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Monday, October 18, 2010

Prophet, Martyr, The Death of John The Baptist

Matthew 14:1-12 describes the martyrdom of the last prophet John the Baptist. His coming was foretold in the Old Testament in the book of Malaqui (chapter 3:1;4:5) He would prepare the way for the Messiah, Jesus Christ. His birth was a miracle in of itself (Luke 1). He grew up dedicated to the Lord and his life was for most of his adulthood, lonely and unusual. But he depended on the Lord. At God's appointed time he revealead himself to his people and preached the message of repentance. Yet, he was only a prophet who was preparing the way of the Lord. Nevertheless, his message was well received and many came to believe in the Messiah. But his ministry was not meant to be long. Not too long after his ministry began, after having baptized Jesus and declaring him the Messiah, he is arrested. He is arrested for speaking the truth of God. He told Herod Antipas that his relationship with Herodias, who was his wife, was against God's will (Herod had divorced his wife for no good reason, against God's standards in the Old Testament). Herod wanted to kill him, but he was afraid of the people. They knew he was a prophet of God and people would revolt. He acted like a"good" politician. Evil as he was, the women around him were just as bad. His wife asked his daughter who was between 12 and 14 years old to dance for him on his birthday. They way she danced was very seductive. It is sad to read this. Sad that a young lady was already corrupted at this age. Herod was so pleased with her dance that he promises her anything she wants. Enters Herodias. She immediately tells her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist. As crass, as it sounds but that's how it happened. An evil woman wants to kill a prophet because she knows she is doing something wrong. She can't have this threat. Herod gives in, John is killed and his head is brought on a platter to Herodias's daughter and she gives it to her mom. Evil. The last prophet of God is dead.

I couldn't help to feel sad for John the Baptist. His life was cut short by an evil man and women. But God knew this would happen. Jesus hears of it and goes away to be alone. He doesn't attack Herod nor does he start a revolt. He knows God's purposes. Evil men will not stop God's plans. Jesus knows that his life will also end not too long after John's. Jesus will not be defeated by death, he will rise and by his death many will receive God's gift of salvation. John the Baptist is not dead either. He is very welll alive in Paradise. He is enjoying fellowship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that there hasn't been anyone as great as John the Baptist (Matthew 11). For a good reason.

This made me think about several things. Ministry. Our ministry may not last long. Many prophets in the Old Testament were called for a specific time and purpose. Once they accomplished what God called them to do, they were done. Many suffered much to the point of death. It also made think about the consequences for speaking for God. Not everyone will receive God's truth. Those who reject God's truth will fight back to the point of getting violent. Finally, it made think how evil can get a hold of people even as young as 12 years old. Evil does not respect age.
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