As I read Mathew 14, what stood out to me and what I wanted to share did not end up in this post. As I started to write I ended up focusing on Herod. A little atypical isn’t it to keep Herod as the main focus of a lesson. God has a way of teaching and reminding us of things from every passage in scripture.
Mathew 14: 3-5 “Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.”
In Mathew 14:1-12 we read about the beheading of John the Baptist. Herod the tetrarch, was one of the sons of Herod the great. He had put John in prison because John openly mentioned Herod’s sin of marrying his brother Philip’s wife while his brother was still alive. Herod wanted to kill him but was afraid to do so as the people considered John a prophet. But when Herodias daughter danced for him and Herod promised her whatever she asked, Herod had to fulfill his oath to her request and got john the Baptist beheaded in prison.
Proverbs 2:2 “Turn your ear to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding.
Proverbs 2:12 “Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men.”
Proverbs 2:20 “Thus you will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.”
In proverbs we read about choosing wisdom and walking in the path of righteousness or rejecting wisdom and choosing the ways of folly. Adultery is choosing the wrong path. We see Herod take that road here and when he was confronted about his sin, he did not heed the warning but instead put John the Baptist in prison because he did not want to hear or face what pricked his conscience.
From this passage we can gather that Herod the tetrarch’s life seemed to revolve around self-gratification.
For us: We have to remember to let our bodies and minds NOT be ruled by our own desires which cause us to ignore the sin and sadness it brings to God.
We also notice that even though Herod did not want to kill John as he was afraid of the people (v5), he could not go back on his word in front of all his dinner guests. The fear of what others thought drove him to do what he initially did not want to do. It was not the act of murdering John that he was hesitant to carry out because of any notion of good or bad. What drove his decision was the fear of what the people thought and later on we see he went through issuing the beheading because of fear of what His esteemed guest at dinner would have thought. Herod was afraid of losing his power and importance.
How relatable is this when we think about gradually succumbing to joining in on something or doing something because we give too much importance to what others will think about us.
Proverbs 9:10 “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.”
In contrast to Herod being ruled by fear of what others think, we see John the Baptist boldly proclaiming the truth driven not by fear of loss of power or popularity but driven only by the will and purpose of God.
For us: Let not what others think matter more to us than what is right in the eyes of God.
Herod feared the truth being preached. Herod thought foolishly that by imprisoning John he would put an end to having someone confront him about his sin. Instead it led him further down the path of sin and wrong doing.
For us: When we are made aware of any sin in our lives, let us remember not to ignore or try to quiet the warning but instead heed the voice of warning, acknowledge the need for repentance and turn to God to help us overcome.
When we read a passage of scripture such as this, we assume we are far from leading the kind of sinful life Herod led. But let’s take a moment and think about times when we have placed our own pleasure or desires above God. Times when our course of decision and action have been fuelled by other people’s opinions more than Gods and times we have neglected or ignored the admonishment even though deep down, we know we are in the wrong.
May God’s will be what we consider first before the desires of our flesh fuel our actions. It is only in His power that we can lay down the pull of our sinful nature and embrace Christ’s likeness and live in obedience to God.