Acts 12

Acts 12

Acts 12 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

King Herod never saw it coming. The grandson of the infamous Herod the Great was part of long line of family dysfunction that fought against the people of God many times throughout history.

His grandfather, Herod the Great, tried to kill Jesus in Bethlehem. The horrific massacre known as “The Slaughter of the Innocents” killed every baby boy 2 years or younger in an attempt to put an end to the coming Messiah. In this case, the cliche fits: like grandpa, like grandson.

The Bible tells us that while the slaughter was going on in Bethlehem, Jesus and his family had escaped to Egypt as Joseph was warned ahead of time. During Jesus’ time in Egypt, Herod the Great suffered a miserable death. It was fitting for a man who was equally miserable in his rule as king. In fact, with the proof of ancient historical texts, modern-day physicians tell us Herod the Great suffered an extremely painful death complicated by a case of maggot-infested gangrene of the genitals. Not so “great.”

Enter grandson, Herod Agrippa I. Sporting his grandfather’s same pride and arrogance, he decides to mess with the early church. He starts by having the apostle James killed by the sword. Seeing this pleased the Jews, he decides to improve his charisma by throwing Peter in prison as well. In prison, Peter was under the confinement of 4 sets of 4 guards each. Herod thought he had everything covered and under control.

Just like his grandfather, he fought against God. And, just like his grandfather, he didn’t learn from his mistakes. And in one of the more horrific deaths of the Bible, he is struck down dead and covered in worms.

Herod’s greed was fueled by political dominance. We see that this is a primary method by which Satan works to disrupt the plans of God. Remember when Satan promised Jesus all the domain and its glory?

And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.

Luke 4:6 NASB

In the secular world, Herod was looked at as a champion. He was winning. He had power and control. He used his political sledgehammer to make his mark on Christianity. However, God had a much bigger plan in mind. Although the church was under attack, it was actually spreading. It was growing stronger. It was unstoppable. Though it seemed for a time that Herod had dismantled God’s plan, he would be utterly humiliated in the end.

The lesson is two-fold. First, don’t fight against God. It seems like a no-brainer, but where are we pursuing selfish gain over kingdom gain? Where are we becoming a hindrance to what God is trying to move forward? Where are we struggling for power and control like Herod? Second, we must understand that if we are faithful to walking with God, we will experience times when we feel defeated. Some would question that statement, but I believe it’s just the reality of life.

I’m sure there was great sadness and grief over the loss of James. But God was doing much more. He had set a time limit on Herod’s life. He rescued Peter. And he was priming the apostles to take the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. There is always so much more going on than what we can see on the surface.

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