This story, so familiar to many Christians tells of Peter's miraculous deliverance from prison by an angel of the Lord. He is brought out of his cell without disturbing anything or anyone, doors or guards! He can't even believe it. Only after exiting the city via huge gates that opened of their own accord does he "come to himself." He then goes to John Mark's house where they won't let him in figuring the servant girl, Rhoda was merely seeing things. It's all stuff that makes Hollywood stories seem simplistic! Still, the above two verses are what is of interest here. Immediately following Peter's great escape, we read these seemingly forgettable details.Now when day came, there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and spent time there. (Acts 12:18–19)
The Obvious & Not So ObviousIt's understandable that the guards would be beside themselves, they knew the rule--if someone escapes on your guard, you die. Period! Herod then meets their expectations. He checks it out, sees what to all appearances seems to have been an escape, and then promptly has the guards executed. As terrible a thing as it is given the fact that they did nothing wrong, we still are taken a bit aback by the contrasts of this incident. God has done a marvelous work in bringing Peter out of prison in order to preach again. The executed guards are collateral damage. But it seems so unnecessary, right? Still, the gospel moves onward, while some die (even James in verse one).
Herod would go down to Caesarea and "spend some time there," and eventually gives a speech that puffs him up and God takes him down. Now, Herod is dead along with the "innocent" guards! The close of the story is a typical Lukan transition, "But the Word of God increased and multiplied" (v. 24). No attempt is made here to justify the useless killing of the guards. But we do read why God took Herod. His pervasive hubris. Pride. Much in the Bible is not explained. What does that make us think of God? Shall we ever brashly blame HIM? Shall we call HIM into question? More importantly, CAN God ever do anything amiss, or, shall we just say it, "evil?" Of course, the answer is No, He cannot.
God Is In Control
Mankind better get this right. Another king hundreds of years before this did get it right (after he was humbled for a season). “At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” ” (Daniel 4:34–35).
Not only is God NOT unfair, no one has the right to ask him, "What have you done?" The Word of God WILL makes progress with or without us. Where will we find ourselves?