19Herod ordered his own soldiers to search for him, but they could not find him. Then he questioned the guards and had them put to death. After this, Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while.
20Herod and the people of Tyre and Sidon were very angry with each other. But their country got its food supply from the region that he ruled. So a group of them went to see Blastus, who was one of Herod's high officials. They convinced Blastus that they wanted to make peace between their cities and Herod,21and a day was set for them to meet with him.
Herod came dressed in his royal robes. He sat down on his throne and made a speech.22The people shouted, “You speak more like a god than a man!”23At once an angel from the Lord struck him down because he took the honour that belonged to God. Later, Herod was eaten by worms and died.
24God's message kept spreading.25And after Barnabas and Saul had done the work they were sent to do, they went back to Jerusalem with John, whose other name was Mark.
Herod must have felt invincible. He seems to be in complete control of everything. He welcomes the flattery of those who celebrate him as a god. Herod says what he says in order to impress people. The people of Tyre and Sidon, looking to secure food to satisfy their hungry bellies, prostrate themselves before the tyrant and say whatever they need to say to him in order to gain his favour. Herod feeds off their flattery. The people feed off the morsels allowed to drop from the ego-driven king’s table.
What of the church? They are feeding on the presence and the promises of God. As chapter 12 begins Herod appears to be in charge and the church is in jeopardy with its leaders being hunted and slaughtered. Yet by the end of the chapter Herod is suddenly dead, the church is rapidly growing, and “God’s message kept spreading” (v 24).
How typical this event still is of the world in which we live. Anxious to satisfy a gnawing hunger people are willing to do whatever it takes to gain another morsel of food. Too often people will pay whatever price is required to get what they want. It can look like a feeding frenzy. The choice to live for the physical and ignore the spiritual is a recipe for disaster. Warren Wiersbe warns, “The world lives by force and flattery instead of faith and truth, and one day it will be judged.” (Be Dynamic. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1987, p.154) The people of God today, just as then, are most satisfied when we feast at God’s table and delight ourselves in him, and choose not to clamour after the trappings of the world.
God who satisfies our hunger, You give us wholeness in Christ. Nourish our souls as well as our bodies as we feast on your presence and your promises. I choose to be satisfied in you, as with the richest of foods, and I turn away from the crumbs offered by this world. In the name of Jesus, who is our Living Bread, Amen.