February 29, 2004
Seattle's famed Kingdome- home of the Seahawks, Mariners, and even at times the SuperSonics, was destroyed on March 26, 2000.
Maryland based Controlled Demolition Inc (CDI) was hired to do the job of imploding the 25,000 ton structure (second in fame only to the Space Needle) that had marked Seattle's skyline for almost 25 years.
One of the most noteworthy things about this event was the unusual measures taken to ensure no one was hurt. CDI had experience with over 7,000 demolitions and knew how to protect people. Engineers checked and rechecked the structure. Several blocks around the Kingdome were evacuated. Safety measures were in place to allow the countdown to stop at any time if there was concern about safety. All workers were individually accounted for by radio before the explosives were detonated. A large public address system was used to announce the final countdown.
In short, CDI took every reasonable measure and more to warn people of the impending danger. And the good news is it worked.
The Bible teaches of a final judgement and destruction for this sinful world. Like the engineers who blew up the Kingdome, our Heavenly Father has spared no expense to make sure everybody can "get out" safely. He warns us through our consciences, through the prophets, through the Word of God, through the Holy Spirit, through the Church, and through His Son. And to show us how serious He is, God will occasionally do something in a public and awful way to wake us up.
There were several Herods mentioned in the New Testament. This one is Herod Agrippa I. He is the grandson of Herod the Great (who killed the babies of Bethlehem and killed this Herod's father). Agrippa was the nephew of Herod Antipas who killed John the Baptist and tortured Jesus. Agrippa grew up in Rome in the lap of luxury, living a playboy lifestyle, until debtors chased him back to a hideout in the Middle East.
While he lived in Rome he became close friends with Caligula and Claudius, future Emperors. When they came into power they brought their old friend out of hiding and established him on a throne and expanded his territory.
Herod Agrippa was the best loved of all the Herods. His grandfather the Great was an Edomite with a hint of a Jewish uncle. Edom helped Nebucanezer defeat Judea. Clearly he was not Jewish enough to be a Jewish king. However, Herod the Great married, among others, a princess of the Macabee family. From this princess came Agrippa's father. So, Agrippa had a Jewish pedigree, and when in Israel, he acted Kosher.
This made him popular and he tried to refine his popularity by attacking the followers of Jesus. His execution of James was so effective that he arrested Peter intending to kill him after the eight day holy day festival.
It is here that he meets his ugly death, worms and all. A Jewish historian, Josephus, has an account of Herod's death very similar to Luke's. He tells how Herod came into the stadium wearing a robe woven of pure silver. The crowds called out, "We used to fear and respect you as a great man. But now we revere you as immortal." Josephus, without knowledge of Luke and vice versa, tells how he immediately was struck with abdominal pains and carried out of the theater. Soon thereafter he died in terrible agony.
Luke makes it clear that God had a hand in Herod's death. It was a judgement for his ego-mania or pride that left no room for reverence for anyone but himself.
The New Testament records two important confessions. The first is found in Matthew 16:16 where Peter told Jesus, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." With Peter we must all stand before Jesus and acknowledge or confess that He is Lord. This is part of our Christianizing experience.
The second confession is found in Acts 14. Paul and Barnabus had just prayed for a miracle and God had healed a man who had been crippled from birth. The crowds went crazy dancing and singing and worshiping Paul and Barnabus as Greek gods. But when Paul realized what they were doing he tore his cloths in an act of extreme grief and ran into the crowd yelling, "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you (Acts 14:15)."
The very first lesson of faith is simple- but it gets to the core of everything: God is God and I am not. If you want proof- think of it this way- you had nothing to do with your birth; you could not take care of yourself in the smallest way for several years, and even now you can not make your own groceries or refine your own petroleum or manufacture your own medicine or build your own car from raw materials out of the Earth.
You are pretty much dependent on a whole lot of people just to stay alive. Say it with me: God is God and I am not.
Herod like many men in powerful positions had reached a place where his ego was king. He bowed to no one. His pride-filled state of mind was driving his destiny. Who knows what horrifying wickedness was just around the corner. God put a stop to Herod's self worship in a dramatic way.
Today a high degree of self regard is not thought to be a problem. Usually, it's valued. Korean high school students may average 200 points higher on a standardized math test, but American students are far superior in self-esteem. Today, that's what matters.
God wants to greatly enrich our lives by filling us with His Spirit, but when we are full of ourselves, there is no room for His Spirit. The danger is that we can reach a point of being permanently full of ourselves. All that is left is to guide that imperial ego through life, until we set it down before the judgement throne.
Do you believe in a Judgement day? Many do not. They believe God has one task: to help, console, encourage, and be friendly. Suggest He is going to weigh justice and punish short coming- that will cause deep frowns and shaking heads. The general mood of our culture lives for pleasure and amusement, ridiculing the Christian idea that after death comes judgement.
However, the Bible lays fairly heavy emphasis on judgement. Remember the times God acted as Judge. It started when He expelled Adam and Eve from Paradise. Then Genesis records God's judgement on the corrupt world in the flood. Genesis 18-19 relate the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. In Genesis 18: 25 Abraham said, "Shall not the judge of all the Earth do right." And of course He did.
Exodus 32 reports the account of the slaying of all the Israelites who got involved in the Golden Calf incident. In the New Testament the deceitfulness of Ananaias and Sapphira lead to their deaths in public condemnation by God. Paul reminded the church of Corinth that many in their church had died because of the irreverent way they were receiving the Lord's Supper. And here, we have this incident with Herod Agrippa.
Each of these incidents involving death serves to illustrate a taste of Judgement Day. In regard to that day Paul told the philosophers at Athens, "God has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:31)."
The Father has appointed Jesus, the Son to weigh the issues of right and wrong and hand out justice on That Day. Does this make God harsh, mean, abusive? Most of the gods of pagans cared nothing for justice. They were concerned only about their own appetites and whims. Think about Zeus or Baal. A Holy God is a unique concept! What does it mean to have a God who is very concerned about balancing the scale between right and wrong?
One thing it means is that God is good and worth respecting. Parents who know their children have committed acts of purposeful harm- and remain indifferent have tarnished their own souls. A parental duty is to instill a sense of right and wrong. To prioritize family loyalty above all else corrupts a culture. Moral indifference is a flaw and a character weakness. To not judge a world engulfed in wickedness, to be morally indifferent to crime, sin, evil, and viciousness would be a sign of malignancy.
Jesus as judge stands at the end of life's road for every individual. Paul told the Corinthians, "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (II Corinthians 5:10)."
If we know ourselves at all, we know that we are not fit to meet Jesus as Judge. The goodness of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection is what we desperately need and what he freely offers! We can fall on the mercy of the Judge today, and with full surrender, find healing and hope and life...
Or we can avoid him, we can run from Jesus (and what we think are His uncomfortable demands), but we will meet Him later as Judge. Today is another opportunity to find life in Jesus. The Bible says, "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)."