Old Testament reading: Ezekiel 24-25
Ezekiel exemplifies the power of the human will when it is in submission to the will of God. In an unspeakable series of events, God again uses the prophet as a living picture and lesson for Judah. In Ezekiel 24:16-17, God tells the prophet, “Son of man, behold, I take away from you the desire of your eyes with one stroke. Yet you shall neither mourn nor weep, nor shall your tears run down. Sigh in silence, make no mourning for the dead… and do not eat man’s bread of sorrow.” The following morning, Ezekiel gave his people the parable of the boiling pot, and that evening his wife died. Moreover Ezekiel did exactly as the Lord commanded him. So obvious was Ezekiel’s demeanor in light of such a great tragedy that the people instinctively knew it involved them, asking, “Will you not tell us what these things signify to us, that you behave so?” (v 18). Ezekiel tells them that they shall act as he has when they hear of the destruction of Jerusalem. The picture of their silence is not a lack of emotion, but to be stunned by the magnitude of the loss. In times of great tragedy, tears fail because they are insufficient to express one’s grief and we must be comforted as we “sigh in silence” (v 17).
New Testament reading: Acts 11-12
“And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God.” So begins the curse of death upon Herod. But why would the people of Tyre and Sidon shout concerning Herod, “The voice of a god and not of a man!”? Josephus records that Herod had worn a garment made wholly of silver and had entered the theater as the sun began to rise before his face. The reflection of the sun on the woven silver “was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those that looked intented upon him.” It was at this moment they began to cry to Herod, “Be thou merciful to us (cf Acts 12:20); for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to mortal nature.” Herod did not rebuke their blasphemous praise, and was struck by God, eaten of worms and died. Note the order of events. Not died and eaten of worms as we might think. Herod’s curse was excruciatingly painful, lasting several days before he died. (For more on this account, see Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 19.343-350).