When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” – Mk. 6:22 NIV
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Herod Antipas who was the son of Herod the Great had chosen to marry his late brother’s wife after his demise, an act which John the Baptist condemned for reasons that were clearly stated in the scriptures – Lev. 18:16. However, Herod Antipas probably justified his action by hiding under the scripture that prescribes that a brother had the responsibility to marry his brother’s wife should the brother die without a son. Although this is an option act as the living brother can refuse to take up that responsibility, he will however need to publicly decline such responsibility before the elders of the town at the town gate – Deut. 25:5-10. Herod Antipas probably decided to pick on the option but John the Baptist for possibly other reasons that are not made explicit in the scripture was against this decision and his opposition to the act was very loud, sufficient to make the king decide to lock him up in prison.
Being locked up in the prison was insufficient for the woman at the centre of the storm, Herodias Salome, who felt that a more permanent solution of death should be applied to the opposition that John the Baptist had become and was eager to have this option implemented. Herod was however not open to this option as he feared John the Baptist and wanted him protected, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man – Mk. 6:17-20. The very first opportunity came on the occasion of the celebration of the birthday of Herod Antipas when the daughter of Herodias Salome danced before the king and impressed him. In the euphoria of the moment, he asked her to make a demand of him up to half his kingdom vowing to grant the request in a statement that is the foundation scripture for today’s devotional. He was shocked beyond description and greatly distressed when the daughter returned, after consulting with her mother asking for the head of John the Baptist as advised by her mother – Mk. 6:21-25. He however did not have any choice as he needed to salvage his honour before his dinner guests. He ordered for John the Baptist to be beheaded and the instruction was promptly implemented.
What a sad and sudden end to the life of a great servant and prophet of the Most High, which throws up lots of questions, the answer to which will be of great interest to the Christian today. Was John the Baptist wrong to have challenged the king? Was he on destiny path by confronting a powerful king when he was just a messenger of God? Did the Almighty God decide to ignore John the Baptist by not intervening and saving him from the actions of Herod Antipas, and which eventually led to his death? Something is however very obvious. Right there in the prison, the same John who had announced Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God that will take away the sins of the world, sent emissaries to Jesus from prison to confirm whether he was indeed the Messiah or another should be expected. Could this be because he suddenly became confused because of the situation he found himself?
Most if not all the questions above will be difficult to answer as the scriptures were silent on them and no one has the ability to know what it is that the Almighty God had as the destiny of John the Baptist with regards to these areas. There are however some cautionary steps that the Christian today must note from this event and they are as follows:
- Although it is true that the regulations of God are in support of the possible arguments of John the Baptist, it was likely out of his schedule to implement those regulations as they were mainly the duties of the court and the judges and he was not a judge – Deut. 25:1-3, Lev. 20:21.
- The king assumed he knew the limit of what his daughter could ask for and never anticipated the request she came up with. As human beings, there is the need to be very guarded in our pronouncements. Assumptions that all the move of the opposition or any one for that matter can be anticipated may be one to regret as the individual may surprise one with an unanticipated move. Never assume you know all that someone can do as the thoughts and actions of men remain very unpredictable and dynamic.
- No matter what the situation may be, man should never allow ego to override reasonable thinking. The king acknowledged the holy and righteous personality of John the Baptist and so did not want to kill him but allowed his ego to make him commit an evil that he himself admits was wrong. How wonderful would it have been if he had preferred to allow the fear of the Lord to over take his ego? Only the Almighty God can determine what the implication of such a carnal decision was for the king but it does not seem likely that it will be positive.
Whatever the case may be, it is important that everyone, irrespective of their social status show lots of caution in the actions that they take. Christians must ensure that no matter how right their actions may be, they will need the authorisation of the Lord to implement and or enforce divine laws as their may be no protection form the Lord if such unilateral actions are taken. Similarly, they must be careful in comments made especially those that could be very committing and no reason, ego inclusive should make a Christian put up an action that will definitely be against the Will of God. If these preventive steps are taken, there is no doubt that there will be less room for regretted actions. May God guide us in all our actions in Jesus name. Amen.