Summary: Early Church was going through very challenging times during King Herod Agrippa 1. But God took control of the Church and blessed the Church to grow, word to spread.
Acts 12:18-24 Herod and his activities
12:18-20 Herod’s Unlearned Lessons
12:21-23 Herod’s Inhumane Activities
12:22-23 Herod’s self-glory and God’s intervention
Acts 12:18-19 a. Herod’s unlearned lessons
Herod was a political person with a political agenda of surviving his position in the Roman World. He was the grandson of Herod the Great. He was known as Herod Agrippa 1. So he was doing all that would please the majority of his subjects. He threatened and killed the minorities of his country who were law-abiding and God-fearing Christians. He was tyrannical in dealing with even genuine people of his nation. He wanted to please the majority of Jews and their views. His failure to establish justice is crystal clear from this passage.
He has become an example of how not to use the given power for personal gains. He did not learn a proper lesson through the miraculous escape of Peter. He has shown his arrogance by executing the guards who were faithfully serving the prison. He is another example of how leaders could become more ungrateful to the subordinates and their faithful service to God and the organization, institution, and Church. But God would honor the faithful.
Acts 12:19 b.-21 Herod’s inhumane Activities
The escape of Peter and the non-traceability episode made him execute the guards of the Jail. Herod Agrippa 1 went down from Judea to Caesarea to hide his failures and complacent attitude towards the subjects exposed and proven. He had quarreled with people of Tyre and Sidon. Their lands lay to the north of Palestine Herod could make things very difficult for them. If he deflected the trade of Palestine from their ports, their revenues would be seriously affected. The worse scenario was Tyre and Sidon were dependent on their food supplies in Palestine.
Barring the facilities, curtailing the ration and livelihood, and making hardship, threatening social securities to the subordinates are a tactic used by the wicked leaders. Therefore, his enemies sought peace with him for the sake of their peaceful existence. However, Herod did not make a peace treaty with them. But during the festival, he addressed them, which became his last speech. It is a must to use every opportunity for the benefit of all rather than for personal use.
Acts 12:22-23 Herod’s self-glory and God’s intervention
Herod had no fear of God but wanted to show that he was like the anointed king and anointed priest to take care of the religious rites. Herod made a public speech projecting himself as the authority to decide on their food supply. He took the position of God and exalted himself by self-glorifying talk. His oration was full of self-glory and not recognized the creator and gave the idea that he was a great man.
The author of the book says that God was displeased with Herod. So, he struck him down for what he had done. Herod died of a new kind of disease. So he has paid the death penalty for not honoring God and what he has done to the children of God. “On the second day of the festival, Herod entered the theatre clad in a robe of silver cloth. The sun glinted on the silver and the people cried out that this was a god come to them. At once a sudden and terrible illness fell upon him from which he never recovered”(William Barclay refers to Josephus, the Jewish Historian).
1. How do we react to the situations where we have to take a stand for truth?
2. How political power affects the growth of the Church?
3. Cite few examples of Self-glories and God’s intervention in the History of Israel and Christendom.
(For further studies on Acts of the Apostles, kindly refer to the series on Acts published on this site)