“Be faithful, even to the point of death…” Although John the Baptist died long before this command was given to the church at Smyrna (Revelation 2:10), his convictions demanded faithfulness which cost him his life.
John’s convictions which were rooted in God’s standards, led him to believe that marriage was an institution designed by God between one man and one woman for a lifetime. Genesis 2 – A man shall LEAVE….and CLEAVE….and BECOME…. What God has joined together let no man separate. Positions on marriage standards, who should marry, who should not marry, separation, divorce, etc involve tough commitments to God’s express standards. People have their opinions and form commitments based on anecdotal evidence. Our beginning point is God’s word. Marriage is not a contract, it is a covenant, designed by God, and is entered into ’til death do us part.’
John was outspoken in his assessment of the wrongful relationship into which Herod had entered with Herodias. Herod had taken his brother Philip’s wife as his own (adultery) and had violated God’s standards. Herodias, the new ‘queen,’ was, shall we say, “not impressed” with the prophet’s critique. She nursed a grudge and began her evil plot of revenge. Herod feared John and protected him, since he knew “him to be a righteous and holy man.”
Behind the scenes, the devil was working his wiles and compounding evil in the queen’s sinful heart. At the ‘opportune time,’ when Herod’s birthday banquet provided a venue, the devil moved with stealth and power. Through the party ‘entertainment’ the daughter of Herodias danced before the king and his guests and was the ‘belle’ of the ball. Having been offered anything she wanted, this young woman, coaxed by her mother, demanded the head of John the Baptist.
Herod was trapped. His sinful relationship compounded by his rash oath forced his hand. Immediately he sent the kingdom’s executioner to the prison with a direct order. Upon return, this state enforcement officer brought with him the head of another believer who had been faithful even to the point of death.
I wonder who eulogized John that day as his disciples carried his body to the tomb. What do you say about a man with courageous convictions? Did anyone cite the text, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the LORD. One can only imagine the talk at the palace’s breakfast table when Herod thought that John the Baptist had risen from the dead!
Who sets your definition of marriage? How do you defend your Biblical understanding in a world which rejects God’s way and elevates the evil preferences of individuals to law?