Summary: When we align our faith with God’s purposes, we can be sure that His will is going to be done in our lives.
A Tale of Two Lives (Paths)
Intro: Psalm 1:1 provides us a contrast with a wicked ruler, Herod Agrippa 1, whom we will read about in a moment. Ps. 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly….” Agrippa 1 did walk in the counsel of the ungodly and eventually began to think that he was some kind of god. Here is a quick look at his life: --His ancestry was darkened by murder and abuse of power. His grandfather was Herod the Great, who had tried to kill Jesus when He was just a small boy. He had all the males 2 years old and under killed in order to wipe out the possibility of another king taking the throne from him or his family. A few years earlier, he had put to death 2 of his own sons, one of them being the father of Herod Agrippa 1. Before that he had his own wife (Herod Agrippa’s grandmother) executed, because he thought she was being unfaithful to him. Agrippa’s sister was Herodias. She married one of her step-uncles, Philip 1, then left him for another step-uncle, Antipas. She was primarily responsible for the execution of John the Baptist. So, Herod Agrippa 1 was born into a family filled with murder, suspicion, and hunger for power. In fact, the house of Herod would make shows like Desperate Housewives or the worst Soap Operas look pretty tame. There was incest, betrayal, adultery, and many other gross sins.
-Herod Agrippa 1 came to power around 34 A.D., when his step-uncle, Philip II, died. This made him ruler over Iturea and Traconitas. He became ruler over Galilee and Perea when his sister’s 2nd husband, Herod Antipas was exiled by Emperor Gaius. The next Emperor, Claudius, added Judea and Samaria to Herod Agrippa’s realm because he had been a help to him. So Agrippa 1 had become very powerful. His domain was almost as large as that of his grandfather, Herod the Great. Agrippa really began to think a lot of himself.
-As we read a few weeks ago, in Acts 12, Herod Agrippa 1 began harassing the church. He had James killed and when he saw how happy this made the Jews, he put Peter in prison, planning to execute him after Passover. However, because the church was praying, the Lord sent an angel to set Peter free. Herod ordered a full-scale search, hoping to recapture Peter and put him to death. But Peter was nowhere to be found, so Herod had the guards put to death and headed for his beach resort in Caesarea. It was while he was there, that the main portion of our text occurs. Let’s go ahead and look at it and then we will talk about how it connects with our own lives.
[Read Acts 12:18-25]
-I’d like to borrow two opposing thoughts from Psalm 1 that will provide a framework for discussing our text. Psalm 1:6 says - For the LORD watches over the path of the righteous, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction. That gives us the main idea of today’s message.
Prop: If we want God to watch over us, we need to choose to do things His way.
Interrogative: How can we recognize the right path? How do we know if we are on the right track?
TS: Two lives (primarily Peter and Herod Agrippa) give us clues that will help us recognize the right path.
I. The Lord Watches Over the Path of the Righteous
-We don’t have to look far in this chapter to see how God watches over those who belong to Him. Peter thought he was as good as dead, but as the first half of chapter 12 shows us, God had other plans for Him. Peter was set free and went on to do great things for the Lord.
-Now, I need to clarify that the physical welfare of the righteous is connected to the purposes of God. God works in ways that we cannot see and uses us in ways we may not be aware of. We also need to remember that the purposes of God do not rise and fall on any single human being. The reason I’m bringing this up is because sometimes God’s ways do not make sense to us. Here is what I mean.
-Look at Acts 12:2. Herod had James, one of Peter’s closest friends, put to death with the sword. If the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, then he must have been asleep on that watch. What about Stephen? He was a righteous man, but he was stoned to death by the Sanhedrin. How is that watching over the way of the righteous? What about John the Baptist? Agrippa’s lustful uncle had John’s head cut off and carried in on a platter. Was God watching over John the Baptist?