Today in revival service at school God gave me a great revelation and parallel interpretation of the story of Paul & Silas worshiping their way out of jail. First let’s get a refresher on the story and then I’ll give the explanation.
Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded [them] to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw [them] into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
This story parallels a healthy Christian model for living and victory through devotion to God in an inspiring way, let’s examine the four major parts of this story. First of all lets establish that we (speaking to born again believers) will encounter very difficult and challenging times in life, these I compare to our own personal “prison cells” of life. These are temporary periods but can last any length of time from a month to years! Just as Paul and Silas were in a presumably dark and uncomfortable prison cell shackled at the foot; we can compare our unforeseen struggles, addictions or personal failures to prisons.
How do you escape from a prison cell but by sheer man power, wit and force. But what did the saints do? They worshiped God, this is the second parallel. Worship is an activity that is void of human force and carnal ability – worshiping is a spiritual activity not a carnal one! When you are in a dark time don’t try to muscle your way out of it on your own strength or wisdom; trust in God and walk in a way that is honoring to Him – worship Him and He will free you. Remember- worship is not just what happens during the songs at church, worship is a way you live your life before God (actions, attitudes, and speech).
Our lifestyle of worship is a powerful thing but it has to be done while looking up at God instead of looking around at your circumstances (your prison cell).
The third parallel is the prisoners that were in cells surrounding Paul and Silas; they were likely not believers for the scriptures say they did not join in with them but simply listened to them sing their worship to God. If these prisoners were not already believers they surely would have heard some awesome things in those songs being sung outloud by the two that they had never heard before. Yahweh and Jesus Christ may have been foreign to them until that awesome night. As you live your worship outloud many around you who are also in their own “prison cells” will see you living and learn about God, we are to be representatives of God to mankind. The way you life your life will always be the most powerful sermon you can preach to the lost. When people see you in a hard time worshiping God they may ask “How are you so happy and positive during such a hard time?” and you can share with them your reason.
The fourth parallel is about the determined guard who failed at his duties to keep them in their cell. He was ready to commit suicide because he saw the prison door opened but Paul told him not to kill himself. The guard then asked about salvation and not only was he saved but his entire family was saved and believed in the Lord. As we exit our dark times via our worshiping lifestyle we will turn those who are set on death towards the light and they will find freedom as a result of our freedom in Christ. How can we lead people to Christ if all they see in our lives is defeat and darkness? They will not be impressed at all and think you are a joke following just another religion.
So first: you should experience and obtain freedom and salvation on your own and then people will follow in your footsteps when they see it working for you. In summary – you will encounter a hard time, eventually, but how you respond to that hard time is crucial. The only true way through it and out of it is to worship God with how you live in public and private (not how you sing a song or raise your hands) and let Him take care of the circumstances around you. As you live this public and private life of devotion to God others around you will see what you have and they will want it also. Because of your testimony and life you will turn people from hell’s path to heaven’s gates.