The Error of Public Opinion

The Error of Public Opinion

Passage: Acts 12
Service Type:

Acts 12

1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.

Which Herod?

Herod the Great killed the babies in Bethlehem, Herod Antipas was the one who tried Jesus and sent him back to Pilate, and this Herod was the grandson who ran up lots of debt and needed the approval of the Jews because his relationship with Rome was unstable.

Herod was more concerned with public option than the life of James or Peter. Power was his ultimate goal. More approval = more power. 

 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,

    but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Proverbs 29:25

1. Trust in public opinion is a trap.

“It has become ever more evident to me that we are to be given a great and popular national church, whose nature cannot be reconciled with Christianity, and that we must prepare our minds for the entirely new paths which we shall then have to follow. The question is really, Christianity or Germanism? And the sooner the conflict is revealed in the clear light of day, the better.” ~ Bonhoeffer 

Point of decision. 

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 25:15

Peter chose Jesus over fear of the Jews.

5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.

God came through at the ‘11th hour’ with the right thing at the right time.

2. God’s provision comes at the right time.

That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.

Exodus 16:13-15

manna…an unexpected or gratuitous benefit

During the wilderness, Manna was something the people even complained about. Looking back, it’s seen as a blessing and sustenance.

8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.

3. God’s provision stays as long as it’s needed

If you don’t have it anymore, be looking for God through other means.

The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.

Joshua 5:11-12

Example: Attending AA meetings daily.

The angel left Peter…

11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”

12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying

Now I know without a doubt… 

4. It’s easy to doubt God’s presence in tough times.

Think of Israel during the time of testing in the wilderness. 

So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

Exodus 17:2

Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

Exodus 17:4

And he called the place Massah [testing] and Meribah [quarreling] because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, 

“Is the Lord among us or not?”

Exodus 17:7

They assumed that because times were hard, God was not among them, but he was actually there. 

Example: Might even apply to right now? Is God among us or not? 

God is doing his thing even though I don’t see it.

13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” 15 “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”

16 But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished

17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.

18 In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. 19 After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.

They probably prayed that Peter would be released.

16 But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 

Pray like everything depends on God. 

Act like everything depends on you!

5. Faith in God is personified through prayer

Careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

James 5:16

Peter is free and Herod has the guards killed.

Herod goes about his political business…

21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. 24 But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.

25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.

Same thing that motivated Herod to kill James and seize Peter got him killed in the end. 

 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,

    but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Proverbs 29:25

Conclusion: Who are you relying on, God or man to provide your sustenance?

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