The notes this week have been provided by Heather. As usual the passage can be read here.
Peter and John are released with further threats ringing in their ears, and immediately re-join the other believers to commit their situation to God and to pray for his help. In their prayer, they acknowledge God as the one in total control and the creator of everything (v24), who knows everything before it even happens (v25).The Sanhedrin might threaten, but the believers are confident that God’s power and authority is supreme.
The follow-on from this is that God’s enemies can only do what God ‘allows’ them to…their power is limited under God’s sovereign power.
The disciples here prayed, not that God would protect them, but that God would ‘consider their threats’ ie they entrusted their cause to God for him to determine the outcome.
This is difficult for us to understand when we see the intense persecution some believers have to endure, even recently, and even to death sometimes. But God knows all – ‘precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints’ (Ps 116 v15) and Peter himself identifies with suffering believers (1Peter 4:12 ff). Even if we do not ourselves have personal experience of this, we should somehow try to share ‘vicariously’ with fellow believers wherever they are in the world, with our prayers and practical support in different ways.
We have already noticed the extensive use made by Peter of the Old Testament showing clearly that Jesus was part of God’s overall will and purpose – with this quote (v25) from Psalm 2 about rulers gathering together in unholy alliances against the Lord’s Anointed, the apostles could say that they had actually seen this illustrated with Herod, Pilate, the Romans, Jews and now here with the Jewish leaders, in their own current situation. It should be a real encouragement for us when the Holy Spirit brings to our minds a Scripture verse which exactly fits our situation. God really does know all that goes on in our lives.
As they prayed, their prayer was answered by the evident presence in their midst of the Holy Spirit, showing that their prayer was in accordance with God’s will and purpose.
Let’s pray for persecuted believers today, asking that God will deliver them, if it pleases him, but also that God would enable them (and us when we feel overwhelmed) to grasp and hold on to the implications of Ps 31:14-15 (‘I trust in you, O Lord; I say ‘You are my God. My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies’); and to accept that whatever happens in our lives, God knows and has a purpose in it for our good, as well as for his greater glory.
When we pray, let’s recognise who God is, and let’s think about praying according to God’s will; if we’re not sure what that is, we won’t go far wrong if we pray that somehow today we will be able to ‘lift up the name of Jesus’.