“Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.”
This Herod Agrippa I, spoken of in this scripture, was a terrible ruler and terrorist to the entire land. In his line of reigning despots was a grandfather (Herod the Great) who killed the children trying to get rid of the promised king – Jesus.
Agrippa’s father was then Herod Antipas who beheaded John the Baptist and was an enemy to Jesus and all believers as well as a vicious ruler over the Jewish people.
Some of the parents of the children who were murdered by Herod the Great were still alive when John the Baptist preached at the Jordan. Some may even have heard Jesus preach and may have seen Him perform miracles.
After Herod Antipas was deported and his son, Herod Agrippa, was made king there were probably still parents alive who’s children were murdered by Herod the Great – this new Herod’s evil grandfather. The people had been under the evil rulership of Herod’s for at least four generations.
And yet the recipients of the Herods’ torturous rulership were still alive while this Herod Agrippa I was ruling in his inherited pompous pride.
He made quite a speech that day. He may have been patronized a bit by the crowd but he definitely accepted their praise and perhaps their manipulative flattery. His ego reigned over his sense of leadership. He was serving himself and not the people he governed. He had missed the point of life completely. It cost him his life and justice was served by “an angel of the Lord.”
This Herod allowed his ego to reign with sovereignty over his thought life. Protecting himself and doing whatever made himself feel good was his ruling paradigm. This leader/king showed himself powerful, making every excuse in the book as to why he should be a tyrant.
Yet a little bit of this extreme thinking and behavior can be in any person of leadership of any kind or application. Parenting, supervision, teaching, pastoring, or mentoring can have egomania that is harmful to all concerned.
I feel that this scripture is an important look into the justice that prevails in God’s kingdom dynamics. Without a cleansing of the heart all leadership is egotistical false authority instead of servitude.
Worms are a main figure of speech that portrays the decay of the body – the decay of life. Worms do not signify life abundantly.
Jesus came to give us that “zoe” kind of life. (zoe = Greek for superfluous life given by God alone).1
The cleansing process can be difficult if you hold onto your ego with pride of ownership or fear the disappearance of your identity. Cleansing your speech is a good beginning but knowing that there is life in putting the egotism to death is the path to a peace filled life without strife and antagonism with the heart of God in all matters.
Then there is the praise release that we have available by giving all honorable praises to the Lord Himself. All things come from Him. All that I have belongs to Him. All that I am is surely His as well. The Lord never strokes my ego and I need not try to stroke His. He cannot be patronized nor flattered but the truth prevails when I think, with thanksgiving, of how He has provided. His providence is of all wisdom and knowledge, power, glory and strength.
Giving glory to the Lord cannot become some religious phrase or rote statement but a heart felt thesis proclaimed by the one whose ego is removed from the factor and is not ashamed to give the glory where the glory is due.
You see, “the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I am come that you might have life, (zoe) and that you might have it more abundantly.” – Jesus Christ2
This God kind of life is the opposite of the worms. You need worms for fishing, maybe. You might need some worms for the garden, too. But the pride-filled egomania of your identity crisis is something you don’t need. Those worms that decay your life one morsel at a time are not what you want or need.
When your focus is upon your leadership then the only person you are truly serving is you. When your focus is upon the people you are serving, then you are too busy making the people a safe haven for their lives so that they may prosper and be in health that you no longer have time to focus on your great leadership.
The scripture should be a word of warning to the politicians of our day. You know the ones who say they are serving the public but are really working their politics with themselves in mind and would never bring any hardship to themselves on behalf of the people they should be serving, thus they invite patronage and flattery and will do anything needed for the vote, for the money, for the power. Worms are inevitable.
Abstain from these evils. Work with the Holy Spirit on your own heart.
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”3