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The Scriptorium

The Right and Only God

God only is God. Acts 12.20-24

The Right and Only King (5)

Pray Psalm 71.19, 20.
Your righteousness, O God, is very high,
You who have done great things;
O God, who is like You?
You, who have shown me great and severe troubles,
Shall revive me again,
And bring me up again from the depths of the earth.

Sing Psalm 71.19, 20, 3.
(Solid Rock: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)
Your righteous deeds are great and true. O God, there is no one like You!
Though many troubles I have seen, You will revive my soul again!
Refrain
A Rock of habitation be; command Your Word to rescue me;
my Rock and Fortress ever be!

Read Acts 12.1-24; meditate on verses 20-24.

Preparation
1. How did the people respond to Herod?

2. What happened to him? Why?

Meditation

Herod was angry at the people in the region of Caesarea, and he may have been threatening an embargo of food against them. They resorted to kowtowing to regain his favor. He beamed approvingly in the light of their mewling acclamation: “The voice of a god!”

And so an angel – never very far away, as we have seen – struck Herod with an illness and infestation that ultimately (not right then) took his life. This is not about “getting Herod, the jerk” for what he did to James and Peter and others. It’s about God, Who is God and who isn’t, and what’s due God, even by those who think the world owes them deference, respect, and honor. Meanwhile, the Word of God continued to grow and multiply (v. 24).

This episode dramatically punctuates the story line of Acts: Christ is replacing the kingdom of darkness and the lie with His own Kingdom of life and light. The power of the eternal, spiritual realm is overcoming with good all the wickedness and evil of the temporal, material domains of men (Rom. 12.21). Herod came under the judgment of God for claiming to be a god, and his demise foreshadows the overthrow of the Roman Empire – and in the end, of all the empires and kingdoms of men.

Only God is God. And only God is King. All others are servants or pretenders. We can trust the Lord to assert His uniqueness, authority, and power, albeit not always as dramatically as in this chapter. Luke is trying to shape the way we think about the times in which we live and our calling to the Kingdom and glory of God (1 Thess. 2.12). We must seek that Kingdom above and over all (Matt. 6.33).

Jesus, the only right and true King, continues His ongoing work, even in the face of the vain pretensions of sinful men.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
No matter your political persuasion, this situation provides one outcome for which we can pray for our leaders.

Keeping in mind, of course, that it is God’s business, who is in power and who isn’t. “But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another” (Ps. 75.7).

I hear with much consternation Christians declaring that it was the Lord’s will that their candidate won an election. Truly, it is just as much the Lord’s will if the opponent had won! Nothing happens outside His instruction and His control.  “Let the heavens declare His righteousness, for God is Judge” (Ps. 50.6).

And He tells us: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways…For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Is. 55.8, 9).

But I think we have been given permission to pray, when we see a leader standing in the stead of God, and taking glory upon himself as a god, that God, our God, the One True God, the Right and Only God, would work His will upon that leader. Maybe even akin to Herod’s fate (Acts 12.23).

Even as I say that, my heart is grieved to remember, I was once just like Herod. Ruling my own life and not glorifying God as God. And God, in His mercy and grace, reached into my heart and changed me.

In thankfulness, in mercy, and in grace, we also must pray that these leader’s hearts will be changed. That they, too, as we once did, will accept the undeserved gift of salvation, and turn from their wicked ways, and follow Jesus. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom.5.8).

Why is the one prayer harder to pray than the other? Regardless, what we all really want is that the word of God grows and multiplies (Acts 12.24).

Maybe just one tiny worm?

For reflection

1. What should the Christian’s attitude toward civil government be?

2. When governments overstep their legitimate bounds, what should the Christian do?

3. We’re told to pray for our government (1 Tim. 2.1-8). How should you pray?

such men as Herod, when puffed with pride and vanity, are ripening fast for signal vengeance. God is very jealous for his own honor, and will be glorified upon those whom he is not glorified by. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 12.20-25

Pray Psalm 71.1-8.
Pray that God will embolden you as His witness today and make you alert and ready for every opportunity to praise, thank, or proclaim Him.

Sing Psalm 71.1-8.
(Solid Rock: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)
In You, O Lord, I refuge claim; O let me never be ashamed.
In righteousness deliver me; incline Your ear and hear my plea.
Refrain v. 3
A Rock of habitation be; command Your Word to rescue me;
my Rock and Fortress ever be!

From wicked hands redeem me, Lord, from all who wrest and break Your Word.
My hope, my confidence from youth, my praise forever reaches You.
Refrain

While many see in me a sign, I shelter in Your strength will find.
Lord, fill my mouth with endless praise and with Your glory all my days.
Refrain

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

Read more about the work Jesus is doing as King. Our books, The Kingship of Jesus and What in Heaven Is Jesus Doing on Earth? can help you understand the scope, focus, and power of Jesus’ rule at the Father’s right hand. Each is free, and you can order them by clicking here and here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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