Sermon Summary - To Oppose God’s Glory is to Lose in the End
To Oppose God’s Glory is to Lose in the End - Acts 12:18-24
As we continue in Acts 12, the main point is clear: God created the universe for His glory, and those who oppose His glory by lifting themselves up, in the end will lose. But those who were glory seekers, and are now objects of God’s mercy and have turned to lift up His glory through the gospel of Jesus, will win. Luke portrays the church as feeling insignificant in the vast Roman empire with Herod Agrippa having just killed James. The story then turned as God rescued Peter from prison, and later sends an angel to kill Herod. The truth of God’s word continued marching on, multiplying and increasing. The reality of God’s people has been the story of human history, feeling insignificant, lonely, and abandoned. But the message of the saints that came before us has remained the same: hold firm to the gospel, despite changes in the opposing culture and government.
Continuing in verse 20 (Acts 12:20), right after an angel had rescued Peter from prison, we see Herod’s anger as he ordered the deaths of the soldiers who were in charge of Peter. Herod’s pursuit of glory was stripped which caused him to stop caring about the Jews and turn his focus to Caesarea. Herod loved the praise of men which caused a head-on collision with God. Luke could have chosen to skip over Herod’s death but he wanted believers to see the sin of glory seeking. According to Josephus, Herod was seeking favor with Caesar by putting on athletic games. Luke writes that Herod delivered a speech but doesn’t include it’s content. Instead he focused on what Herod looked like and the response of the crowds. Herod wore a royal robe made out of silver causing him to shine when the sun hit him, mesmerizing the crowd. They ascribed deity to the king, which he gladly received. God sovereignly allowed this so we can see where self exaltation leads to, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled” (Luke 14:11). "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” (Acts 12:23). Josephus explains that Herod immediately went down with horrific stomach pain and suffered for five days until he died. Even though Herod knew the word of the Lord, knew about King Nebuchadnezzar and how he was humbled, he never gave God the glory.
The message is clear, God is not to be trifled with. He created the universe for His glory and those who oppose His glory by exalting themselves will, sooner or later, lose. “I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8). To seek glory for ourselves is to declare war on God. This same God also saves sinners to extend His glory, in order to make a name for Himself. (Isaiah 43:7, Ephesians 1:5-6, 2 Thessalonians 1:10). No one can be devoted to Jesus and seek our own glory at the same time. We as believers should beware of the temptation to our pride, arrogance, and self exaltation. The promotion and glory seeking of ourselves is inherently wrong and sinful. Herod is an example of foolishness, even when he seemed to be something worthy of praise. The only reason we won’t receive the same judgement is because of the unmerited mercy and forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ. We are called to be like Peter, when he lifted Cornelius up from worshipping him saying “Stand up; I too am a man” (Acts 10:26). The secret of cutting the root of self glorification is by finding more delight and joy in the glory of God and holding on to the truth in 1 Peter 1:8 “though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that inexpressible and filled with glory.”
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