God’s Warning to Dictators

Acts 12 tells the story about the death of a dictator. Herod killed the Apostle James and arrested the Apostle Peter. Some time later Herod meets with constituents from another country who flatter him as being a god. He was stricken and died for his blasphemy.

The Book of Acts explains that he was killed because he accepted this honor without giving glory to God. First century Jewish historian, Josephus, informs us that Herod was stricken with severe abdominal pains and died several days after this incident. The Bible interprets it as divine retribution.

Going back in history we know that Herod the Great was his grandfather. He was the one who slaughtered innocent children in an attempt to kill Jesus. Herod the Great’s son was the one who beheaded John the Baptist, giving in to a grudge held by his wife.

The Herod we see in Acts 12 apparently followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, persecuting the righteous by execution and imprisonment. By his death God warns dictators everywhere and at every time: set yourself up as the supreme ruler and you will eventually pay the price.

It is no surprise that even in today’s world, totalitarian style governments and dictators resist Christianity. Theirs is a knee-jerk hatred for Christians, an intuition that resists Jesus because he is the legitimate ruler over all things.

We are not surprised that resistance has manifested itself in the most authoritarian systems of the 20th century and will continue until such totalitarian systems submit to Christ’s authority. Until such time, Herod’s death becomes a warning shot across their bow. As Psalm 2:9 warns: God’s anointed “shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

- Bob -

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