DON’T MESS WITH GOD
Lord, help me to remember my place: redeemed creature.
Read Acts 12:19b–25
19 After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.
Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there. 20 He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. After securing the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for their food supply.
21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23 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.
24 But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.
Barnabas and Saul Sent Off
25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from[a] Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.
- Acts 12:25 Some manuscripts to
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Open today’s newspaper or tune into a news channel, write down the names of ten prominent national and world leaders and pray for them.
Foiled in his policy against the church in Jerusalem, Herod goes northwest from Judea to Caesarea. His ensuing hubris and eventual demise are attested to not only by Luke, but also by the Roman historian Josephus. The tyrant’s error is to believe the words of flattery bestowed on him, whether by the public audience, as in Josephus, or diplomats from Tyre and Sidon, as in Acts. Herod receives the response ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man’ (22) when he makes a speech, and he basks in the associated glory. Crucially, he doesn’t act like Peter who, when Cornelius attempts to worship him, insists that he is merely a man (Acts 10:25,26). God’s response is immediate. Herod suffers a painful and lingering death.
Attributing deity to a figure of authority is not something we are prone to do within western society. Yet unquestioning loyalty, fawning approval, and sacrificial commitment are not unknown, both within church circles and in the wider world of politics, commerce, and entertainment – especially when there is an anticipated payback. This attitude is misplaced and therefore worthless on the part of those who offer it: paybacks often don’t materialize. On the other hand, it encourages the recipient to believe in an inappropriate and glorious status. God, and God alone, deserves our praise, our worship, and our service.
Our study ends with the encouraging news that, despite the ups and downs in the world around, the Word of God not only spreads but flourishes. Barnabas and Saul set out again from Jerusalem, this time with a new trainee. The next chapter of the history of the young church is about to unfold.
Pray for the leaders of your church and the church worldwide. May they be an inspiration, a model of delegated servant leadership to the secular world of power.
Lord Jesus, Your people worship You and only You, for alone You are worthy, and we are Yours by right of creation.