Year 2 Day 8
Read - Acts 12v1-5
Message - Scott Woodburn
Nothing spikes the interest quite like a discussion of the end times. Will we have barcodes on our foreheads? Will the Russians attack Israel? Is Beyonce a member of the Illuminati? I preached on such things before and will not jump into then fully today apart from introducing you to an antichrist called Herod.
Notice I didn't call Herod THE antichrist. I believe that before the return of Christ the world will see THE antichrist. Paul calls him the "man of lawlessness...who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God." (2 Thessalonians 2v3-4) Until those tumultuous days arrive, we must be aware that many other antichrists have already come (1 John 2v18). They may lack the significance of the final antichrist but they are nevertheless fierce opponents of Christ and His church.
Herod played the part well. He laid violent hands upon the church (v1) and even killed James with the sword (v2). James was the brother of John, one of the sons of Zebedee (Matthew 4v21). Jesus had warned him that just as the Christ would die, James too would face death like his Master (Mark 10v38-39).
The Jews were pleased at Herod's actions (v3) and this encouragement drove him to arrest Peter. Almost certainly Peter's death was at the front of Herod's mind but because it was during the days of unleavened bread, Herod left Peter in prison guarded by four squads of soldiers (v4).
The situation looked lost. How could the church stand against the fury and resources of a man like Herod? James had been killed and it seemed Peter was next. The dark clouds of persecution were threatening to destroy the church. This is a story that is as old as time. The serpent rages against the church and will continue to do so until Christ returns.
Until then the church responds with steadfastness in prayer (v5). It was Charles Spurgeon who once said "we shall never see much change for the better in our churches in general till the prayer-meeting occupies a higher place in the esteem of Christians." His challenge is one for every age. In times of comfort and in times of distress, the Christian church is to be zealous in prayer. Not even antichrists can rob the church of the precious gift of prayer, nor can they stand when Almighty God answers the cry of His people.
Q23 What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer? Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.