"And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God glory...but the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied." Acts 12:23-24
Herod mobilized the earliest form of government persecution of the church. He probably didn't have any personal interest in the defense of the Jewish religion, but as a politician, he knew he needed to keep his constituency happy. Most are glad to do it, if it means staying in power.
Persecuting Christians included arresting and killing their boldest leaders and scattering the rest of the frightened flock. Herod's real interest was staying in power. He loved the glory that came from those who loved the way he threw his weight around.
Politicians who harass, pressure or persecute God's people are out of their weight class. They are Light Weight fighters showing up for a title match in the Heavy Weight Division. It never ends well, but they never seem to learn the lesson.
"But the word of the Lord continued." It still does. Thank God.
Herod's abuse of power became a powerful incentive for the early church to pray. When Peter was arrested, the rest of the flock must have wondered, what is going to happen to them. Instead of running in circles, or off the cliff, they dropped to their knees. They started praying. God rescued Peter and removed Herod. The church's real interest is prayer, not staying out of trouble.
There is no transcript of the prayer meeting that was going on when the angel of the Lord set Peter free from prison. That may be a good thing. If one existed there would probably already be books, throw pillows, conferences, and some kind of cult following constantly claiming "The Prayer for Peter." At the very least, there would be a cottage industry sustained by the marketing of the same exact words spoken, when Peter was released. Like that would ever happen.
Prayer is all about getting over oneself, and getting with God. When prayer becomes focused on getting something from Someone, intimacy is crushed under the boot of immediacy. To know what prayer is all about, listen to how Jesus prayed. He dimmed the light on His own will, and magnified the will of The Father. Follow His lead.
There is no need to apologize for praying for a specific need in the midst of a crisis. The early church prayed for Peter, and though we have no clear record of it, they probably prayed for themselves. God heard. The angel arrived. Peter obeyed. The church was amazed. God was glorified. Praying and amazing go hand in hand.
Answered prayer glorifies God. When it magnifies the person praying, it shines the light on the fruit, but misses The Root. Jesus told His disciples to get over themselves and abide in Him. Just as He chose to pray, in order to abide in The Father, they needed to stay in touch with Him. He reminded them that without Him they could do nothing. He further told them to ask anything in His name, and it would be done for them. Answered prayer is all about the right connection, not the right words. Stay connected.
For a prayer warrior to take credit for answered prayer is not only ridiculous, it is treasonous. Answered prayer is fruit. Jesus is The Root. Praying connects a person to The Root, any fruit that does not reflect glory on Him is stolen fruit.
Stolen valor is a shameful thing. It is an illegal act that describes those who lie about taking part in a military experience. They are pathetic posers. They wear a uniform of an honored branch of service they never entered. They display medals they never earned, and take credit for facing dangers they never encountered. When they are exposed for who they are, they claim to have been misunderstood, misquoted, or misguided. In truth, they are must miserable people.
Herod was a man who craved glory. God simply won't share it with those who won't honor Him. Herod became so full of himself, he exploded. His death brought relief to the church, for a season. Persecution did not end, because it did not begin with Herod. It began with Satan. His downfall was his own twisted desire to have the light of the glory of God shifted to him. In his strategy, any hand puppet will do. Don't let him put his claws in your brain.
Prayer keeps the church focused on propagation, not persecution. After Herod's death, the Scripture says, "The word of the Lord continued." They didn't forget what the relief of persecution was all about, a season of freedom to share the good news about Jesus. They didn't focus on themselves, but on "The Word of The Lord." Share it!
A praying church and a praying pastor shine the light away from themselves and towards God's Son. The glory of God is their mission in life. Praying people come to the end of themselves, by giving God the glory for what He has done for them. He sent Jesus into the world to rescue people from their sinful condition. Glory to God, indeed.
Herod tried to rob God of His glory, and destroy His people. God dispatched him to the ash heap of history. Back in the day, parents probably named their children after Herod. Today parents name their children after Peter. They don't even name their dogs after Herod. Taking credit for what God does, may make a name, but it never makes a difference. To God Be The Glory. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!