The twelfth chapter of Acts begins with Herod’s persecution of the church.
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. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people.
(This was neither the Herod who tried to kill Jesus when he was born or the one responsible for the death of John the Baptist. The fact that the Bible tells of three kings named Herod can be confusing to people who are just beginning to study the Bible. All three Herods did have one thing in common; all were enemies of Jesus and his followers.)
He took special precautions to make sure Peter didn’t escape.
Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison.
Perhaps he was aware of how the apostles had been released from prison before and wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again.
But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”
The main part of the chapter describes how God sent an angel to release Peter in spite of Herod’s precautions. Herod’s response was order the execution of the soldiers who had been guarding Peter. I have written about this here:
Next the death of Herod is described.
Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!”
Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.
Did you notice why Herod died? It wasn’t because he killed one apostle and tried to kill another. It was because he didn’t give God glory. Apparently God regards the death of his servants as a lesser sin that failure to glorify him.
I wonder how many people there are who would never murder another human being but who live their lives without thinking seriously about God and without giving him the glory he deserves.