Volume. XXXIV, No. 9
Sunday, 01 September 2019

From the Pastor’s Heart: Jerusalem (11)

We have been surveying the history of Jerusalem including important events and individuals related to the city.  It is my hope that you have been enjoying reading this series of articles.  I have tried to bring some unfamiliar reading materials to your attention, because they do enlighten us with many hidden and background stories of the city.  After this article, I am going to write one more to learn more about the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70.  Let me begin with the final figure we want to know about.

King Agrippa

King Agrippa is the person found in Acts 12:1, “Now about that time, Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.”  We should not  confuse him with Herod the Great or other Herods.  Having read his life story, I cannot judge him as a good character.  He took bribes and was in debt.  He had to run away a few times to escape the dangers of being arrested.  His wife or his sister had to rescue him from such precarious situations.  He was a grandson of Herod the Great and son of Aristobulus IV and Berenice.  He befriended Caligula who became an emperor later and was awarded with position and power.  After Caligula's assassination in AD 41, Agrippa was in the middle of power struggles by people who wanted to be the next emperor.  However, he cleverly maneuvered through dangerous paths and sided with Claudius, who became the next emperor and showered him with even greater rewards than before.  His domain more or less equaled that which was held by his grandfather, Herod the Great.  He began to build the third and outer walls of Jerusalem but could not complete the work.  (He also risked his life to persuade Caligula on behalf of the Jews not to set up his statue in the Temple at Jerusalem.  His efforts were successful but soon after, the emperor issued a second order to have his statue erected in the Temple. His death in AD 41 prevented it from happening). 

Acts 12 opens with Herod’s persecution of the Christian churches and ends with his death.  He killed James, the brother of John, son of Zebedee (v 2), which pleased the Jews (v 3a).  Then he proceeded to put Peter in prison around the time of Passover (vv 3-4).  While he was in prison, the church prayed for him without ceasing (v 5) and the angel of the Lord delivered him out of prison (vv 7-17), which caused Herod Agrippa to kill the prison guards (v 19).  His death is recorded in verses 20-23.  Before we read these verses, we may want to read how Flavius Josephus wrote about Agrippa’s death in his book, Antiquities, chapter 8, book 19, 2, as follows:

Now when Agrippa had reigned three years over all Judea, he came to the city Cæsarea, which was formerly called Strato’s Tower; and there he exhibited shows in honor of Cæsar, upon his being informed that there was a certain festival celebrated to make vows for his safety. At which festival a great multitude was gotten together of the principal persons, and such as were of dignity through his province. On the second day of which shows he put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of a contexture truly wonderful, and came into the theater early in the morning; at which time the silver of his garment being illuminated by the fresh reflection of the sun's rays upon it, shone out after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those that looked intently upon him; and presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another, [though not for his good,] that he was a god; and they added, “Be thou merciful to us; for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to mortal nature.” Upon this the king did neither rebuke them, nor reject their impious flattery. But as he presently afterward looked up, he saw an owl sitting on a certain rope over his head, and immediately understood that this bird was the messenger of ill tidings, as it had once been the messenger of good tidings to him; and fell into the deepest sorrow. A severe pain also arose in his belly, and began in a most violent manner. He therefore looked upon his friends, and said, “I, whom you call a god, am commanded presently to depart this life; while Providence thus reproves the lying words you just now said to me; and I, who was by you called immortal, am immediately to be hurried away by death. But I am bound to accept of what Providence allots, as it pleases God; for we have by no means lived ill, but in a splendid and happy manner.” When he said this, his pain was become violent. Accordingly he was carried into the palace, and the rumor went abroad every where, that he would certainly die in a little time. But the multitude presently sat in sackcloth, with their wives and children, after the law of their country, and besought God for the king’s recovery. All places were also full of mourning and lamentation. Now the king rested in a high chamber, and as he saw them below lying prostrate on the ground, he could not himself forbear weeping. And when he had been quite worn out by the pain in his belly for five days, he departed this life, being in the fifty-fourth year of his age, and in the seventh year of his reign; for he reigned four years under Caius Cæsar, three of them were over Philip's tetrarchy only, and on the fourth he had that of Herod added to it; and he reigned, besides those, three years under the reign of Claudius Cæsar; in which time he reigned over the forementioned countries, and also had Judea added to them, as well as Samaria and Cæsarea. . . . (translated by William Whiston).

Now we go back to the book of Acts 12:20-23 to see how Luke records Agrippa’s death: And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king’s country. 21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. 22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. 23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.  It is interesting to compare the records of these two documents.  One outstanding finding from these two records is that the Jews showed their favour, while the king persecuted the Jerusalem church.  Probably, the Jews liked him because of his persecution of the Christian church.  While the Jews were sad over his death, God smote him to death over his blasphemous behaviour.  Such a difference between the Jews’ attitude toward Agrippa and God’s judgment against him was only an indication of the looming judgment upon the Jews in Jerusalem in AD 70.  As I read Josephus’ writing, I cannot help but have the impression that the Jews and Josephus himself, liked Agrippa over his treatments of the Jews and people in surrounding cities.

Changes after Agrippa’s death (book 19, chapter 9:1)

He left a son, Herod Agrippa II (then seventeen years old) and three daughters.  When the news of his death reached the people of Caesarea and Sebaste, they rejoiced and went to his house and vandalised the statues of his daughters.  When all these things happened, Agrippa II was in Rome and the news reached Claudius Caesar.  The Caesar felt sorry for him.  Therefore, he sent Agrippa II back to Judaea to succeed his father in the kingdom.  However, due to his youthfulness, he sent Cuspins Fadus as a procurator of Judaea and of the entire kingdom.  Caesar did not forget to firstly command Cuspins Fadus to reprimand the people of Caesarea and Sebaste over their abuses to the deceased family.  There were constant fights and disputes between the Jews and the Samaritans afterwards.  



Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



  • Welcome Rev Edward Paauwe to the pulpit.
  • A Blessed Father’s Day to all fathers.
  • Service Roster Oct-Dec 2019: Please send your availability by today to hopebpcrosterer@gmail.com.
  • Holiday Bible Club: Registration forms and flyers available in the Foyer. Parents please register your children & invite many friends.
  • Holiday Bible Club: Roster for HBC lunch available in the Foyer. If you are able to contribute to & help with lunch, please fill out the roster. Many helpers are also needed for HBC. Please let Dn John Wong know if you are available to help & for more details.
  • Sunday School Dinner: 7 Sep is for families of students & teachers. Please inform Dn John Wong or Sis Chrisanthi Selvanayagam if you are able to attend.
  • Today’s Fellowship Lunch is catered (free) to celebrate Father’s Day.
  • Batam Missions – Special thanks to those who contributed to the school fence repairs fund. The target of $3,500 has been reached.
  • Lunch Duty: This week: Volunteers. Next week: Neighbourhood Groups.  


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • Father’s Day Brunch
  • God’s daily providence & guidance.
  • Church visitors & activities in the past week.
  • Journey mercies: Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki; Elder David & Sis Giok Yeo (Melb);  & others who have travelled.



  • Healing: Rev George van Buuren; Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore); Grandpa Ki (S’pore); and others in affliction.
  • Missions – Rendille Outreach (Kenya) – Sis Judith Collins & Bro Peter Lkayo; Andes Missions – Durands.
  • Wellspring Bible Church in Glen Waverley, Melb. Pastor Ki’s ministry.
  • Ebenezer BPC (Melb) – Session & members.
  • Journey mercies: Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki; Elder David & Sis Giok Yeo (Adl); Elder Michael D Lee (Melb);  & others who are travelling.




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