‘The word of God increased and multiplied’, v.24, is the summary of this passage. We need to remember and be encouraged that no power can triumph over the word of God and those who attempt to harm God’s people will in the end face judgement themselves. We might find this difficult to comprehend when we speak a Gospel of Grace but there is a difference between the sinner convicted and reconciled to God and an ego that takes all the credit for their achievements.
Firstly we have Herod. An explanation first of the names of Herod – in v.20 the Herod mentioned is Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great who was the Herod that the wise men visited around the time of Jesus’ birth. The Herod mentioned in 13:1 is Herod the Tetrarch, a younger son of Herod the Great and instrumental in John the Baptist’s death. He ended his days in exile having fallen out with the Roman emperor. So here we have Herod Agrippa fresh from his persecution of the early church glorifying in man’s acclaim.
This acclaim in v.22 “The voice of a god, and not a man!” came from the delegation of the twin cities Tyre and Sidon. How often do these two cities appear in the Bible; cities which were important trading ports situated on the coast of modern day Lebanon. The people of Tyre heard Jesus speak (Mark 3:8; Luke 6:17), and he described Tyre as a heathen city which would bear less responsibility than those Galilean towns which constantly witnessed his ministry (Matthew 11:21-22). Sidon, throughout its history was the location of the temple of Eshmun, the god of healing. It is thus significant that Jesus healed the Syro-Phoenician woman’s daughter in the region of Sidon (Mark 7:24-31). Many Sidonians listened to his teaching (Mark 3:8). Oh how quickly teaching and signs have been forgotten. In worshipping Herod they had put commerce (money) before the worship of God.
The worship of God is part of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3). God demands exclusive covenant loyalty. As the one true God of heaven and earth, he cannot and will not tolerate the worship of any “other gods”. Compare Peter’s response in Acts 10:26, the immediate response “stand up; I too am a man” shows the glory and worship go to God for who he is and what he has done. Yes it is a commandment, but how much greater and more worthy is our worship when it comes from transformed and redeemed lives and lifestyles, that is – hearts changed!
We see worship in action in 13:2 – do you see how it is more than singing of songs; they were worshipping, fasting and praying – hearts were prepared for what God wanted to do. It is during their worship that the Holy Spirit speaks direction for the next phase of growth and they lay hands on Barnabas and Saul, pray and send them out on their travels proclaiming the word of God.
‘But the word of God increased and multiplied.’
Question – Are we willing to look at the whole subject of worship in our lives and living out the directions that the Holy Spirit shows? Opposition will come (v.8) but people will believe and be astonished at the teaching of the Lord (v.12). Our worship isn’t just about Sunday; we need to be prepared for when we come into His presence as The Gateway Church and in our times with him in the secret place, our time alone with him. Worship shapes our whole lives and what we receive from Him we can then give out. More Lord – Bless your name Lord – Thank you Jesus.