Summary: Usurping God's glory leads to judgement. A study of Herod Agrippa's death because he accepted glory that properly belonged only to God.

“Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. On an appointed day, Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, ‘The voice of a god, and not of a man!’ Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.

“But the word of God increased and multiplied.” [1]

Stolen valour is a despicable crime that has become somewhat prevalent in Canada. [2] “Stolen valour” refers to an individual who claims to have served with the military, usually claiming to have served during combat, when in fact there was no such service. Most frequently, the individuals wear ribbons and/or medals indicating meritorious or valorous service. They are usually tripped up because the decorations are improperly displayed or the individuals are unable to relate the details of their supposed service.

Among the professed people of God, there is often observed a form of stolen valour. In this instance, individuals inflate their service before the Lord or they claim spiritual qualities that are not evident in their lives. God exposes such individuals—some sooner than others. He will deal with any frauds. More serious than divine discipline of His own is the harsh and immediate judgement meted out when an unbeliever exalts himself or herself to equality with God.

Throughout Scripture are warnings to remind God’s people that He is a jealous God. Consider a few instances when God speaks thusly. Admittedly, the passages to which I appeal are found primarily in the Old Testament, but it does not lessen the import of the warnings that are provided.

Weigh the stern words written in Exodus, as God speaks through Moses, and thus speaks to us, even in this day. “Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst. You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters whore after their gods and make your sons whore after their gods” [EXODUS 34:11-16].

Again, God warns His people as Moses writes in the Book of Deuteronomy, “Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” [DEUTERONOMY 4:23, 24].

Soon after giving this warning, Moses emphasised this truth when he wrote, “It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth” [DEUTERONOMY 6:13-15].

Near the conclusion of the days before the Messiah was revealed, God spoke through a prophet named Nahum. As that ancient prophet opened his prophecy, God warned:

“The LORD is a jealous and avenging God;

the LORD is avenging and wrathful;

the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries

and keeps wrath for his enemies.

The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,

and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty.”

[NAHUM 1:2, 3a]

God does not tolerate stolen valour when the valour stolen is an attempt to rob Him of the glory due His Name. Herod was a bad man who overstepped the boundary between mankind’s deserved humility and praise that should be reserved solely for the Living God. There is a lesson for each of us in the events surrounding a day when a king accepted praise and made himself guilty of stolen glory.

THE SIN — “On an appointed day, Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, ‘The voice of a god, and not of a man’” [ACTS 12:21, 22]! Necessity often imposes humility upon people. Tyre and Sidon had in some way angered Herod; however, they sought peace “because their country depended on the kings country for food.” It was one of those cases of discretion being the better part of valour.

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