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Acts 12:19-24 – When Two Kings go to War

Herod has featured in the story of James’ death and Peter’s deliverance. This Herod is not the same as sought the death of Jesus as an infant in Bethlehem. This Herod is that Herod’s grandson, but the agenda is the same – to remove rival claimants to the title ‘King of the Jews’.

By killing the ambassador of King Jesus (i.e. the Apostle James), King Herod has declared war on King Jesus. What happens when two kings go to war? How will King Jesus respond to King Herod’s killing of his ambassador?

In this passage King Herod had supplies of food that were desired by neighbouring Phoenicia. Interesting we have already been told that some of those scattered from Jerusalem have been making disciples in Phoenicia – both King Jesus and King Herod are seeking to extend their rule!

When King Herod arrives in Phoenicia, he wears royal robes and sits on a throne conveying his status visually to all gathered. King Herod gives an address in a culture where oration was highly valued. The crowd say, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 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.

Previously an angel, a messenger of Jesus had structed Peter to awaken him for deliverance. Now an angel, a messenger of Jesus strikes Herod to put him into the sleep of death in judgment. King Herod killed the ambassador of King Jesus and now King Jesus orders and implements Herod’s execution.

Jesus is the true king against the pretenders of the House of Herod. We began the chapter with James dead, Peter in prison and Herod triumphing. The chapter closes with Herod dead, Peter free and the Word of God triumphing. When two kings go to war only one will be victorious. The victor is the true king of the Jews who is extending his kingdom into Phoenicia, not by worldly displays of kingship, but by making disciples – King Jesus!

Do we think that our lives are determined by the actions of Kings like Herod or secular authorities or employers or others? Or do we live under King Jesus who executes justice delivering his oppressed people and judging the wicked?