Summary: Exposition of Acts 12:18-25 about the death of Herod when he stole God’s most valued commodity--his glory
Text: Acts 12:18-25, Title: Stealing God’s Most Valued Commodity, Date/Place: NRBC, 4/6/08, AM
Opening illustration: Blog Entry on Glory to God or self
A. Background to passage: The guards were executed for their failure, but there has been some time pass in between the deliverance of Peter and this next incident that Luke records for us. But anyway, Herod has been in some sort of political/military with the cities of Tyre and Sidon. And after having won over his chief of staff, the two cities reached some sort of agreement, and Herod made some sort of speech in commemoration of it in Caesarea. By the way, this account is corroborated by the early Jewish and Roman historian Josephus in his book called Antiquities. In fact it is recounted exactly what like Luke wrote it.
B. Main thought: In the text, we will see the one greatest sin that cuts against the very grain upon which we were made, and is the catalyst for this immediate outpouring of the wrath God.
A. The Case for a God-centered God
1. The first thing that I want to do today is make a case for the truth that God’s number one agenda in all things is to make much of His name. Define one’s name, glory of God. Show the scriptures that show His commitment to His Own Name. His purpose in all things that He does is to put on display the inestimable value, infinite worth, unimaginable beauty, absolute sufficiency, unexplainable power, incomparable depth, height, and breadth, and unfathomable faithfulness, love, joy, and peace; so that all peoples could, would, and should rejoice and find their deepest longings satisfied in Him alone. Explain why this is not self-centeredness, but for everyone’s good.
2. Illustration: catechism questions: highest and best of all beings, chief end of man, We don’t want to do things that make the devil glad, makes the Holy Spirit sad, or dooms our brother or sister to feeling bad. Rather, we want to make the devil run, magnify the Son, and learn to live as one. In 246BC, when 14year old Ying Zheng ascended the throne of the Chin provence of China and took for himself the title first emperor, he made his plans clear. And he proceeded to war against his neighbouring states until he had united China and made himself it’s emperor. But his plans did not stop there, for he wanted to be similarly prepared for life after death. So he began the construction of his tomb, and around the site where his body would be buried he built a series of halls to house a large standing army, complete with soldiers weapons, horses, and chariots. There are no written records left of how big the whole complex is, but so far excavations have revealed over 7,000 life sized terracotta clay figures that were part of this army. Each figure has a unique face, appropriate clothing for their rank, and real weapons. Clearly Ying had eternal ambitions for the fame of his name. During his reign as Emperor of China, Ying unified the country, the currency and the written language. But he also gained a significant reputation as a tyrant, removing any opposition and forcing people to work as virtual slaves on his grand building projects. So much so, that when he died his son’s reign as emperor was soon overthrown by revolt. In the process Ying’s tomb was smashed and burnt, so that many of the terracotta figures found today are not intact. The judgment of the Chinese people themselves was that they wanted no more of this emperor in any life.
3. I said all that to say that the glorification of God is the most important thing to God, else He would be an idolater by placing the highest value upon something that was not the highest value. This is crucial to our understanding of this text. But this is way bigger than that! If we understand that God’s reputation and fame are foremost on his agenda then education isn’t about knowledge and tests but about godliness (not that they are mutually exclusive), marriage is about picturing Christ and his church, not about happiness (again, not that they are mutually exclusive), work is about putting on display the attribute of Christ and bearing his shame and sharing the gospel, sex becomes a demonstration of the desire Christ has for us, rather than a means of personal gratification, worship more about exaltation of Christ than of preferences or even evangelism. It would cause us to pray different, think different, act different, if all we desired was to make much of the name and reputation of Jesus. This mindset can transform your entire life—thoughts, attitudes, speech, parenting, vehicles, finances—realize that all these things are means to the end of making much of God, so that the whole world can find their satisfaction in the water of life! If God is this committed to his glory, shouldn’t we be!