Summary: In our country, we are encouraged by some to put our trust in politicians who we expect to bring about great change and increased godliness. But this passage gives us fair warning about doing just that.
Passage: Acts 12:19b-25
Intro: It’s interesting that God has providentially brought us to this passage on our 4th of July weekend.
1. there is always a danger lurking for every human being.
2. it is the danger to worship things of this world instead of God.
PP Romans 1:25
3. it is a general danger for every person, and it manifests itself in very specific ways.
4. here is the last chapter of the story of Herod Agrippa, appointed king over Galilee, persecuter of the church.
5. it’s a very instructive passage for us, because it demonstrates the tenuous nature of human government.
6. in that light, warns us from putting our trust in politicians or a political system administered by people.
7. specific warning signs to watch for.
I. Exercise of Personal Power
1. Herod was appointed king by Emperor Claudius over Judea.
2. within that realm, he had certain powers.
3. v20 tells us that he was having some trouble with the people of Tyre and Sidon
4. seacoast cities, Tyre 60 miles north of Caesarea, Sidon about 80.
5. perhaps in competition with Caesarea for shipping, but Herod had them by the neck.
6. they needed Judean food, v20
7. this was typical of the trade in which Judea was involved.
PP Photo of Tyre and Sidon
PP Photo of Kauai
PP Photo of Galilee from space
7. so they worked with a friend of Herod to butter him up.
8. and Herod fell right into it, because he loved the power game.
9. v 21, notice the details
10. royal robes.
Il) Josephus quote
11. “sat on his throne”, delivered a public address.
12. kings don’t engage in dialogue, they give “decrees”
13. clearly, Herod was very taken with his position of power.
14. he had exercised that power with James, arrested Peter.
15. perhaps stinging a little from Peter’s miraculous escape.
16. Herod was full of himself this day, and pride comes before the inevitable fall.
II. Believing Pride’s Appealing Lie
1. now it’s not clear what caused the crowd to respond to Herod’s speech so passionately.
2. some think people just overwhelmed with the glory of the moment.
3. and maybe Herod was a good speaker.
4. but perhaps as well the delegation from Tyre and Sidon were heaping on the praise for political gain.
5. whatever the cause, the applause was music to Herod’s ears.
6. but more dangerously, it planted a seed that quickly sprouted in his heart.
7. “maybe I am special. Maybe I am superior. Perhaps I am more than just a man.”
8. the Bible has some great examples of people believing this lie.
9. and what was Nebuchadnezzar’s big mistake?
PP Daniel 4:26
10. the lie is that I deserve this praise, rather than to praise God and acknowledge His sovereignty.
11. you’ll notice in the Bible that righteous people are very quick to deflect praise to God
12. Paul and Barnabas in Lystra, people said, “the gods have come down to us in human form.”
PP Acts 14:14
13. why isn’t God willing to share the praise with us, or with others?
15. because it is a lie, and a very dangerous one, because it puts hope and trust in the created rather than the Creator.
16. but Herod bought the lie, and that was his final act of resistance to God.
17. he had killed James, resisted the church, imprisoned Peter.
18. but this act of proud and public acceptance of what belonged only to God could not be tolerated.
19. his death was swift, sure, and very public.
20. Josephus agrees that it took about 5 days, beginning right at this point.
21. most likely intestinal tapeworms.
III. God Marches On
1. here is one of the glorious principles we are finding in Acts
2. not surprisingly, the same one we found in Revelation.
3. man does what man does, and it briefly appears that he is sovereign.
4. Tyrants rule, nations rise, people get rich and powerful.
5. and then, they get eaten by worms and die.
6. meanwhile, v24, the church of Jesus Christ marches on.
7. without political power, often without money, position, voice.
8. persecuted, killed, both message and messenger rejected.
9. is the answer to gain political power, to raise more money, to fight against the oppressor and persecutor?
10. no, but to pray and obey.
11. this doesn’t mean we don’t vote, don’t participate in the system we have the privilege of being a part of.
12. but it does mean that in all that we do, we remember that God is sovereign, and that we are not.
13. that we are obedient servants of God before we are Republicans or Democrats.