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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

It Pleased the Jews (Acts 12.3)
Date Posted: October 31, 2020

Politics, depending on how and where the word is used, has many shades of meaning. The word can be descriptive of the occupation of a principled patriot, or it can be used to describe the deeds of a despot. The difference arises from the motives and principles of the politician. Some make decisions based upon what they personally expect to get out of the process. They may obtain power, money, fringe benefits, or they may just get to keep their job. In any of the above cases, politics is a dirty word. That is what we get when character is not considered in electing or appointing our leaders.

However, not all politicians are elected or appointed. Some politicians obtain their position by succession and retain it by “playing politics” with the masses. Today’ focus passage deals with a politician of the rankest sort. Pay particular attention to the words of the following passage: “Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 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. 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.” (Acts 12.1-4).

The Herod involved in this passage was Herod Agrippa. He was a grandson of Herod the Great and was appointed to his position by Caligula, the Roman Emperor. His major tasks were 1) To keep the Emperor happy by maintaining peace in his areas of responsibility, and 2) To collect and forward the taxation demanded by the central government. It was in regards to the first of these responsibilities that the king could become a politician in the worst sense of the word. Carefully consider what motivated Agrippa to seize the apostle Peter. It had nothing to do with Peter’s compliance with law or custom; it had everything to do with what the people liked. To state it as did the inspired author, Herod arrested Peter when he saw that his ruthless execution of was well accepted by the Jews of the region. In other words, his arrest of Peter was merely to curry favor with the Jews and had nothing to do with justice. He was “playing politics” of the rankest sort.

A principled man (a man of character) would have had little or no regards for how the people felt about the execution of James. The fact that Agrippa took notice of the Jews’ reaction and then acted in a manner to further please them, speaks volumes about the man. He sold out his principles (if he had any to begin with) for the continued favor of the people. I don’t know whether or not there were polling services available at the time, but had there been, Agrippa would have been content to have governed by the polls. He was, in the worst sense of the word, a politician’s politician.

In matters of morals and ethics, the Bible strictly and consistently condemns such actions. The Scriptures teach that there is such a thing as absolute right and absolute wrong. These are non-negotiable values to which all who believe God must ascribe. One cannot be a believer and be a politician in the sense that Agrippa was a politician. Good exists and just that surely, evil exists. Polls cannot erase these realities. An overwhelming majority of the people followed by the ratification of an amendment by all fifty states cannot overturn even the “smallest” of God’s decrees!

As believers, we have a responsibility to promote men and women of character. To do otherwise is to compromise the fundamental principles that undergird the concepts of right and wrong, good and evil!

Questions:

1. What is revealed about Herod’s character by the fact that he arrested Peter merely for the favor it would gain him with the masses?

2. Who defines right and wrong, good and evil? What effect do polls have on these definitions? If all people think that stealing is good, does that mean stealing is good? Why or why not?

3. Can people play politics in situations that have nothing to do with civil government (say at the office, at church, etc.)? If so, how?

4. How can we individually protect ourselves from playing politics in our everyday lives?

"Today's Little Lift" from Jim Bullington

Heir of the World (Romans 4:13)

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Biography Information:
Jim Bullington - A Christian writer whose insight into the scriptures is reflected in practical application lessons in every article. The reader will find that the Bible speaks directly to him/her through these articles. God is always exalted and His word is treated with the utmost respect in this column.
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