SERIES: The Book of Acts

TEXT: Acts 12:20-25

MESSAGE: “How Long Oh Lord?”

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“O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?” — Habakkuk 1:2 
“God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to permit no evil to exist.” — Augustine
“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.” — Acts 12:1-3
TEXT: Acts 12:20-25
Q: How does the early church pray and trust God in evil times?
 
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” — Ephesians 5:15-17
We learn three lessons today about how we can trust God in evil times. 
 
We learn: 1. The reality of human authority 2. The temptation to accommodate evil 3. The perfect reign of God
  1. The reality of human authority (v. 20)
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.
  1. The temptation to accommodate evil (v. 21-22)
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!”
You start taking people’s words as the words of God
Why are the people doing this? For practical reasons, they are hungry. They need food, and in many ways, they are looking to Herod to fulfill their needs. And they are willing to accommodate the evil practices of Herod and to lift him up as god, then to starve.
  1. The perfect reign of God (v. 23-25)
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.”
TAKEAWAYS
  • Live under human authority while patiently trusting God’s authority
“Carry the cross patiently, and with perfect submission; and in the end it shall carry you.” — Thomas a Kempis
  • Reflect on the reality of evil in the world and how God overcomes it
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33
  • Ask God to search your heart because God alone is good
“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.” — Proverbs 16:2
“And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times.” — Psalm 12:6
  • Remember that human power is temporary and God’s is eternal
“We humans make plans, but the Lord has the final word.” — Proverbs 16:1
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
— Isaiah 53:3-6