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Execution, Escape and Eaten by Worms Acts 12:1-25 Message 8 in our 8-part series on the Acts of the Apostles. Sunday, March 2, 2014 Speaker: Doug Virgint.

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Presentation on theme: "Execution, Escape and Eaten by Worms Acts 12:1-25 Message 8 in our 8-part series on the Acts of the Apostles. Sunday, March 2, 2014 Speaker: Doug Virgint."— Presentation transcript:

1 Execution, Escape and Eaten by Worms Acts 12:1-25 Message 8 in our 8-part series on the Acts of the Apostles. Sunday, March 2, 2014 Speaker: Doug Virgint

2 Introduction Execution Escape Eaten by worms Conclusion 2

3 Introduction Execution Escape Eaten by worms Conclusion 3

4 The famine in chapter 11 occurred in A.D. 46 Herod Agrippa died in A. D. 44 (our chapter 12) Why did Luke not follow the historical chronology? Ancient writers were less concerned with chronology than we are. Notice that the chapter starts “About that time” 4

5 The gospel has been spreading to the Samaritans, and even to Gentiles like Cornelius Now a church has been started in Antioch – the third greatest (after Rome and Alexandria) and the most cosmopolitan city in the Roman Empire Peter is no longer the first among equals – Paul is becoming the center of Luke’s history Is the Jewish (Jerusalem) church surviving ? Has God abandoned the Jewish Church? Luke opens up a parenthesis to reassure us! 5

6 Luke presents two vignettes relating to God’s intervention on behalf of the church in Jerusalem Divine activity on behalf of the Gentiles does not mean that God will be inactive on behalf of the Jewish church 6

7 There is a reminder for us here : A lot of modern theologians look down on those who maintain that there is a place for Israel in God’s plans We need to remember that many Jewish people are turning to Christ Certainly we should avoid the extremes we see among those who over-emphasize prophecy But we need to remember that at the end of times, God will restore his people Israel. 7

8 Introduction Execution Escape Eaten by worms Conclusion 8

9 Herod Agrippa 1 (10 B.C. – 44 A.D.) was the grandson of Herod the Great, who had killed the babies in Bethlehem. He was the nephew of Herod Antipas, who had beheaded John the Baptist 9

10 10

11 Herod had a strong desire to be seen as powerful He was characterised by self-exaltation He wanted the praise of men He was raised in Rome, but was often on shaky grounds with the Roman officials In order to keep his throne, he had to prove to the Romans that he could keep the peace He pretended to be a devout Jew, reading the law in public while standing, and carrying a basket on his shoulder to the temple during the Feast of Tabernacles. 11

12 He persecuted Christians to feed his popularity with the Jewish rulers Perhaps James, one of the « Sons of thunder », had offended him. John the Baptist had offended his uncle Antipas by opposing his incestuous marriage. Perhaps James did the same thing - Herod Agrippa was a womanizer “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5) 12

13 So Herod Agrippa arrested and beheaded the apostle James, the brother of John (not our Lord’s brother James) Because that pleased the Jews, he also arrested Peter and put him in prison to await trial after the Jewish Passover. 13

14 Why did God allow James to be executed but later deliver Peter? “Some bear witness through life; others through death” (Jean Piper) Jesus had said to James, “The cup that I drink you also will drink.” (Mark 10:39) “So it is not as though God had fumbled the ball with James and scored a touchdown with Peter. God never fumbles the ball. If he turns it over to the other side for a few downs, it is because he knows a better way to win.” (John Piper) 14

15 Tertullian (died 225 A.D.) wrote: “We multiply whenever we are mown down by you; the blood of Christians is the seed of the church” 100 years later, Jerome said: “The church of Christ has been founded by shedding its own blood, not that of others; by enduring outrage, not by inflicting it on others; martyrdoms have crowned it.” 15

16 Introduction Execution Escape Eaten by worms Conclusion 16

17 Peter was in prison, awaiting trial and execution He was guarded by 12 Roman soldiers, 4 at a time, probably in three-hour shifts He was constantly chained between two soldiers, and two more stood before the locked door of his cell. The last time Peter had been arrested, he had escaped (Acts 5:18) Roman soldiers who allowed a detainee to escape received the punishment that the prisoner would have received. 17

18 Notice that despite the circumstances, Peter was enjoying a deep sleep. Later in life, he would write “Casting all your care upon Him, because he cares for you.” (1 Pet 5:7) The angel released him from his chains, opened the locked door, and accompanied him outside - all without awakening four well-trained, experienced and tough soldiers 18

19 Let’s think about the place Peter where went. Mary was the mother of Jean-Mark, who wrote the Gospel and who accompanied Paul and Barnabas on missionary trips She was also the sister (or cousin) of Barnabas Probably a rich widow, she possessed a large home where the local church met regularly. Peter knew where he would find God’s people. 19

20 Let’s contrast Herod’s and Mary’s families : Generations of reprobates versus generations of God’s servants Mary’s hospitality had an tremendous impact on her son (who probably did not have a father) Herod the Great - who was an Idumean (Edomite) and descended from Esau – must have fathered one of the worst families in human history 20

21 There are no guarantees about our children The seemingly absolute statements in the early chapters of Proverbs are based on God’s order in creation. Later chapters take into account a world view that acknowledges a universe where God’s order has been marred by the fall – sin But as a general principle, we can have confidence that when we serve the Lord, he will look after our kids. Don’t give up on your kids – Jean-Mark went through a rough time but he finished well ! 21

22 The believers at Mary’s house are praying for Peter’s release but can’t believe it when he appears There was a tradition among Jews that each human had a guardian angel who can impersonate them. Peter briefly reassures them and then goes away – not to Rome, but probably to Antioch (chapter 15) or one of the northern Mediterranean coastline villages 22

23 One final point here: It was the middle of the night, but God’s people were together praying God knows what he is going to do, but in his sovereign will, he decides certain things will only take place when his people pray The church in 2014 often has great programs, great music, well-trained leaders – but so often we have forgotten the place of prayer This passage mentions James, our Lord’s brother – tradition tells us his knees were hard like a camel’s 23

24 Introduction Execution Escape Eaten by worms Conclusion 24

25 Samaria was the breadbasket for Tyre and Sidon (cities north of Judah, on the Mediterranean coast) Herod thus controlled their source of food. after some dispute, they arranged a reconciliation though Herod’s personal assistant History tells us that Herod dressed himself in a robe all worked through with silver, on which the sun’s morning rays shone through and made him appear as if he was irradiated with glory People fed his well-known hunger for praise and glory and worshiped him, feeding his great ego 25

26 But Herod made one mistake in his great pride – he forgot about God Tapeworms were a constant source of health problems The Greek word here is “skolakobrotos”, related to the word used in the verse “their worm dies not”, describing hell These tapeworms were common in sheep raising areas and often transmitted through dogs 26

27 Often cysts containing as many as 2 million worms were formed on the liver If the cyst burst, the debris and worms were released into the abdominal area, causing a horrible death Josephus tells us that it took 5 days for Herod to die in excruciating pain “because he did not give God the glory” Pride – the first sin, and the source of most other sins. God can not abide pride! 27

28 Introduction Execution Escape Eaten by worms Conclusion 28

29 Herod tried to oppose God. His desire for power, pomp and glory was motivated by the same pride that made Lucifer oppose God Both Lucifer and Herod were cast down God turned Herod’s desires to futility in three ways: 29

30 1) He rescued Peter, his prize prisoner He showed Herod that God was more powerful than he was Not even Herod’s four soldiers, chains and his well- guarded fortress could keep Peter in captivity Notice that immediately after this happened, Herod sulked away to Caesarea 30

31 2) He took Herod’s life The angel of the Lord shows up twice in this story – in verse 7 to rescue Peter and in verse 23 to punish Herod At the very moment Herod crosses the line and goes too far in self-exaltation, God says enough. This reminds us of Nebuchadnezzar who ended up eating grass like an ox It is insane to commit treason against the sovereign of the universe. 31

32 3) He made the Word of God grow and multiply Jesus’ reputation and fame and glory spread, not Herod’s When we oppose Jesus we become small and insignificant When we do Jesus’ work we are more important and significant than the greatest of earthly kings and rulers 32

33 A final thought: Don’t be discouraged when the world seems to triumph over the gospel Be courageous and bold in God’s work and in spreading the gospel. God will look after the results! 33

34 Acts chapter 12 34


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