A Herod of Bad Tidings (Acts 12:20-24)
Jan 31, 2011 by Craig Blomberg | 0 Comments
“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.” (12:23; updated NIV)
Why do evil people get away with so much? This is the flip side of the question the first nineteen verses of Acts 12 raise—why God doesn’t intervene more often to spare his people from suffering. Herod (Agrippa I) forms a classic example. First he executes James, the apostle and brother of John. Then he imprisons Peter, even if an angel comes and helps him miraculously escape.
But God always has his limits. Agrippa goes to Syrophoenicia (modern-day Lebanon), where the people of its two leading cities, Tyre and Sidon, acclaim him as a god and Herod accepts it. Luke writes that an angel of the Lord struck him down and he was eaten by worms and died. God can punish somebody directly, as he did Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11, or he can use an intermediary. That can be an angel, just as earlier an angel did God’s redemptive bidding. An angel, like God himself, can even use “natural” circumstances like a severe intestinal disorder caused by worms to accomplish his purposes. The Jewish historian, Josephus, writing in the late first century, corroborates that Agrippa died of a horrible abdominal disease.
Sometimes justice won’t be meted out until Judgment Day. But it will come. That should free us from feeling like we have to avenge God for him in this life and encourage us that one day those who have made our lives miserable will be punished as well, if they have not repented.