The dramatic death of Herod gives us an unexpected lesson. It took place after Peter had been miraculously released from prison after his arrest by Herod. Acts 12 starts by telling us, “…Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter …”.
Jesus had said troubles like this would happen (see Matthew 10:17,18). Today’s chapter tells us of Peter’s miraculous release as the soldiers guarding him were caused to fall into a deep sleep and the chains fell off his hands. Herod refuses to acknowledge any miracle has occurred and has all the sentries put to death (verse 19).
It is after this that he goes to Tyre and Sidon, “put on his royal robes … and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, ‘The voice of a god, and not a man!’ Immediately and angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory …” (verses 22,23).
In contrast to the demise of Herod, we then read “But the word of God increased and multiplied”. And how it multiplied! It spread and spread until in the third century it was the official religion of the Roman Empire, but sadly, that also brought the time when the ‘glory’ of the preachers became pre-eminent. They began teaching what the people wanted to hear and the original gospel faded into the background.
In the days of Jesus there were those who “believed in him, but … did not confess it …so … they would not be put out of the synagogue, for the loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God” (John 12:42). What “glory” do we love?
The final words in Ecclesiastes are a fitting conclusion to our thoughts: “… all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of Man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”