Conveniently, this pops up as a timely reminder that God is God, and we are not.
Archaeologists claim that they have identified the deadly dance floor where John the Baptist — a preacher who foretold the coming of Jesus — was sentenced to death around A.D. 29.
The Bible and the ancient writer Flavius Josephus (A.D. 37-100) both describe how King Herod Antipas, a son of King Herod, had John the Baptist executed. Josephus specified that the execution took place at Machaerus, a fort near the Dead Sea in modern-day Jordan.
…A courtyard uncovered at Machaerus is likely the place where Salome’s dance was performed and where Herod Antipas decided to have John the Baptist beheaded, wrote Győző Vörös, director of a project called Machaerus Excavations and Surveys at the Dead Sea, in the book “Holy Land Archaeology on Either Side: Archaeological Essays in Honour of Eugenio Alliata” (Fondazione Terra Santa, 2020). The courtyard, Vörös said, has an apsidal-shaped niche that is probably the remains of the throne where Herod Antipas sat.
…The archaeological team has been reconstructing the courtyard and published several images in the book showing what it looked like around the time of John the Baptist’s execution.
The Herodians thought they were pretty badass. They fit in well as a Roman vassal puppet-king.
They held their power with an iron fist, willing to murder untold numbers of babies in order to keep it, (see “Massacre of the Innocents“).
The death of John the Baptist, on the other hand, was personal. This was not some generalized order to deal with a potential threat to his throne, this was different. He knew John the Baptist to be a good man, a prophet even.
His wife, Herodias had a daughter from a previous marriage, Salome. Salome danced for him and got him so excited (readers of the biblical account are left to fill in some blanks for ourselves) that he made a ridiculously grand promise to her, in front of witnesses: ‘ask anything of me, up to half my kingdom’ and I will give it to you.
Herodias hated John the Baptist for speaking bluntly about her sins, and told her to ask for his head on a platter.
The gutless Herod could have said she had no right to make that kind of an illicit demand. But then he would have to deny having legitimate power of life and death over his subjects for any reason or no reason at all. (Awkward.)
No. Rather than be embarrassed for failing to keep an obviously stupid promise, he took John’s head from his shoulders. Not long after, this same Herod played a role in the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus.
How can this possibly be a message of hope? Just because things aren’t going the way we think they should be, doesn’t mean they aren’t going the way GOD thinks they should be.
The contemporaries of Jesus made the mistake in thinking the divine rescue they were looking for would be political in nature… but God had a much grander plan in mind.
He was looking not for the changing of borders, but the changing of hearts.
As our readers have noticed by now, the kind of country we leave our kids really does matter and is worth fighting for. But passing down a country without passing down the living faith that made such a country possible in the first place is a recipe for losing both.
The fact that so many people are excited about the kind of world Bernie and Biden promise reminds us that there’s a lot of work to do, not just in the political world around us, but in the hearts and minds that think elevating Government to the role roughly analogous to God in society is a safe and wise idea.
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other. -John Adams
Just be glad God hasn’t decided we needed 40 years in the wilderness, or 70 in captivity to give our heads a shake.
Well, not yet, anyway.
Ironically, in trying not to look weak, Herod took the head of a man much greater than himself. Did it secure his power? Not really… his family’s dynasty came to an abrupt and ugly end with his successor being ‘eaten by worms’.
However great and exalted some guy might imagine himself to be, GOD will always have the final say.
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