Parallels in Revelation: Chapters 1-12

God’s Throne in Revelation Rev Ch 4

When we turn the page and begin to read the story in Revelation chapter 4, we are tempted to begin interpreting the passages based on what we’ve been taught. In this case, we are going to look at a few details, and also look for key words that need an explanation. Then we are going to gather all the information on those key words.

Revelation 4:1 MKJV After these things I looked, and behold, a door was opened in Heaven. And the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me, saying, Come up here, and I will show you what must occur after these things.

The first words, “After these things,” establishes a timeline. To find out what details this event follows, we have to look back at chapter 3.

Revelation 3:20-22 MKJV (20) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with Me. (21) To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame and have sat down with My Father in His throne. (22) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The Bible is telling us, we can’t hope to understand this story unless we understand the previous story. In other words, we have to learn to listen to Jesus to progress through this series of visions and symbols. We just learned another important Bible Study lesson. How to follow directions.

We have to be in tune to how the Bible is designed to direct us to one place or another for answers. Answers to what? Answers to questions the Holy Spirit places in our heads. The Holy Spirit uses printed words in the Bible to place questions in our heads. Those directions show us how to locate answers. It is as simple as that.

The simple Bible Study method learned at the beginning of Revelation chapter 4 is, this book is written as a book. It is designed to be read as a book. Like any other book, it can only be understood as a whole. No book or novel in this world can be explained by pulling out a single sentence and adding preconceived ideas about what the reader thinks the rest of the story is trying to convey. No one would do that with any of the classic novels. Why do people give Jesus less respect than an author who has sold millions of books? The Bible is and always will be the best selling book in the world. The major difference is, the Bible is the only inspired book from cover to cover. The Bible deserves more respect than any book in this world. Jesus earned respect in ways no other author has been able to earn or convey in words. It’s time we place the Bible where it should be. In terms of its literary style, each book in the Bible follows the same literary rules as all other books. Each chapter and story has an introduction and a summary. Each book in the Bible uses repetition to draw the reader’s attention to important details. Each book in the Bible describes the scene before explaining what happened at that location. The difference is, the Bible shows bits and pieces of the future. The Bible was inspired by the only living God who can look into the future. That does not give readers literary freedom to take a sentence about the future then attempt to explain that scene based on their personal feelings. That my friend is leaving the original Author behind while attempting to play god.

Parallels in Revelation: Chapters 1-12
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When we read the Bible, we have to be aware of our senses. Every author wants to take the mind of the reader out of their environment and into the scene where the event they described takes place. That’s exactly what a great author does. Book publishers look far and wide for authors with that special gift. What the world doesn’t understand is, that gift comes from God. The same source that inspired the Bible.

When we open a book, we are placing our minds in the hands of the author. Yes, words can and will influence our thoughts and imagination. Every great author knows how to captivate the imagination. If the Bible is not doing that for you, that’s because the world has done something to steer your imagination away from God’s inspired Word. When you turn your imagination away from God, your heart is not far away.

What turns people away from God? Let’s look at the facts. The devil watches every move you make. The devil closely observes every influence in your life. When the devil sees circumstances in your life turning you towards God, Jesus, and His Word, the devil sends ten detours to deflect your path. How does the devil do that?

Maybe your first introduction to Jesus and the Bible was at a funeral. When you were a child, your grandmother died. You loved her. Death was a new experience for you. Your mind told you, this life will never change. The times you spent with your grandmother were the happiest moments of your life. You talked, laughed, cooked, and gardened together. You could still smell the flowers and see the colors swaying in the summer breeze. There was not a subject in the world your grandma could not explain. Then suddenly that security and happiness were gone. You went to the funeral. The preacher opened the Bible and read a few words. You didn’t know anything about the Bible, but the preacher told you God took your grandmother away from you. The devil was also there. He took a few words from that preacher and introduced thoughts he wanted to stick in your mind for the rest of your life. You looked at God as someone who only takes. You looked at that large black book the preacher read from as a book of horrors. In one scene the devil branded the depths of your mind and soul for eternity. What was natural event in life was twisted around by the devil as an unnatural form of pain and revenge sent from God. You only received a small part of the story of life and death found in the Bible. An example showing how the devil uses tiny parts of the Bible to introduce concepts he wants to paste into your mind and imagination. The devil doesn’t want anyone to read the Bible. Little bits and pieces are okay as far as the devil is concerned. If the devil makes you think all you need is little bits and pieces of the Bible, he accomplished what he set out to do. The devil convinced you to disrespect God’s literary skills.

Other people are given different impressions. Events the devil uses to set their minds against God and the Bible. The devil prefers to scar people for life at an early age. Then pick at those wounds day after day for the rest of their lives. The devil looks in your brain, knows how it functions, and knows how to place memories in just the right spot so when the Holt Spirit wants to leave an impression, the devil has his scar tissue covering the most sensitive and impressionable sections of the human brain, mind, and emotions.

When Jesus walked this world, He healed the most serious illnesses and deformities. Jesus cured the blind so they could see. Jesus relied on God’s power, who knows how the eye is designed, and how the devil was able to either injure or mutate those eyes. Jesus cured lepers, a woman suffering from defective reproduction organs, a woman hunched over from bone disease, paralyzed men, and a number of other diseases.

Each of those diseases carries a sort of spiritual concept or idea. Each is designed to reach people who were attacked and wounded by the devil long before they opened the Bible for the first time. Before anyone opens the Bible, the devil has already been hard at work for years to set up different types of mental prejudices and preconceived ideas to mislead people in the scriptures. Without the Holy Spirit, the devil has no way of knowing exactly how the Bible works. The Bible proved, the devil has no way of knowing how any prophecy will be fulfilled. So the devil uses a shotgun approach to mislead people. He introduces as many false beliefs, concepts, ideas, and doctrines as he can. The devil may not know what the Bible is actually saying, but he can come in with with a million wrong concepts.

God always has a plan on the spiritual level. Everyday the Bible reaches people on a spiritual level the devil can’t figure out, and can’t properly prepare for. Some people see their lives in the blind man in one story. Or maybe it is in the woman who is rejected by society because of her bleeding issue. Maybe one of the stories about a leper described how a person felt when they finally turned to the Bible for an answer. People turn to the Bible for answers at the lowest moments of their life. And the Holy Spirit supplies the answers they are looking for. The Holy Spirit directs them to a spiritual symbol in the Bible, and circumstances in life reveal the spiritual meaning. Anyone and everyone can have that connection with the Holy Spirit. But not everyone does. Too many people allow the devil to keep picking at the scars the devil placed on their mind and heart so they never heal.

Some people are in fact reached by a sermon in one way or another. Let’s look at the facts. The person giving that sermon doesn’t know a thing about the scars you carry. They may not even know about the concept of how and why the devil covers people with scars. Somehow the Holy Spirit was able to reach that preacher when they were writing down that sermon. Actually that preacher has no idea what part of their sermon will reach an individual or how it will touch them. But the Spirit does. The Spirit is working working overtime to reach not only you, but a number of people sitting in those pews. You have no idea how other people are influenced by the words that preacher is saying. But that is only the beginning. Expecting a sermon to remove those scars is like looking at a bottle of medicine and saying you have faith it will heal you. Opening the Bible with the Holy Spirit at your side is like diving into that medicine and allowing that healing power to flow into every part of your body. So why do so many people allow the devil to convince them, the preacher has all the answers? Why do so many people stop at the first healing step, and allow the devil to stop them in their tracks? The Spirit is opening doors, windows, taking the roof off your soul to open your mind to concepts that preacher never saw, and you could never expect to see. Something is holding you back, and that something is not God. It is you and your cooperation with the devil.

Now let’s take a look at how the Holy Spirit works with an individual when they open the Bible. In Revelation chapter 4 we have an introduction. John is introducing us to God’s throne. A door is open in Heaven. Are you walking through that door, or are you going to allow fear to hold you back? Or is the the devil using the things he taught you over the years to hold you back? The author of Hebrews also wrote about God’s throne. We should take a look at what the inspired word says about God’s throne.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:16 NLTse).

Whoever wrote the Book of Hebrews knew something about the healing power that emanates from God’s throne. It’s time we stop thinking that power comes full strength from any other source, and go the only source of healing that can and will remove all those scares from our body, mind, heart, and soul.

Parallels in Revelation: Chapters 1-12
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Jesus opened another story for us by sending us back to the Tabernacle. I’ve written a number of books on the Tabernacle, but every time I read the story in the Bible, I find out I missed 99% of the spiritual meanings locked inside those stories. That is another feature that makes the Bible unique.

The Tabernacle has an alter in the outer courtyard. It is the first thing you would pass if you were to walk through the Tabernacle. In short terms, the alter represents Jesus’ sacrifice outside the city gates. Outside the walls of the stone temple.

Past the alter is the Tabernacle tent. The tent is designed with two chambers, the Holy and Most Holy. The first room contains a few important items, the lamp, incense alter, and the table. The lamp sheds light. “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalms 119:105 RSVA). The alter represents prayer, which is communication with God. “The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out.” (Revelation 8:4 NLTse). The table is set with bread, bowls, and eating utensils. The table represents an opportunity to sit down with Jesus, where He will illuminate your mind and prepare you for the next step. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20 RSVA).

The last room is the Most Holy room. “Place the incense altar just outside the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant, in front of the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement–that covers the tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant. I will meet with you there.”

(Exodus 30:6 NLTse). The Most Holy room contains the Ark of testimony with the Ten Commandments covered by the mercy seat. Now comes the hard part.

Why are some people afraid to approach God’s throne? Is it because the devil has trained them to fear God and His Ten Commandments? Israel displayed that fear when God spoke to them and gave them those Ten Commandments for the first time. Israel told Moses to go up to God, then come back and tell them what He had to say. That explains a lot. The devil saw how effective fear can be. The devil found how easy it was to use God’s Ten Commandments against Him. And the devil is still up to his old tricks.

You are either going to fear or respect those Ten Commandments. Don’t give me that baloney about fear means respect. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. (Deuteronomy 6:13 KJV). In this context the word fear means to reverence. It also means to be frightened. But which one do you choose? Are you afraid of God and His law, or do you reverence God and His law? Let’s examine the facts.

The Most Holy room represents the judgment process that takes place in front of God’s throne. People are either judged by the law, or Jesus stands in their place. That is the simple explanation Christians have to be taught to accept. In one sense it is true. In reality it doesn’t tell the whole story. Fear without reverence amounts to nothing. One without the other is useless. You have to learn to understand fear. That is why the lamp, incense alter, and table is in front of the thin curtain that separates the Holy from the Most Holy place.

When we take a second walk through the Tabernacle, we first notice the alter of sacrifice. Many people never get past that alter. That’s all they’ve been told about the plan of salvation. That is as far as Satan wants people to go. People have been trained to think that’s as far as they need to progress. Beyond that alter is a water basin called a laver. The laver represents cleansing and humility. Two attributes a person must posses before entering the first room in the Tabernacle. Since many people have been taught to remain at the alter and progress no further, they are satisfied with thinking, all they need to do is claim Jesus’ sacrifice and they are safe. That is stopping at the alter of sacrifice and progressing no further.

People have a tendency to jump from the alter of sacrifice into the mysterious inner room containing the Ark and Commandments. All they know is fear. They skipped the cleansing, which is removing misleading concepts the world teaches. They skipped the humility part of the Tabernacle. They also skipped over the light, the learning process with Jesus, and the prayers. Of course many people tried that concept of prayer, but we have to remember, the disciples were smart enough to ask Jesus how to pray.

When people make a process of their own, or accept a man made process over the progression designed into the Tabernacle, of course they are going to be consumed by fear when they decide to jump in front of God’s throne without following proper protocol. That is only natural. But when we do stop at the alter, study and understand Jesus’ sacrifice, go to the laver to be cleansed and humbled, return to that alter to review what we’ve learned, then progress into the first room, we are ready to be illuminated, fed by Jesus, and pray before approaching God’s throne.

Here is one example showing how the Spirit guides us through His Word. I turned to Revelation chapter 4. This time I was guided to the word, “throne.” I used a Bible program to provide a list of verses the word throne is found in the Book of Revelation. The information I found surprised me.

Taken from the MKJV

Rev_1:4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia. Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is coming; and from the seven spirits which are before His throne;

Rev_3:21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame and have sat down with My Father in His throne.

Rev_4:2 And immediately I became in spirit. And behold, a throne was set in Heaven, and One sat upon the throne.

Rev_4:3 And He who sat there looked like a jasper stone and a sardius. And a rainbow was around the throne, looking like an emerald.

Rev_4:4 And around the throne I saw twenty-four thrones. And on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white clothing. And they had crowns of gold on their heads.

Rev_4:5 And out of the throne came lightnings and thunderings and voices. And seven lamps of fire were burning in front of the throne, which are the seven spirits of God.

Rev_4:6 And a sea of glass was in front of the throne, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind.

Rev_4:9 And whenever the living creatures gave glory and honor and thanks to Him who sat on the throne, who lives forever and ever,

Rev_4:10 the twenty-four elders fell down before the One sitting on the throne. And they worshiped Him who lives for ever and ever, and threw their crowns before the throne, saying,

Rev_5:1 And I saw a book on the right of Him sitting on the throne, written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals.

Rev_5:6 And I looked, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, amidst the elders, a Lamb stood, as if it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

Rev_5:7 And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him sitting on the throne.

Rev_5:11 And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and the living creatures and the elders. And the number of them was myriads and myriads, and thousands of thousands,

Rev_5:13 And I heard every creature which is in the Heaven and on the earth, and under the earth, and those that are in the sea, and all who are in them, saying, Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him sitting on the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever.

Rev_6:16 And they said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him sitting on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb;

Rev_7:9 After these things I looked, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of all nations and kindreds and people and tongues, stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palms in their hands.

Rev_7:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God sitting on the throne, and to the Lamb.

Rev_7:11 And all the angels stood around the throne, and the elders, and the four living creatures, and they fell before the throne on their faces and worshiped God,

Rev_7:15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and they serve Him day and night in His temple. And He sitting on the throne will dwell among them.

Rev_7:17 For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will feed them and will lead them to the fountains of living waters. And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Rev_8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer. And many incenses were given to him, so that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints on the golden altar before the throne.

Rev_12:5 And she bore a son, a male, who is going to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

Rev_14:3 And they sang as it were a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. And no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousands who were redeemed from the earth.

Rev_14:5 And in their mouth was found no guile, for they were without blemish before the throne of God.

Rev_16:10 And the fifth angel poured out his vial on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom became darkened. And they gnawed their tongues from the pain.

Rev_16:17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air. And a great voice came out of the temple of Heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done!

Rev_19:4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God sitting on the throne, saying, Amen! Hallelujah!

Rev_19:5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all His servants, and the ones fearing Him, the small and great.

Rev_20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and Him sitting on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And a place was not found for them.

Rev_21:5 And He sitting on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said to me, Write, for these words are true and faithful.

Rev_22:1 And he showed me a pure river of Water of Life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Rev_22:3 And every curse will no longer be; but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants will serve Him.

32 verses found, 40 matches

Revelation 32 verses found 40 matches

The first thing I noticed when I looked at this list was the description of God’s throne and court in chapter 4. That is followed by a list of actions originating from that throne. Another detail I noticed was the sequence Revelation followed. First we saw a description of Jesus, followed by a description of God on His throne. There may be a very good reason for that. John recorded a lesson Jesus taught. God was very pleased with Jesus’ ministry, efforts, ability to follow directions, and of course His sacrifice. God gave everything to Jesus. Jesus gave all the credit to God, and returned all the power and control to God. It was a lesson in giving. The story also showed how God and Jesus are of one mind, set on a single goal.

We also see how Jesus wrote Revelation with the same flow all novelists and writers use. They first describe a scene, then tell you what occurred at that scene. We have evidence that Revelation is not a book of hidden mysteries, but a story written by God’s Son. Jesus wrote that book to be understood.

We see, the “throne of God,” repeated a number of times. Keep in mind, Revelation was constructed and written by Jesus. Here we see the respect Jesus has for His Father, and the type of respect we should have for God.

Putting verses together has a unique way of bringing out facts and details. But we have to be careful when we approach a study of this type. If we only look at one sentence in a story, we run the risk of missing 99% of the facts. One sentence will never show us the context the sentence was used in. We also miss important details linked to other parts of Revelation as well as other books in the Bible designed to provide answers. In short, we can easily fail when we rely on single sentences.

This list was provided to support a point we are looking at. We can take one word or phrase, quickly find where and how that word or phase was used in the same Bible book, and other books in the Bible, and continue our research. Computer programs have revolutionized Bible Study, making it much easier and quicker to put lists and facts together. But we have to take the next step. We have to determine which sentences have a direct bearing on the subject at hand, go to those chapters, read them, determine if the context is the same, and put those entire stories together. We have to look at the events involved. We have to examine the timeline by looking at connecting factors and surrounding events. We may only know the timeline of one event mentioned in each of those stories. That will help establish the relationship between two series of events. We have to look for references to other books in the Bible, and read those stories. All in all, with a good computer program, we are only a click away. Links between verses are placed in those programs for a reason. We have to learn how to use the tools we are given, and the common sense God placed within mankind at creation.

Another detail we have to think about for a moment. Satan’s throne is mentioned only once in Revelation. What does that tell us? We have 31 verses with God on His throne, and only 1 verse with Satan on his throne. But where is the majority of study focused today? On Satan and his throne. Doesn’t that show us how misguided this world is? Doesn’t that make a point we should heed? If we are seeking truth, do we go to men or groups focusing on a single sentence in Revelation? Or do we listen to those who focus on Revelation as a whole?

It’s interesting to see how one word can open a floodgate to information and facts we never considered before. That’s the way the Bible was written. The Bible needs to be absorbed. Or as Jesus put it, consumed. Not just a line or two, but the entire story the way Jesus had it recorded.

Psalms 143:1-7 Hear My Plea

Psalms 143:1-7 NLTse Hear my prayer, O LORD; listen to my plea! Answer me because you are faithful and righteous. (2) Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you. (3) My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave. (4) I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. (5) I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. (6) I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. (7) Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.

As I think about this last prophecy I am going to write about in this book, I can’t help but wonder if the main theme of this book is coming through. It would be wrong to claim this book or any other contains all the answers. The Infinite God we serve will never run out of details to share with us. That’s why the main theme of this book, sharing the little I know about studying God’s Word has to come through. That reflects David’s theme in this prayer when he prays and pleads with God.

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Psalms Chapters 91 Through 143
Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Psalms Chapters 91 Through 143 Buy the eBook direct from the author at great savings.

This was one of the most difficult prophecies to find a parallel chapter for. Which word would you use to search? Chased, knocked, and forces seemed to be the obvious choice, but didn’t come up with any results. The next choice was hear, listen, and answer. Still no results. This led me to prayer and plea which offered a number of choices. The result also follows the theme we’ve been following as the series of prophecies David recorded lead into prophecies about Jesus’ disciples. The parallel chapter to the prophecy in Psalm 143 is another story of God saving a disciple in need.

Acts 12:1-6 NLTse About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. (2) He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. (3) When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration.) (4) Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. (5) But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him. (6) The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate.


 

The months and years after Jesus’ resurrection was not a good time for His disciples. Priests persecuted them. Herod joined in the persecution and later Rome developed the own form of persecution. Of course Rome had to out do the others. It wasn’t safe to walk down the streets and less safe to meet in homes. Meeting in public was out of the question. How was the Good News going to spread under such conditions? Its a shame people ignore the trials and sacrifices Jesus’ early disciples had to endure which should be examined today for the lessons that still apply. For one thing, most of us have it easy compared to the original disciples. We also see one of the effects of preaching the right message. People are pleased to see us imprisoned and killed.

These two chapters are linked by the single word pray. Once we compare the two chapters we see how chased, knocked, and forces are related to persecute, killed, arrested, imprisoned, prison, and fastened. We can see which future enemy David was referring in his prophecy.

There is a questionable translation in Psalm 143 verse 2. Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you. The words, “before you,” were added in this translation. If you take time to look at the original Hebrew, you’ll see how some of the words can be translated in a variety of ways. Comparing this verse to Acts 12, a better translation may read: Don’t let your servant see a verdict, for no one is innocent. This would explain how Peter felt at the time. We can see what’s going through his mind at the time. Peter and the other disciples know Herod had James executed and the people supported Herod’s evil methods. Peter was a step away from death. We can hear Peter’s prayer from the prison cell. My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave. I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. We also see what gave Peter hope in that prison cell. I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Peter went over the prophecies Jesus taught the disciples while he laid there chained to two guards. Do you think Peter preached to those guards? Do you think the guards gave their lives to Jesus before Herod had them executed?

So we’ve learned another Bible Study method. How to look at a questionable verse. You need to look at the original Hebrew to see the lesson. The Bible Study method shows how proper translations can be derived by comparing the prophecy to the fulfillment. How many more of those verses do you think the Bible contains? Only one or two may be enough to change the way we look at the unfolding history of this world.

That may be what churches fear the most. There are some churches that don’t openly claim, but base their future on being infallible. If one of their members was to find something in the Bible questioning any of their doctrines or sacred interpretations to prophecy and they found it hard to defend their views, what do you think will happen? That member would find themselves in the same position Peter did — condemned without a trial. That’s why it’s important to follow the Bible Study rules revealed in God’s Word, stick to them and let God’s Spirit build up the evidence He wants to give you and when.

When Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples He didn’t stop at the physical evidence He presented to them. He spent forty days training them by teaching them all the scriptures about Himself. Think of those forty days and about Pentecost which means fifty days after offering the first fruit. Pentecost refers to the harvest in the Old Testament. See Leviticus chapter 23. Seven Sabbaths were counted off from the first fruits which represented the disciples who learned from Jesus. On the fiftieth day Israel began the celebration of of the harvest. This pointed to the people the disciples reached in those days. Put yourself in Peter’s shoes. What do you think the seven Sabbaths or seven times seven reminded him of?

When Peter laid down in that cell and began remembering the days of old and all the great works He saw Jesus do, did Peter remember what Jesus said about forgiving people? “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! (Matthew 18:21-22 NLTse).

While Peter laid on the cold stones trying to get comfortable, his mind wandered back over his life. Peter knew he was a condemned man. All hope was lost. Now all he could do is think back over his life and repent for his sins while there was still time. Peter remembered the three times he denied Jesus and how Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter thought of all the times he competed with James and John for leadership of the small group. Peter thought of how he told Jesus he would follow him no matter what. Even if it meant his life. Now Peter faced the answer. Now it was going to cost Peter his life.

If Pilate and the priests guarded Jesus’ tomb with eight or ten soldiers, you can bet Herod placed twenty or thirty guards in charge of guarding Peter. Herod spent his life in competition with Pilate and the priests. He mistrusted them and looked for every opportunity to out do them. Everything looked bleak for Peter as he laid in his cell in the dim light of a distant torch. Peter thought about the doubts he had when he heard Jesus rose from the tomb and how he didn’t listen to Jesus when He tried to explain what was about to happen to Him. Peter let out a long sigh then took a deep breath. Was this how it was all going to end? Sitting in a dark, cold cell smelling of rotten hay and urine. Peter thought this was worse than a grave.

Acts 12:7-16 NLTse Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. (8) Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered. (9) So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. (10) They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him. (11) Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!” (12) When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer. (13) He knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it. (14) When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!” (15) “You’re out of your mind!” they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.” (16) Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed.

Luke really wanted to emphasize the word angel in this part of the story. We really can’t be sure what part angels play in God’s plan of salvation. Scripture tells us about angels delivering messages and saving entire cities. In this case the angel God sent broke the chains holding Peter, opened doors and barred gates. It seemed to Peter like he was in a dream. Once out of the cell Peter looked around to discover he’d never been in that place before. He had no way of knowing the way out. With guards posted all around him, Peter wasn’t sure he should get his hopes up or not. In his sleepy state fear gripped Peter’s heart. He felt the weight of uncertainly and fear mixed with the grief he fell asleep with. All of this confused Peter, making him feel like all of this was a dream until he reached the relative safety of the street where Peter felt over joyed. He was free!

Rhonda didn’t close the door and leave Peter standing outside for no reason at all. Standing on the street taught Peter other lessons. Once again Peter felt alone and vulnerable. This gave Peter time to think. He didn’t like the feeling of being alone in the dark. Once the door opened and his friends greeted him, told Peter how they’ve been praying for him, and took him inside the house to share food and light, Peter saw how important it is to reply on not only God, His angels, but also the people he shared struggles with.

Everyday we see and feel the effects of friends, family, business associates, and people we meet. Some times they effect us for good. Other times they place trials on us without being aware of what their doing. The fact of the matter is, Peter’s friends prayed for him and the effect was good beyond imagination. People may be trying to help us without praying. Often the effects are much like those seen when Sara tried helping Abraham and Rachel tried helping Jacob. It took a long time to see the effects, but we are still living with them today. Were those women helping their husbands or trying to help themselves? The problem they shared was, they didn’t pray before acting.

How often people act without praying and seldom do they see the effects until its too late. Some times they fail to see the effects or make excuses to keep from accepting responsibility. Too often we forget to pray. Too little do we consider the true effects of prayer and too soon do we forget the miracles God performed at our request. When miracles do occur, we never give enough praise and glory to God. It seems the least we can do is cling to God’s Word and listen to Him for the messages He has for us. And of course this study would not be complete without examining the summations.

Psalms 143:8-12 NLTse Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. (9) Rescue me from my enemies, LORD; I run to you to hide me. (10) Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. (11) For the glory of your name, O LORD, preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress. (12) In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.

Acts 12:18-25 NLTse At dawn there was a great commotion among the soldiers about what had happened to Peter. (19) Herod Agrippa ordered a thorough search for him. When he couldn’t be found, Herod interrogated the guards and sentenced them to death. Afterward Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while. (20) Now Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they sent a delegation to make peace with him because their cities were dependent upon Herod’s country for food. The delegates won the support of Blastus, Herod’s personal assistant, (21) and an appointment with Herod was granted. When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. (22) The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!” (23) Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died. (24) Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers. (25) When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission to Jerusalem, they returned, taking John Mark with them.

The summation to Psalm 143 appears to be a continuation of Acts 12:7-16. It may have been close to Peter’s prayer when he ate dinner with the other disciples the night God’s angel delivered him from Herod’s prison and sure death. The last few lines lead us right into the summation in Acts 12. The introduction to Psalm 143 began with a plead for God to listen to prayer. Acts 12 began with a description on the persecution the disciples faced at the hands of Herod and Peter’s arrest. One of the rules of Bible Study tells us the introduction and summation cover the same theme. In this case we see the beginning and end of a story showing how God saw the affliction His people were suffering and acted to save them. God sent an angel to free Peter. Then God dwelt with Herod. When we consider the entire chapter we see Herod was struck with sickness for more than accepting the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. This shows the mistake people make when separating a few particular verses to make a point. By restricting or holding back information, teachers take the glory from God as sure as Herod did. God’s glory is expanded through His Word. In Acts chapter 2 we’ve seen how important it is to deliver the message God provides without adding to it or subtracting from it. We’ve also see what is revealed in God’s Word when the right chapters are compared. The question is, how do we use this power? There are a million answers to that question. Not everyone will receive the same message to deliver. Some messages will concentrate more on some points while other points will be emphasized in other messages. Herod’s death is not a major consideration here because the message is tailored to a broad audience where each individual must consider the trials they faced, the personal prisons they need delivery from, the personal way God delivers them, and the people around them who they share the experience and joy. Part of that individual experience is how they give glory to God which we see taught in the contrast presented in Acts 12. Peter and his friends prayed. God answered their prayer and they glorified God. In Herod’s distorted view, he was serving God. We also see the same attitude with the priests. One of the warning signs we can’t ignore is the competitive nature they shared. God’s never competes. Jesus never competed with anyone in His ministry. The competitive nature comes from the enemy and he knows how to introduce it without people being aware of what they’re actually doing, what the out come will be, or who is leading them. Herod didn’t pray. He let his pride and competitive nature lead him. In the end Herod paid for the crimes he committed.