We find ourselves in the dawning of the Church and her separation from Judaism, defining herself as an entity created by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The time period is after the ascension of Christ. The disciples had found themselves with the resurrected Lord, for a period of no less than forty days (Acts 1:3), sitting under His teaching and in awe that their Lord was indeed alive. He had ascended on the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:9) caught up into heaven and taken in a glorious cloud of God’s shekinah glory, and they were left listening to the words of angels comforting them that Christ would return in the same way that He left (Acts 1:10).
I bring this history up, to provide a backdrop of the happenings after the coming of the Holy Spirit. After the Holy Spirit came, the gathered disciples found themselves filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues (Acts 2:3-4). Many who were gathered in Jerusalem during that festival of Pentecost were astounded that they would see people who were obviously not of their own ethnic culture (Acts 2:5-12), speaking in their language with power and skill about the resurrection of Christ Jesus.
Three thousand were saved (Acts 2:41).
It was around this time, after Peter and John went to the temple and had done a wondrous miracle by the power of Christ (Acts 3) that these two apostles were taken to be questioned by the Sanhedrin (Acts 4). They were asked to explain themselves, by what authority were they preaching about the resurrection of the dead. The apostles proceeded to answer based on scripture and the very teachings of the risen Lord, and the authorities found themselves amazed that these unlearned men were speaking with both confidence and understanding (Acts 4:13).
But, even with this perception they decided that these men could be silenced with the threat of the political and priestly power that they held. These men were unlearned, they perceived, and like most unlearned people they could easily be pushed over with such a threat (Acts 4:18-23),
It stands to reason that the common society relied heavily on the priestly leaders teaching and leadership. It stands to reason that the common man in that society would not likely take a stance against such positional powers–yet these two apostles stood there and stated that they had to choose between obeying God or obeying men. Their choice was to obey God.
They were threatened and released, being told not to speak of this Jesus and His resurrection any more.
This is where I want to bring our focus. The apostles go back to the community and find the overwhelming fear of promised tribulation hovering before them. This is what their Lord had spoken of before He had died. They would have to pit their understanding against that of the entrenched leaders of their society. This was no light matter they were undertaking…it was a heavy decision.
Their prayer (Acts 4:24-30)reflected their fear and the way they fought their way through it. They prayed based on scripture. The Lord had spoken that they would face this time of tribulation in the very Psalms through the King and prophet David, The Lord had assured that His spirit would be poured out on His people. The Lord’s will would be carried out and His instruments would do this work.
With this prayer they found renewed strength, and affirmation by the very power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31-33) and the next days they stood once again preaching at the temple the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ…through imprisonment and beyond (Acts 4:33 onward).
It was an astounding prayer in the light of promised tribulation and adversity, and in this prayer God reinforced the people in a marvelous way. They had sought answers in their only hope, the Lord their God as seen in scripture, loving and powerful, and it was upon Him that they cast their burdens.
May we pray with such reliance in the face of promised tribulation or adversity. God is good and does listen to our prayers and when He answers, the very foundations of the earth may shudder with the power that is Yahweh All Mighty. Amen.