Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Wednesday - Acts 12 - The Death of Men... Good and Evil

OME Gentiles were coming to Christ. Still, there were many more who were disinterested or worse. One man wielded great influence in the land of the Jews, and he was willing to kill Christians in order to further his own Machiavellian goals. Saul was no longer a problem, but king Herod was. He killed James and sought to kill Peter too. Most of you who are reading this are likely very familiar with Peter's miraculous escape from prison and the ensuing disruption of a local prayer meeting (which was being held on his behalf). The most familiar part of the story is when Rhoda left Peter knocking at the gate while she ran to report that the church's prayers had been answered, etc. It's a great story.  However, we should not lose sight of how serious the situation really was. James was dead and Peter's head had a bounty on it. Herod was a powerful and interested enemy of the church.  He was a very evil man (Acts 12:19).

James was not the only man whose death is recorded in this chapter though. Herod died too.  After one of his orations, wicked Herod accepted worship from his subjects (Acts 12:22). Amazingly, while God had allowed Herod to kill James, He would not allow him to be worshipped as if he were divine. Perhaps the immovableness in God's justice in this case was related to the recent rejection of the actual incarnate God, Jesus Christ. Herod was not the first man to be treated like a god, and not all of them were immediately executed. Either way, justice prevailed.  Herod was killed by an angel (Acts 12:23). The result of all of this was a continual expansion of the word of God (Acts 12:24). James was dead. Peter was free. The Jerusalem church was doing well. Churches were springing up in other cities. Barnabas and Saul returned to Antioch, and a new name is introduced to us: John Mark, the eventual author of the Gospel of Mark.

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