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"Provoked mightily by all this, the Chief Priest and those on his side, mainly the sect of Sadducees, went into action, arrested the apostles and put them in the town jail. But during the night an angel of God opened the jailhouse door and led them out. He said, 'Go to the Temple and take your stand. Tell the people everything there is to say about this life.
"Promptly obedient, they entered the Temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching." Acts 5:17-20 (The Message).
When would these religious leaders ever learn that no one can mess with God and get away with it? They tried it with Jesus and lost, and now they were at it again.
It seems that the High Priest had the ear of the Sadducees. They were a wealthy and powerful political sect whose main religious claim to fame was what they did not believe, not what they did believe. They vehemently defended their denial of the supernatural in general and the resurrection in particular. Why would the High Priest be in bed with them - money, power? Support them and they would support him.
But they had a serious problem. The man they killed was alive again, or so His followers were saying, and to prove it, supernatural things were happening. The very things they were conveniently believing so that they would not have to have dealings with a supernatural God, were happening under their noses. To stop it was like trying to put a cork in a volcano!
But they were trying!
Step one -- silence the leaders. If they abused them enough, they might silence them, so they thought. Put them in jail, threaten them, intimidate them enough to shut them up. They had already tried that once but it only resulted in another wave of miracles and an influx of new believers.
Step two -- increase the pressure. The apostles had taken no notice of their bullying tactics the first time. They were accountable to a higher authority. They had their instructions and they were not about to renege on their commitment to Jesus as rightful Lord, not any Jewish council or political power.
The one ally the High Priest and his cronies had not reckoned on was the army of heaven. It only took the action of one angel to unravel their plan. Jail the apostles and an angel had the key. In fact, he didn't need a key. No jailhouse door could keep an angel out or the apostles in! How was that for civil disobedience!
The angel's instructions fall strangely on the ears of a modern western church bent on preservation rather than propagation. "Go back and teach in the Temple," he told them. Sitting in jail for a night was an unforeseen interruption in their assignment. There was no time to go home and lick their wounds.
This was spiritual warfare at its best. Paul understood the truth about "spiritual warfare" -- not the idea that we have to engage the enemy by all manner of futile activities like Jericho marches, prayer walks, binding and loosing, taking authority, rebuking the devil, identifying and pulling down strongholds etc. It all sounds very "spiritual" but amounts to nothing since Jesus has already exposed and made a fool of him at the cross.
Paul said, "Stand!" That's all! Peter said, "Submit to God!" That's all! Just keep declaring and living the truth regardless of the interruptions. The battle is the Lord's. If as much time were spent preaching the Word of God as is spent on all these useless activities in the name of spiritual warfare, the lives of many more would be changed, bringing the kingdom of God where it is needed most.
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