Kingdoms in Conflict: Martyrdom, Deliverance, and Divine Judgment

i invite you to open up to the book of

Acts chapter 12 the book of Acts chapter

12 stories about the early Christians

and how God was moving by the power of

the Holy Spirit through the first

Christians after Jesus ascended to the

heavenly dimension has anyone been

seeing there's apparently a miniseries

about this on TV I don't Mencia it's

called ad that people been seeing this I

i missed it i could be so out of the

loop it's terrible how is it is it all

right it's good it's on sunday nights at

like nine ish NBC it's about what we're

preaching on what are the odds of that

huh that there would be a new miniseries

on these stories in these events now any

movie version is going to take liberties

okay so that's how we need to read the

Bible and know what's really there cuz

they're gonna add stuff they're gonna

tinker with stuff and so yeah just as

long as we know that that it's not gonna

follow it perfectly true but I have

heard it recommended i think david

jeremiah recommended to some reputable

people so it might be worth seeing huh

how about that you know we're going to

talk about in the morning and see it on

TV at night so Acts chapter 12 nikka

once said something very catchy that I

really like that I don't want to just

read about the characters in the book of

Acts I want to be a character in the

book of Acts to do we have any

characters present I think I think we

have a handful of characters in our

church some visiting from Florida so

yeah we have characters in our church

who are people that God has called for a

special purpose you are a character in

this story whether you know it or not

because the Holy Spirit is still moving

to extend the kingdom of God until Jesus

comes and you are part of that story you

might be just starting you might be

still struggling with a lot of things or

maybe you've been serving God for a long

time but you are a player in this drama

that God is unfolding and what we're

about to read today is one of the the

most dramatic

scenes from this story it's like an

adventure movie and we're going to read

one of the most dramatic dangerous

sobering but at the same time inspiring

scenes from this story in acts chapter

12 and it begins in a very sobering way

we're going to read about martyrdom

we're going to read about deliverance

we're going to read about divine

judgment so Acts chapter 12 verse 1 it

was about that time the King Herod

arrested some who belong to the church

intending to persecute them he had James

the brother of John put to death with

the sword when he saw that this met with

approval among the Jews he proceeded to

seize Peter also and this happened

during the festival of unleavened bread

after arresting him he put him in prison

handing him over to be guarded by four

squads of four soldiers each Herod

intended to bring him out for public

trial after the Passover so Peter was

kept in prison but the church was

earnestly praying to God for him verse 6

the night before Herod was to bring him

to trial the night before Peter was

sleeping between two soldiers bound with

two chains and sentries stood guard at

the entrance suddenly an angel of the

Lord appeared and a light shone in the

cell he struck Peter on the side and

woke him up quick get up he said and the

chains fell off of Peters wrists then

the angel said to him put on your

clothes and sandals and Peter did so

wrap your cloak around you and follow me

the angel told him Peter followed him

out of the prison but he had no idea

that what the angel was doing was really

happening he thought he was seeing a

vision they

asked the first and the second guards

and came to the iron gate leading to the

city it opened for them by itself and

they went through it when they had

walked the length of one Street suddenly

the angel left him I hope you're

imagining this as if it were a scene in

the movie how you would choreographic

verse 11 then Peter came to himself and

said now I know without a doubt that the

Lord has sent his angel and rescued me

from Herod's clutches and from

everything the Jewish people were hoping

would happen when this had dawned on him

he went to the house of Mary the mother

of John also called mark where many

people had gathered and were praying

Peter knocked at the outer entrance and

a servant named Rhoda came to answer the

door when she recognized Peter's voice

she was so overjoyed that she ran back

without opening it and exclaimed Peters

at the door you are out of your mind

they told her when she kept insisting

that it was so they said I must be his

angel but Peter kept on knocking and

when they open the door and saw him they

were astonished Peter motion with his

hand for them to be quiet and described

how the Lord had brought him out of

prison tell James and the other brothers

and sisters about this he said and then

he left for another place in the morning

there was no small commotion among the

soldiers as to what had become of Peter

after Herod had a thorough search made

for him and did not find him he

cross-examined the guards and ordered

that they be executed then Herod went

from Judea to Cesare ax had stayed there

verse 20 King Herod had been quarreling

with the people of Tyre and Sidon and

they now joined together and sought an

audience with him after securing the

support of Blastoise a trusted personal

servant of the king they asked for peace

because they depended on the Kings

country for their food supply and on the

appointed day Herod wearing his royal

robes sat

his throne and delivered a public

address to the people and they shouted

this is the voice of a god not 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 but the Word of God

continued to spread and flourish let's

pray dear God I feel so bird as I

approach this narrative Lord God knowing

what the people of God have suffered and

experienced over the centuries and still

do today in certain parts of the world

just exactly like we're reading about

today and I'm soulbird as I approach

this text and humble but God we look at

it together we pray God that you would

speak to us today God that you would

move in us God the what we read would

transform us to live at the spiritual

level that you've called us to live as a

community so visit us bless this

reflection I pray in jesus name amen

amen and again I thank you for your

patience with the thumpety thump of kids

praising Jesus upstair just feels good I

every time I hear it I feel good it

doesn't bother me I feel good really

because I know what they're doing up

there but anyway so we're about to read

acts chapter 12 this is a fascinating

narrative it's a it's a mysterious

coming together of absolute tragedy and

miraculous supernatural deliverance all

in one story a juxtaposition of of these

two things that go together to wake us

up to the fact that spreading the gospel

is a dangerous business because

spreading the gospel doesn't happen in a

vacuum there are what the Bible calls

powers and principalities spiritual

rulers in the heavenly dimension that do

not want people to submit to King Jesus

there are spiritual forces at work

that are pushing against the spread of

the gospel and trying to impede what God

would do we're trying to spread a

kingdom in hostile territory so if you

believe that sharing the gospel is going

to be an easy thing brace yourself

because there will be an enemy who will

resist you there is a devil who will not

let go of those that belong to him

easily he'll put up a fight and we need

to realize that this is a serious

business it's a spiritual battle and

this is very much with us today as I

mentioned in the prayer I said at the

beginning you can't see the six o'clock

news without those just horrific images

of martyrdom nowadays before our very

eyes it's sobering for me to address

this and in the context in which we live

which is really so comfortable in many

ways even though we face our own types

of resistance but the violence against

believers is with us today rulers who

would try to take the place of God the

way Herod did is with us today and we

can be tempted for a moment as you think

about the way the story begins King

Herod an evil King decides to take one

of the Apostles remember we read about

the martyrdom of Stephen a few weeks ago

but now he's got one of the twelve James

remember James and John who left their

boat to follow Jesus well him and he

took him and put him to death publicly

with the sword the terror that this must

have unleashed in the church and they

had to have been wondering or we have to

wonder sometimes God are you really in

charge because right now it looks like

Herod is calling all the shots it can be

tempting sometimes when it looks like

the enemies of God are winning for a

minute we might think God but we prayed

and still he was martyred he was put to

death with the sort how can this be

they're going to be sometimes when it's

going to look dark that was a moment

when the Apostles came together a few

chapters earlier in the book of Acts in

Acts chapter 4 when they had been

persecuted and

when Peter was imprisoned and others

were there the first time and they

gathered to pray and they started their

prayer saying Sovereign Lord in Greek it

was des portes desk but king of the

universe you made the heaven and the

earth and the sea and all that is in

them you made this world it looks like

the enemy is winning but you are the

king of kings and the Lord of lords and

in that prayer if you remember they say

remember how Herod and Pilate conspired

against your servant Jesus remember King

Herod and King pi and pilot got together

and they plotted the crucifixion of

Jesus and they said Lord those kings as

evil as they seemed only did what your

will and your power had decided

beforehand that they should do they

thought they were calling the shots but

they weren't god you were in charge and

you allowed your servant Jesus to be

given over and yet he rules for ever and

ever and so now instead of reacting in

fear we pray God that you would give us

boldness to preach your word that you

would extend your hand to do signs and

wonders through the name of your holy

servant Jesus and the place where they

were praying shook and they preach the

Word of God with boldness because they

knew that God is sovereign that God is

in charge of things even when it looks

like he's not I I shared this in a

message on persecution a few weeks ago

and but I just came across a text the

same text in my own devotional reading

just last night and did the other night

and I thought I had to share it again

there came a moment where the Pharisees

tried to scare Jesus they tried to

intimidate him they came up to him and

said Jesus you should leave this place

he was on his way to Jerusalem you

should leave this place because Herod is

trying to kill you not the same Herod

his grandfather probably but the same

family the same ruthless cruelty they

said Herod is trying to kill you so you

better run away how do you think Jesus

responded to that one he looked at him

he said you go tell that

ox you go tell that Fox that I will heal

and I will cast out demons and I will

raise the dead and do signs and wonders

and preach the gospel today and tomorrow

and the third day I'll reach my goal

because no profit can die outside

Jerusalem he knew I will die but i'll

die when it's God's time not his god

knows what the plan is and he's

unfolding his purpose and when i get to

Jerusalem and fulfill what I'm supposed

to do then it'll happen in God's Way and

then he starts weeping over Jerusalem

but he said you go tell that Fox you

know I'm sorry I just can't miss the

fact that Jesus is giving the Pharisees

a little well-deserved attitude Fox was

not what it means today we use Fox for

someone who's crafty right in the

ancient Hebrew idiom a fox was a

harmless little animal yuko tell that

little pussy cat that I am Not Afraid of

him i am going to heal i am good I there

is now it's not a senseless bravado

we're talking about but nor will he be

intimidated we need to have that spirit

of a James was martyred and we can ask

the question and then right after that

we read the the fact that Peter was

delivered from prison he was saved might

a person ask the question why did God

let james died and he saved Peter why

did did God somehow fail it's a very

sobering question about how God has his

own mysterious purposes and each one of

us has our own assignment from the Lord

we talked about this when we preached on

Stephen that even though we don't live

in a situation where our physical lives

are in danger praise the Lord we pray

for that to continue but we need to

adopt the mentality of a martyr the word

martyr in greek is witness we are all

called to be his witnesses

and to cross that bridge at the

beginning and say God I am a soldier in

your army not to wield physical weapons

but spiritual weapons and you give the

orders not me I don't live the Christian

life to make me happy even though the

Christian life does make you happy

praise the Lord but we live the

Christian life to serve King Jesus

because we belong to his army and he has

assignments for each one James I don't

know if you remember the story but James

the Apostle James and his brother John

together with their mother approached

Jesus one day remember the story they

approached him and they come up to Jesus

and they say teacher we would like you

to do for us whatever we ask can you

believe that that's that's literally

what they said and mommy was right there

you know putting in and Jesus says

listen this is okay what would you like

me to do for you it's like this should

be interesting they said we would like

in your kingdom because they believe

that after death there will be a

resurrection the kingdom of God will

exist on earth and there will be a

government on earth Jesus will be king

and Christians will occupy occupy roles

in that government I literally believe

that there will be the Jesus will be the

king of kings and Lord of lords and they

said we would like to sit on Thrones in

your kingdom one at your right hand and

one at your left hand they didn't

specify which was going to go on which

side and Jesus just looking at can you

imagine the temerity that how could we

want to sit on Thrones at your right in

your left you can be in charge but we

want to be you know right up there Jesus

looks at them and says you don't know

what you're asking and he says can you

drink the cup that I drink can you be

baptized with the baptism that I'll be

baptized with I do know what Jesus was

referring to with that the cup the

baptism he was referring to his death

the cup of suffering that he was going

to drink he was referring to his

crucifixion and they

look him right in the eye and they say

we can and I get the feeling up to now

Jesus was kind of almost you know

inwardly chuckling at these guys to when

they said that I think the tone of the

conversation might have changed and

Jesus paused and looked at them and said

you will you will drink the cup that I

drink you will be baptized with the

baptism and I think the tone turned

deadly serious at that point because

Jesus was seeing that their assignment

would be suffering and that they would

do it but then he paused and says but

you know assigning you to which throne

you're going to be on that's you know

I'm gonna work that out with my father

and sorry about that not going to not

going to go with that right now but

James had his assignment God had

determined that this would be his

destiny to be martyred to be the first

one martyred Peter was delivered from

jail and he didn't die for a few years

although Peter drank the cup too and was

baptized with the baptism church

tradition has that the Apostle Peter was

sentenced to death by crucifixion and he

said I'm not worthy to die as my lord

I'd do it upside down that's what church

tradition says reputable tradition so

Peter drank the cup too but at this time

he was delivered so Peter may have lived

another I don't know how many years 10

15 20 years more than James in light of

eternity how long is that really they're

crossing the finish line boom boom and

James is there and then Peters there

there was a tiny tiny little paws at the

end of the day does it really matter how

long we live I mean I say that I would

like to live a long time right I would

like all my friends and family to live a

long time that's what I want that is and

I believe that's usually God's will for

people but at the end of the day what

really matters isn't how long

we live it's how we live right we say

this in funerals of people who died

before the natural time that it it's not

necessarily the years in their life but

the life in the years right what matters

is fulfilling your mission and coming

before God and and and knowing God I did

what I was assigned to do and God saying

well done good and faithful servant you

have been faithful with little now you

will be faithful with much enter into

the joy of your master what matters is

doing what God has assigned me to do and

coming before his throne and being able

to say God I did what you assign me in

the little time that you gave me our

life is a little blip but it's a blip

that matters no because what we do count

to eternity in pleasing the Lord and

James fulfilled his mission the mystery

of martyrdom the mindset of a martyr we

each have our assignments it talks about

in the book of Hebrews that there were

some heroes of faith who through faith

conquered kingdoms administered justice

and gain what was promised people who by

faith shut the mouths of lions quenched

the fury of the flames and escaped the

edge of the sword but there are others

who by faith were tortured refusing to

be released so that they might gain an

even better resurrection their eyes were

on the prize what matters is that we

live by faith God's deliverance is up to

him amen what what did you know the

story of Daniel and his friends meshack

Shadrach and Abednego you know the story

from Sunday school when you work it they

were being threatened to be thrown these

three young men in the Empire of Babylon

they were being threatened to be thrown

into a fiery furnace because they

refused to bow down and worship an idol

that the King had set up remember the

story and the King says why will you not

worship the the statue I'm going to

throw you in the furnace and those three

young men say our God is able to deliver

us but even if he doesn't okay

we want you to know that we will not

worship the statue that you have set up

our God is a delivering God but our

faithfulness is not contingent on how

things go we are faithful and God takes

care of the rest with that said there's

nothing wrong with praying amen the

Bible says in acts 12 5 that the people

of God were earnestly praying for Peter

the language of it is the same language

from the Garden of Gethsemane they were

praying at full stretch full throttle

stretched out before dot on the floor

crying out god save Peter we've lost

James we don't want to lose Peter too

they're praying and praying and praying

and we see in this story that prayer

works we don't just pray to make

ourselves feel good although when we

pray God does change our hearts amen but

we pray because it actually makes a

difference in the spiritual and physical

atmosphere of the world I said at the

beginning that we believe we're

spreading the gospel in a spiritually

charged environment that there are

powers and principalities that are

fighting against the spread of the

gospel and when we pray I really believe

this God's power restrains the power of

the devil and open space for the power

of God to spread angels are at our

disposal when we pray in the Old

Testament there's an amazing story of

when Joshua was engaged in a battle

against a very cruel enemy called the

Amalekites that really represent satanic

forces and Joshua was in battle in a

valley and Moses was up on top of a

mountain remember the story and he

extended his staff in his other hand and

two arms and he was praying for Joshua

and when he had his hey

sup Joshua was winning but then his arms

got tired after a few hours and his arms

came down no he needed to do some

crossfit there is coming down and when

the arms came down what happened Joshua

started losing the battle and so to of

errands helpers a couple guys Erin and

her his brothers came and lifted his

arms for him and when the arms were up

they were winning the battle because we

as people have been endowed with an

awesome privilege to participate with

authority as Christians in the spiritual

dimension if you believe in Jesus you

have authority when there is evil around

you you have authority in the name of

Jesus to pray for God's kingdom to come

his will to be done on earth as it is in

heaven that the enemy would be pushed

away you can do that maybe you accepted

Jesus last week you have authority to do

that you can tell the devil where to go

and he has to listen in the name of

Jesus so they were praying and you were

praying hard prayer works the writer of

the book of Acts is the apes' Luke and

if you read the Gospel of Luke and the

book of Acts you see a theme going

through you see prayer on every page

whenever God wants to do something

instead of just doing it he moves people

to pray and then he answers their prayer

and does it seems like a rather

inefficient way of organizing things

doesn't it why not just do stuff right

by God in His wisdom which is much

better than mine has decided that he is

not going to just do things on earth on

his own but he is going to work with the

people the new Adam and Eve the the

people of God the children of God that

he's going to give us authority so that

we're going to ask him to do things and

he's going to answer and then he's going

to do them so it's like God I'm asking

you to do something you already want to

do a lot for hours every day for the

rest of my life I got see that's exactly

what I want you to do I should spend

hours every day of your life

asking me to do what I already want to

do why would God organize it that way

can you imagine it means that you come

close to him it means that we're working

together with God it means that were

part of an intimacy with him were part

of this kingdom coming and it has to be

that way so they were praying and crying

out to God you see this in the Gospel of

Luke before Jesus was born people prayed

there were two elderly people who spent

years and years Simeon and Anna and they

prayed and fasted for years and years

and years they were Jesus's mother Tina

and poverty know there were Jesus's

mother and father spiritually and that

said they prayed that he would be born

and God became flesh when Jesus was

baptized and the Holy Spirit came on him

like a dove remember the story Jesus was

praying when the Holy Spirit came on him

before Jesus chose the Twelve Apostles

you know what he did he spent all night

praying to God on a mountain when he

came down from the mountain power was

coming out from him and healing

everybody in the radius around him

because there was a new level of

spiritual charge coming through him when

Jesus made a decision he prayed when

Jesus went up the Mount of

Transfiguration before he was

transformed into dazzling white he was

praying before he was transformed when

Jesus was in the garden he prayed in the

Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus wanted

to pour out his Holy Spirit on his

people they were praying on the day of

Pentecost before Peter received his

revelation about the Gentiles remember

the sheet with all the the different

foods he was preying on the roof when

God spoke to him prayer works let's do

it huh let's do more of that right cuz

prayer works it is the method God has

established for the heavenly spiritual

dimension to invade the natural

dimension but we must pray if we want

that to happen amen so we will do that

they did it here and God answered how

about this deliverance no just like God

delivered the people of Israel from

slavery in Egypt this happened

on Passover itself no coincidence it

happened at night it happened in haste

god the god of the exodus was present to

deliver Peter an angel appear so now

think about this it's the night before

he is to be taken out for his trial now

do you think Peter was going to receive

due process do you think II was going to

have a really good defense attorney that

would be assigned by the state that

would really get him on yep it was going

to be a mock trial and he was going to

be executed it was the night before he

was guarded not just by one soldier but

by four squads of four soldiers each one

on either side chained to him and two

other guys guarding the door and they

took turns four of them switching taking

shifts what was Peter doing the night

before what would you be doing I don't

know if I Peter was sleeping like a baby

he had it right between the soldiers you

know I was talking kidding around with

Sam about this pastor Sam helped me

prepare this Sam was like you know he

just imagined him like with with Peters

head on one of the soldiers you know you

know slobbering on him yeah Peter wrote

in one of his letters first Peter 57 I

think it has cast all your cares on him

because he cares for you Peter was

learning to do that he's like you know

what why worry my god is in charge know

if I die for me to live is it to live as

Christ to die is gain either way and in

the night the angel appears the light

shining that's one thing that the movie

did the warrior angel when Jesus rose

pretty well I wonder how they'll do this

scene no but the angels shining right in

the cell and he's got to wake him up

Peter Peter is anyone here kind of hard

to wake up I don't know do we have any

people who sleep deeply can I get up get

up it's time you got to go to school you

got to go Peter sleeping deeply the

Angels gotta you know shake him get up

get dressed he's what's going on gets up

he gets dressed the angel leads and he

thinks it's a dream he thinks it's a

dream vision he goes out the chains fall

he's

next thing you know he's all alone he's

like whoa no dream this is real I'm

livin you gotta be kidding me you know

it just seemed unreal now I love the

next scene of this because Peter goes to

a house remember how we talked way back

about how the church in those days

didn't meet in one big building they met

in houses there were home groups that

was really home church and they would

meet there around a big big tables and

they would pray and they would eat and

they would share fellowship well one of

these houses was owned by a woman named

Mary Mary was we I think it was probably

the sister or cousin of Barnabas

remember Barnabas from last week and she

had a son a teenage son named John also

called and remember from last week mark

she was she must have had some money

because it's big house with a courtyard

and a servant and we even know the name

of the servant this story is so real it

is so human you can picture it it's

happening and it's happening in mattapan

it's happening in quincy it's just these

are people you know this is not these

are not angel beings these are real

people in someone's house praying for

Peter worried about him because they

don't know what's going to happen

tomorrow it was the Passover maybe they

had gone ahead and celebrated it with

tears I don't know but they're there in

that home and and Peter comes to the

door Rhoda the servant we know her name

you know cuz mark must have talked to

Luke and said oh and the road answered

the door this is all history folks this

is not fairy tales this is real Rhoda

goes to the door here's his voice freaks

out runs back through the courtyard back

into the house forgetting to let him in

isn't it there's there's a quiet humor

that runs through this part of the story

he's there knocking rota rota it's me no

it's it she goes in she tells with guys

Peter's outside literally in the literal

Greek it said you're crazy that's what

it says and it went from the

word for maniac you are a maniac you are

crazy you're out of your mind how now in

you picture that conversation are you

nuts Rhoda there goes Rhoda again now

and then but she's interesting no really

really really finally they're like well

maybe it's his angel made they believed

in guardian angels maybe it was like

maybe it's his angel and then they

finally go Peter stavri like you and

then they opened the door and they're

getting so excited that Peters got to

quiet him down with a gesture is that

beautiful that little detail you guys

cooked you know they're still looking

for us Xena it's i love the scene it's

so real it's so real and so then he say

he tells and he says go tell the

brothers and tell James that I'm alive

but wait a minute didn't James just get

kill we're gonna see in the rest of the

book of Acts a new prominent apostle

leader of the church in Jerusalem named

James who get this was the physical

brother of Jesus Christ did you know

that did you know that his physical

brother became one of the leading

apostles an otter pop he wasn't even one

of the twelve but he became one of the

leaders of the church and so Peter

recognizing the saying i gotta hide out

so while I'm gone James is in charge

okay I gotta go hide somewhere we don't

even know where he was and we don't hear

a lot from him through the rest of the

book of Acts you had to live on the lam

a lot you know but but God delivered him

god is real how about that story you

know this still happens today I have to

read you a story ready for story time

with uncle Greg for a minute here this

is all so you know you're gonna think I

haven't read a book in 20 years book

touch the world through prayer i think

it was written in the 80s and it's about

how praying and missions go together

okay and how when God tells you to pray

you better pray okay wait a minute okay

yeah here we are okay here we go you

ready for a story missionary story okay

you wish me okay number four God may

lead you to enlist the prayer of several

other people in certain strategic

moments many a miracle has been brought

to pass by the Holy Spirit

in answer to a chain of prayer or the

prayers of a specially convened group

many local churches have arranged SOS

prayer chains when an emergency prayer

request comes in five or six people are

immediately called in each in turn calls

the next person on his list in a matter

of minutes many are a prayer we have

such an arrangement among our OMS

headquarters staff that's a missions

organization during the mau mau uprising

in kenya in nineteen sixty missionaries

matt and laura higgins were returning

one night to nairobi through the heart

of mau mau territory where Kenyans and

missionaries alike had been killed and

dismembered 17 miles outside of Nairobi

their land rover stopped higgins tried

to repair the car in the dark but could

not restart it they spent the night in

the car but claimed Psalm 48 I will lie

down and sleep in peace for you alone

loan o Lord make me to dwell in safety

in the morning they were able to repair

the car a few weeks later the higgins's

returned to America on furlough they

reported that the night before they left

Nairobi a local pastor had visited them

he told how a member of the Mau Mau had

confessed that he and three others had

crept up to the car that night to kill

the higgins's but when they saw 16 men

surrounding the car the Mau Mau had left

in fear 16 men higgins responded I don't

know what you mean while they were on

furlough a friend clay Brent asked the

Higgins's if they had been in any danger

recently Higgins asks why and then clay

said that on March 23rd God had placed a

heavy prayer burden on his heart he

called the men of the church and 16 of

them met together and prayed until the

burden lifted did God send 16 angels to

represent those men and enforce their

prayers heaven one day we'll really

reveal many wonderful accounts of how

God has used special prayer burdens to

advance his cause and protect his people

not a great story I love that story

I believe that God will sometimes assign

you to pray for something and when he

does do it just pray gather some people

because power is being unleashed because

God answers prayer God is in charge

that's the message of Acts chapter 12

that even though King Herod killed an

innocent man God was still the one who's

a God of deliverance and that's why I

want to take a minute and just close

reflecting on how this narrative ends

because it's a bizarre powerful story

that is confirmed by ancient historians

of the day King Herod was a king who

came to believe that he was a god this

is something that we have seen in recent

history you see this as recently 20th

century you see Hitler receiving worship

and taking the place of God you see

leaders throughout history deifying

themselves and presuming that type of

authority in the Old Testament there was

a king named Nebuchadnezzar who was the

king over the exile in Babylon and this

man became king of the great Babylon the

Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of

the the spectacular wonders of the world

and King Nebuchadnezzar one day was

standing on the roof of his palace and

he said is this not my magnificent

palace that I have built with the power

of my Dominion for the glory of my

majesty yep he uses worship language

about himself and God says you are not a

god you are just a man and King

Nebuchadnezzar as you know the story in

the book of Daniel chapter 3 went crazy

for a few years and ended up living out

in nature and it says his nails grew

like the nails of an animal of an eagle

that he grew long hair like the feathers

of an eagle that he lived without

clothes for a while until he lifted his

eyes to heaven

his sanity was restored and God says you

are not a god and when you claim to be

you become less than human you become a

beast rulers who claim to be divine lose

even what little humanity they had to

begin with and then his his health was

restored and he became restored to his

power and then he says and God showed me

that God is the god of the kingdoms of

the world that he is the one who gives

authority to men and women on earth to

rule and nothing happens apart from his

command God is in charge not just of the

church God is God of gods and Lord of

lords and King of Kings over the whole

world we need to remember that because

even though we may believe in the

separation of church and state

politically we don't believe that we

should politicize our faith or that we

should spiritualize politics but just

because we believe that doesn't mean

that God is unconcerned with what

secular rulers do God is overall and he

will judge all injustice and all evil

and he will humble all human arrogance

no one is exempt and that's what happens

to King Herod he goes to a city called

tire ironically the king of Tyre

centuries earlier had also claimed

divinity and had been clinic compared to

Satan himself Ezekiel 29 and said that

in your pride you became like the devil

who believed he was like God so anyway

he's entire King Herod is there they're

suing for peace with him and you can

read about it if you want to do some

research look up google Josephus who was

a famous ancient Roman historian not a

Christian you google Josephus and Herod

Agrippa and you'll find this story Herod

showed up in the palace that day

with a new suit that was woven silver I

don't know how you can weave silver into

a suit that's not armed I don't know but

he did it okay Josephus reports and he

appeared with his subjects entire inside

on the people who were suing for peace

and according to the history of the time

the Sun caught his suit in just the

right way and shined in dazzling

brightness and the people cried out this

is the voice of a God not a man and

because he did not give glory to God God

judged him according to Josephus he was

seized with intense abdominal pain was

carried out of the court and died five

days later in agony now according to

Luke he was eaten by worms and died why

would he include such a gruesome detail

is it just to be gruesome or to be

vindictive no it's to make the point

that even though he thought he was a god

he is made of flesh and blood and will

decay one day even though he thought he

had the authority to persecute the

people of God one day God would call him

to account for everything he did he was

made of flesh and blood and his body was

subject to decay in contrast to another

king whose body would never see decay

the Bible says about Jesus referring

back to Psalm 16 because I see the Lord

always before me my heart is glad and my

tongue rejoices my body also will rest

secure this is prophesying Jesus after

the resurrection because you will not

abandon me to the grave nor will you let

your faithful One see decay you make

known to me the path of life you fill me

with joy in your presence with eternal

pleasures and your right hand King Jesus

conquered death and his body will never

see decay he is a king who rules not on

the basis of political intrigue or brute

power

he rules on the basis of the power of an

indestructible life from God he's the

king you can't kill he's the king who

will come again one day out of the

heavenly dimension to rule but he

doesn't conquer through oppression and

tyranny and hate and violence the Bible

says that even though he was in very

nature God Jesus did not consider

equality with God something to be

grasped but made himself nothing he

humbled himself taking on the nature of

a servant being made in human likeness

being found in appearance as a man he

humbled himself to death even death on a

cross and therefore God has exalted him

to the highest place and given him a

name that is above every name that at

the name of Jesus every knee should bow

in heaven and on earth and under the

earth and every tongue confess to the

glory of God the Father that Jesus

Christ is Lord not Herod Jesus rules

Jesus is in charge and that King that

King is seated on a throne at the right

hand of the Father that Jesus has poured

out his spirit among us and is advancing

his kingdom even in dark places that

king invites you to be part of his

conquering army today that's what the

church is it's the army of the Living

God anointed by the Holy Spirit to say

God your kingdom come your will be done

here on earth as it is in heaven because

you're a king that can't be defeated and

that's what we're about as a church here

i invite you to stand with me and let's

internalize let's receive this because

jesus is saying to be part of that army

we need to be willing to take our cross

daily and follow him to say God I will

be in your army

I will go where you send me and do what

you tell me to do I will pray I will

preach and do what you called me to do

father we receive this word today Lord

God I thank you God that there is

nothing you can't do that even when it

looks like darkness is winning even when

the eleven o'clock news is horrible and

seems like everywhere we look sometimes

there's only evil being promoted god I

thank you that at those times we know

Lord Jesus that you are enthroned

securely on your throne that you have

authority that is securely invested into

you and you are that king of kings and

you are that Lord of lords and you are a

rescuing and a delivering God and so we

pray we pray for our brothers and

sisters in parts of the world who are

facing danger and death and bloodshed

and we pray God that you would deliver

them and set them free like you did with

Peter all those many years ago we pray

God that you would call injustice to

account and evil rulers who would put

themselves in the place of God that you

would show that you are the only God

that you are the only King Lord Jesus

and that your kingdom is a good kingdom

because Jesus you are a good king lord I

pray that we in our little corner of the

kingdom here English Ministry of Lion of

Judah that we would be faithful soldiers

in that army who conquer not with

violence but who concurred with love who

concurred with the gospel of Jesus

Christ who move in that authority that

you have Lord God and I want to invite

us we close this time there might be

some of you who feel in a special way

that you want to sign up in that army

maybe you're just becoming a Christian

or maybe you're renewing that but as we

close with this song I invite you or

even now

to come forward as a physical statement

of saying god I want to step up to the

plate I want to step up and do what

you've called me to do I invite you here

let's have this be a moment of

consecration come before the Lord right

now in Jesus name