The Review and Herald

85/1902

March 11, 1873

John's Mission and Death

EGW

John's preaching aroused intense interest everywhere. His earnest appeals and denunciations stirred the consciences of men. People flocked from towns, cities and villages, attracted to the wilderness by his earnest and fervent exhortations, his courageous warnings and reproofs, such as they had never listened to before. There was no outward display in the dress of John to attract or to awaken admiration. He resembled the prophet Elijah in the coarseness of his apparel, and in his plain and simple diet, locusts and wild honey, which the wilderness afforded, drinking the pure water flowing from the eternal hills. RH March 11, 1873, par. 1

Herod's purpose to release John from prison was delayed from time to time through fear of displeasing Herodias, who was determined he should be put to death. While Herod was delaying, she was active, planning the most effectual manner to be revenged on the prophet John, because he had ventured to tell Herod the truth, and reprove their unlawful life. Herodias was acquainted with the character of Herod, and she knew that her best course to accomplish her purpose was through the gratification of intemperate appetite. She knew that although Herod kept John in prison, he designed to release him, for he honored and feared John, because he believed him to be a true prophet of God. John had made known to Herod the secrets of his heart and life. The reproofs he had given him, had struck terror to his guilty conscience. RH March 11, 1873, par. 2

In many things Herod had reformed his dissolute life. But the use of luxurious food and stimulating drinks was constantly enervating and deadening the moral as well as the physical powers, and warring against the earnest appeals of the Spirit of God, which had struck conviction to the heart of Herod, arousing his conscience to put away his sins. Herodias was acquainted with the weak points in the character of Herod. She knew that under ordinary circumstances, while his intelligence controlled him, she could not obtain the death of John. RH March 11, 1873, par. 3

She had tried, but unsuccessfully, to gain the consent of Herod to have John slain. Her revengeful spirit was at work to accomplish her inhuman design by strategy. She covered her hatred as best she could, looking forward to the birth day of Herod, which she knew would be an occasion of gluttony and intoxication. Herod's love of luxurious food and wine would give her an opportunity to throw him off his guard. She would entice him to indulge his appetite, which would arouse passion and lower the tone of the mental and moral character, making it impossible for his deadened sensibilities to see facts and evidences clearly, and make right decisions. She had the most costly preparations made for feasting, and voluptuous dissipation. She was acquainted with the influence of these intemperate feasts upon the intellect and morals. She knew that Herod's indulgence of appetite, pleasure and amusement, would excite the lower passions, and make him spiritless to the nobler demands of effort and duty. RH March 11, 1873, par. 4

The unnatural exhilaration which intemperance gives to the mind and spirits, lowers the sensibilities to moral improvement, making it impossible for holy impulses to affect the heart, and hold government over the passions, when public opinion and fashion sustain them. Festivities and amusements, dances, and free use of wine, becloud the senses, and remove the fear of God. RH March 11, 1873, par. 5

Herodias had prepared everything within her reach, which would flatter his pride and vanity, and indulge his passions. “And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; and when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.” RH March 11, 1873, par. 6

As Herod and his lords were feasting and drinking in the pleasure saloon or banqueting hall, Herodias, debased with crime and passion, sent her daughter, dressed in a most enchanting manner, into the presence of Herod and his royal guests. Salome was decorated with costly garlands and flowers. She was adorned with sparkling jewels and flashing bracelets. With little covering and less modesty she danced for the amusement of the royal guests. To their perverted senses, the enchanting appearance of this, to them, vision of beauty and loveliness charmed them. Instead of being governed by enlightened reason, refined taste, or sensitive consciences, the lower qualities of the mind held the guiding reins. Virtue and principle had no controlling power. RH March 11, 1873, par. 7

The false enchantment of the dizzy scene seemed to take away reason and dignity from Herod and his guests, who were flushed with wine. The music and wine and dancing, had removed the fear and reverence of God from them. Nothing seemed sacred to Herod's perverted senses. He was desirous to make some display which would exalt him still higher before the great men of his kingdom. And he rashly promised, and confirmed his promise with an oath, to give the daughter of Herodias whatever she might ask. “And she went forth and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.” RH March 11, 1873, par. 8

Having obtained so wonderful a promise, she ran to her mother, desiring to know what she should ask. The mother's answer was ready, The head of John the Baptist in a charger. Salome at first was shocked. She did not understand the hidden revenge in her mother's heart. She refused to present such an inhuman request; but the determination of that wicked mother prevailed. Moreover, she bade her daughter make no delay, but hasten to prefer her request before Herod would have time for reflection, and to change his mind. Accordingly, Salome returned to Herod with her terrible petition, “I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.” RH March 11, 1873, par. 9

Herod was astonished and confounded. His riotous mirth ceased, and his guests were thrilled with horror at this inhuman request. The frivolities and dissipation of that night cost the life of one of the most eminent prophets that ever bore a message from God to men. The intoxicating cup prepared the way for this terrible crime. “And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel, and the damsel gave it to her mother.” RH March 11, 1873, par. 10

(To be continued.)