Some history books tell that King Herod, the Roman ruler over Judea, ruled with compassion and friendliness – he kept the Law of the Jews and even participated as one of them. (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/912-agrippa-i) But it seems the Scripture speaks to his darker side.
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also…
(Herod’s actions are affirmed when he received the accolades of man. For a man who embraced the Law he spent no small amount of time breaking it.)
He puts Peter in prison and decides he will bring him out on display after the Passover. No doubt another execution – especially of such a known leader of the church, will please the Jews. Little does he know that while Peter sits in prison the gates of heaven are being bombarded on his behalf.
Herod has other political issues at hand. His chamberlain, Blastus has been persuaded to arrange an audience between him and the people of Tyre and Sidon. Herod is angry with them for some reason but they have come to beg for peace. Remember the food shortage? They are dependent on Herod’s country for food. (Do you think having a terrible need is something God uses to draw us to Himself? No duh! Jesus had walked in these cities, healed the Canaanite woman’s daughter because of her faith but they appealed to Herod. How often do I forget that only Jesus is able to meet my needs?)
King Herod dresses up in a fine display of his royalty and position and mounts the throne. It says he delivered an oration to them. Doesn’t sound like much listening is happening – it’s just an opportunity for him to strut his feathers.
The visitors begin shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” I think they had his number…Herod wanted the praise of men and they were playing exactly those cards in their efforts to seek his favor.
Succumbing to just this arrogance was what the Bible tells is his downfall. Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory. In Isaiah says, “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else…” Herod stepped over the line when he began to court the glory that rightly belonged to God. (Here is the cautionary tale – do not strive for the praise of man. It is a poisonous worm that left unattended will wreak havoc on my relationship with God.)
In contrast to Herod’s death, Barnabas and Saul have added a man, John Mark.
The Word of Life is increasing and multiplying. Man’s attempts to stop or control it are feeble – killing and arresting Jesus’ followers will not slow it down. (The enemy uses such tactics to keep his own people in line, but we who follow Jesus have no reason to fear death – Death is swallowed up in victory.)
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Cor. 15:58
God will not allow His glory to be stolen but willingly shares it with those who love Him.
My needs will draw me closer to Jesus – welcome them.
About the World?
Beware the praise of men.