For a 50-minute teaching, I need 5 pages of notes. Often, however, as I finish up my notes, I have to cut out half a page or sometimes a full page of notes to fit everything in to the appropriate time. The bummer with that is that it leaves me with a bunch of leftovers – stuff I wish I would have had time to include.
I decided that instead of putting all my leftovers down the garbage disposal, I’ll start blogging them. I won’t do it after every time I teach, but every once in a while, I hope I’m able to deliver some tasty little after-sermon snacks for you!
Today, however, is far from tasty.
Last night, I taught on Acts 12 – a chapter that beautifully displays God’s power over impossible situations (like being imprisoned with 16 Roman soldiers) and God’s power over God-less enemies (like Herod who allowed people to worship him as a god). Herod comes to a very abrupt end in Acts 12 after putting himself on display for all to worship but not giving God the glory.
Acts 12:23 – Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.
Those were not some alien, mutant worms. They were probably tape worms. I didn’t want to ruin everyone’s dinner by discussing this in church last night, so I figured I’d share it here with the above disclaimer. Although it’s disgusting, I know, I was fascinated by it, and if you’re still reading this, I think you will be too.
Here’s what one Medical Doctor had to say about vs. 23…
Dr. Jean Sloat Morton comments,
The phrase “eaten of worms,” in Greek is skolakobrotos. The root word skolax means “a specific head structure of a tapeworm.” Since the word scolex (Plural scolices) is applied to the head of tapeworms, Herod’s death was almost certainly due to the rupture of a cyst formed by a tapeworm. There are several kinds of tapeworms, but one of the most common ones found in sheep-growing countries is the dog tape, Echinococcus granulosus. The heaviest infections come from areas where sheep and cattle are raised. Sheep and cattle serve as intermediate hosts for the parasite. The dog eats the infected meat, then man gets the eggs from the dog, usually by fecal contamination of hair.
The disease is characterized by the formation of cysts, generally on the right lobe of the liver; these may extend down into the abdominal cavity. The rupture of such a cyst may release as many as two million scolices. The developing worms inside of the cysts are called scolices, because the anterior region constitutes the major part of development at this stage. When the cyst ruptures, the entrance of cellular debris along with the scolices may cause sudden death.
The use of the word scolex is not limited to this reference about Herod; the term also appears in Mark 9:44. A literal translation of the phrase in Mark 9:44 would read, “where their scolex dieth not.” This usage is very interesting because the tapeworm keeps propagating itself. Each section of the worm is a self-contained unit which has both male and female parts. The posterior part matures and forms hundreds of worm eggs. The word scolex in this text portrays a biological description of permanence which the text demands for the comparison. (Science in the Bible [Chicago: Moody, 1978], 261–62)
MacArthur, J. (1994). Acts (Ac 12:20). Chicago: Moody Press.
In other words, a more accurate way to think of Herod dying is to imagine 2 million worms exploding from his liver and having a Herod feast from the inside-out. According to Josephus, this lasted about 5 days, then bye-bye Herod. What a tragic end for a man that had been worshiped as a god just days earlier.
This has been edition #1 of Sermon Leftovers. I hope you’ve enjoyed it (if that’s possible).