Posted by: peebles | October 12, 2011

Acts 16:24 (NIV) ~ Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in stocks.

“Make sure these leg stocks are tight; fasten them as secure as you know how,” barked the Roman solider to the jailer, having just watched these two men being stripped, beaten and the severely flogged. Upon receiving such orders, the jailer knew the perfect place for them, his years of participating of inflicting pain upon all who were unfortunate enough to be sent to his jail sent shivers down the spine. In the darkest, rat-infested part of the jail, right in the inner cell, the jailer put them. So there they sat with their feet in stocks, unable to move, even to go to the toilet. This was a very cruel way of trying to humiliate them.

But at midnight, while the jailer lay asleep at his desk, with a torch blazing from a stick on the wall beside him, instead of wailing, crying and pleading for help, he heard the sound of someone praying, then singing from the two men whom he had put in stocks. With their backs bearing the fresh whip marks, their skin cut and torn by the whip and their faces and bodies fitting severe bruises, they were smiling and singing. No one else in the whole jail made any sound; all the other prisoners were listening.

Suddenly, there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once, all the prison doors flew open and everybody’s chains were loosed. The jailer awoke in a panic, and then he rushed in to see all the prison doors open. Upon seeing this, the jailer became fearful; afraid of what the authorities would do to him if all the prisoners had escaped. But Paul, one of two people the jailer had put in stocks along with Silas the previous day, spoke up and said, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

The jailer was stunned. You can almost imagine him saying to himself, “This could only be God.” He then called for lights, and rushed in and fell at the feet of Paul and Silas. He brought them out, and still trembling asked, “What must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you and your household will be saved.” This same jailer who, only hours earlier, had stood and watched with evil delight while Paul and Silas were stripped, beaten and then severely flogged, before he manhandled them and put them in the darkest, most disgusting cell, then fastened their feet in cruel stocks, was the same one who was now washing them and cleaning their wounds. Later on, he invited them to his house and his whole household shared a meal with them.

I’m reminded of the old gospel song written by Fanny .J. Crosby (1820-1915) with these wonderful lyrics:

O perfect redemption the purchase of blood,

To every believer the promise of God,

The vilest offender who truly believes,

That moment from Jesus, a pardon receives.

My friend, what an amazing, radical, transformation! This jailer went from being a cruel, twisted man, without mercy, to a gentle soul who cared for people and wanted to put the wrongs right. He went from being a man with a sinister way of inflicting pain upon people, to a man who tended to the wounds of those who suffered from being beaten and flogged. Miraculously, he went from being one who lived in darkness, to now living in the Light of life, being filled with the mercy and compassion of the Saviour he had just come to know.

But notice if you will, at midnight, at their darkest hour, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God. Then, as God moved, not just their chains and prison doors were opened, but the Bible says that “all the prison doors were opened and everybody’s chains came loose.” Turn every dark place, every prison in to a place of praise, let your light shine and liberate those around you by the power of God.

God bless you my friend, Matthew.

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