Intro. Having introduced to us Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great, Luke proceeds to give us a little further history of this man.
I. HE RETURNED TO CAESAREA WHERE MEN FROM TYRE AND SIDON CAME TO SEEK HIS FAVOR.
A. We are told that he had been highly displeased with those of Tyre and Sidon.
1. We are not told the reason for his displeasure.
2. Nothing of secular history seems to help us here.
B. Luke tells us that they made a friend of Blastus, the king's chamberlain.
1. This was probably through a bribe.
2. Blastus in turn obtained for them an audience with Herod.
C. It was important for the cities of Tyre and Sidon to appease Herod for their cities were nourished by him.
1. Tyre and Sidon refers to the general area north of Israel on the Mediterranean Sea.
2. It would seem that this area long depended on their major food supplies coming from Israel.
a. When Solomon made an agreement for King Hiram to supply the timber for the temple, that he traded grain in exchange for the labor. Hiram responded to the proposal of Solomon for them to provide timbers for the building of the Temple saying:
My servants shall bring [them] down from Lebanon unto the sea: and I will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that you shall appoint me, and will cause them to be discharged there, and you shall receive [them]: and you shall accomplish my desire, in giving food for my household.
So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees [according to] all his desire.
And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat [for] food to his household, and twenty measures of pure oil: thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year.
b. When Ezekiel was prophesying concerning Tyre he said:
Judah, and the land of Israel, they [were] your merchants: they traded in your market wheat from Minnith, and Pannag, and honey, and oil, and balm. (Perhaps two places in Israel known for the wheat)
Damascus [was] thy merchant in the multitude of the wares of thy making, for the multitude of all riches; in the wine of Helbon, and white wool.
c. This could have been during the drought that Agabus had predicted which made it all the more imperative for them to patch up the differences.
II. Act 12:21
: AND UPON A SET DAY HEROD, ARRAYED IN ROYAL APPAREL, SAT UPON HIS THRONE, AND MADE AN ORATION UNTO THEM.
A. The historian Josephus describes this occasion for us. "Herod, having reigned three years over ALL Judea, (he had reigned over the tetrarchy of his brother Philip four years before this,) went down to Caesarea, and there exhibited shows and games in honor of Claudius, and made vows for his health. On the second day of these shows, he put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of a contexture most truly wonderful, and came into the theater early in the morning; at which time the silver of his garment, being illuminated by the first reflection of the sun's rays, shone out after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those who looked intently upon him; and presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another, 'He is a god:' and they added, 'Be thou merciful to us, for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to mortal nature.' Nor did the king rebuke them,
nor reject their impious flattery. But looking up, he saw an owl on a certain rope over his head, and immediately conceived that this bird was to him a messenger of ill tidings; he was filled with remorse, and seized with violent pain in his bowels, exclaiming to his friends, Your god is already come to his life's end, and he whom you saluted immortal is going away to die. To such a height did the pain rise, that he had to be carried hastily into the palace, where, after five days' torture, he expired in his fifty-fourth year.
B. Luke tells us that immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, and he was eaten by worms (maggots).
1. Luke tells us that it was because he gave not glory to God.
2. He accepted the flattery of the people as they acclaimed him as god.
3. How blinded we can become through flattery.
a. Those who had come from Tyre and Sidon, were needing a favor from him, so they began the shout, "It is the voice of a god and not a man."
b. He was foolish enough to accept their flattery.
c. I think of how many people have been destroyed by flattery.
d. How many ministers have fallen because of flattery.
C. We thus see the swift judgment of God upon this man who had stretched forth his hand against the church and had James beheaded.
1. Here again we see Jesus defending His church.
2. He had told His disciples that He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it.
III. "BUT THE WORD OF GOD GREW AND MULTIPLIED."
A. The martyrdom of James did not bring an end to the church.
B. The church may suffer persecution, but it will never suffer by persecution.
1. Persecution seems to be the refining fire by which the church is purged of dross.
2. A purified church is a powerful church.
3. Success can often have a weakening effect upon the church.
a. Many people are attracted by success.
b. They are not fully committed, but attend for ulterior motives.
c. Jesus gave the parables of the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed, and leaven.
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
d. In each parable there is something evil is added. The tares, the birds lodging in the branches, the leaven.
e. Jesus warned of these things and it did not take long for it to happen. His messages to the churches Rev. 2
f. The tares at the beginning look like wheat. The mustard seed growing into a tree, is unnatural growth. The leaven shows how a whole lump can be influenced by a small bit of leaven.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
g. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Don't you know that if Jesus Christ is not in you, you are a reprobate?
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup.
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
h. Peter wrote, "The time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if we are the first, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God?"
i. Throughout church history, God has often used persecution as a purifying instrument in the church.
j. God wants to multiply the church, but sometimes it is necessary that He subtract before He can multiply.
C. Chapter 12:1-24 is what is called parenthetical. With verse 25 he takes up where he left off in 11:30 where Paul and Barnabas had brought to the church in Jerusalem financial aid from the church of Antioch.
IV. Act 12:25
: AND BARNABAS AND SAUL RETURNED FROM JERUSALEM, WHEN THEY HAD FULFILLED [THEIR] MINISTRY, AND TOOK WITH THEM JOHN, WHOSE SURNAME WAS MARK.
A. Paul and Barnabas had gone to Jerusalem to take them aid.
B. We see them now returning to Antioch, and we see John Mark the nephew of Barnabas coming back with them.
1. John Mark, whose mother was Mary, in whose house the church had gathered to pray for the release of Peter. Mark authored the gospel of Mark from the stories he heard Peter tell about Jesus.
2. He went on the first missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas, but returned home without completing the journey.
3. Paul refused to let him go on the second journey, this caused a schism between Paul and Barnabas.
4. Later on Mark became a companion with Paul in the ministry.
a. Paul sent Mark's greetings to the church in Colossi with the instructions to receive him when he came, and calling him the son of Barnabas' sister.
b. In his letter to Philemon he calls Mark, his fellow laborer.
c. In his 2nd letter to Timothy he tells him to bring Mark with him because he had become profitable to Paul.
d. Peter calls Mark his son, and sends Mark's greetings to the church of Babylon
C. Chapter 13 is not only a new chapter of the book of Acts, it is a new chapter in the history of the church. As we shall see next week.