Occasionally we’ll hear someone say, “a wise old man once said . . .” That’s what occurred in Acts 5. A respected Pharisee named Gamaliel in essence said, who can stand against the Lord?
If it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!” Acts 5:39
Let’s take a look at what was going on in this setting. The church grew rapidly to over 5,000 people which didn’t sit well at all with the Jewish hierarchy.
The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. Acts 5:17
They had already warned the disciples not to teach in the name of Jesus anymore. Of course, they continued to teach in His name which resulted in their arrest, again.
So the Jewish officials had them imprisoned so they could stand trial. The Lord, however, had different plans for these followers of Jesus.
The Apostles were Miraculously Freed from Prison
But an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out. Then he told them, “Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!” Acts 5:19-20
Did you notice that the angel didn’t tell them to go and hide or lay low for a while? Therefore at daybreak the next morning, they entered the temple and immediately began teaching.
Later that morning the full assembly of the elders of Israel convened to bring the apostles to trial. Much to their surprise, the securely locked and guarded jail cells were empty.
These leaders didn’t understand that no one could stop God’s will from happening. No matter who they thought they were, they would not be able to stand against the Lord.
Then someone arrived with startling news: “The men you put in jail are standing in the Temple, teaching the people!” Acts 5:25
The temple guards arrested the apostles of Jesus again and brought them before the high council. The high priest confronted them by saying the following.
“We gave you strict orders never again to teach in this man’s name!” he said. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about him, and you want to make us responsible for his death!” Acts 5:28
Then Peter took an opportunity to respond to what the high priest said. He stated that God raised Jesus from the dead after they killed him by hanging him on a cross.
The High Council Decided to Kill the Apostles
The high council had furiously had enough and decided to kill them. But that is when Gamaliel stood up. After he ordered to apostles removed from the room, he began to speak.
He cited two other instances of men who gathered followers. The first one he mentioned was Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. After his death, his 400 followers scattered.
The other one named Judas, in my opinion, had some historical significance. Look at what Gamaliel had to say about him.
After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee. He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered. Acts 5:37
Historically this happened about the time of the birth of Christ. Satan attempted to raise a leader in Israel at the right time and from the right place. Yet his insignificant attempt completely failed.
No One Can Successfully Stand Against the Lord
Gamaliel knew that neither they nor anyone else would ever successfully stand against the Lord. Therefore he offered this advice.
So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. Acts 5:38
The high council followed the advice of this wise man. They had the apostles flogged and warned them not to teach in the name of Jesus again. But their warning fell on deaf ears.
The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. Acts 5:41
The apostles learned through each incident that no one can stand against the Lord. Up until this point in the early church, look what it experienced since the ascension of Jesus.
- God filled the believers with the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:4
- After Peter’s sermon, the church grew by 3000 new believers. Acts 2:41
- An instant healing was given to a man lame from birth. Acts 3:7
- The church grew to 5,000 men plus women and children. Acts 4:4
- After a time of prayer, their meeting place shook. Acts 4:31
- Ananias and Sapphira died after they conspired to test the Spirit of the Lord. Acts 5:10
The Lord Still Moves Today, He Doesn’t Idly Stand Around
Many today, have not personally experienced miracles or church growth like we read about in the book of Acts. Similar occurrences though, still do happen in places around the world.
We love to see miracles especially when they involve us in some way. I also love to see and experience them as much as the next person. But we certainly don’t need them.
Our walk with the Lord is by faith in what we can’t see, not miracles that we can see. Sometimes we feel we can’t make it through without a miracle.
Whether we get one or not, one fact remains. No matter what, nothing can stand against the will of the Lord. Nothing stood in His way in the early church and nothing will today.
The early apostles met opposition through persecution, flogging, and threats. Yet they rejoiced and counted themselves worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus and they continued to minister.
And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 5:42
Lord, when we suffer while doing things for you help us to maintain a godly attitude. May we always understand that nothing can stand against you oh Lord?
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