... continued from last week
One of the most striking of the prophecies in those days was the prophecy of Agabus that there would be a famine in Judea. This prophecy came the year after Herod Agrippa I had James the son of Zebedee put to death, after which the Lord justly ended Agrippa's reign.
In the last year of his reign, Agrippa had James, the brother of John, beheaded. James had been preaching strongly at the temple that Jesus would return soon to judge the world. "No Herod was truly king," he said. The true King Jesus would come back to Jerusalem and re-establish the true kingdom of Israel.
Suffice it to say, Agrippa was not pleased when he heard such "sedition." He had James beheaded almost immediately. Imagine his surprise, then, to receive such strong voices of support from the leaders of the temple and the Sanhedrin. Herod Agrippa had done what many of them had wanted to do for over a decade.
Such leaders do not get that sort of approval often, so Agrippa proceeded next to throw Peter himself into jail. James the brother of Jesus was not in the city at that time. However, this time the Lord intervened. He enabled Peter to walk out of the prison and escape the city before Agrippa even realized he was gone.
The year was not over before Agrippa himself was dead. In a spectacle, he appeared in Caesarea along the coast in magnificent silver clothing. The reflection was so amazing that some in the crowds began to say that he was a god.
That was enough for Yahweh. Agrippa immediately began to experience sharp pains in his bowels. It was not five days before he was dead.
It was that same year that Spirit revealed to Agabus that the church at Antioch should store extra food because those in Judea would need it the following winter and spring. Sure enough, the crops of Judea were so sparse that year that fear of starvation rattled not only Jerusalem but the villages all the way north to Galilee.
Once again, Barnabas volunteered Paul to go with him to take wheat and barley for the churches of Jerusalem. He was still working to bring this Saul of Tarsus out of the shadows and into the full mission of the gospel. They both made the fifteen day journey from Antioch to Jerusalem with the help of several other young men.
The followers of the Way in Jerusalem were overjoyed. The fulfillment of the prophecy was such a powerful witness that many who had been enemies of Christ came to believe. They went from despair over James to elation at the miracles of God. Of course those on the Sanhedrin merely became more envious of James the brother of Jesus and the churches of Judea. But it would take them almost twenty more years before they found their opportunity to kill this James.