The Cast (main characters)
• King Herod=”grandmothered-in” Jew who enjoyed the admiration of fellow Jews to such an extent that it drove him to begin exterminating disciples
• Herod’s Supporters=Israel’s Jewish population (some revered him as a god, Herod’s lack of glorifying god lead to his own death)
• James=1st disciple to be killed (killed by sword) • Peter=2nd target of Herod’s, seen as a very outspoken evangelical Christian, imprisoned but escaped miraculously
Acts 12 is another illustration of how the disciples devoted their lives to God for better or worse. Being an evangelistic Christian during this time immediately put a giant target on your back among Jews. King Herod Agrippa was feeling the need to regain attention from his “people.” James is the first disciple to be killed on Herod’s word. He was sentenced to death by sword. Back in the day, idolaters were stoned to death and death by sword was the sentence dealt when you caused the city to serve other gods. Herod justified this because these Christians were claiming that Jesus was the Son of God. Now, I can’t help but think how the Christians felt after Herod began takin out the disciples. Some of the questions that would go through my mind had I been in their shoes were, “What happens when he has eliminated the disciples? Are we next? Their families? Genocide of the Christians?” Panic and sadness would be the first emotions I’d feel. I wish that I could say that hope would be at the top, but it probably would take me calming down before I could focus enough to rely on my faith to overcome the panic and sadness. The Jews rallied around Herod in support of James’ death, and Herod wanted more (power-hungry). The capture of Peter was soon to follow James’ death. Herod didn’t want to have Peter killed until Passover observations came to a conclusion, so Peter was to be held in prison until that time. 16 guards were put around Peter to ensure that his escape was impossible. Did they even know who they were dealing with? I think not! On the night before he was scheduled to die, Peter was miraculously broken out of prison by an angel of the Lord. Upon realizing it wasn’t a vision or dream, Peter gives glory to the Lord and runs to tell his church family what God had done. The Christians stayed in constant prayer for Peter, but I’m making the assumption they were praying for a peace in death for him instead of escape because they didn’t believe the poor girl that answered the door at Peter’s knock. They told her that it must be his guardian angel and not his actual person. She gets them to come to the door, and they rejoice as they too see what can happen at God’s hand. Peter leaves the area before Herod’s men discover he escaped. Now, the last little part of Acts 12 gives me a feeling of satisfaction though I am a little sad to admit it. I even asked Pastor Nick if I should include this in my blog because I feel guilty for being happy about Herod’s punishment for taking the glory that was meant for the Father. Here is what he did following Peter’s escape. He sent out the guards to search for Peter. When they came up empty handed, he had them all killed for failing to do their jobs correctly. He then addressed a large group of people who depended on him for their food rations. They began spilling words of praise on him to gain his favor. They claimed that his words were the “words of a god, not of man.” When he didn’t correct the people by giving all the credit and glory to God, he was given his own punishment by God. This is the part that I had a “yeah-see-what-you-get-for-being-a-turd” moment. God infected him with worm parasites that slowly killed him from the inside out. It was a very slow and painful death.
Thoughts to leave you with
This is such a testament of how effective truly living God everyday of our lives causes people to turn their heads. They can’t help but notice how different you are when you are radically celebrating God in every aspect of your life! I aspire to make waves as big as these people. The last verses are to remind us to get off our self-acclaimed high horse and give thanks and credit to God instead of man. We can be thankful for what others do for us, but be quick to correct and redirect their and our own minds to the Creator for whom the blessings come from. You can also look at Acts 12 like this… Peter offered all glory to God even when he awaited Herod’s deadly sentence, and he was miraculously broken out of prison and spared death by the grace of God. Herod, on the other hand, soaked up all the praise and glory denying deference to God (who rightly deserved it) and he ends up becoming worm food. Man for God vs Man for himself…When we get into situations where we a receiving praise for blessings from the Father, we must be quick to refocus even if it feels nice to be put on that pedestal.