No matter what, God is in charge.
APRIL 5, 2022
No matter what, God is in charge. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
That was Steve Brown. He doesn’t want to be here guru, and he’s not trying to be your mother. He just opens the Bible and gives you the simple truth that will make you free. Steve is a lifelong broadcaster, author, seminary professor, and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible, as we continue our study in the book of Acts, open it to the 12th chapter of Acts. Now I’m going to take the time to read this chapter, it’s just 25 verses. And we’re going to spend the next week or two talking about it. And you’re going to be quite surprised. You know, when we talk about the sovereignty of God, we mean that everything he does makes us feel good. And everything he does, does not make us feel good. There are so many bad things in the world, that you’ve either got to believe that it’s happenstance and thus meaningless, or you have got to believe that there’s a God somewhere behind all of this and that somehow it’s all gonna work together for good. And that’s an act of faith and the Bible clearly teaches it over and over again. And I don’t know any chapter, certainly in the book of Acts or probably the entire Bible that illustrates that better than the 12th chapter. This is what Dr. Luke writes.
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. The very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the doors were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell. And it struck Peter on the side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” and the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself, put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your mantle around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate, leading into the city. It opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and passed on through the street, and immediately the angel left him. And Peter came to himself and said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
Wait, I’m going to turn the page in the Bible. Okay.
When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked on the door of the gateway, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran and told that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are mad.” But she insisted that it was so, they said, “It’s an angel!” But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed.
I guess so.
But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell this to James and to the brothers.” Then he departed and went to another place. Now when day came, there was no small stir among the soldiers over what had become to Peter. And when Herod had sought for him and could not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Cesarea and remained there. Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him in a body, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. On an appointed day, Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and made an oration to them. And the people shouted, “The voice of a god, not of man!” Immediately an angel of the Lord smote him, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and he died.
Now that’s a story.
But the word of the Lord grew and multiplied. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark.
Now, if you don’t, if you don’t see the humor in that, you don’t get it. I mean, that is a wonderful story. And it’s a funny story in some ways, but it’s an instructive story in some ways. Now let me, before we go any further, give you a little bit of background and tell you something about Herod the king. King Herod, son of Aristobulus, he was a grandson of Herod the Great. Now in Acts, he’s referred to as a king and that title was conferred on him by the emperor of Caligula, through some wheeling and dealing on Agrippa’s part. As a young man, he had gone to Rome with money, a name, prestige. He ended up bankrupt and he began to play the political game. And he ended up being appointed tetrarch of what had been emperor’s, his uncle’s territory, Philip. Now here’s some things you need to know by 41 A.D. he had maneuvered with a series of cruel acts to become the king of practically all that had been ruled by Herod the Great. For this, he was called by Josephus, Agrippa the Great. He persecuted the Christians to gain favor with the Jews. However, if the Christians had been in the majority, one gets the feeling that Agrippa would have persecuted the Jews just as easily. Herod was arrogant. He was rebellious. He was licentious. He was cruel. He was angry. He was profane. He was mean. He was evil. Now you know. And you say, Steve, I thought you were going to talk about the sovereignty of God. I am. But you’ve got to see the sovereignty of God through a wide lens and you’ve got to see, and occasionally God does this for us. You’ve got to see the rest of the story. And when you see the rest of the story and you look back, you say, son of a gun, God did it. Son of a gun. Look what God has done. Son of a gun. I think I’m going to trust him. And so this 12th chapter of Acts talks about some really bad things and that’s the first point that I want to make for you because God is in charge because he is the sovereign Creator, Ruler and Sustainer of everything. James was dead. That’s right, look at it, verses one through two.
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
Let me give you some other verses, Job 1:21.
The Lord giveth, the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of one of his saints.
It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment.
And so, the first thing you notice is that James died. He was killed. He was executed. And this is important because God was in charge. Now we’re going to talk a lot more about this tomorrow, but it’s important that we see that there’s a principle here, and that is, the things that seem awful and unbearable, that seem wrong and evil, that seem to be an example of God not being involved, sometimes those things are exactly the place where God is moving. And when you see the rest of the story, you get it. The church grew, James was dead. The disciples were blessed, James was dead. God, God blessed his people, James was dead. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. Again, our text today was all of Acts 12, also Job 1:21, Psalm 116:15 and Hebrews 9:27. We’ll dig deeper into Acts 12 tomorrow and the rest of this week. Make sure you join us for that. Wouldn’t be the same without you. By the way, do you know Justin Holcomb? You’ve probably heard him guest teaching here on Key Life back in January. He also is an accomplished and insightful author. In fact, he has edited together a book that he calls the anti devotional devotion. Wait, what? Listen, Justin explains it better than I can. And that’s why we had them on our talk radio show Steve Brown Etc discussing said book. It’s called God With Us: 365 Devotions on the Life and Work of Christ. We would love to send you that whole conversation on a CD for free. Would that be okay? If so, then call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail Steve@keylife.org to ask for that CD. If you’d like to mail your request, send it to
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