Death by Pride
Acts 12:1 ¶ About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church.
Acts 12:2 He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword.
Acts 12:3 After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.)
Acts 12:20 ¶ Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they came to him in a body; and after winning over Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for a reconciliation, because their country depended on the king’s country for food.
Acts 12:21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat on the platform, and delivered a public address to them.
Acts 12:22 The people kept shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a mortal!”
Acts 12:23 And immediately, because he had not given the glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
Herod was a man filled with great pride. He believed in himself and all that he felt he could accomplish. He provided Christianity with the first martyr by having James killed. He loved the applause of the people and so, whether it was right or wrong, he decided he wanted to get more praise for himself and had Peter arrested.
Miraculously Peter was released by an angel of the Lord and he was, once again, free to minister. In the meantime Herod had all the guards who were with Peter put to death.
Herod prepared for a royal speech. History tells us that he dressed in a robe filled with silver threads so that he literally glowed in the sunlight of the day. Oh how he loved the praise of the people and he did everything he could to stir them up in praise of himself. When the people began to compare him to God, Herod simply took all the praise for himself. There was no humility in Herod whatsoever!!! And immediately while he was there in front of the people he was overcome with terrible stomach pains and had to be removed to the palace where he died five days later, eaten from the inside out by worms. It was an excruciating and humiliating death, all of which is confirmed by the historian Josephus and supports this account in Acts.
The contrast in this chapter of Acts between Herod and Peter is great. Herod is overcome with his own sense of worth, while Peter is only interested in glorifying God. Peter is saved by the visitation of an angel, while Herod is put to death by the visitation of an angel. Herod wants to destroy people in an effort to gain more power and recognition amongst the people. Peter wants people to find healing and wholeness through recognition of Christ as Lord.
The arrogance of Herod led to his death. When we become smitten with power it can become intoxicating — even to the Christian! Peter had received power from on high and was now able to perform all kinds of miracles of healing and yet he knew that his power was simply a gift from God. He constantly pointed people back to God. Herod was willing to let people consider him a god and never even said a word.
We are created to point people toward God so that they can have a personal relationship with him. We are never to become self-absorbed and take the glory for ourselves. God has placed us in our circumstances so that we can point others to him. Everything that we do in life should point people in the direction of Jesus Christ. All praise, all honor, all power, all glory belongs to him and to him alone!
Sadly, there is too much death by pride these days. Too often we are seeking the praise of others in our own lives and we make decisions based upon the response we will receive. Or, we become too prideful to seek the help that we genuinely need. Instead we walk through life struggling with debt, addictions, broken relationships, etc. We may never think that we are as blatant as Herod, but whenever we refuse to submit ourselves to God’s work in our lives, we are saying, “I am a god.” The result for Herod was death. Sadly, the same result awaits us when we choose to be in charge and take all the praise and the glory.
Lord, may you receive all the praise and the glory in all things today. Amen.