5:17 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, 18 and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. 19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”
Have you ever noticed something about the famous stories in the Bible when God intervenes to rescue His people? I mean those of us who grew up hearing the stories in the Bible know all the famous rescue stories. Daniel might be the most famous as he was spared from the hungry lions. His three friends were spared from the fiery furnace. David was protected from Saul. He was made victorious against Goliath too. There is indeed a long list but almost all (probably all) have one thing in common. The rescue came after the person faced the trouble. Daniel wasn't spared from the den of lions. He was protected in it. His friends were not kept out of the furnace of fire. They were protected in it. David was not spared from facing Goliath or from the murderous pursuit of Saul. God showed up in the crisis rather than saving them from ever facing a crisis.
Here in Acts Peter and John were severely threatened not to speak about Jesus any more. Instead they prayed for increased boldness along with all the other believers and then they went out preaching more. This time they get arrested again and thrown in prison. God is not preventing them from being harassed and arrested. No angel shows up to intervene before they land in jail. It is only after they are locked up that an angel comes and lets them out.
The angel has one thing to say. "Go back to the temple and keep on telling the people about Jesus." Ever wonder why? Why not intervene before the prison, before the furnace, before the den of lions?
Just as the disciples were free to believe in Jesus and free to speak about Him so the religious leaders were free to resist Jesus and arrest the disciples. Freedom works both ways. If it does not, it is not freedom. Each time the disciples were given the freedom to preach again the religious leaders and all the people were given the freedom to resist or listen.
It's something everyone wants but struggles to give. More and more I see people becoming hardened into their positions and expecting the freedom to hold those positions while at the same time thinking it atrocious and unacceptable that others be free to hold an opposite position.
Meanwhile God tolerates all of this because He values our freedom and knows that only be being free can we demonstrate where our hearts truly are.
Now think about this today:
Are we not experiencing the miraculous intervention of God in our lives because we carefully avoid being in a position where we need Him to intervene?
The boys refused to bow. Daniel kept praying even when it was against the law and the disciples kept preaching.
I am seeing a culture that has intimidated us into silence even when speaking the truth is completely legal.
"God give us the wisdom to know when and how to speak, when to be silent, and the boldness and courage to do both."