In the last section you will recall that Peter had been arrested by Herod, who wanted to kill him to gain favor with influential Jews in Jerusalem, but God had rescued Peter from jail, and an angry Herod had executed his guards. Yep, old Herod was going to make a spectacle of murdering Christians, but God had other ideas, and in the end, He would make a spectacle of old Herod instead.
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.
After his misadventure in Jerusalem, Herod returns to his palace in Caesarea and regular palace business. Luke has set the stage for the big event when everyone would come together for their peace talks…
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. (12:21-23)
For Herod, it would seem that his big speech was a success, but it was all downhill after that. As is usually the case with carefully chosen political crowds, the audience reaction was just a tad over the top: “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” As an old political hand, I wonder if that reaction had been scripted in advance… In any case, God it seems, had just about done with old Herod, and I’m sure Herod was the talk of the town when those worms had their fill of him. Clearly no man is going to prevent God from accomplishing His purpose, and God surely highlighted this point on that memorable occasion. Yet Luke wasn’t quite finished with his remarks:
But the word of God continued to spread and flourish. (12:24)
I have no doubt that after he had begun to persecute Christians and murdered James with Peter imprisoned awaiting his fate, Herod looked very formidable indeed to the Christians of Jerusalem huddled together behind their locked doors praying for a miracle. But in spite of Herod’s efforts and meddling, God was on the offensive, and Herod was completely undone, and the cause of Christ was flourishing.