Summary: 1. Evil will always rise when God is rejected (vs. 18-20). 2. Christ is in control (vs. 18-19). 3. We should always give glory to God (vs. 20-23). 4. We should always keep our minds on our mission (vs. 24-25).
Godly Lessons from an Ungodly Leader
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - April 13, 2014
*Tonight, we come to the surprising and gruesome end of a story that began with the murder of James the brother of John, and the arrest of the Apostle Peter. Peter was being held in prison by King Herod with the intention of killing him too.
*The king was only waiting for the eight-day Passover Feast to end. But as we saw in vs. 5-17, the church offered up constant prayer for Peter, and God sent an angel to rescue Peter in a miraculous way. The chains fell off his hands, and the iron gate of the prison opened by itself!
*Todd Coget put this incident in context by reminding us that "persecution had broken out again. There had already been a time of persecution in Acts 8-9. That persecution had been led by Saul of Tarsus, but Saul got saved when he met the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus!
*And Acts 9:31 says: 'Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.'
*Now in Acts 12, the persecution was back, and it was being led by King Herod. This Herod was Agrippa the First, the grandson of King Herod the Great who had ordered the beheading of John the Baptist. This Herod was also the first person to rule over the same complete kingdom since his grandfather. It was now 44 A.D. or eleven years after the crucifixion of Christ. The persecution of the church surrounding the death of Stephen had taken place about seven years before." (1)
*With this background in mind, let's see what happened after God set Peter free. Please stand in honor of God's Word as we read vs. 18-25.
*The world is full of ungodly leaders today, and sadly, this has always been so. King Herod is our bad example in this Scripture. And the Bible gives us some important lessons from his ungodly life.
1. The first lesson is that evil will always rise when God is rejected.
*Evil will always increase when people reject the God of the Bible, when they reject God's ways, when they reject God's Messiah, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This sad fact is true on every level: in individuals, in families, in societies, and in governments.
*We see this kind of full-blown, unrestrained evil on display here in Acts 12. It began in vs. 2-3, when Herod:
2. . . killed James the brother of John with the sword.
3. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also.
*After God miraculously set Peter free, we see more of Herod's heartless ways. Starting in vs. 18:
18. Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter.
19. But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.
20. Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king's country.
*Herod probably gave the order to kill those guards with no more compassion than swatting a fly. Herod also had cut-off much needed food from the people of Tyre and Sidon.
*Earthly kings can be cruel beyond measure, and they generally will be, if they are not living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Men who reject the God of the Bible will either set themselves up as god, or bow down before some other false god.
*Think how horrible it must be to live in North Korea with most of the people starving while their mad-man ruler lives in luxury. Think of the heartless cruelty of radical Islamists around the world. The massive corruption in our own country is more evidence that evil will thrive when God is rejected.
*One of many of examples came out of Lackland Air Force Base in September 2013. There, evangelical Christian airmen were facing severe threats and retribution for their religious beliefs. Steve Branson, the pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio said: "There is an atmosphere of intimidation at Lackland Air Force Base. "Gay commanders and officers are pushing their agenda on the airmen. There is a culture of fear in the military and it's gone to a new level with the issue of homosexuality."