Violent Earthquake Shakes a Prison

GodReflection: Walk Toward the Quake

gary-2015Once again—its prayer time. The players and the location have changed. The foundation of the known world continues to shake from the resurrection. A lot has happened since God shook the house in Jerusalem to affirmed His continued presence to be with Peter, John, the apostles and believers as they proclaimed the risen Jesus to Jews and those in Jerusalem.

Jesus has called a new apostle to carry the gift of grace to the non-Jewish world. It’s a start to fulfill God’s promise of their numbers being uncountable like the sands of sea or prison1the stars of the universe.

Paul, Jesus newly appointed missionary apostle is with his traveling companions Silas, Timothy and Luke the physician.

They are about to plant the first church on the soil of Europe. Their chosen city—or perhaps it’s better to say Jesus’ chosen city (Acts 16:9-10)—is Philippi a leading city of a Roman Colony.

It’s prayer time in what is present day Greece. Paul, as a Jew was accustomed to three daily prayer times. Philippi had a large Jewish population so it wouldn’t be difficult to locate a prayer group. Each time he entered a new city he would first go to those who believed in God and tell them what God is doing through Jesus the Son.

prison7On this occasion the one to be set free at prayer time is not a cripple at the Temple gate that led to prayer. Instead a woman dominated by Satan is by a road that led to prayer. Luke shares the story that led to jail time for Paul.

Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.

She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days (Acts 16:16-18).

Sounds like the Devil was thrilled at his continual annoyance of the apostle. His declaration through the woman was true. I can’t help but wonder if a sarcastic tone might have rung out with her words. After days of repetition Paul reached his limit.

prison8Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.

Like Peter with the Jewish rulers, Paul’s actions encroached upon the self-interest of the merchant. After arrest and a ruthless beating Paul and Silas found themselves in the inner parts of the jail with their feet locked in the stocks.

The jailer received his assignment. They were to spend the entire night in pain and the most uncomfortable position possible to pay for pain to the economic interest of the cities’ business men.

prison9The reaction of Paul and Silas was unlike anything ever witnessed by the jailer. Their response and God’s earthquake were about to result in the first body of believers on European soil.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.

At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

prison11They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.

At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized (Acts 16:25-33).

As a North American Christ follower, the quake that struck the European jail continues to rumble across the centuries. It was from Europe–from that quake jolted prison–that good news of Jesus was exported to North America.

I should thank God more often than I do for His quake that struck the foundations of a European prison don’t you think? Won’t you join me as we walk toward the quake to thank God?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: Violent Earthquake Shakes a Prison

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