By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: Acts 11-12
Key Scripture Verses: Acts 12:1-23 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.”
The Old Testament and the New Testament are both full of stories of God’s compassion, healings, miracles, and angels. These were all used for God’s purposes to effect the changes needed to protect his people and to spread the gospel. Sometimes God also acted very directly and immediately to defeat evil and to stop it in its tracks. This incident is one of those occasions when God let the people know that he is God and there is no other God he will allow to take his place.
As we have seen in our study of the minor prophets of the Old Testament, God warned the people not to worship other gods and when they did, he punished them and disciplined them. He would have nothing of the evil and corruption that occurred with worship of false gods and idolatry. In the New Testament, there are so many stories of love and compassion that we tend to focus on, that we sometimes miss the direct attacks on evil that Jesus performed during his lifetime on earth. This incident with King Herod occurred later, after the resurrection and during the time of the early church’s spread of the gospel.
Here is the context of events leading up to this. Christ has been resurrected and the Holy Spirit has come to the Disciples, the Disciples have become Apostles and are spreading the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. King Herod (Herod Agrippa I) has had the Apostle James killed and has arrested Peter and imprisoned him, but God has had Peter released from prison by sending an angel to free him miraculously. Herod was enjoying power and support during his reign. This was also a time when the people of Tyre and Sidon who depended on King Herod and his people for food were trying to appease Herod after he had become disgruntled with them.
These coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon had engaged Herod’s personal servant for support in dealing with him and asked Herod to give a public address. While he was doing so, they flattered him and praised him. He was all adorned in his royal regalia and sat on his throne as he spoke to the people, enjoying great pride in himself at the event. When they flattered him and praised him, they spoke of him as if he were God himself, saying, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man.’
Herod did not give glory to God, but accepted this praise, acted in a prideful way, and allowed them to praise him as if he were God–with no rebuttal or humility whatsoever—a fatal mistake.
“Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.” My Bible indicates that he was eaten “from the inside out,” eaten alive.
Isn’t this also the fatal sin of the angel Lucifer, also known as Satan–who was so proud of himself that he wanted to be God?
Pride is a serious sin with serious consequences. On this occasion, God did not delay, but dealt with it immediately.
Sometimes when people in high position get praise and glory, it goes to their heads, and they start believing that they are all-powerful. In Herod’s case, he stood in for God, accepted praise as if he were God. As Herod should have known better, all of us should know better than to accept God’s glory and praise for ourselves.
God is God. When we acknowledge him and give the glory to him, we can rejoice in his love and compassion. He deserves our love, our worship, our praise, our thanks, all the glory.
May we know better than to accept God’s praise for ourselves. May we remember that all good things come from God—all praise and glory belong to him.