Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday 17 May 2013 ~ Roxie

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: 2 Samuel 3, 4; Psalm 99; Acts 10
Today's scripture focus is Luke 3:18-20

Luke 3:18-20

18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them. 19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother's wife, and all the other evil things he had done, 20 Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.

And with many other words” seems strange to start off a Bible study blog post with this phrase, but it struck me as amazing. After reading all of the studies from the last few days, it has become apparent that John did not mince words. He was bold, not always complimentary and spoke truth. With words, John encouraged the people; he urged the people; he begged the people to repent and be saved. 

“The people” seem to have included some very powerful people as John had a chance to discuss the evils of Herod the tetrarch’s life...and it sounds like he did so to Herod’s very own face. Now that takes courage: knowing that speaking up could mean torture, imprisonment, even death. Now Herod the tetrarch (aka Herod Antipas) was the son of Herod the Great. Herod the Great was ruler during the time of Jesus’ birth and killed all who presented a threat to his throne...except for Jesus, who was protected by a set of earthly parents that trusted in God and the messages sent by His angels. Mary and Joseph took Jesus into Egypt until they were told of the death of Herod the Great and that a return to Israel was possible (see Matthew 2:13-23).

Herod the Great was so threatened by anyone who might possibly usurp his throne that even the way he parceled out his kingdom to his sons was to keep them from being “kings” and so he called his sons “tetrarchs” or governors of a country divided into four parts. Herod Antipas inherited two portions of his father’s kingdom (the two little portions), while his two brothers each inherited one portion (bigger portions). One of these brothers, known as Herod I or Philip or Herod Philip I (not to be confused with the brother named Herod Philip II...could Herod the Great made life any more confusing in his household?) married his niece (I know, kinda icky), Herodias (more confusion) through an arranged marriage (not her fault, but still kinda icky).

The book Who’s Who and Where’s Where in the Bible suggests that she might have inherited a bit of her Granddaddy’s ambition. According to the author, Stephen Miller, Herodias was not satisfied with the meager success of her husband and divorced him to marry the far more prominent uncle, Herod Antipas. According to my small bit of understanding of how all things marriage work, there must have been even more to the story. Why did Herod Antipas want to marry his niece? Why had he divorced his own wife to marry the almost 40 (also according to the book by Stephen Miller) Herodias? Was she beautiful? Was she manipulative? Was she a schemer? Did Herod Antipas hate his brother so much that he wanted to rub the relationship in Philip’s face??

Whatever the case may be (I lean a bit toward manipulation when considering the final fate of John the Baptist), Herodias hooked her claws into Herod Antipas and was able to keep him close enough to her to whisper in his ear (though that is jumping ahead). The marriage of the governor of the two territories, Perea and Galilee, would not have been a private matter. John would have known...and John would have known the Jewish laws. Even beyond the issue of divorce, Herod had taken his brother’s wife.   

Leviticus 20:21 says “If a man marries his brother's wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless.” (NIV) Other versions say that he has violated (NLT) and shamed his brother (HCSB); that is is an unclean (KJV), abhorrent (NASB), indecent (NET Bible), immoral (ISV) act. Many of the versions use the word “takes” in stead of “marries” which could also be interpreted as sexual relations even outside of marriage. Whatever the case may be, the marriage of Herod Antipas and Herodias is contrary to God’s law...and John the Baptist is not afraid to remind them of it and of “all the other evil things he had done”. Would this be prophesy? Or was Herod not at all careful about hiding any misdeeds? What might the tabloids of the day have been saying about Herod the tetrarch??

Luke does not go into detail, but I am of the opinion that times have changed, yes, but human nature has not. John rebuked the governor of the times for his evil deeds, not just one, but it sounds like many. The governor did not like it, nor did his wife (I was going to describe her as incestuous, but is that the case if they are not related by blood? Feel free to use your imagination and describe her as you wish). Herod locked John up, maybe even tortured him. And John, like the prophets of old, continued to wait for the Lord to move, to act, even from within the depths of a dark, dank prison.

Could I be so bold? Knowing that to confront someone, to remind them of their sin could bring me so very low? John followed God’s lead, calling people to repentance, to get their hearts straightened out for the arrival of the Messiah, the Saviour. I pray that God would open my heart, my eyes, my ears to seek Him out and obediently follow Him into opportunities to draw people into repentance and into a right relationship with Him. I fail so often due to lack of courage...Thank the Lord that He does not give up on His children easily. There is hope for me yet...and for those of you who feel the same way!

Monday's scripture focus: Luke 3:21-22
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 2 Samuel 5,6

1 comment:

TammyIsBlessed said...

Indeed, John's courage to boldly speak the truth, without sugar coating it, is both inspiring and convicting.