19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, 20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. 22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. 23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: 24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
The midnight hour has been the reflection of songs, poems, and testimonies. Many of us can relate to expressions of "going through" something at the midnight hour. These are times that we can recount that we were in need of a breakthrough, and there was no one that we could call upon, but an answer became available right in the nick of time at the midnight hour. Others of us have heard about prisoners on death row - condemned to a needle or worse - the Electric Chair, and a reprieve was offered at the midnight hour.
The word Midnight finds its origins in the words that define it: the middle of the night. And although it is known as the darkest time of the night, it is the threshold by which we crossover to a brand new day!
Exodus 12:29-31 tells us that God made His final move to deliver the Children of Israel at the midnight hour. And King David recognized the value of praying and giving praise to God at midnight in Psalm 119:62.
The question that is raised in this moment as we approach 2016, is what will YOU do at midnight?
In the 16th chapter of the book of Acts, we find Paul, Silas and a new convert by the name of Lydia going to pray as they had for several days at this point. They were in the city of Philippi in answer to the Macedonian call that Paul received in a vision. The Word of God tells us that as they came to pray, that there was a young woman who was "possessed with a spirit of divination which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying." In other words she was being used to make money for others as a fortune-teller. Whenever they went to pray, the young girl followed them, and cried, saying, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation."
Grieved by this consistent taunting, the apostle turned and commanded the spirit to come out of her and delivered the young woman from this demonic oppression that very hour. Angry about the loss of financial gain, the girl's masters seized Paul and Silas and took them to the magistrates for their crime.
Like Paul and Silas, saints of God, we are living in a day and time that is becoming more increasingly challenging to preach the Word of God as freely as we have been able to do in times past. The moral compass of our country has been eroded like never before in the history of this nation. And at times when we see the enemy having his way with our children, with our sons and daughters, we must come to a point where we are grieved in our spirit and walk in the authority, in the power that has been vested in us to bind the power of the enemy and cast him out of our marriages, out of families, out of our communities, and out of our world.
What we discover in this passage of scripture is that what we do in the midnight hour has ripple of the pond effects on what we're doing in the days that follow them. What are you doing at the midnight hour?
Paul and Silas are treated like thieves for setting someone's daughter free of the demon that plagued her, and free of the pimps who were prostituting her. You see there are going to be some people in your life who are not going to be happy when you receive deliverance! Some people who are not going to be excited for your breakthrough! In fact there are some haters that are going to hate on you for making a complete turnaround to the glory of God! But you've got to keep it movin' my brother! Keep it movin' my sister, and hold on to the True Masters' hand!
And so Paul and Silas were beaten, but they were not broken! They were stripped and they were stricken, but they still had strength! They were imprisoned, thrown into the deepest part of the jail, but they were still free! They were all of this not, because of who they were or how great they were, but because of who they were connected to and how great and mighty our God is!
And the Bible shows us in this scripture three approaches to the Midnight Hour! The Word of God says that at about Midnight, the servants of God prayed to God and sang hymns of praise unto the Lord! That's the first approach! When you are going through a rough patch, that is not the time to give up or throw in the towel! When you find yourself broke, busted, and disgusted, that is not the time to have a pity-party! That's the time to pray and praise!
You pray to God, because God invites you to do so: "Come ye that labor for me and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly and you will find rest for your souls in me." Then you praise Him in advance, because you know that God is able!
The prisoners watched the servants of God praying and praising! That's the second approach! There are those who are bound by the vicissitudes of life. Victims of the situations of life and prisoners of their own sin. Experiencing sickness, disease, and at some times addictions; looking for a breakthrough, looking for a solution that will actually work in their lives, and they are watching you! They are listening to you! So how you respond in the midst of life's challenges can have an impact on those that are watching to see what God will do for you. And as they listen to what comes out your mouth, they will either become more fearful, or more faithful, because faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God!
The jailer was asleep - confident that the technology designed to secure the prisoners was dependable! That's the third approach! He represents those of us who have been dependent on the systems of this world. Depending on the notion that their jobs are secure! Dependent on the notion that their health is good, and there's nothing can possibly go wrong, that the rough patches of life are not going to befall their own lives.
But at midnight, as the servants prayed, as the servants of God praised God with hymns; I imagine they sang something like, "What a friend we have in Jesus..." Something like, "I will trust in the Lord ..." I believe it may have been a song like, "I've got a feeling everything's gonna be alright..." But it was most likely a song like, "There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain."
And suddenly the earth began to quake and shook the foundations of the prison, the chains of the prisoners were broken, and the jailer was awakened! I want to encourage you saints of God to embrace the first Midnight approach! When the going gets tough pray! When you can't see your way out Praise the Lord God Almighty! Praise the Maker of Heaven and Earth! What will you do at midnight? Join the House of Prayer and Praise that Love is building with Living Stones, and be empowered to set others free in the name of Jesus!
In His Service,
Pastor Emery B. Barber
Shepherd's House Prayer Band Tabernacle