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. 21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 23 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.
24 But the word of God increased and multiplied.
25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark. – Acts 12:20-25
We pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come.” Martin Luther rightly points out that “The kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer, of itself; but we pray in this petition that it may come unto us also.” It’s not something that we can make happen. We don’t build God’s kingdom. He builds his kingdom. He uses faithful people – witnesses, evangelists, pastors, friends, family members, apostles, prophets, teachers, and neighbors to do that. For the kingdom of God – better yet, the “rule and reign of God” is a rule and reign of grace in the heart of the believer. It is a beautiful thing to behold!
It is a great privilege to be part of God’s rule and reign coming to others through one’s witness, gospel sharing, and evangelistic efforts. It doesn’t always look like the rule and reign of God is making headway. But sometimes it clearly is. And in those cases, it is also clear that this is a work of God, not of man. We cannot cause someone to be struck down in their moment of arrogant boasting – though surely sometimes we wish we could.
There are those who claim to speak for God – though they have only their own welfare, benefit, and advancement in mind. But the servant of God who wishes to be part of God’s movement into the hearts and lives of others will claim no personal good within. And in the end the rule and reign of God will be advanced.
The self-important and prideful boaster will come to naught. This happens in bold relief here in these verses as Herod is struck down, eaten by worms(!), and dies: an inglorious end to say the least.
But note well the small statement, standing alone in the passage above:
But the word of God increased and multiplied. – Acts 12:24
New workers are being put into place for the advancement of the rule and reign of Jesus. He already reigns in their hearts. He will use them to bring others into his kingdom. The people are being brought together. The mission of God will advance. The kingdom of God will come.
I want to be part of that!