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Humble Hero

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    More Than a Prophet

    John was “more than a prophet.” While prophets had seen Christ’s advent from far off, John had the privilege of seeing Him and presenting Him to Israel as the One sent by God. The prophet John was the lesser light to be followed by a greater. No other light ever will shine so clearly on fallen men and women as the teaching and example of Jesus.HH 96.1

    Aside from the joy that John found in his mission, his life had been one of sorrow. His was a lonely assignment. And he was not permitted to see the result of his own labors. It was not his privilege to be with Christ and behold the light that radiated through every word of Christ, shedding glory on the promises of prophecy.HH 96.2

    Herod believed that John was a prophet of God and fully intended to set him free. But he feared Herodias. She knew that by direct measures she could never win Herod’s consent to the death of John, so she resolved to accomplish her purpose by scheming. On the king’s birthday he would have guests in for a celebration. There would be feasting and drunkenness. She might find a way then to influence Herod according to her will.HH 96.3

    When the great day arrived, the king was feasting and drinking with his lords. Herodias sent her daughter into the banquet hall to dance for the guests. Salome was in the first flush of womanhood, and her sensuous beauty captivated the lordly revelers. It was a flattering compliment to Herod when this daughter of Israel’s priests and princes danced for his guests.HH 96.4

    The king was dazed with wine. Passion controlled him, and reason was dethroned. He saw only the pleasure-mad guests, the banquet, the wine, the flashing lights, and the girl dancing before him. In the recklessness of the moment, he wanted to make some display that would exalt him in the eyes of the great men of his realm. With an oath, he promised the daughter of Herodias whatever she might ask, even to half of his kingdom.HH 96.5

    Salome hastened to her mother. What should she ask? The answer was ready—the head of John the Baptist. Salome shrank from presenting the request, but the determination of Herodias prevailed. The girl returned with the terrible demand: “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”HH 96.6

    Herod was astonished and perplexed. He was horror-stricken at the thought of taking John’s life. Yet he was unwilling to appear fickle or rash. He had made the oath in honor of his guests, and if one of them had offered a word against the fulfillment of his promise, he would gladly have spared the prophet. He gave them opportunity to speak in the prisoner’s behalf. They knew John to be a servant of God. But though shocked at the girl’s demand, they were too drunk to protest. No voice was raised to save the life of Heaven’s messenger. These men of high positions carried great responsibilities, yet they had given themselves up to drunkenness. Their heads were turned by the giddy scene of music and dancing, and conscience lay sleeping. By their silence, they pronounced the sentence of death on the prophet of God, to satisfy the revenge of an immoral woman.HH 96.7

    Herod reluctantly commanded the prophet’s execution. Soon the head of John was brought in. Never more would that voice be heard calling for repentance. The revels of one night cost the life of one of the greatest of the prophets.HH 97.1

    How often have the innocent been sacrificed through the intemperance of those who should have been guardians of justice! All who put the intoxicating drink to their lips make themselves responsible for all the injustice they may commit under its benumbing power. Those who have jurisdiction over the lives of others should be held guilty of a crime when they yield to intemperance. They need full command of their physical, mental, and moral powers in order to possess vigor of intellect and a high sense of justice.HH 97.2

    Herodias gloated in her revenge and assured herself that Herod’s conscience would no longer be troubled. But no happiness resulted. People came to abhor her name, while Herod was tormented by remorse. He was constantly trying to find relief from a guilty conscience. As he recalled John’s self-denial, his solemn, earnest appeals, his sound judgment in counsel, and then remembered how he had come to his death, Herod could find no rest. In the affairs of state, receiving honors from others, he bore a smiling face while he concealed an anxious heart oppressed with fear. He was convinced that God had witnessed the drunken scene of the banqueting room, that He had seen Herodias’s gloating and the insult she offered to the severed head of the one who had condemned her behavior.HH 97.3

    When Herod heard of Christ’s works, he thought God had raised John from the dead. He was in constant fear that John would avenge his death by condemning him and his house. Herod was reaping the result of sin—“a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul. ... In the morning you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were evening!’ And at evening ... ‘Oh, that it were morning!’ because of the fear which terrifies your heart.” Deuteronomy 28:65-67. No torture is worse than a guilty conscience that gives no rest day nor night.HH 97.4

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