The year was 44 AD, and Marcus Julius Agrippa, a clever politician, and diplomat, had acquired the Judean kingdom from his grandfather, Herod I, the Great. It was a beautiful morning in the seacoast city of Caesarea. The theater was filled to capacity, and the crowd was determined to gain favor from their Judean King.
Agrippa adorned himself in royal robes made of glistening silver and went out to address his audience. As he appeared before the people, his garments reflected the sun's rays, giving him a resplendent appearance. The crowd yelled out, "Agrippa's voice is that of a god, not a man."
Then this happened...
Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with sickness because he had accepted the people's worship instead of giving glory to God. Consequently, he was consumed with worms and died.
(Acts 12:23 NLT)
Agrippa didn't prevent them from uttering such a blasphemous statement, and immediately an Angel of the Lord afflicted him with worms inside his body. Josephus wrote that the pain originated in his belly, and the excruciating pain spread as the worms consumed him from within. He succumbed to death five days later. It is said that his demise was fitting, as he was spiritually corrupted from the inside out.
Are we capable of such arrogance? Could we be guilty of committing such sins? I recall someone telling me that the worship leader of their local congregation could rival anyone in terms of talent. They proclaimed, "Our worship leader is our Elvis!"
Rockstar status is coveted in various domains of the world, be it business, sports, movies, or music. The desire is to surpass others and distinguish oneself from peers. The world seeks to capture and nurture this status. It is often said that attitude is the key to becoming a rockstar as it shapes one's behavior. It is also a corrupting factor if not guided by God's rules.
A highly esteemed Brazilian worship leader shared with me how many young people in her country aspire to be leaders of worship because they desire fame. With tears welling in her eyes, she implored me to teach the next generation in Brazil about genuine worship. She was disheartened by statements such as, "I want to be a worship leader and be famous like you!"
Herein lies the deception. We believe that our proficiency in something is entirely our own doing. We convince ourselves that we possess the "X factor" that led to our success. After all, we paid our dues, underwent training, worked tirelessly, and defied naysayers. Instead of attributing glory to God, we attribute it to ourselves, believing that we are the reason, the key, and the talent.
This fate befell not only Agrippa but also the King of Tyre and Lucifer. God conveyed a message through the prophet Ezekiel, saying, "Give this message from the Sovereign LORD to the prince of Tyre: 'In your great pride, you claim, "I am a god! I sit on a divine throne"'" (Ezekiel 28:2). There is a dual significance here, as God is also referring to the angel of music, Lucifer. Interestingly both were prophesied to be covered with worms. (Isa 14:11)
I was relieved when "Pride Month" concluded. To think that we can defy the laws established by our Creator, which are intended for humanity's well-being, and elevate ourselves to the status of gods, crafting our own biological rules and taking pride in them, is blasphemous. By asserting, "I want to identify as a different gender than the one I was created," we claim to know better than God, don't like His choices, and insist on having our way. In essence, we are saying, I am god. I will create myself in the image I imagine. It is the same rebellious spirit that led to Lucifer's expulsion from heaven and Agrippa's death by worms.
Pride and arrogance lead to rebellion against God—a starting point for exalting ourselves above Him. Do we esteem, value, and worship other things, ideas, or even ourselves more than God? God dispatched an angel to strike down an arrogant leader because he failed to give God the glory and instead allowed himself to be worshipped. As a result, he was devoured by worms. Not halting the adoration and redirecting it to God was his transgression; instead, he accepted the praise and let the people call him god.
I encourage you to exercise utmost caution to always give glory to God, for it is in Him, by Him, and through Him that all things function and exist perfectly. Let us remember what He said, "I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved (human or digital) idols" (Isaiah 42:8 NLT, emphasis mine).