The American Wisdom Series

Matthew #2533

Promised with an oath? Well now, here's an opportunity for old Satan to go work.

The Parable of Sower which contains the explicitly detailed yet simple explanation of the Parable of the Tares by Jesus Christ Himself, separates those few Christians who have eyes to see and ears to hear from the multitudes of Christians who do not. In fact, the Parable of the Tares itself separates the two churches of Philadelphia and Smyrna with whom Christ finds no fault at all, from the other five churches in Revelation chapters two and three that have at the least some major doctrinal problems to overcome (To see what they are missing read Rev. 2:9 & 3:9). To wit, the hour is getting late in this final generation of the fig tree and the time has come for our brothers and sisters to either to "wake up", as in open their eyes to the simplicity of our Father's Word and begin seeking His precious truth and pearls of wisdom instead of blindly following after the traditions of men, or face having the door to the wedding feast slammed in their faces when the true bridegroom comes (Mat. 25:10). A word to the wise virgin is sufficient.

That bring us to the 14th chapter of Matthew, whose name means "Gift of Yah", and in today's study we are going to see the inner workings of the subtle way in which Satan orchestrated the death of John of the Baptist, bringing to a close that great ministry which would have been counted as Elijah's had the people not rejected the King of kings and His dominion. It is important that we know how the enemy operates behind the scenes so that we are better prepared to be on guard against the cunning devices of the wicked one.

Matthew 14:1
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,
At that time, Herod Antipas (anti-pas, instead-of-father), the provincial ruler* and one of the three sons of Herod the Great who ruled during the time of Jesus' birth, heard reports of the mighty works and healings Jesus performed, and that caused quite a stir within his guilt ridden mind for what he had done to John the Baptist who he knew was a righteous man of God (Mk. 6:20).

* Note: Tetrarch technically means "the ruler of a fourth (tetra) part" of the country but by this time it was applied liberally to simply denote a regional or subordinate king or governor.

[2] And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.
Do we see a little anxiety in old Herod here with his erroneous supposition that John has risen from the dead? Yes, we do, for it is written that Herod had a healthy respect for John the Baptist as a just and holy man of God and even that he "heard him gladly" when he preached. You might even say that John's preaching instilled a little "fear of God" in Herod!
Mark 6:20
For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
One thing we know for sure is that John was no "reed shaken with the wind" (Mat. 11:7) which means he told it like it is and left no doubts concerning the Word of God when he spoke and taught. However, we discover that all was not so rosy with Herod's fondness and admiration once John brought the Word of God to the personal level where the "rubber meets the road" and confronted Herod with God's law denouncing his adulterous, even incestuous, relationship with his brother's wife.
Matthew 14:3
For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.
Yes, there was one who had great "enmity" against John and wanted him killed for bearing the light of truth and that was the wicked Herodias, Herod's half brother Philip's wife who dumped him, i.e. dumped Philip, and ran off to marry Herod!

Some insight as to her lustful character and motive (gold digging) might just be that which Dr. Smith records in his Bible Dictionary concerning Philip:

"He was excluded from all share in his father’s possessions in consequence of his mother’s treachery, and lived afterward in a private station."
As the saying goes, "Follow the money trail!"

Here is what John told Herod regarding taking his brother's wife!

Matthew 14:4
For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
It is against God's law to commit such an act! And I'm sure John told him there are consequences for trespassing God's law... lest you repent and cease from your sinful ways.
[5] And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
The fact that Herod had both an healthy respect for John and a keen awareness that John had a large following of disciples who thought very highly of him, was cause enough to prevent Herod from killing John even though Herodias probably nagged her best nags to drive Herod to execute him. You "see", she hated John with a passion, an evil passion, and wanted to kill him so badly she could taste it!
Mark 6:19
Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not:
So Herod is a bit of a stumbling block here in the plot to kill the last Old Testament prophet of God. Therefore Satan will use some other devices, like some human vices, to get the job done. And there is no better place than a wild celebration or party where the excess of "wine and spirits" are being poured out all over the place. Take heed!
Matthew 14:6
But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.
I'll bet beautiful Salome, Herodias' twirling, whirling, dancing daughter (from her first marriage), was real looker! You "see", the big birthday bash included all of Herod's lords, high captains, and chief estates and it is written that she not only pleased Herod, she put on quite a show and pleased them all!
Mark 6:21
And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee;

[22] And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.

Oh yeah, baby! Big sugar-daddy will give you anything your little old heart desires! Everybody got that? Whatsoever this beautiful damsel asks of me, up to half my kingdom, I promise with my sworn oath to give it her without fail!

Matthew 14:7
Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
Promised with an oath? Well now, here's an opportunity for old Satan to go to work. First of all, we know that Herod's not all that moral a guy, is he? Though it is not written, given the context of the event one could give supposition and imagine that Herod's eyes are buggin' out at the crowd-pleasing beauty before him and he is probably hoping she will blink her eyes and wiggle her whatever once more at him and say "Anything I want? Why... I want you, honey!" Then he would bound by the oath to oblige her, wouldn't he?

However, this boast of an oath is going to backfire on him big time because Satan is going to take full advantage of the opportunity to have a righteous man of God killed! According to proverbs, it is not a wise thing for a king to partake of strong drink.

Matthew 14:8
And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.
Surprise, surprise, Herod! You have just been had! Whenever there is an evil spirit of conspiracy present, you can see Satan's hand at work. Remember, the reason Herodias hated John so much was because he was a man of God who confronted her with the law concerning her adulterous affair. Now with murder in her heart, and as the mother/daughter relationship enters into this, Salome is persuaded by her mother to ask for John's head in a charger! What a nice obedient daughter to forego half the kingdom just to fulfill her mother's evil desires!
[9] And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
Oh, the king was sorry? Apparently he was not sorry enough to be man enough to let it be known that all his egotistical boasting in front of his lords and high captains to fulfill his oath concerning whatsoever Salome desired simply did not include killing people! And so John the Baptist, the great man of God sent to prepare the way for the advent of the Son of God, would lose his life. How sad indeed.
[10] And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.

[11] And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.

What lovely people! What a marvelous present to give to your mother! However, we know that our Father permitted this to happen and we know also that John's brutal death bears witness and testimony against Herod, his murderous wife what's-her-name... Herodias, and her twirl-brained daughter Salome, all of whom shall be judged accordingly! I sure wouldn't want to be in their shoes at judgment!
[12] And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
What a sad day for the disciples of John who came and took the body of their beloved brother and teacher and buried it. Of course Jesus already knew what had happened to John and so it is that this whole sordid account is written that we might be instructed and edified "upon whom the end of the world are come (1 Cor. 10:11)".

As far as John was concerned, he lived long enough to learn from Christ Himself that there would be a second advent, meaning that he, John, would not be counted as Elijah, and when Christ told his disciples to tell him he is blessed and to "not be offended" as if to say "hang in there", he knew that his days were numbered. The following is an excerpt from our study in Mat. 11:1 to 11:15 where Christ adds to the answer He has already given to John's question, "Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another?"

"Matthew 11:6
And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
Bingo! John now knows that he is not going to see the second advent at this time, but that there would be another time when "He shall come, with vengeance, even God with a recompense (Isa. 35:4)"! Again, John is in prison and probably knows or at least suspects that his days are numbered.What a great example this is to us today. I mean, there is the great prophet John the Baptist in prison for righteousness sake and he knows that he shall have to endure unto the end. Not to worry though, for John had great root and foundation in the Word of God, not wavering to and fro like a reed shaken in the wind. Therefore he would not be "offended", which is to apostatize, as in stumble and fall!
offended = skandalizo, skan-dal-id'-zo, Greek 4624; ("scandalize"); from Greek 4625 (skandalon); to entrap, i.e. trip up (figurative stumble [transitive] or entice to sin, apostasy or displeasure) :- (make to) offend."
Our Father is so good in revealing knowledge and wisdom to his servants who love and serve Him. Now back to Matthew 14.
Matthew 14:13
When Jesus heard of it, He departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed Him on foot out of the cities.
Why do you suppose all these people followed Christ into a desert place? It was not because they hungered and thirsted after His Word, but because of the miracles and healings He performed. There is a great lesson to be learned in this.
[14] And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick.
Never think that Jesus Christ does not have compassion on the multitudes even though they do not have eyes to see nor ears to hear. He loves all of His children and reaches out to touch and heal them in His desire that all should come to repentance and believe in Him.

Next we will find when evening comes that this great multitude will still be in the wilderness, in the desert place, where there are no restaurants nor fast food chains to get something to eat. Just wait until you see how Messiah uses this to teach us!

To study the Bible is the noblest of all pursuits; to understand it, the highest of all goals.
We pray that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you accomplish both.

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