You’ve probably heard the old saying, “The apple does not fall far from the tree.” In the case of Herod Agrippa, the apple didn’t fall far from the grand-tree, Herod the Great.
Herod the Great, who was king over Israel (under Rome) when Jesus was born, was notorious for his ruthlessness toward those who appeared to be a threat to his throne. When he died, the Romans divided his territory between 3 of his sons, who each took the title “Herod”. 3 other sons were killed as the family members fought among themselves for the crown.
After Gaius Caligula became emperor of Rome, he appointed Agrippa, the son of Aristobulus (1 of the 3 sons who was killed in the family fight for the throne), as king over Israel. Gaius Caligula and Agrippa had been raised together in Rome, where they became friends. Agrippa continued to support the promotion of Gaius as emperor, which probably explains why Gaius eventually granted Agrippa almost all the land his grandfather, Herod the Great, had ruled.
Unfortunately, Agrippa appears to have acquired his grandfather’s ruthless political jealousy. As the early church began to grow, Herod Agrippa must have viewed those followers of Jesus as a threat to his rule. He began to persecute them. He even killed James, the apostle of Jesus and the brother of John the apostle. When Agrippa saw that this gained him some favor among the Jewish leaders, he arrested Peter… but an angel opened the locked gates which allowed Peter to escape from prison unharmed.
Herod made a fatal error while on a visit to Caesarea, during which he delivered a moving speech… telling the people everything they wanted to hear. Inspired, the citizens there proclaimed Herod Agrippa to be a god, and Agrippa was only too willing to receive their praise. In that very moment, he was struck with a painful disease… and died within a week (Acts 12).
Herod Agrippa was uncommonly evil, but his prideful disposition is still prevalent today.
Most of us know what it feels like to receive acknowledgement for something(s) we have accomplished. And most of us would have to admit that affirmation feels good. But, Agrippa’s story reminds us of the foolishness of wanting to receive credit for our achievements, rather than giving the glory to God.
When others acknowledge your abilities, take the opportunity to acknowledge God as the Source of our success.
* There is great danger in accept praise only God deserves.
You can read Herod Agrippa’s story in Acts 12:1-23.