What’s eating that guy?

Acts 12:21-24   21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people.  22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.”  23 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.  24 But the word of God continued to increase and spread.

Ok, first of all……eeeewwwww!!!!

Now that’s out of the way, can you imaging being one of the many folks in the royal court that day? I reckon you’d be thinking twice before saying ‘hail Cesar’!

Here’s the most basic takeaway from this text; God does not share glory. In fact the concept of glory is a pretty important one because what we do with glory can be the life of death of us. Really.

Now I don’t doubt for a moment that this is a literal account. It would have been extremely difficult for Luke to make this up as he’s writing the book of Acts when there we so many eyewitnesses to the very event that he is describing. An event which also involved, in fact ended, such a prominent figure of the day.

That being said, there is a definite theological picture being painted here. This picture applies on two levels; personal and communal. Let me begin with the personal.

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Notice that Herod’s obsession with his own greatness and glory leads not merely to his death, (God could have simply struck him down) but to him being consumed. This is a pretty scary picture of what self-seeking pride does to your soul in real-time. It doesn’t just kill you, it consumes you, until no matter what the situation is, you can never really enjoy it.

God is giving everyone in this court (and us) a physical portrait of the spiritual reality.

This is scary because, the social atmosphere we breathe is so individualistic that people can be in the process of being ‘eaten alive’ and never notice it. Moreover, by the time the Word of God comes along revealing the truth, it’s possible to be so ‘consumed’ that you simply cannot see the slightest bit of truth in it. It is, repulsive to the soul.

And it’s happening to someone, somewhere, right now.

Have you ever met someone who just seemed, ‘consumed’ with anger, rage, frustration, or trying to impress people? Of course we all have because that’s what simply happens to the human heart when it get’s free time and space to move in a fallen world. Yikes.

I wish I’d figured this out sooner, but I’ve realized that we don’t really get a choice regarding whether we’re consumed or not. The only choice is really this:

We’re either consumed by God’s glory or our own.

The former is life and life to the full. The latter eats you alive.

I sometimes wonder if Jesus is touching on this idea when he says: Mark 9:47-48  And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,  48 where “‘their worm does not die,….

One thing I know for sure, it’s not fun to be ‘full of it‘. Seriously, some of the most miserable times in my life were the very times when I wasn’t ‘getting my way’ or someone was doing something better than me or I was simply showing off only to have very few people notice.

Have you ever name dropped or fished for compliments in a conversation and not gotten the ‘satisfactory’ response? Didn’t you just feel so irritated? They are the ‘worms’ moving in. Imagine an eternity of perpetually compounding rage and frustration.

It’s real. It’s dangerous. It’s a matter of spiritual life and death.

So what’s the solution? Worship.

It is the strangest thing, but if I’ve been at my most miserable when trying to fish for a compliment, I have to admit that I have been at my most joyful when I have, by the power of the Holy Spirit I’m sure, been able to tell God that he is truly majestic, awesome, wonderful and beautiful…………..

…..with no one else around.

No audience, just me and God. At home, in the car whatever. Not even thanking God for stuff. But just speaking out the truth of how awesome and amazing he is. It’s the strangest thing, the less I focus on how or if I benefit from it, the more I seem to benefit from it in compounded joy.

What’s even more amazing is that a similar thing seems to happen to Jesus himself: Luke 10:21  At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. (Emphasis mine.)

Jesus was the most truly joyful person that ever lived because no one was more invested in the glory of God.

We’re either consumed by God’s glory or our own.

But to be consumed by his glory is life and joy to the full.

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Finally, there’s a bit of a picture of what is going on in the social sphere here as well. At this point in time, Christianity is no where near a political power. Herod is the political power in this account, he represents the ‘state’ and he is absolutely in opposition to the Gospel. Just like the society that he’s king over (and king under, for that matter.)

….Hmm a bit like where the Aussie political and social sphere is heading.

Yet, what is happening to the Gospel message itself? (verse 24) But the word of God continued to increase and spread.

As the worms consume the carcass of Herod at will despite all the ‘opposition’ in the world, so the Word of the Lord is consuming the very society that he was 5 minutes ago, king of.

This is why Satan’s #1 goal is to get large numbers of Christians to abandon the simple Gospel message (That’s salvation by grace alone through faith, in case you were wondering) and concentrate on trying to reach people through ‘bright’, new ideas. There’s totally nothing wrong with bright ideas but when they morph into ‘magic bullets’, then those worms will start coming our way.

This is precisely the issue that Paul is going to have to address a few years later as he writes the book of Galatians.

Funny that.

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We’re either consumed by God’s glory or our own.

The former is life and life to the full. The latter will eat us alive.

The latter is the recipe for disaster, the former is the recipe for joyful endurance.

Bless ya:)

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