“But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. ‘Tell James and the brothers about this,’ he said, and then he left for another place. In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.” (Acts 12:16–19, NIV84)
As I read this section of Scripture, I cannot help but see the contrast of the two kingdoms (the world vs. Heaven). Once again the two kingdoms waged war. Satan, through King Herod, had arrested Peter and had every plan to execute him the next day. Forces from the kingdom of Heaven miraculously released Peter. They set him free from the clutches of Herod and returned him to his fellow believers. In response to all of that happening in the night, Herod, during the day, executed the guards responsible for detaining Peter. On the one hand you have the kingdom of this world desiring death and destruction, and on the other hand you have the kingdom of Heaven acting on the side of life and freedom.
What was true then is still true today. The kingdom of this world flexes its power to intimidate, dehumanize and kill whatever is contrary to its belief system. Even in our country there are secularists who would like to set up a society of elitists who would run the world according to their belief system. They militantly respond to any and all who challenge their points of view. For over a century now they have been waging war on religion, and especially Christianity. What has been the outcome? During the 20th century, more people died at the hand of secular regimes than did at the hand of religious regimes in all the centuries prior. The 20th century may be known as the deadliest century of all time. In contrast, the Christian Church moves forward with a message of love, life and freedom. As soldiers of the kingdom of Heaven we do not go into battle with our hands clenched but with our arms open. Our battle is not with our neighbor but with the spiritual force behind him or her.
Finally, please note who wins this battle between these two kingdoms. Jesus rose from the dead and crushed the Devil’s head. Peter was set free. The kingdom of God has been growing ever since. God’s kingdom has not been silenced even under the cruelest of persecution. On the last day, it will be our Lord Jesus to whom every knee will bow in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth! We are victorious in Jesus Christ!