Shalom, and welcome to [V’ahavtah Yisroel 00:00:06], a Hebrew phrase which means, You Shall Love Israel. We hope you’ll stay with us for the next 30 minutes as our teacher, Dr. Baruch, shares his expository teaching from the Bible. Dr. Baruch is the senior lecturer at the Zera Avraham Institute based in Israel. Although all courses are taught in Hebrew at the institute, Dr. Baruch is pleased to share this weekly address in English. To find out more about our work in Israel, please visit us on the web at LoveIsrael.org. That’s one word, LoveIsrael.org. Now, here’s Baruch with today’s lesson.
Dr. Baruch: There’s a very common error that many believers make in regard to God. And what is that? That we try to anticipate what God is going to think and what God is going to do. And what I mean by that is this. We try to present upon him, our thoughts, what we would do, what we think are right. And the problem is this. Whenever we approach God according to our thoughts, we’re going to be far removed from him. Why? Because the Scripture says that his thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways. So unless we base our understanding of God upon the text, upon Scripture, we’re always going to be looking at God, believing things about him that are incorrect.
Take out your Bible and look with me to the book of Mark and chapter 6, the book of Mark and chapter 6. Now, the main character in this passage is John the Baptist. We know from other places in the Scripture that John was a godly man. Messiah said about him, of all those who are born of women, that is born in a natural way, that is not through a virgin birth like Messiah was, John was the very best. Why was that? Because he took seriously [Torat Moshe 00:02:06], that is the Law of Moses. And we’re going to see today as it was in the past and as it will be in the future, especially in the millennial kingdom, that Torat Moshe, the Law of Moses is foundational if we want to be pleasing to God and understand the things of God.
Now, the first person we’re going to talk about is King Herod. And we’re going to see that he, because of selfishness, he missed out on the things of God. One of the purposes, according to the rabbis of the Torah, is that it teaches us how not to be selfish, how not to think in our ways, but according to the ways of God.
Let’s begin the book of Mark 6:14. “And King Herod heard…” What did he hear? It reads, “And it came about his name…” The name of Messiah. That’s the context. “That his name was made manifest.” That is an idiom. What it tells us is that Messiah [Yahshua 00:03:15] was becoming very popular. His reputation was growing. Everyone was talking about him. And he said, that his King Herod, he said that John the Baptist has risen from the dead. Now the subject is what Messiah Yahshua is doing, but Herod, he’s still thinking about John the Baptist and we’ll see why in a few minutes. And what he says concerning him is very important. We know the reputation of Messiah is not because of what he has been saying alone, but also because of these mighty deeds, these miracles, these signs. Herod was paying attention to them, and he said that they were being done on account of this. On account of what? On account that John had risen from the dead. So once again, he is almost, and we’ll see this, obsessed with John.
Now, other people, they were thinking some other thoughts concerning Yahshua. They were thinking, as it says in the next verse, “Perhaps Yahshua is Elijah.” Why Elijah? Well, we know biblically speaking, that Elijah is going to come before the establishment of the kingdom. And there was some messianic anticipation going on at this time. So naturally, some people would think about Elijah and that promise of his return. Others were saying, “Well, he’s a prophet, like one of the prophets.” But here again, Herod stayed firm to his conclusion, he says that these mighty deeds were being done by who? He says that they were being done by John whom he had beheaded. Now we see something. We see that John is dead and he was beheaded and he was beheaded by Herod. And perhaps one of the reasons that he was so obsessed with him is because he had a guilty conscience as he should have. He was not thinking according to the things of God, but he was thinking about, as we’ll see, himself.
Let’s move on to verse 17. “For this same Herod had sent and seized John and bound him in a prison on account of Herodias. Now who’s Herodias?. Well, she was the wife of Phillip, King Herod’s brother. Now he married his brother’s wife after the divorce. Now the question is, is that permissible? Obviously we need to remember that King Herod was not a Jew according to his heritage, his birth. We learn elsewhere that he an Edomite, an enemy of the people of God. But in order to secure his position as king in Judea, he converted to Judaism, but only for selfish purposes. Now, one very important key of conversion is taking upon yourself the message of the Torah, and affinity and commitment and observance of the Torah. That wasn’t King Herod. He did it for selfish, political reasons. And therefore, the word of God wasn’t very important to him. One of the questions that you and I need to ask ourselves continuously, is the word of God important to us, the whole word of God?
Many people want to emphasize the New Testament over the Old Testament, but we need to understand it’s one book. It’s all the revelation of God. It’s all inspired by the Holy Spirit.
So we read in this Scripture about King Herod, who had seized John and put him in prison. Why? Because he said something. In the middle of verse 17 we read, because he took Herodias, the wife of his brother as his wife, he married her. And John said, verse 18, “For John spoke that it was not permissible. He said to Herod, ‘It is not lawful…'” And that’s an important term. “It is not lawful for you to have the wife of your brother.” Now that’s important because he’s not talking about his views, his impressions, how John would make decisions. He says it’s not lawful. Literally, it’s not according to the Torah. So he wasn’t giving his opinion. He was giving the truth of God. And that’s important.
We’re going to learn in a few minutes that John was a godly and righteous man. Why? It doesn’t mean he was without sin. All people have fallen short of the glory of God, but John was someone… That expression, a good and righteous man, refers to someone who was applying the Torah truth to his life, who was walking according to the revelation of God. So John said to him, “It is not lawful.” What was the results? Well, keep reading verse 19, “But…” That is in regard to the law of God, there was someone who had a different opinion. And who was that? It was Herodias. “But Herodias, she was offended by him.” Why by him? It wasn’t his law. It was the Torah. But she just heard that John, he was the mouthpiece. And what did she want to do? It says, “She was offended by him and she desired to kill him, but she was not able.” Why? Herod wouldn’t allow it because… Look at verse 20, we’ve already alluded to it. “Because Herod feared John, seeing that he was a righteous and good man, both in word and in deed.”
Now we read on, it tells us in verse 20 that he kept John, where did he keep him? Where we were already said. He bound him in prison and he heard him often and he did many things. Now, what this is referring to is this. The John had a mighty influence in Judea and all of Israel. We read earlier on in the Gospel that all Jerusalem, Judea and other places were coming to John’s immersion, an immersion of repentance. That is John was turning people towards God. Pretty important thing to do. And because of one little commandment in the Torah about marriage, what happens? He was put into prison.
Now, wouldn’t it make more sense for him just to say, “Okay, you can marry her.” And that way he could get on with his work and turning more and more people onto God and bringing them to repentance. From a human standpoint, we would say yes, but our human standpoint is never the truth of God. God is concerned about holiness and holiness involves every aspect. So John took a stance and he was put in prison and we’re going to see because of that stance, he was even put to death.
Now that’s not the theology of many people. You mean, if I walk with God, I obey him, I take a stance, I speak his truth, that it could cost me my life? Absolutely. In fact, it’s happening today in many countries and it’s going to happen all over the world in the last days. When people take a stance for the truth, they’re going to suffer in this age, but in the age to come, they will be blessed. And that really brings about a question of what’s more important to us, this age or the age to come?
Now let’s continue on in our study. We see that he kept him and he heard him for he had done many things and he gladly heard him. And that sounds redundant. He heard him for he had done many things and he gladly heard him. But even though in English, you can only translate it the same way in the biblical language, there’s a very important distinction. The first time that phrase and heard him is used, it’s in the [inaudible 00:12:01]. What does that mean? It’s from the perspective of entirety. That is Herod heard all the things that John was saying. But at the end, it changes to the imperfect, which means he was listening to him, but there came a point when what? When he stopped listening. Why was that? Well, that’s where we’re going to see in this final passage of this section of Scripture.
Let’s move on now to verse 21. We read here, “And there came about a day of good season.” So now it’s an expression from Herod’s standpoint of a good time. Why? Well, we keep reading and we find that it’s his birthday. What does he do? He makes a festival. He makes a banquet for his birthday. Now, what I want you to see before we look at it, I want you to see that there’s many similarities between this final section we’re going to look at today and the book called Esther. We’re going to see many of the same things that occurred in the book of Esther to help us understand and interpret this passage correctly. And we see that in both the book of Esther and in this passage, there’s a king, and a king is going to make a wrong decision. He’s going to be motivated by a wrong set of factors. So one of the questions that we should be asking ourselves is simply this, what motivates us? Our desires, our wills, our plans, our objectives, or the truth of Scripture.
So often people say, “I don’t know what I should do with my life. Should I take this job? Should I move to this city? Should I marry this woman, this man? What should I do?” And they may pray and they say, “I’ve been praying and God is just silent.” And he will be why? Because if we want guidance from the Scripture, if we want to hear from God, what we need to do is begin to put the word of God into action. And when we are faithfully carrying out the word of God, God will direct our steps. He will open doors, close doors, he will be moving in our life.
Well, we look here and King Herod, he wasn’t thinking about his administration. He wasn’t thinking about what God would have him to do. He was thinking about having a joyful time on his birthday. Now, that’s significant. Why? Because he wanted to celebrate his life. He wanted to think about his own self rather than what he should be doing with that life. So look again, verse 21, “It came about a day of a good season that Herod made a banquet because of his birthday for the great ones…” That is his great ones in his administration, his leaders, and also the leaders who ruled over 1,000, and for the first ones, that is the chief leaders in also Galilee. So there’s this great banquet going on and what happens? Verse 22. And the same woman, Herodias, she had a daughter. We read in verse 22 that this daughter of Herodias she entered in. And what did she do? She entered in and she danced. Now. She was probably invited to do so. I mean, nothing would take place there without the king’s approval, without the king’s orchestrating it.
What I want you to see is that’s very similar to what took place in Shushan, the capital of Persia, some many, many years ago, when King Ahasuerus requested that his wife come and manifest her beauty. That’s what’s happening here. This young woman, and we see that she’s a young woman, because twice a word is going to be used to describe her. And the word means a very young woman, adolescent, perhaps 14, 15, 16 years old. We’re not talking about a full-grown woman. This is the daughter of Herodias. So she comes and she does a dance. Now in the same way that that King Ahasuerus wanted to show off the beauty of Vashti, his wife, we are led to conclude from all of these similarities that she danced in a way that was not very modest. And it says in the same passage of Scripture, because of her dance, that it pleased King Herod. I wonder if it was pleasing to God. It also was pleasing to those who were reclining. That is those who are guests at the dinner.
And the King said to the damsel, this young girl, “Whatever you want, ask from me and I will give to you.” That’s pretty dramatic and I think it proves something. I think it proves that men do oftentimes very stupid things when they come in contact with a beautiful female. Here, the king is willing to give up half of his kingdom as we’ll see for just pleasing and showing off before this young lady. Now here again, one of the things we should see is that this woman obviously was not dancing. Dancing is not modesty. And when we look in the new covenant, what we see is that the beauty of a woman does not come from her outward appearance, but from her faith, from her modesty, from her chastity, from her good deeds, but this certainly was not the case. What it teaches us is this. We teach us how Herod had one set of standards, one set of objectives, and God has something very different.
The question that we should be asking ourselves daily is, are my objectives, are my standards God’s standards? Are the things that I say no to the things that God would say no to? And the things that I agree with are the things that God would agree with?
Look again, we find that he asked this question, “Ask me whatever you want, and I’ll give you half of my kingdom.” Now, imagine if you were there, how you would feel. You would say, “Wow, this man is making such a statement.” I mean, to pay a lot is usually an issue of pride. Someone shows off money because they’re thinking of self and that’s exactly what Herod was doing. And when we think of self and not God, what’s going to happen? We’re going to be easy prey for the enemy. That is this. We are when we think of self, what makes us important, what makes us happy, what makes us feel good about ourselves. When we behave in that way, it’s an invitation to the enemy to place a stronghold in our life. Or he can begin to manipulate us and turn us in the directions that he would have us to go and do the things that he would have us to do instead of God’s will.
Look again, what does it say? He asked her twice, “Up until half my kingdom.” And she went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask?” And she responded… What does she respond? She wants the head of John the Baptist. Now, imagine that. You could have any material thing, wealth, whatever. And what does she want? She is so incest at the truth of God that she wants to kill the prophet of God. Now, that doesn’t make sense. I mean, that’s a bad request. It’s not financially wise, but why did she do it? Because John was so important in the plans of God. It wasn’t important to Herodias. She was being used by who? Satan. Now, Satan successes will not hinder the fulfillment of God’s will in the end, but they manifest sin in our life. They manifest rebelliousness in our life.
Look again, verse 25, “And she entered immediately with haste and she said to the king, ‘I ask, and I will that you should at this moment…'” What? “Give to me on a platter, the head of John the Baptist.” Now I think it’s safe to say that all the things that King Herod might anticipate her asking, that obviously was not what he thought she was going to ask. And that tells us, we cannot anticipate what’s going to take place unless we’re walking with God, unless we’re hearing his word, unless we’re basing our lives and our views upon the truths of God. So this young lady she comes in and she boldly with haste says, “Give me on a platter, the head of John the Baptist.”
Verse 26, “And the king became very sad.” Now it’s very interesting because throughout this passage we see at the very beginning, and right now this term king. More often than not when Herod is referred to, it’s just that name Herod. But now we want to see that this man who is the supreme authority, it’s his birthday. He’s doing things to make him feel good. It’s all about him. And when we go after the passions of our heart… Let me put it a different way. When we follow the lust of our flesh, same thing. When we do that, in the end, we’re going to be just like the king. He’s powerful, he’s authority, but in the end, it tells us that he was made very sad.
She entered, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist said upon the platter.” And the King became very sad on account of his oath and account of what? Those who were sitting with him. Now, this tells us that passage is included there were those watching. He had given his word. He had made this boastful promise, “You ask what ever you want. No strings attached, no limitations. Even up to half my kingdom and I’m going to do it.” He swore. And now what happens? Well, he sees all those people around. Is he going to keep his word? Is he going to honor his oath? And here’s the problem. He was more concerned. He was more concerned with his word than the word of God. Let me state it a different way. He was more concerned with his self rather than with God. Whenever that’s our mentality, whenever that’s how we think, once again, we’re going to be easy prey for the enemy, and he’ll be able to use us to accomplish his evil deeds rather than the commandments of God.
Because of this situation, what did he do? Verse 27, “And immediately the king sent for the executioner and he commanded him to bring his head.” That is the head of John the Baptist. And this one went out and he did something. He beheaded him, that is John, in the prison. Now, John, he had been in prison for several months. Why? Simply because he spoke the truth, “It is not lawful for you to marry this woman.” Now, we don’t hear a lot about that today among the clergy, so-called men of God, they tend to be very flippant about marriage. Oh, they might have counseling, but when was the last time someone said, “Vividly speaking, it is not permissible for you to marry this man, this woman, it is against the word of God.”
We think that counseling will solve everything. But you know what? It won’t overcome violations of God’s word. So John, this great man, he was in prison for several months because of a righteous stance concerning marriage. And John, this great leader, I think it tells us something. It tells us how important marriage is to God being done God’s way, according to his commandments.
Verse 28, “And his head…” That is of John, “was brought upon a platter to this young girl, and she gave it to her mother.” What happens? Well, now we read in the final verse, we’re going to study, verse 29. “And when the disciples, his disciples… Now we’re not talking about the disciples of Messiah Yahshua. We’re talking about the disciples of John. When they heard that he was killed, when they heard what had taken place, they went and they did something. They went and they raised up his body. Now don’t miss this. The language of Scripture is so important. His body was raised up. It could have just said they gathered him, they took him, but it didn’t. It literally says that they raised him up. Why? Well, many scholars pick up on it. They see it as a foreshadowing of the resurrection. That is an emphasis on the age to come and that’s John. John was not wrapped up in this world, but in the world to come, that’s what he was passionate about. So we read here, “And his disciples, they came, they raised up his body and they set it in a tomb.”
Now, John was a young man. He was probably only 30 years old at this time. Didn’t live long, but he lived faithfully. He didn’t have much in the way of possessions, but he had much in regard to good deeds. You can’t take those possessions into the age to come, but you can take those good deeds. And what they’re going to do is purchase rewards so that you can worship and honor and give glory to Messiah, not just for a season, not just for a life, which might be 70 or 80 years, but in the kingdom, that’s eternal. That through our faithfulness, when we take seriously the word of God, anointed by the Spirit, we’ll be able to exalt our heavenly Father, to praise our Redeemer Messiah Yahshua for all of eternity. When we do what? When we show a commitment to truth rather than self. And that’s really the discussion that we really have to have with ourselves each day. Where am I walking? In the pathways that lead to my desire or in the ways that lead to the fulfillment of God’s word, his commandments, his will? He sets that decision before us, but we and we alone have to make that decision.
I’ll close with this. One of the most powerful things that God has given to us is the power to choose. My prayer is that you and I would use that power for God’s glory. Until next time, thank you for listening.
Speaker 1: Well, we hope you will benefit from today’s message and share it with someone else. Please plan to join us each week at this time and on this station for the radio edition of LoveIsrael.org. Again, to find out more about us, please visit us at our website, LoveIsrael.org. There you will find articles and several other lectures from our teacher, Dr. Baruch. These teachings are in video form. You may download them or watch them in streaming video. Until next week, may the Lord bless you and our Messiah Yahshua. That is Jesus, as you walk with him. Shalom from Israel.