Holy Spirit, I take this moment to be still, to listen, and to wait. Whisper Your truth into my heart.
Read Acts 12:19-24
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear” (Psa. 2:10-11).
The Herod family keeps cropping up in the New Testament story. They are all bad. Up until now it might seem that they are also always successful. A Herod killed the Bethlehem babies. Another killed John the Baptist and put Jesus on trial. This one has killed James and the guards that didn’t keep Peter in prison. But God does judge Herod. In the context of Peter’s release from prison, Luke tells the story of Herod’s sudden death. The reality of King Jesus ruling from heaven in the context of the politically impotent church is set over against the ultimate powerlessness of Herod in eternal terms. He dies horribly.
Justice is an important quest in this life. Rarely do we see tyrants die as dramatically as Herod, but we believe that there is justice at the heart of the universe. The reality of God’s judgment is seen at the cross. By faith we accept that we shall all be judged by God and that the extreme sins of tyrants are only a part of the general sinfulness of humankind. Rarely is our faith encouraged by a visible demonstration of temporal judgment as happens in today’s reading. Jesus gives us a warning about premature conclusions about how God’s judgment might fall on people (Luke 13:1-5), but he also tells us that we should repent of our sins or perish.
It is part of God’s mercy to us all, and not just tyrants, that judgment doesn’t fall immediately for every sin. We, and they, are given time for repentance. Paul tells us to pray for the conversion of political leaders (1 Tim. 2:2) and that should take priority over our desire to see justice carried out against them. If specific tyrants have not been taken out of the way, we should be more driven to pray for them.
Make a plan to pray for leaders, not just here but from around the world. Make a list of unjust leaders and pray for them often, too.
Lord, I pray that You will guide our leaders and look upon those others who oppress people today and bring them to repentance.