Opening Prayer

Almighty God, I come to your Word today, looking for you to meet me, to teach me, and strengthen me with the truth of who you are.

Read ACTS 12:19b–24

19 After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.

Herod’s Death

Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there. 20 He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. After securing the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for their food supply.

21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.

24 But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.

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May we recognize the challenge of this strange text to our broken world.

Think Further

The contrast between the description of Herod at the end of our previous reading, callously ordering the execution of sixteen guards as though their lives counted for nothing, and this account of his sudden and humiliating death is very striking. The incident in Caesarea highlights both the terrible social and economic consequences of tyranny and oppression, and the insane hubris of rulers who exercise absolute power and believe their own propaganda.

In the dispute between Herod and the people of Tyre and Sidon, the issue seems to have been economic – specifically the region’s food supply. Luke implies that the Herodian system had created a structure of dependency, in which these people were driven to pleading with their ruler for the basic necessities of life. They had found an intermediary, Blastus, who secured them an audience. The description shows the dominating nature of absolute power and the humiliation and subservience it inflicts upon poor and hungry people. Not only so, but when Herod deigns to appear in person, the crowd responds with cries of adulation and a display of loyalty which they know to be the precondition for their very survival.

We should not read this story as though it concerns ancient history and is remote from our realities in the twenty-first century. Millions of people across the world today suffer deprivation and hunger, finding themselves locked into economic systems that condemn them to dependency and the need to beg for aid and support. That being so, the nature of Herod’s demise should give us pause for thought! Unjust political systems, whether led by tyrannical individuals or justified by elaborate ideological theories, are contrary to the will of God and counter to his Word, which ‘continued to spread and flourish’ (v. 24).


Be thankful that the Word of God continues to ‘spread and flourish.’

Closing prayer

Thank you, Father, that no matter what forces are at play in the world, your Word continues to spread and flourish; your kingdom continues to strengthen and grow.

Last Updated on June 22, 2024 by kingstar

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