Jesus Christ is King over all. Any notion of reality that does not take him into consideration is, as Bonhoeffer said, an aberration. And so, because Jesus Christ is King, we must resist anything that would exalt government as a god.
23 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.
The point of this passage is that Herod accepted glory and exaltation that only belongs to the Lord. Notice too, that he did not actually proclaim himself as god. He just accepted the people’s adoration.
The Lord’s judgment was immediate. Herod was struck with internal bowel problems, described here as “eaten by worms.” It took five days for Herod to die, according to Josephus, and he died in agony. Josephus also notes that Herod died knowing what his sin was in this case, and he understood that his death was judgment for his hubris.
I think we, as the people of the United States, can take a note of warning from this. And, if you love our country, as I do, you would be wise to heed this warning. We do our country no favors by exalting it as a god, whether in adoration or by expectations.
The Lord raises up kings and nations, and he casts them down (Job 12:23). The Lord is a jealous God who will accept no other god before him (Exodus 20:3-5). The Lord is also a God who reserves the right to bring judgment when he wills. We have Herod as an example, and also consider Nebuchadnezzar from our OT reading.
We tempt the Lord and his judgment when we exalt politicians or the government to the place that is only the Lord’s to have. When the politicians or the government accepts or acts on that exaltation to the status of a god, then he, she, it or they risk God’s immediate judgment, possibly involving total destruction; even punishment upon the people of the nation.
Could America’s government be in trouble? Well, it seems likely, if not certain.
It claims separation of church and state, which is fine as long as it is under God. But separation of church and state has become increasingly separation of state from the Lord.
In some ways it has been set up as a god to people. For example, it has been set up as the provider; the one to whom people pray to help them with their needs and the troubles of life. Such exalts the government to be the ultimate hope of the people (their messiah). Some politicians even run on this platform.
It is very good at fulfilling some of the mandates of government, yet it is selective. This is evident in how our government is responsible for the murder of millions of innocent children, having abdicated its God-given responsibility to defend its people from evil.
It is as if our country is taunting God, daring him to bring judgment. Now, the Lord, as the true ultimate provider, has, by his grace, blessed our country with so much abundance to be beyond words. But how long will he tolerate our country’s sin?
By God’s grace, he has raised up many Christians who spend their lives in the public sphere in service to their God and country. They seek the glory of God, battling secularism every day, fighting for things like saving the lives of innocent children, seeking to limit government to its divine mandate under God, and resisting the urge to exalt government to the status of a god. Praise the Lord he has raised up such men and women as his servants.
Perhaps God is calling you to public service. We certainly need more disciples of Christ in politics and government, working for the Lord’s glory. But we don’t have to be a politician to have a say. As citizens, we are blessed to participate in our government by voting and through petitions. We must not neglect these blessings. Not every country has these rights.
Concerning voting, we need to be deliberate about it. Do we vote according to the Biblical teachings as to what responsibilities and the place the government is to have in our lives? Do we vote according to Biblical principles? Do we vote Christians into office, whenever possible, or do we vote based on worldly practicality? And do we vote according to what the media influences us to do based on passions and the trickery of false glory?
We are blessed in this country that we are able to vote according to our Christian beliefs. We really need to be prayerfully discerning and take advantage of this right. At least then, when the Lord does bring judgment, we will have acted according to his will. Because Jesus Christ is King, we must recognize that the Lord might bring judgment at any time.