There was a biblical account that was both tragic and remarkable at the same time, and this one act of a king sends many people to the island of shame.
Herod was, as a good man noted, a ‘sly fox,’ but we gather insight into his mind and also how he carried himself in public.
The word of God is profitable for many things, and we dismiss on occasion the acts of ungodly men simply because they are well, ungodly. This is a mistake.
The baptist was put in prison because he was a thorn in the side of King Herod, and his exhortation to the king met with stiff resistance. That was a good place for John, for even though he expressed doubt as to the person and work of the Lord, he also received the highest accolade as the greatest prophet born of women.
Indeed, John ‘did no miracle,’ but everything he spoke of ‘this man was true.’ This man was of course the Lamb of God, with whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning, but note, ‘everything’ he spoke of Christ was true. Beginning with the first prophet Samuel, there was a long train of men who spoke clearly, and enunciated the purposes of God, and many of these ‘did miracles.’
John had one tool, a single voice and an uncompromising message, and he found himself in the lowest of cells for speaking against the King and adultery. John’s word was good. His message was true, and he cared not whether men in high places approved of his preaching, as he had no authority from man; after all, was his baptism not from heaven?
John’s estimation of himself was weighed against heaven’s sanctuary, and he said ‘I am not worthy to untie the latchet of the Messiah’s sandal. The greatest prophet born of women said this? Yes, and he also said, ‘I must decrease,’ for some were attaching themselves to him, and he wanted no disciples. ‘Over there, look, HE must increase,’ and the bolder John became, the hit squad was notified, and he was on the King’s list.
During this time of Christ’s ‘fame,’ John was becoming infamous, and all came to a screeching halt on one particular evening. No doubt this birthday party was as one might say, filled with splendor, pomp, and circumstance, where the very best of all the world’s goods were summoned to roast a king of kings.
Wine, music, silver, gold, women, dignitaries, the best of food, furnishings, all were invited to this ‘great feast’ to pay homage to a man among men.
As the night drew on, a certain woman was called out to dance before the king; I’m guessing it was similar to what is popular now, ‘dancing with the stars,’ and this girl we are told, ‘pleased the king.’
So much so, that he sent a message to her asking her what she will, and it will be done, ‘up to the half of my kingdom.’
A very flattering offer, for Herod must have thought she would go the way of all the earth, and select, ‘silver, clothing, a house, a position in his cabinet,’ but he was in for a huge surprise. Word came back to him quickly, and others heard: ‘the head of the baptist on a charger is what the girl wants,’ and I am pretty sure Herod’s face changed color.
Yes, he loathed John but he was no real criminal; his message was troubling, but kill him, this way, off with his head? This is what I find remarkable, that ‘where the word of the king is, there is power,’ and people heard the request for the head of the baptist spoken to Herod at this great feast.
What kind of king would he be thought of, that at an event where he was honored, it would be told across many lands, ‘His word is no good?’
Yes, the king’s word must be good, and the greatest prophet born of women would die at the hands of a dancing girl and a king whose word was good. Oh what a place in eternity John will have, but I shudder at how easy and diabolical sin acts on the conscience, and John was just another ‘victim of circumstances.’
In spite of this tragedy, this act by John is stamped with heavens blessing, and the Lord Jesus after hearing of this, took the apostles ‘apart, alone.’ There were long silences, questions, doubts, for how does a good man come to life’s end this way?
Yet in this moment of darkness, what better place to be than in the presence of the Lord, for the good shepherd KNOWS the pain, the hurt, is aware of the tears, and offers not a word of retaliation, but words of encouragement, strength, and patience.
Herod’s word was good, instigated however by evil, whereas the word of the Lord is good and pure. Is it any wonder that Herod felt that ‘the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword,’ and he thought he was safe from the convicting word of God through John, but another tragedy goes unreported.
King Herod will one day stand before the King Of kings, and Lord of lords, and….and….and…..bow the knee, and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The Herod tree was a bunch of bad apples. Remember Herod was troubled and ALL Jerusalem, ‘ Where is he who is born King of the Jews?’ How dare a man be born king in my company; where is this great pretender? And of course, how many babies were killed at his hand?
Here again, he spoke the word, and this killing spree was done. His word was evil, but it was ‘good.’ Evil in the sense that the desired result was pathetic, but good in that he spoke and it was done.
God would have they who carry his banner to have good words, but apart from evil desires. ‘Speaking forth ‘out of the abundance of the heart good things,’ and producing good things for the tree is good. You and I do not order heads to be lopped, but poorly spoken words can have an equally terrible result.
In all this, John will be elevated, Herod will be debased, and God’s word will have lost none of its lustre. His word is, FOREVER settled in heaven. Let our word be good as bread as well.