Friday, January 31, 2014

Thoughts about John the Great and Herod the Not-Great

Consider Herod Antipas.

He was ruling in Israel during Jesus' ministry on this earth.  His father was Herod the Great, who was not a great man in any way.  He was the one who ordered the murder of all the baby boys in the region of Bethlehem.

Herod Antipas was the Roman ruler over the region where Jesus ministered. He was only 17 years old when his father, Herod the Great, died. The kingdom was divided among three of Herod’s sons—Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip II (see note on 2:22). Herod Antipas was made tetrarch (the ruler of a fourth part of a kingdom) of Galilee and Perea and had a long rule (4 b.c.a.d. 39).

Matthew 2:18
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Herod's son Philip married Herodias, his niece, the daughter of Aristobulus who was the brother of Philip and the son of Herod the not so great.  Philip and Herodias had a daughter, Salome, then they were divorced and Herodias married another uncle, Herod Antipas, whom we are considering.

What a tangled web!

Along comes John the Baptist, about whom Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. ~ Matthew 11:11

John the Baptist (this truly great man who actually deserved to be known as John the Great, for he was MUCH greater than Herod) was outraged that a ruler in Israel would disregard God's Law about marriage, so he told Herod "It is NOT lawful that you should have her."  

John knew Herod's power.  He knew Herod could throw him in prison or chop off his head.

He didn't care.

The honour of God was at stake!

So, John rebuked Herod severely.  Herodias didn't like that.  She wanted to keep up appearances.  She schemed and connived to ruin her enemy.

You know the story.  The nobles and lords, the commanders and leaders, all of the great ones were invited to a party.  It was Herod's birthday, and he was putting on the Ritz.  Salome, the daughter of Herodias and Philip, danced before the group of lustful men, and pleased Herod so much that he offered to give her whatever she wanted.

She wanted John's head on a plate.  She was prompted by her mother.

Think about your influence, Moms.  You can influence your daughter for good.  Or, you can influence your daughter for evil.  How I pray that my influence will point my daughters to Christ!

Almighty Father,
     You are Sovereign over all.
          All events.
               All storms.
                    All rulers.
                         All consequences.
You are in control of all things.

Give me the courage to be like John the Baptist.
     Who saw the truth.
          Who spoke against sin.
               Who did not worry about offending powerful people in high places,
                because he was offended by actions that shouted to the world,

"There is no God in Israel!"

Oh, the devil, he laughed
Clasped his hands with delight
Watched John tossed into prison
Thought he'd won that dark night...

Oh, the devil, he schemed
Saw the social elite
All together to party
To drink and to feast...

So, he whispered to Herod,
"Call the girl out to dance
You'll impress all the leaders
With her whirls and her prance."

Then Herod the Wicked
Who was not at all wise
Made a promise, not thinking
To impress all the guys:

"Up to half of my kingdom
I'll grant," he did state,
And Salome demanded
John's head on a plate.

The king, he was sorry, but he had to save face.
To not keep his word meant that it would erase
The appearance of things that he tried to maintain
So he did the wrong thing to continue his reign.

The king did the wrong thing for fear of his guests,
And John did the right thing, and he would be blessed
to open his eyes in the Kingdom of Light
Where there's no more sorrow, and there's no more night.

May we live like Great John,
     Standing firm for God's glory,
May fear of mere man be no part of our story...
Make us into prophets, hearts bared before You
Dear Lord God in heaven, make us ever true.

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