4:23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:
‘Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’ (Psalm 2:1,2)
27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
There is so much here but let’s focus in. Peter and John have been released and have rejoined the believers. Tensions are high. The realization is sinking in that they are standing against the entire religious/political system of Judaism while defending and representing their own Messiah to them. In the face of this impossible situation what do they do? They pray. I could just stop here and it would be enough. However I want to explore Who they are praying to.
Think about it. They address Him both as the Creator of heaven, earth, the sea, and all that is in them as well as the One who foretold the very predicament they are in hundreds of years in advance. In other words they are praying to the God of prophecy.
Prophecy is often deeply misunderstood. Too often it is crystal ball type stuff. We attempt to determine the future with the Bible not realizing that that really isn’t the primary purpose of prophecy. Do you remember what Jesus said the night Judas betrayed Him? First He said what would happen and who would do it. He prophesied. Then He said this: “I’m telling you these things beforehand so that when it comes to pass you will know that I Am He.” (John 13)
The disciples didn’t believe Judas would betray Him. They didn’t believe He would be handed over to and killed by the religious leaders. It was emotionally too much to process and accept. Jesus knew that. His point was not to prepare them in advance for what was coming. He even told them they themselves would all be scattered by what was about to take place. Prophecy is not primarily about peering into the future and making preparation for it. Primarily it is about looking back and seeing that God laid out the entire chain of events before they unfolded so that we can have confidence in Him. The disciples never understood Psalm 2:1,2 until after Jesus was betrayed by kings and rulers. However once it all happened they stood in awe of the foreknowledge of God. The words of Isaiah came to life for them. “9 Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done…” (Isaiah 46)
So here they stand. The entire religious and political system is against them yet the God of space and time is behind them. They need just one thing. Boldness. Boldness to stand against the waves of opposition. Boldness to declare Jesus to a people that has killed Him. Boldness to defy the law of man and proclaim the Word of God.
Our context may be different but do we need boldness any less? Are there no waves of opposition now? Are we not proclaiming a Man who has fallen out of favour in our “enlightened” culture? Creator? Declares the end from the Beginning? We have much to say to a world blinded by preconceived ideas. Are we bold enough to say it?
When they lacked boldness they gathered together and prayed. What will we do?