April 15, 2022
“So on the appointed day, dressed in royal robes and seated on the throne, Herod delivered a public address to them. The populace began to shout...”
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“So on the appointed day, dressed in royal robes and seated on the throne, Herod delivered a public address to them. The populace began to shout, ‘It’s the voice of a god and not of a man!’ At once, an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give the glory to God, and he became infected with worms and died. Then, God’s message flourished and multiplied.” Acts 12:21-24
Reading today’s chapter reminds me of an instance involving a flight attendant and boxing champion, Mohammed Ali. Known as much for his pride as his boxing skill, Ali was never at a loss for words! Moments before take-off, a flight attendant noticed the champ hadn’t fastened his seat belt. When she told Ali to comply with the seat belt rule, he snapped, “Superman don’t need no seat belt!” She replied, “Superman don’t need no plane either.”
Herod Agrippa 1st was the grandson of Herod the Great. As was the case with the other Herods, Agrippa 1st was devilishly keen and overly proud of his wicked accomplishments. A year earlier, a Galilean insurgent named Jesus of Nazareth had been executed on Passover. (Acts 12:1-3) Jesus’ death seemed to please the Romans and the Jewish leaders. The Apostle James’ death seemed to appeal to the populace of Jerusalem, who were most affected by the preaching of the Apostles. Happy people means smooth sailing for a king, so on the anniversary of Jesus’ crucifixion, Herod Agrippa 1st planned to kill the Apostle Peter.
God turns Herod Agrippa’s plans around. In the end, it was Agrippa who perished for his blasphemies while Peter continued spreading the gospel. Here is Jewish historian Josephus’ account of that day:
“Agrippa came to Caesarea, for there was a festival for him. On the 2nd day, he put on a garment made entirely of silver and came into the theater early in the morning, at which time the silver of his garment reflecting the sun’s rays shone so resplendently as to spread a horror on those gazing at him. Presently, his flatterers exclaimed that he was a god, adding, ‘Be merciful to us; for although till now we have referenced you only as a man, henceforth we will regard you as superior to mortal nature.’ But the king neither rebuked them, nor rejected their impious flattery. However, as he looked up, he saw an owl and immediately understood that this bird was the messenger of ill tidings. Suddenly and violently a severe pain arose in his stomach. Therefore, he looked at his friends and said, ‘I, whom you call a god, am commanded now to leave this life; while providence thus reproves the lying words you just now said to me.’ After five days, exhausted by the stomach pain, he died, aged fifty-three.” Adapted from “Antiquities of the Jews” 19:8:2
We may achieve great things and be revered as great men and women, but one day we all must bow to the Lord. There is no one greater than our God.