The text provides a clear pattern of the church and how it should be modeled. It provides an example of the desperate situations that people often find themselves in and an example of what the church usually does when faced with a desperate situation.
Embodied within this passage of Scripture, we see that Peter had been placed in a seemingly hopeless situation. It was his midnight hour and he was in a truly humbling position, and he needed to experience God's best.
If you know anything about being in a midnight hour, you know it is the time when things are the darkest. You know it is the time when you need to be rescued, because you are virtually blinded by your situation. You know it is the time when you need a miracle, because only a miracle can bring you the urgent relief you so desperately need.
The theme, "A Miraculous Rescue," therefore is appropriate in describing what transpired in this passage of Scripture and in describing what many have been trusting God to do. I don't know what you are going through, but what I do know is that God is going to miraculously rescue you. The truth is that all hell may be breaking loose around you, but God has a provision to miraculously rescue you. It is good to remember that although you may be going through the most humbling experience of your life, although you may feel as if God has forgotten you or that your friends have forsaken you, and you feel abandoned and alone, God always will make a way to provide for a miraculous rescue. You are not forgotten—get ready for the miraculous!
You Shall Be Delivered
Now, if we are talking about "A Miraculous Rescue," we need to know what it really means to be rescued. There are three biblical meanings of the word rescue.
First, to be rescued means "to be delivered." Deliverance means "to be set free from whatever is holding you down or holding you in bondage." When you are delivered, you won't have to deal with the issues that kept you bound in the first place.
In the text, we see that Peter was imprisoned by Herod. King Herod was a wicked ruler. He was a persecutor of Christians, and he had the apostle James—John's brother—put to death. When Herod saw that the Jews were pleased about it, Herod had Peter arrested and put in prison to stand trial, which reconfirms that Satan will make trouble for you just because you are a Christian. The devil will make trouble for you, and it is not necessarily because you did anything wrong. It is not because you stepped out of line. It is just because you choose to serve God in Spirit and in truth. It is because you choose to walk humbly before God.
Satan also will use people against you. He will use people to create havoc in your life and to imprison you just because you chose to stand for holiness and for righteousness. However, God has positioned you for a miraculous rescue. Right there in your imprisoned state, you are positioned for a miraculous rescue. That situation that keeps plaguing you from last year into this year is an opportunity for a miraculous rescue. God miraculously is going to rescue you from the bondage of joblessness. He is going to miraculously rescue you from the bondage of poverty. He is going to rescue you from the bondage of sexual sins. He is going to rescue you from the bondage of sickness and disease. If you believe it, say to out loud, "I am positioned for a miraculous rescue!" Get ready for a supernatural move of God!
You Shall be Loosed
Second, to be rescued means "to be loosed from…" In the text, Peter was loosed from his chains and shackles in a way that only could be done by God. Herod wanted to make sure Peter didn't escape, so he placed guards in the prison to watch him. There were four rotating shifts of four guards, which equated to 16 guards in all. It seems there would have been no way for Peter to have left the prison. Peter surely would have had to stand trial the next day. Yet during that time, the church was praying.
While Peter was locked up, the church was praying that God would take care of Peter. The church was praying that God would rescue Peter. We never should stop praying. If we have to go all night praying, we should; but we are not to cease. The saints of God prayed without ceasing for Peter. They were not criticizing him. They were not laughing at his demise. They were praying! I believe they must have been saying, "Lord, You see Peter down there in that prison cell? Loose him, Jesus!" They must have been saying, "Lord, You see Peter, bound by chains. Break him free, Jesus!" Undoubtedly, the saints must have been praying, "Lord, it is not that we don't have needs of our own, but we believe that when we put other person's needs before ours, You also will show up on our behalf. Show up, Jesus!
Peter was asleep in the prison, and the church was praying. There were chains on each of Peter's wrists. There was a guard on each side of him. There were more guards at the doorway, but there is nothing too hard for God to do. If you desire to be loosed, if you are in need of divine intervention, God is able to meet you at your point of need. Herod imprisoned Peter, but that wasn't enough. He also had to chain him, possibly thinking his mechanisms could override the power of Almighty God; but Satan's chains are no match for God's power.
Prayer Changes Things
While the church was praying, a bright light appeared in the prison cell where Peter was, and an angel appeared. The angel appeared to find Peter fast asleep! Now, can you imagine the assurance Peter must have had in God. Here Peter was, imprisoned and chained. He was about to be tried and possibly executed the next morning, but he found rest. Peter was at peace and fast asleep during his midnight hour.
You may be experiencing midnight, but you should rest easy, as the difference between midnight and a new day is just 60 seconds. In 60 seconds, you can go from past failures to present success. In 60 seconds, you can go from past hurts to present cure. In 60 seconds, you can be free, because God always shows up in our midnight hour! Peter was so fast asleep that the angel had to poke him hard and say, "Wake up! Get up! You are about to be rescued!" As a people, it is time for us to get up, as we are about to be rescued! Sometimes our situations can drain us and push us to sleep, but we need to get up! God is about to change our situation. I believe God divinely appointed this time for a change. Your season is about to change. Your deliverance has come. Your breakthrough is here.
The Angel Said to Peter, "Get up quickly!" You see, when God shows up on your behalf, you have to move quickly. When God shows up on your behalf, you have to move at His command. Someone who is being rescued cannot stay in the same place of bondage. You can't stay in the same place of imprisonment. If you stay there, you will remain bound, so you have to get up.
Church, it is getting-up time! It is time for you to get up in your spirit, get up in your mind. Change your position, because it is getting up time! The minute Peter got up, the Bible says the chains fell off his hands, and the angel told Peter to put on his clothes and sandals and to wrap his coat around him. This got me to thinking, "Why would the angel of God tell Peter to put on his clothes and sandals, and to then wrap his coat around him?" As I thought about this, the Lord began to show me that Peter's clothes represented his spiritual covering.
You Are Covered
If Peter was to get out of prison alive, he had to be spiritually covered. Undoubtedly, Peter must have had on prison attire, but the angel instructed him to cover himself, to use his clothes as a spiritual covering so that not even the guards would recognize him! Listen, when Jesus recues you, He covers you! You are covered! You are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. You are covered by Jesus' blood from the crown of your head to the sole of your feet. When the enemy looks at you, he doesn't see you; he sees the blood of Jesus!" The blood of Jesus covers you and sets you free. The blood of Jesus is a blessing to you, but a deterrent to the enemy. You are covered!
So the angel told Peter to get up; then the angel told him to put on his spiritual covering; then the angel told Peter to follow him. Your see, we never will be rescued until we follow Jesus. You can go your own way if you want. You can do your own thing if you want. However, you never will be rescued until you follow Jesus! We have to follow Jesus' teachings. We have to follow Jesus' leadings. We have to follow Jesus!
Peter obeyed the angel's command, although at first he wasn't sure it was happening for real; at first, Peter thought it was just a vision, that he was dreaming. Miracles are real! They happened in the past, and they still happen today. They are no gimmicks! They are real!
Leave the Baggage Behind
When God rescues you, He looses you from whatever chains are binding you. God not only frees you, but He looses you completely! He looses you completely because, as with Peter, we aren't to take any part of our shackles or chains with us. Peter left them behind, and he followed God's leading! When God looses you, He wants you to leave the baggage behind. He doesn't want you to carry it with you!
The angel took Peter past the first guard and the second guard…The guards didn't so much as notice them. They were blinded by Peter's covering. However, there was still one more barrier to his freedom. The iron gate that led to the city was in front of them, but then suddenly, without pushing on it, the gate swung open!
Obstacles Shall Be Removed
When Jesus miraculously rescues you, you don't have to do a thing, because Jesus will break down barriers. He will tear down walls. He will destroy obstacles—and it all will happen suddenly.
Think about it: How many doors has God opened wide for you in the past? You didn't have to push. You didn't have to turn a knob or pry. The door just flung open, and you walked right through it. You should see yourself walking through an open door right now—a door that God has just flung wide open for you as He miraculously rescues you! See God clearing the way for you. See God creating opportunities for you. See God delivering you! Suddenly, the gate swung wide open for Peter to go through. Your miracle is going to happen suddenly!
God Provides a Way of Escape
Peter escaped from prison, and the reason he escaped was because there was no other way out! When God rescues you, it is an escape because there is no other way out! Sometimes God allows us to be placed in situations from which only He can rescue us. God doesn't want us giving the glory to anyone else, so He causes us to find ourselves in situations so that when we are rescued, we know without a doubt that it had to be God and God alone who brought us out!
The angel led Peter through the gate and went the length of one street. Just as suddenly as he appeared, the angel left. Verse 11 says, "And when Peter was come to himself, he said, 'Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent His angels, and hath delivered me.'" In other words, when Peter looked back at what the Lord did for Him, at how the Lord miraculously rescued him from the hands of the enemy, Peter began to worship God. He began to give God the praise. Peter said, "Surely it was God who delivered me."
When you look back at what the Lord did for you last year or last night, when you look back at how the Lord miraculously rescued you in the past, when you consider that it will take another miraculous rescue to get you out of the situation you are now in, are you willing to do as Peter did and give God the praise? You should praise God regardless of your circumstance. You should praise God regardless of how you feel. Scripture reminds us to bless the Lord at all times! We always should praise God!
The Answer Is at the Door
Now, there is something remarkable in this story that I don't want you to miss. After Peter praised God, Peter went to the house where the saints had gathered and were praying for his deliverance. He knocked at the door—knock, knock, knock!—and a servant girl named Rhoda came to the door, enquiring who was there.
Peter must have answered—"It is me"—without giving his name, because the Bible says, "She recognized that it was the voice of Peter." Rhoda got excited and failed to let Peter into the house. Instead, she ran back to the others who had gathered and were still praying for Peter's deliverance, and she said to them, "Peter is at the door!"
Yet the praying church folks, the church folks who had gathered at a prayer meeting, the church folks who love to pray but who failed to believe, said, "You must be mad! Peter couldn't be at the door. It must be an angel!" and they kept praying. The Bible says, "Peter kept on knocking."
When I read this, the Lord said, "Tell My people, ‘The answer is at the door!" God said, "Tell My people the miracle they have been praying for, that thing they have been trusting Him for, that healing they have been fasting for, the answer is at the door!" God said, "You have prayed, but it is now time to believe!" The answer is at the door!"
The people had been praying for God to deliver Peter. They had been praying for God to set Peter free, and God had answered their prayers. God delivered Peter. He set Peter free and sent Peter to them, but the prayer meeting folks had failed to believe. They kept the answer to their prayers waiting at the door! God says, "Open the door, and let the answer in! Open the door and take hold of your miracle, "For God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
Open the door and take hold of your deliverance. "When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles."
Open the door and take hold of your breakthrough. "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, God is doing a new thing; now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it? He will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
Open the door and take hold of your peace. "Fear not, for God is with you; be not dismayed, for He is your God; He will strengthen you, He will help you, He will uphold you with His righteous right hand."
Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all.
"For the Lord your God holds your right hand; it is He who says to you, ‘Fear not, He is the One who helps you.'"
Open the door and take hold of a greater anointing. For "The Spirit of the Lord is upon you, because He has anointed you to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent you to proclaim liberty to the captives and the recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed."
Open the door and take hold of your salvation. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved!"
The answer is at the door! God is performing a miraculous rescue right now:
• Somebody is getting their healing right now;
• Somebody is being restored right now;
• Somebody is being rescued right now;
• God is bringing somebody out right now, because the answer is at the door!
This nation shall experience the greatest revival ever, because the answer to this nation's problems is at the door!
If you believe it, praise God and receive the answer to your prayers. Praise God and receive God's best into your lives! Keep walking humbly before God. The answer is at the door! Whatever you have been praying for, believing God for, waiting for, God says, "He has answered your prayers and your answer is at the door. Open the door and receive your answer! Believe the word that God is giving to you right now: "The answer is at the door!"