An intriguing interlude 

Acts 12:20-25

20 Now Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they sent a delegation to make peace with him because their cities were dependent upon Herod’s country for food. The delegates won the support of Blastus, Herod’s personal assistant, 21 and an appointment with Herod was granted. When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. 22 The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!”

23 Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died.

24 Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers.

25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission to Jerusalem, they returned, taking John Mark with them.

Today’s passage is an interesting interlude within the book of acts. As I read the passage in it’s context, I notice that up to this point in the book, Luke (the author) has been focused on the left of Peter and the events in Jerusalem following Christ’s resurrection.

Just after today’s passage, the narrative changes focus to the life of Paul and the spreading of the message of the Gospel throughout the world.

But here is an interlude between, that positions us in history at the death of Herod Agrippa in 44AD. The Historian Luke explains that Herod was eaten by worms as divine punishment for an act of self-idolatry.

For me, I find this grotesque explanation quite alarming! Why did God punish him so awfully? Is this the sort of punishment that we can expect today if someone idolises their own image? What should I take away from this passage of scripture?

Upon further reflection, I feel that this passage emphasizes the importance of directing my worship correctly. I am reminded of a book I read once by James KA Smith, where he argues very convincingly that we become more and more like the things we give our attention and honour and worship to. Worship is important to God, not just because He is the one who is worthy of all worship, but also because He knows the impact that misdirected worship can have on us.

Lord, help me to stay fixed and focused on You in my worship, now and forever.

Written by Ps Justin Ware

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