-Lessons In The Life Of Herodias-
A vile woman who lets her bitterness seed into vengeance within her heart. This vengeance leads her heart to promote murder. Great lessons for us to learn how bitterness can lead us further than we ever imagined.
-Matthew 14:3-12- Mark 6:14-29- Luke 3:19-20
WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE
No ones family is without a few skeletons or craziness. I have heard it said it you don’t have a crazy Aunt Sally…maybe it’s you! I have to tell you I spent more time trying to unwind these relationships in my head that I did with the points for the teaching.
Many of the men in this family started with the same first name, Herod! Then you add in a dash of old English and untangling these relationships can get pretty nerve racking.
I think I might have it straight!
Let’s give it a try!
Herod the Great starts off this family line for the purpose of this study. Again only hitting our main characters of this study, we will focus on three of the sons of Herod the Great. They are Aristibulus, Herod Phillip I and Herod Antiphas. Aristibulus has a daughter named Herodias! She is our villian.
Herodias first marries Phillip. Yes, gross I know but she marries her uncle. An occasion happens that Herodias and Phillip were entertaining Herod Antiphas and Herod Antiphas falls in love with his brothers wife. I told you the web tangles pretty quickly!!
The sin in the lives of this family keeps mounting when the divorce happens and she yet again marries one of another uncle. When you do some reading in commentaries there is wide speculation that she was tricked, taken away or she went of her on volition into this marriage with Herod Antiphas. It comes to me that it seems no one really knows for sure. Nonetheless, Herodias divorces Phillip and marries his brother Herod Antiphas which is yet another one of her uncles.
The first relationship between Herodias and Phillip was incest according to Levitical law. Just to give you a taste of the Mosaic law regarding this subject let’s dig into Leviticus 18:16-18
You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brothers wife: it is your brother’s nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughte, nor shall you take her son’s daughter or her daughters’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness. They are near of kin to her. It is wickedness. Nor shall you take a woman as a rival to her sister, to uncover her nakedness while the other is alive.
This is nothing that we didn’t already know but I wanted to take you back to the law of that day.
When this happens a young prophet named John the Baptist gets wind of this sin. John The Baptist confronts Herod Antipas about this sin. By looking at the greek tense of the words in these passages, it’s evident that John The Baptist went to Herod Antipas numerous times about his sin. This really caused conflict in Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas was quite torn up over these encounters from John The Baptist. You get the feeling that there is lots of warring going on inside Herod Antipas.
We see that Herod Antipas has him imprisoned. He doesn’t want to kill John The Baptist because the people follow him. Other commentaries speculate that he doesn’t want to kill John because he was perhaps afraid of an uprising. When John The Baptist goes to Herod Antipas numerous times about this sinful relationship, he makes a very devious enemy.
There is a lot of speculations as to why this enraged Herodias so much. Bottom line we just don’t know. The only thing we do know is that she harbored bitterness in her heart toward John The Baptist. We wonder why. Women have inquiring minds. We just want to know why. We never will. Scripture doesn’t delve that deep.
Was it is following in the community that John The Baptist had?
Were the demons of this ungodly woman agitated by the holiness of John The Baptist?
Did she not like being told what to do?
Again we can only speculate.
What is evident is that bitterness festers in her heart toward John The Baptist so much that she waits for the “perfect moment” for revenge.
AN OPPORTUNE DAY FOR VENGEANCE
Herod Antipas has his birthday party with all of the high ranking officials that served underneath him present. Of course a birthday party isn’t complete without a little dance. This is where Herodias’ daughter comes in on the scene. Her name is Salome. She is the daughter of Herodias and Phillip. Remember Phillip is Herodias first husband so this is his neice that is dancing for them. I just want to keep this moment in context. This moment is vile to me on so many levels.
Many have likened this “dance” to the dance that Queen Vashti was asked to perform for the King in the book of Esther. It gives is the feeling that this dance would have been seductive in nature. In fact she does dance for her uncle/step father, Herod Antipas and the dignitaries present that day and scripture tells us Herod Antipas was pleased. So pleased that he offers an “oath” in front of all the men. You get the feeling that Herod Antipas takes this moment to show boat a bit in front of these high ranking men.
I can picture them reclining in that moment and she has just done an amazing fan dance type belly dance and all are impressed and he takes this moment to “reward” her. He tells Salome to ask anything for payment for her services up to half the kingdom and he will give it to her. Now don’t forget this “oath” happens in front of all “his people”. This is going to bite him in the rear very soon. Salome runs back to her mother Herodias and tells her what has been said. Herodias takes this opportunity for vengeance against John The Baptist.
Again, let’s set the scene for what is going on. John The Baptist is already imprisoned and in stocks and has nothing to do with this moment but yet she pulls for this revenge card. Her quickness to say she wants John The Baptist head on a platter tells me that vengeance is so thick within her. It has consumed her. Her vengeance for John The Baptist is never far from the surface. It seems to always be on her mind. Herodias tells her daughter Salome to ask for John The Baptist head on a silver platter.
Bitterness and anger that isn’t properly dealt with will end in vengeance. Our wicked hearts continuously stirs the pot toward revenge.
I think about the face that this young girl Salome was pulled in and manipulated to be a part of this murder and I think about how she grew up. As Salome has matured, she is no stranger to killing. Her grandfather, Herod the Great killed lots of people in her life in llfe. Many family members were killed by Herod The Great. Anyone with a threat to the throne was considered an enemy. She goes back to her uncle Herod Antipas, now step dad and tells him the payment she would like to receive. Scripture tells us Herod Antipas is sorrowful. So much that he is grieved but because of the “oath” he had taken in front of all his dignitaries and to try to “safe face” as a leader he ordered the beheading of John. Herod bows to having John the Baptist killed because of “appearances”. Herod killed John because he reverenced the crowd . We aren’t going to even delve into that but ladies if we want to be leaders in our community we must never bow to the crowd. Herod finds himself bowing to the crowd of dignitaries present. We must never bow.
John The Baptist head was brought to Salome on a silver platter which she brought to her mother.
Revenge Card Played !
Revenge Complete !
It seems in our day and time women enjoy using the “revenge” card. It is never God honoring for us to harbor such unforgiveness that it leads to revenge. Heart checks must be done daily to excise this poison from Hell.
There are a few things I see in the life of Herodias that I would just like to spotlight. I am huge on my own personal geneology, I can look back and tell you lots about people I only have pictures of. With that in mind and the fact that we have information about her grandfather, I just want to make a few statements. First and foremost she is accountable for her choices and actions. She is also accountable for keeping her heart clean and free from vengeance but this girl grew up around blatant hatred and sin. There are numerous accounts of killings from Herod The Great. Let me say just great wickedness. We don’t have time to go into all of his background.
However, I do want us to be aware that often times this type of behavior is modeled out in generations that have gone before us. It’s not even one of my points but I do want to make note that how we deal with situations in this generation do often times affect the next. Not a new concept I just wanted to bring it to light in the life of Herodias.
Two things we are going to discuss in this study are receiving correction and being “grudged to death”.
ABLE TO RECEIVE CORRECTION
Let’s start with an accountability question. I hope with me asking this from the get go it will get you mind and heart spinning.
Are you able to receive correction?
What I mean by that is if another Christian comes to you and is concerned about an area in you life and they “red flag” it to you would it tick you off?
Each of us as a part of the body of Christ should be able to receive a “gentle correction” from another part of the body of Christ.
Let’s be honest and say most of the time we don’t receive correction or discipline very well. Thats the whole point of this part of our study. This was obviously a huge issue for Herodias. The fact that she would not entertain John’s correction led to his murder. Again lets hit that part of the story again. John The Baptist knew of her marriage to Herod Antipas and that she had divorced her husband Phillip to marry Herod Antipas. Both were incestuous relationships. John The Baptist calls Herod Antipas on the carpet about this great sin.
This set her off…
Her bitterness never died down for John The Baptist.
Did she have a problem being told what to do? Maybe! In all transparency, in the last year this is something the Holy Spirit has “red flagged” in my own personal life. I have found it very difficult to receive instruction or correction from others.
However in my defense I find often times it is attached to a “flesh led” encounter of accountability that has very little Jesus flowing from it. It has often come in “distain” for my very existence that degrades me to the floor. That’s the kind of “correction” I have received. We’ve all been through it. The Pharisee that comes to you in his pompousness that wants to be your personal Holy Spirit.
Correction that comes from an arrogant heart can be destructive just as when it comes from a person whom you have no relationship with. Correction must come from a heart that is relational with Christ but also relational with the person needing correction. You must have both.
Relationship is key to being able to speak a word of gentle correction into someones life. Sometimes these moments of correction come from those who we have no relationship with. I also find it difficult to receive correction from those who I have no relationship with. BUT with that said I do have a relationship with the Holy Spirit. Many times in my life I have completely dismissed correction because of the way it was brought to me. But Listen to me ladies, as we mature we have to sift through all that. We must be ready to receive correction. I am accountable for my own growth. Often times when correction is given it takes me a minute with the Holy Spirit to address the core issue of my arrogance so I can receive the encouragement. Perhaps its needed just the deliverer was not as tender as the Holy Spirit would have been.
I need to learn to receive gentle correction but also give it. As a part of the body of Christ which we are it is so very important to be healthy in this area. I believe most of the church to not be. We have arrogant spirits about us not unlike the heart of Herodias that can lead to destruction.
No, we wouldn’t go to point of murdering someone but “ain’t nobody gonna tell us how to live our lives”. We need to be able to look at our heart issues about correction and let God mature us into some growth in this area. Now with that in mind that we need to be able to receive gentle correction. I will encourage you that sometimes we must give a gentle correction.
Please be aware and before you go to give a “gentle” correction you always check your heart. If we feel its our “job” to go “set them straight” then you probably aren’t the person for the job. I think honestly that’s where we are with a broken world. We have no relationship with them yet we scream from our steeple clad churches about their sin.
We have no love for them.
We have shown no love for them.
We have no relationship with them but we love to rebuke them.
We’ve shown no relationship with them but we expect them to respond to our “hate speech”. Before you throw something at me..can you see how it would be seen that way? We know it’s not hate speech to want them to be in a right relationship with God but they don’t know that….
We must love the broken.
Build relationships with them so you’ll have the opportunity to share Christ. They will be drawn to our lives much more than an encounter with our high and mighty uprightness. So as we think about those things let me share some scriptures with you that can be applied on both sides of the aisle. Whether you are giving a gentle correction or you are receiving one these will apply.
Anyone who ignores discipline despises himself but whoever listens to correction acquires good sense.
Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge but he who hates correction is stupid
There are so many scriptures about being willing to take correction.
I find it so important, when it’s appropriate and prompted by the Holy Spirit, that we encourage and rebuke and exhort one another but it must always be done in love.
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and teaching.
2 Timothy 4:1-2
We are so ready to slam whomever may be in the wrong but rarely finish well with a good dose of exhorting and long-suffering.
Exhorting means to lift up. Long-suffering means to stay with them for the long haul. When correction is given we are good at laying the hammer down (rebuking) but exhorting is usually far from the picture and very few of us long suffering with sinners these days.
I have no doubt that it wouldn’t have made a difference in the life of Herod Antipas but it is a huge reminder for us that we must be filled with love as we give gentle correction. John The Baptist made Herod Antipas accountable for his actions. He had him thrown in prison and it hacked off his wife who had John The Baptist head hacked off.
Folks do have a “will” to choose the way of Christ. Some will choose to follow Christ as we live a life worthy of the calling in front of them. Some will turn toward it and some will not. Often times we can “give a correction” and not be filled with the Spirit but filled to the brim with the flesh. We must be careful in our delivery of the correction.
We can only trust John The Baptist was faithful in the correction he gave to Herod Antipas. We find that this correction John The Baptist gave to Herod Antipas was not received. It still doesn’t mean we speak truth when the Holy Spirit prompts us to.
The Lord dealt with me a long time ago about being others personal Holy Spirit.I have often spoke “a word” when NOT prompted and it was devastating. When prompted by the Holy Spirit, I encourage you to be wiling to step up and say the hard things even if its not received well. There have been a handful of times I knew God would have me share a correction. In all transparency it makes me nauseous. I know the feeling. It’s not something I relish. It’s a hard place for me.
This correction given by John didn’t end well but John was faithful. Be faithful in your receipt of a correction or when God asks you to give it. We must be women willing to bow our heart to correction when it’s needed. We all have “sins” we let slide. Things we don’t deal with that can be apparent to the body of Christ. A gentle correction helps the body of Christ keep each other accountable.
If there is arrogance in the heart of the person receiving the correction or the one giving it, this encounter will not end well. We all must be spirit led in these moments. When gentle correction is done well, we should be able to receive it and turn from the stain that is upon our lives. I pray this has been a good point of accountability for us about receiving correction and giving it when needed. Both are valuable in the body of Christ. We must be willing to engage in both.
GRUDGED TO DEATH
Let’s be honest we all hold grudges. Instances that happen in our lives and especially us as women we try to make sense of them in our mind and before you know it…and I’ll quote my grandmother…“we have made a mountain out of a mole hill”. Grudges and making a mountain out of a mole hill aren’t new to you and I.
There are lots of scriptures we could quote about grudges, and anger and bitterness that didn’t end well. Esau held a grudge against Jacob and guess what… it ended in murder. Joseph’s brothers hated him so much because His fathers love for him was so apparent that they attempted to kill him. Unharnessed grudges will always lead our hearts further that we ever thought we’d go.
Bitterness is a common response of a flesh fed life not a spirit led one.
Bitterness comes when forgiveness is withheld.
Sometimes the person doesn’t “deserve” forgiveness. Neither did we but Christ gave it anyway. We are to give it and not harbor bitterness, anger or resentment. Herodias had all of those in spades. Bitterness comes when we focus more on our hurt than the gift of forgiveness that’s needed in the life of another.
You shall not take vengeance nor bear any grudge against the children of your people but you shall love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord.
So then my beloved brethren let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath for the wrath of man doesn’t produce the righteousness of God.
Then Peter came to Jesus and said, “Lord how many times may my brother sin against me and I forgive him, up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, I tell you, not seven times but seventy times seven.
Therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering, bearing with one another and forgiving one another. If anyone has a complaint against another, even as christ forgave you so you must do.
The hurt of the heart can produce and hold onto such animosity that it can produce death.
We know that these emotions not only affect us physically but they show us the state of our spiritual health as well.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling, slander along with every form of malice.
Anger, bitterness and wrath can lead to the destruction of another human being.
You may not choose to murder like Herodias did but if we have anger toward a brother we have committed murder already.
I know we are running a lot of scripture references but God knew we would deal with this because it’s a heart issue. If Herodias had been able to get ahold of the bitterness in her heart, perhaps it would have never ended in murder. We women hold onto stuff that God says to rid ourselves of. When we hold onto these things, it’s sin ladies… straight up!
You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder and whoever murders will be in danger of judgement But I say to you that whoever is angry with his broth without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.
These two areas we have talked about tonight being able to receive correction and being “grudged to death” are deep issues ladies.. they really are.Our heart can be a wicked place. It’s a dark place that most women hide their most tender moments most folks never know about. It can be a breeding ground for sin. It is a place that God must have access to. It’s a place that we must surrender or we will be consumed by the fruit of it.
Let’s dig deep and do some heart excavation and see if we can unearth some anger, bitterness or even vengeance. Who knows what you might find buried deep within your heart. It’s never healthy or God honoring. Get rid of it today before it destroys you.