Chains, an Angel, and God's Sovereignty

Have you ever heard, thought, or said statements like the following?

"God's good plans for me can be thwarted by a human's ill intent."

"God doesn't really concern Himself with all the details of my life."

"God isn't in complete control (by choice) since He gives people 'free will'. "

I'll admit that I've believed parts of those lies in the past, and that only by God's grace am I really beginning to see that, as John McArthur puts it, "God orders everything, controls everything, rules over everything."

It's encouraging for me to come across examples in scripture of God's sovereignty at work. (And there are many of them!) I was recently reading in the book of Acts about Peter's arrest and imprisonment. James (the brother of John) had been put to death by a sword, and it was likely that Peter would be sentenced to death as well. Picture the scene: we're told that,

"On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison." (Acts 12:6)

Was there any hope in this situation? There was no way Peter could escape by his own power. We know that God had further plans for Peter's life, among them the writing of scripture! But could God really save him? The guards, Herod, the executioner - if their "free will" was really driving the situation, could God step in? He did, and in a miraculous way!

"And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell, and he struck Peter's side and woke him up, saying, 'Get up quickly.' And his chains fell off his hands." (Acts 12:7)

The angel leads him past the guards, through the iron city gate, and departs as they're going along one street. My favorite part of this account is when Peter arrives at the house of Mary, the mother of John (also called Mark) where a major prayer meeting is being held for him. When the servant girl hears Peter's voice at the door and reports it to the crowd, they at first don't believe her! (Aren't we often the same way in doubting that God will answer our prayers?) I can imagine what kind of rejoicing went on in the house that night!

So what truths can we take away from this story? A couple that stood out to me are:

1) God is in complete control of every situation. No one can thwart His plans for our lives.

2) The above truth does not mean that God's will is always for our comfort, ease, or deliverance - Peter was released, but James was allowed to be put to death. However, we can trust God in what He allows, knowing He is in control and His plans are perfect. (Romans 8:28 comes to mind.)

And maybe one more point for application: If God can miraculously send an angel to loosen Peter's chains and lead him out of a prison cell, is He not capable of ordering even the smallest events of our lives?


Angela said...

I am reading through the book of Acts and today I read Acts 12. I definitely want to live my life with more and more faith that God can do anything in my life. Good post. Oh, sorry I didn't do the six things questions yet. I will work on it. Glad to see you back! What did God teach you while you were taking a break?

Edie said...

Hi Stephanie! Glad to *see* you again! I love this post!

"God orders everything, controls everything, rules over everything." This is something that I sometimes just need to hear again and again.

Love ya!

Penn Tomassetti said...

"It's encouraging for me to come across examples in scripture of God's sovereignty at work."

I know what you mean! I also love to come across great awesome displays of God's complete Sovereignty in everything when reading the Bible. This is a great post!