Thursday, 24 November 2022
Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” Acts 12:8
An angel of the Lord had just come to Peter, woke him up, and told him to arise. With that, the chains fell off his hands. Next, it says, “Then the angel said to him, ‘Gird yourself.’”
The clothes worn at that time consisted of an outer garment and an inner garment. When relaxing or sleeping, the outer garment would be taken off and the inner garment (the xitōn, or tunic) would be loosened by undoing the girdle that bound it. Hence, to “gird” oneself meant to tighten up this inner garment.
By doing this, it would make it possible to travel much more easily. To not be girded would mean the tunic could trip a person up when walking quickly or running. This is seen, for example, in these words from 1 Kings 18 –
“Then the hand of the Lord came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.” 1 Kings 18: 46
Hence, the angel’s admonition to gird himself up implies that they would be leaving and heading out. He also said, “and tie on your sandals.”
The Greek word is sandalion. It was, like today, a shoe that protected the sole but with an open top. The sole could be made of wood or leather. Generally, it would be bound around the ankle and leg with string or straps to keep it secure. In compliance with the angel’s words, Luke notes, “and so he did.”
Remembering that Peter was just asleep, he would have been groggy. And so, noting the act of compliance tells us that nothing in the process was missed. Remembering also that Peter is between two guards, it can be assumed that the angel’s words were only heard by Peter or that the guards had been put into some sort of trance. In the Old Testament, such a state was noted a couple of times.
For example, in the account of Lot in Genesis 19, the people outside of his house were right there by the door, and yet they could not find it –
“But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. 11 And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door.” Genesis 19: 10, 11
The mental state of the people of Sodom was confused and their senses were blinded to keep them from properly perceiving what was happening and what they were seeing. With something like this quite possibly occurring with the guards, Luke next says, “And he said to him, ‘Put on your garment and follow me.’”
This is now what is called a himation. It is a cloak or robe that was often fabricated from wool. It had openings for the head and arms and fit loosely over the xitōn. In telling Peter to put this on, it could only mean they were leaving. He would be prepared to be outdoors when dressed in this manner.
Life application: There are times when we need to relax or sleep. But even at those times, we should be prepared to act. Peter was set to go even though he was in prison. His girdle was ready, his sandals were handy, and his outer garment was also nearby.
If we replace those things with the idea of the gospel, we can then equate our remembering it and having it handy for any situation that arises. The word should never be far from our lips, just in case there is a sudden need to share it. We should have it ready at the store, in class, while at work, or when on a picnic.
We never know when someone will suddenly enter into our life who needs to hear about Jesus. So always be ready. As Paul says –
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” Ephesians 6:14-18
Be ready! People need Jesus and you just may be the person to share Him with someone today.
Lord God, help us to always carry with us the sense of urgency that comes with knowing all people are one heartbeat away from eternity. With this thought in mind, we will always be ready to share the good news about Jesus. Keep us focused on this most important news, the good news of the gospel. Yes, help us with this. Amen.