Saturday, September 3, 2011

Corporate Prayer


Acts 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church.

Ever wonder which Herod –

There are so many Herods referred to in the New Testament that it can be difficult to know which one is being referred to in any given passage. However, if God decided to take the time and limited space afforded in the bible to mention someone by name, perhaps it would be reasonable for us to take a look at just who God is referring.

Now I know that some aren’t really excited about history but nonetheless, God is a true historian. And basically, not accounting for the spiritual impact of the bible it is, for the most part, a history book.

The first Herod, and perhaps the one we most often think of around Christmas time, was:

Herod the Great

Born 73BC – Died 4BC

Half Jew from Edom, the area south of Beersheba

First mentioned as Governor of Galilee

40BC Crowned King of Judea

A real builder of amphitheaters, hippodromes & anything Greek

Built the Temple in Jerusalem, as well as others to pagan gods

Super vain and super insecure, enough to kill his own children

Married ten wives to build alliances with other rulers

His last joy as king was to receive authority to kill another son,

Antipater, who would have succeeded him - 5 days later

he died himself leaving orders that upon his death the

principle men of the country, whom he had shut up in the

hippodrome at Jericho, were to be slaughtered so that he

might not go down to the grave without a tribute of tears.

It is said that it was safer to be Herod’s pig than his child

Matthew 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.

This is the Herod who, in the last demented years of insecure reign was visited by the magi, wise men from the east. They had seen a sign in the heavens and had come to worship the newborn King. This same Herod, Herod the Great, lied to those wise men and told them to return to him with news of the birth and location of this King so he could also come and worship. All the while, Herod intended to find and kill the child.

After some time when the wise men, who were warned by an angel, did not return to Herod with the information he requested, he made inquiry as to where this Messiah was to be born according to scriptures. Then he sent armies to Bethlehem and slaughtered every male child 2 years old and younger, according to time the wise men had declared.

Herod the Great died in 4BC making it necessary to fix the time of the birth of Jesus at some point prior to that date. So, Jesus was not born in the year zero but most likely in the year we calculate as closer to 6BC.

When Herod the Great died he left a will asking that his son, Herod Archelaus be made his successor. Even though the Jewish people detested being under the governance of the Herodians and petitioned Rome to be placed under Syrian rule, Caesar followed Herod the Great’s wishes and made Archelaus ruler over half of his father’s kingdom.

Herod Archelaus

Ruled from 3BC until AD7

Over: Judea, Samaria & Idumaea (Edom)

Includes: Jerusalem, Caesarea, Joppa, Beersheba

The other half of Herod’s kingdom was given to Antipas, another son of Herod, which included the Galilee.

He roused opposition by marrying his brother’s wife

Was banished to Gaul in AD7

Matthew 2

22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee.

23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene."

This was the son of Herod referred to in Matthew 2:22 who made Joseph afraid to remain in or near Bethlehem upon returning with Jesus and Mary from Egypt. Hearing that Archelaus reigned in Judea in place of his father, Herod the Great, Joseph moved his family to Nazareth where He could be raised in greater safety.

This allows us to know that Jesus began His young life, living in Nazareth, at some point near 3BC, at which time He would most likely been about 3 years old, give or take a year at most.

Herod Antipas

Made Tetrarch of Galilee upon the death of his father

He also married his brother, Herod Phillip’s wife, Herodias

Herodias was also the niece of Herod Antipas – a family affair

Built the city of Tiberius and named it after the emperor

Imprisoned John the Baptist in a fortress east of the Dead Sea

because John the Baptist was outspoken about his marriage to Herodias.

He beheaded John the Baptist at the request of Salome, the evil daughter of Herodias, as a reward her dance.

Luke 23

7 And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

8 Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him.

9 Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing.

10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him.

11 Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate.

When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane they took Him first to the house of the High Priest. Those persecutors blindfolded Jesus, mocked Him, struck Him and falsely accused Him of blasphemy all during the night. When it was morning they set Jesus before the council and ask Him if He was the Messiah.

The answer so enraged them that they took Jesus to Pontius Pilate because the Jewish Council did not have authority to condemn a person to death. Pilate questioned Jesus but found no fault in Him. However, with all the stir it would be difficult to let Jesus go free. Upon hearing that Jesus was from the Galilee region and knowing that Herod Antipas, the Roman ruler of Galilee was presently in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, Pilate saw a political escape for himself and a way to repair a strained relationship … Pilate ordered Jesus taken across town to the palace where Herod Antipas was staying. (You can read this account in Luke 23)

Herod was actually glad to see Jesus face to face since he had heard so much about Him. Herod hoped that he would get to see Jesus perform some miracle. With all of Herod’s questioning of Jesus, Jesus answered him nothing. Herod and his men made sport of Jesus, mocked Him and made fun of Him. After some time, Herod placed a royal robe on Jesus and sent Him back to Pilate. Interesting to note that this exchange of prisoner mockings created a never before enjoyed bond of friendship between Pilate and Herod Antipas.

Even though Pilate is much credited with the scourging and execution of Jesus, Herod Antipas was also a part of that cruel trial.

Herod Antipas went to Rome at the request of Herodias to seek a better title than Tetrarch of Galilee. Her brother, Agrippa, had just been made King and she hoped the same for Antipas. However, Agrippa accused Antipas of crimes against Rome … Caesar banished Antipas to France. Herodias accompanied Herod Antipas and they lived out their lives and died in exile.

King Agrippa I

Grandson of Herod the Great

Son of Aristobulus, and brother of Herodias, nephew of Antipas

Agrippa was deep in debt and in prison in Rome under Tiberius

When Caesar Tiberius died, Caius set him free & promoted him

Made King and eventually replaced Herod Antipas in AD39

Herod Agrippa I ruled over a kingdom larger than that of Herod

the Great.

He had a great love and zeal for the law and desired to please

the people

Persecuted the Church to win favor with the Jewish leaders

Beheaded James the brother of John in about AD44

Arrested and imprisoned Peter expecting to execute him

Died at Caesarea, eaten by worms, after accepting man’s praise

Acts 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church.

This is the Herod of Acts 12, Herod Agrippa I who betrayed his own sister and brother-in-law, who was also his uncle, to seek their lands after that they were banished to France. Agrippa was a conceited and vain man … it finally killed him.

King Herod Agrippa II

Son of King Agrippa I

Not old enough, (17), to rule upon his father’s death, AD44

Became King of Judea in about AD50

Cruelly ruled the Jews of Judea for near 20 years

Moved to Rome and died there at about 70 yrs old

Acts 26

27 "King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe."

28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian."

This is the Herod to which Paul testified in Caesarea as recorded in Acts 26, just before Paul was taken to Rome on his appeal to Caesar.

Back to our message for this morning and the Herod of Peter’s day – Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great.

Acts 12

1 ¶ Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church.

2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

3 And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread.

4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.

5 ¶ Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.

19 But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and stayed there.

Our Points for today are these:

· Constant Prayer

Pray without ceasing …

· To God

All prayer is directed to God!

· For Him

Prayer has an aim – it is for a purpose

· By the Church

Corporate prayer is both Biblical and evidently powerful