Acts Chapter 12, Part 2
Although the disciples didn't believe it was really Peter at the door, his persistence paid off and he was allowed in, to the shock of everyone present.
You may notice that Peter singles out James as one that should be told about Peter's miraculous escape. With so many names (which are sometimes shared by more than one person) it can be hard to keep track, but the James referred to here is the biological brother (or half-brother, anyway) of Jesus.
The next morning, the guards were pretty frantic to figure out what had happened. With prideful modern eyes we can look at this and say that Peter escaped through luck, or a soldier that was either paid off or just feeling friendly. But the soldiers knew the consequences for failure in their duty, and their execution due to Peter's escape places the evidence on the side of the miraculous account of the Bible.
Herod, while making a public speech, is referred to as a god and not a man by those listening to him. But this politician didn't even mask his pride with false humility, and because he did nothing to deflect the attention, God instantly sent an angel to "take him down".
A surface glance at the text in verse 23 might seem confusing. Was he eaten suddenly by carnivorous worms and died on the spot? Wouldn't that be the kind of miracle that everyone present would have noticed and reacted strongly to? What's going on here?
Josephus, or Titus Flavius Josephus, was a Jewish born Roman citizen and one of the great historians of this time period. What makes his writing valuable to Christians is that he himself was not a Christian, but a religious Jew. There is no motive in his writings to make Christianity look "authentic". So his accounts are interesting to compare to the Biblical accounts, and provide great support for the authenticity and reliability of the Bible.
Regarding this event, Josephus reports that Herod, after collapsing, was carried to the palace where he died after five days of stomach pains caused by worms. At this time, deaths from bowel diseases and worms were thought to be among the most horrible.
Politicians come and go, but God's work continues. An account attributed to H.L. Hastings reads:
"When the French monarch proposed the persecution of Christians in his dominion, an old statesman and warrior said to him, 'Sire, the church of God is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.' So the hammers of infidels have been pecking away at this book for ages, but the hammers are worn out, and the anvil still endures. If this book had not been the book of God, men would have destroyed it long ago. Emperors and popes, kings and priests, princes and rulers have all tried their hand at it; they die and the book still lives."
Regardless of who may have power or authority over you, remember and be encouraged that God is in control of them and his words remain in every moment of our lives to support and guide us.
Next Week: The Mission!
Coffee House Question: What qualities do you like to see in leaders? (Church leaders, business leaders, political leaders etc.)