Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there. 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. On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “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.” (Acts 12:19b-23)
I hope you’re not like me, easily fooled by people because I want to think everyone’s nice. I almost got caught in a dog scam because I wanted a puppy so much. I didn’t become suspicious until the “sellers” didn’t want me to pay by credit card and were going to charge me $1,200 for cage rental to ship the dog. The lady who was so sweet in the beginning yelled obscenities at me when I told her I wasn’t interested. I was also duped by another who showed extreme kindness because he wanted something. He wounded my family, and I’m still hurting from my foolishness.
Beware of people like the influential from Tyre and Sidon. They were traders, looking to cheat people. Like many used car salespeople and scammers, they know what we want to buy and say what we want to hear. Even Herod was tired of them and cut out their food supply. They became tired of eating only fish, so the influential of those two city-states congregated and devised a plan. First, they would bribe Blastus to get a meeting with Herod, and then they would tell Herod how great he was.
The timing was perfect. Herod had retreated to Caesarea so he wouldn’t have to face the Jews after Peter’s escape and needed something to feed his ego. He dressed in his royal robes, sat on his throne in what is now the Hippodrome, and addressed the people. They told him he was speaking like a god and not a man, and Herod craved those words. He wanted to be a god and accepted God’s glory for himself.
Again, we see the contrast between good and evil. Peter made Cornelius stand up when Cornelius fell at his feet in reverence. Peter wouldn’t accept God’s glory. So the angel struck Peter to wake him up and free him. On the other hand, the angel struck Herod so he could be eaten by worms and die. God is love, so the punishment at first seemed severe to me. According to Josephus, the historian employed by the Romans, Herod was struck by a disease of the bowels and took two days to die. The angel most likely struck him with threadworms, a moderate risk in the middle east. If the angel also struck his immune system, the threadworms would multiply greatly, blocking his bowels. But threadworms also swim through the blood of the immunosuppressed and spread infectious waste to every part of the body.
We’re to trust God for judgment, and I do. I prayed that God would send an angel to strike the one who duped me and wounded my family if it was His will. Somehow the punishment no longer seems so severe. I’ve forgiven him, but I don’t want him hurting another family.
Father God, let me be like Peter and give You the glory for every gift I receive and for everything I do in Your name.. Convict me if I start behaving like the influential from Tyre and Sidon, and help me discern people with integrity from sycophants. Protect me and my loved ones from the enemy who wants Your glory. In Christ’s name, I pray, amen.