April 21, 2020 – Tuesday
Acts 12:1-4 NIV
1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.
2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.
3 When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.
4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.
And so it continues. In the last chapter we saw how Stephen’ martyrdom resulted in the spread of Jesus’ message and especially how it impacted the city of Antioch. And even earlier in chapter nine of Saul’s conversion after Christ met him on his way to Damascus. Now, in chapter twelve we are back in Jerusalem and King Herod is seeking favor with the Sanhedrin and Jews in general who were opposed to the new sect of Jews following the teaching of Jesus.
Herod’s popularity rose after he had the apostle James, brother of John, beheaded. Next he had Peter arrested and jailed. Peter Pett describes the situation this way: The point is being emphasised here that, as had their fathers of old, they have chosen a Roman appointed self-exalting king-god, and rejected the God-appointed, God-exalted Holy and Righteous One. The words of Stephen are being borne out yet again.
Effectively the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem chose King Herod over King Jesus and it was Herod’s pleasure to persecute the apostles and followers of Christ pleasing once again the Sanhedrin. But things don’t always work out as planned. God rescued Peter by sending an angel to free him. Upon discovering Peter had somehow escaped Herod had the guards executed.
A short time later Herod went from Judea to Caesarea where he secured peace among Israel and others. Then came his judgment (still in chapter twelve) from God: 21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. You might think this is the end of the story and that would be understandable, but you would be wrong for the very next verse reads: 24 But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.
Not only that but Saul and Barnabas were about to be sent on a missionary trip from Antioch as noted in the next chapter. God’s work through the apostles and followers of Jesus was not yet done – and still is not. His work via the good news of Jesus continues to this very day and will continue until Jesus returns.
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton