Acts 12:20-24 (VOICE)
Intro: In our passage today, Luke helps us understand the persecution that was going on against the Church because the people of God refused to be silenced. Herod Agrippa, King of Judea, has James [John’s brother] killed and Peter is imprisoned during the Passover celebration. Before Herod can bring Peter to trial, the Church prays and Peter is miraculously escorted out of prison by an angel of the Lord. When Peter cannot be found, Herod sentences the guards to death. As our passage picks up today, we have already seen the spiritual poverty of Herod. At this point, he is a lousy leader with control issues; however, the leaders of the surrounding countries indirectly mock him by flattering him in order to get what they want.
20 At this time there was major political upheaval. Herod was at odds with the populace of neighboring Tyre and Sidon, so the two cities sent a large group of representatives to meet with him. They won over one of Herod’s closest associates, Blastus, the director of the treasury; then they pressured Herod to drop his grudge. Cooperation was important to the two cities because they were all major trading partners and depended on Herod’s territory for food. 21 They struck a deal, and Herod came over to ratify it. Dressed in all his royal finery and seated high above them on a platform, he made a speech; 22 and the people of Tyre and Sidon interrupted with cheers to flatter him.
The People: This is the voice of a god! This is no mere mortal!
23 Herod should have given glory to the true God; but since he vainly accepted their flattery, that very day a messenger of the Lord struck him with an illness. It was an ugly disease, involving putrefaction and worms eating his flesh. Eventually he died.
24 Through all this upheaval, God’s message spread to new frontiers and attracted more and more people.
Herod’s arrogance is so deeply rooted in his soul, he does not even see a problem with the people exalting him. He does not publicly react in order to honor God. Herod may have had the throne for a moment, but he quickly got deposed by God’s judgment.
Even through this upheaval, the Church chose to continue sharing the message of Christ and the Kingdom grew exponentially. We are facing political upheavals as well, but continue to pray, my friends, because God is the rightful Ruler and he always has the last word! The Church needs to stay focused and keep sharing the Light of Christ! [Ps 119:105 The Word is a Lamp].
Prayer: Lord, help me to remember that during every upheaval, you are testing the character of leaders to see if they will honor your name and heart. I pray for my heart to be in sync with your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen.