When The World Is Against You
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. — Acts 12:1-3
So during the days of the early church, several descendants of Herod the Great ruled all over the Roman Empire. They all took the first name Herod which sometimes makes it a little confusing to read the Bible. This particular Herod was Agrippa, a grandson of Herod the Great, who the present emperor of Rome appointed to be the ruler over the region of Judea. And because Agrippa ruled all Judea, this would naturally infer that he literally became the “King of the Jews” or at least ruler of the land where all the Jews dwelled.
In any event, Agrippa aligned himself with the Jews, mainly for personal political advantage. And this incited him to become increasingly more violent toward Christians. As we learn here, he executed the first of the 12 apostles — James, the son of Zebedee, and will imprison Peter with the intent to execute. And since Agrippa saw that this pleased the Jews, he is going to continue this rampage. But as we will discover by the end of the chapter, this will not play out well for Agrippa.
But let’s not speed past how this might have felt in the moment for Christians. Christians have been through a lot of persecution in the last decade by religious authorities. But now, in addition, the government was turning against them. And with religious authorities (Jews) and the government (Agrippa) aligned, this just doubled down on the intensity of the persecution. And all of this was instigated by selfish intent.
Fellas, In this life, this is going to happen. Leaders with selfish intent will align themselves with others who have selfish intentions, and together they will join forces against other people for personal advantage. And this will come first in the form of weaponized fear and shame that will grow into oppression and suffering. But we need to remember to hold fast in obedience because God always exposes evil intentions, and he will win the day. This is the most repetitive storyline in all the Bible — evil rises, and God wins! And while it may look like and even feel the enemy is winning, this is just a shell game. Whether it be by death like it was for James or by deliverance like it would be Peter, God wins against all enemies. All we need to do is holdfast. Hold fast as Peter does here. God brought him from the most hopeless of situations to salvation. And God can and will do the same for you.
ASK THIS: Where in your life does it feel like the world is against you?
DO THIS: Remain obedient.
PRAY THIS: God, it does feel like the oppression is mounting against me every day. I need help both seeing from your perspective and standing strong in obedience. Help me to see that you have already won.
PLAY THIS: Obedience — Lindy & The Circuit Riders.
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