6 But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.
7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.
9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.
11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. Mat. 14:6-11
I used to think King Herod’s promise to give his daughter “whatsoever she would ask” was just old-time parlance, or language – until it dawned on me that the king actually meant it. He was ready to give his daughter “whatsoever she would ask”.
Whatsoever she would ask!
And, y’know, she just goes and asks for John the Baptist’s head!
In Africa, we love meat so much that even the heads of the animals we slaughter are used to prepare soup.
But, pray, of what profit can a human head be to anyone? You cannot even make soup out of it! It is worthless.
My heart goes out to this little girl. I don’t know how old she was, but she must have been very young in age – and very talented. Imagine how beautiful she must have appeared as she danced for her dad’s assembled guests. Probably she had practised and practised for days in her room or somewhere, her pure heart imagining the joy that she would give to her parents and their guests. She probably wasn’t even thinking of getting a present.
But an incredible opportunity presented itself. The king was so pleased with her display that he bound himself with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. Mark’s account says that he promised to give her even unto half his kingdom!
I know in our ignorance we pooh-pooh these kinds of things; but stop for a moment and think of what a kingdom is. Take even five minutes. You can even check an encyclopedia if you need to. (Sometimes I wonder where we are hurrying to; and we miss out so much on God’s true blessings!)
The point here is to get the feel of what this girl had been promised by her father. In that instant she could have inherited the world. But she chose to ask for John the Baptist’s head!
What, pray, could possibly have made this lovely, wonderful girl to ask for a human head?
Verse 8 gives us the clue to this all-important question. It says she was instructed by her mother to do so.
The gospel of Mark puts it even clearer: “And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist” (Mk. 6:24).
In other words, she consulted with her mother. It was a deadly mistake.
Herodias had sat there the whole evening, brooding inwardly. All she wanted was John dead. No human mind could possibly “sound the depths” of the evil that lay in this woman’s heart.
The devil is so cruel! This girl’s mother robbed her of not only the chance to inherit half her father’s kingdom; she ended up with something which was of absolutely no value to her.
Probably beheading John was of value to her mother, but it was of absolutely no value to this girl!
The Prophet Jeremiah under the anointing of the Holy Spirit spoke thus of the nation of Israel: “10 For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. 11 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. 12 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. 13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:10-13).
It was such a horror what the Israelites had done, to seek after other gods (which were no gods) and to seek for a glory that would not profit. Even the heavens were astonished!
And that was exactly what Herod’s daughter did. She not only asked for something that would not profit her, but she asked for something that brought horror to everyone who would hear of it.
And it must have killed her spiritually. I cannot begin to imagine the nightly – and probably daytime – nightmares that followed after that.
Even her father Herod who in his own right was a by-name for cruelty was shocked by his daughter’s request. Had he been in a position to refuse her request, he most certainly would. But he had bound himself with an oath, upon which he could not renege.
And I can imagine with everyone else “shocked” would have been a monumental understatement.
Apart from shocking everyone to death, of course, the little girl also lost the opportunity to inherit half her father’s kingdom.
All this happened because this little girl consulted her mother! Herodias is a metaphor for evil. She hated the man of God with all her heart.
There are worldly gospels out there, and we better be careful. Paul warns us against these gospels in 2 Corinthians chapter 11. We need to be very careful what gospel we are consulting with or submitting ourselves to. If we submit ourselves to a worldly gospel, it will kill us spiritually.
A worldly gospel caters to the lusts of the flesh. It does not have a heavenly agenda. A heavenly agenda deals with the condition of our hearts.
And before we move on from here let me point out that a worldly gospel is a deceiving gospel, which means it is so subtle even the elect get caught in its snares.
Let me illustrate. If I preach that because I was faithful in giving God this and that amount of money, God therefore blessed me with this and that material blessing, what am I catering to? The flesh, of course! There is absolutely no heavenly agenda there.
If we tie in giving with “reaping” material blessings we have moved from the heart condition to the natural realm. If we preach this gospel in church, the man sitting in the pews who is blessed materially will be feeling comfortable and the one who has nothing will feel he has failed spiritually.
The only “catering to the spirit” that I see in that scenario is that people will die spiritually. The rich man will die of pride, and the poor man will die of a broken heart. The bitter irony is that the poor man could have given to the Lord all right, but his giving is now taken from his heart and tied in with his outside circumstances. And preachers today find no problem making such declarations openly. One prominent preacher here said on TV: “You cannot come to my church riding the back of a motor-cycle” – which is the normal mode of public transport here. He added, “You are supposed to come driving your own car, since I have prayed for you to be blessed!”
At the root of such a gospel is a worldly, not heavenly agenda, and it will kill people!
I also talked in one of my earlier posts about a man of God – a prominent, internationally-acclaimed TV preacher – who told a man as he was praying over him, “You have won a land case”, and that in full public view.
There is no heavenly agenda in such a statement. That would make God a worldly judge, a “divider” of worldly property. But Jesus in Luke 12:14 said He had not come to do such things.
There are a thousand ways that a worldly gospel can kill us. Even the healing ministry can kill you.
Can you see the ‘progression’ there: apostate Israel, Herod’s daughter, and finally us!
That is why we should not listen to or submit ourselves to any gospel except the one single gospel that the apostles paid such a great price to bring to light – the gospel of the cross of Jesus. This is the only gospel wherein the Holy Spirit can break us and bring us to our true inheritance – spiritual maturity, and reigning with Christ in heavenly places.
This is the gospel that deals with the issues of our hearts. And God is all about our hearts. All these things that these gospels promise are good, but they become a Herodias when they are preached in the natural realm, outside of the heart. They are not the subject. Our hearts are. And only the cross can deal with that.
I love the word “determined” in Paul’s words, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” 1 Cor. 2:2. That would mean there were other, strange gospels that were clamoring for his attention; but he ignored them.
Herod’s daughter ought never to have listened to her mother. That simple action turned her daylight into night.
[Below: In Africa, poverty can sometimes go to extremes: here, somebody’s “shop” – literally!]