Acts 12:21 – And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.
Acts 12:22 – And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.
Acts 12:23 – And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
Acts 12:24 – But the word of God grew and multiplied.
Hey all, short blog today, and looking at Herod’s oration, king Herod in Acts 12 was persecuting the church, and because it pleased the Jews when he killed James, he then imprisoned Peter and had him put in jail to be killed after the pagan holiday of Easter. King Herod was a wicked king, the Herod’s through the Bible were always bad, and this Herod was no different. The time of Acts was a time of the spreading of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, but there was opposition. There always is opposition. God was doing wonderful work, the Spirit was being poured out on all flesh, people were believing and receiving the gospel, but Satan was also hard at work in opposition to the gospel. It was the Jews who were the fiercest in opposition to the gospel. The word of God was spreading, they were doing their best to withstand, resist, and pervert it. They were pulling out all the stops. Peter was imprisoned in this chapter, seemingly in a hopeless situation, but the angel of the Lord visited him in the jail at night, awoke him, and set him free.
We will see in this blog that God’s Word prevails. Peter was the chief apostle, James had been killed, and the situation was dire. At Herod’s word, Peter was imprisoned, but at God’s word, Peter was set free, and Herod couldn’t do anything about it. God was able to set Peter free, and God is able to set you free. Herod was persecuting the church, he was persecuting the word of God, the spreading of the word, the hearing of the word, the preaching of the word, the believing and receiving of the word. Who would win out? There has been persecution of the word thoughout all of history, and this chapter is a snapshot of persecution, seeming hopelessness as the enemy seems to be prevailing, but we see in the end God’s word prevailed.
Herod rated his own words. He rated his own words so much he made a great oration. It must’ve been very impressive, because the people shouted that his was the voice of a god and not of man. How many Herod’s do we see today? People who can talk, the Bible talking on false prophets and false teachers refers to their words, their speech, as great swelling words, they can speak amazing things, they impress, they wow. But they are empty, Peter described their words as wells without water, their words thought so great, are so empty. Herod’s words were empty, all our words are empty. The Bible says let God be true and every man a liar. The Bible says evil communications corrupt good manners. The Bible says that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
The people of Tyre and Sidon that were there at Herod’s oration were interested in his words. They were interested in his words because they have vested interests in getting on Herod’s good side. They were stroking Herod’s ego, maybe his oration wasn’t that great, maybe it was, but their shout no doubt pleased Herod. He had arrayed himself in his royal apparel, Herod was out to impress, he loved flattery, he loved to hear what he wanted to hear. The Herod of the time of John the Baptist didn’t like his words at all, words which condemned his unlawful marriage, words which cut him to the heart, as they were words, God’s word, which was convicting him, shedding light on the darkness of his soul. The people of Tyre and Sidon were nourished by Herod, and thus they valued him and his words. We either put God first or man first, and Tyre and Sidon put man first.
Herod was interested in his own words, he hated God’s word. But as he made this great oration, and began to receive the glory that they were heaping upon him, God smote him and he was eaten up by worms. What a horrible way to go. Why worms? Well his words were words that eat as a canker as Paul wrote. Because words carrying not truth, but words spreading lies, proud words, great swelling words, eat up the hearer and the speaker. Because they are not the words of life. Peter said to Jesus when Jesus asked him if he would go away… Lord to whom else shall we go, thou has the words of eternal life. We see in this story that there are Herod’s words, and Jesus’ words… who is more worth listening to? Whose words count? Jesus told us to abide in his word, the words of God cleanses us, they are pure water. But Herod’s words were a corrupt fountain. And they were eaten up, he was eaten up, because his word was just his own word, he was not declaring God’s word, he tried taking glory for himself which he had no right in taking.
Empty words that eat the hearer up. The people of Tyre and Sidon were impressed by them, but then again, they were more interested in taking care of their physical needs, than their spiritual needs. They liked the words, but they were empty words. We all like being told what we want to hear, the Bible speaks of smooth words, people in the last days, which are now, have itching ears, which turn away from the truth, they want instead to be told smooth things. The account of Herod ends with the Bible stating that the word of God grew and prevailed. And that’s what it always has done and always will do. Since Jesus Christ ascended, we have had many hundreds of years of human history, all marked by Christian persecution, persecution which has taken many different forms in many different countries. But the word of God has prevailed, and will prevail. God’s word is incorruptible, infallible, eternal, it is preserved. God was able to preserve Peter, he was able to preserve his church through these tough times of persecution. People like Herod come and go, but God’s word abides forever.
You may be giving ear to a Herod today, but Herod’s words although great and swelling, are empty, and him and his words are eaten away, they do not last, they are words which do not give God glory, but instead take glory. That’s how you discern a Herod from a Peter, Peter gave the glory to God, Paul said that the only thing we should glory in is the cross, we have nothing to glory in in and of ourselves, we don’t have anything that we did not receive from God. Jesus came in the Father’s name, and he was rejected, but Herod spoke in his own name, in his own glory, and the people loved hearing it. Herod sat upon his own throne, God was not on the throne of his heart, he was on the throne of his own heart – and look how he ended up.
What words are you listening to today? Are you listening to a Herod or the Lord Jesus Christ. Herod’s may be very appealing, but they are empty words, words which ate Herod up, words which eat the hearer up. Words which vanish, words which never benefit the hearer, words which minister to our fleshly nature, words which are very temporary, they fade away, they eat up the hearer, they do not build faith, they minister no life, they carry no truth. Jesus said three times in Mark 9 speaking on hell – where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Herod’s words were set on the fires of hell, the words of Herod lead you away from eternal life and instead to hell. Herod’s path is a path to hell, he had no clue that his oration would end like this. But Jesus has the words of eternal life. And God has given us his Word, and his Word is written down, and his Word sows incorruptible seed in the heart of the hearer, his Word is a flowing river of eternal life. God’s word has and always will stand the test of time, Herod’s come and go, but God’s word is forever.