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From Heaven With Love

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    More Than a Prophet

    John was “more than a prophet.” While prophets had seen from afar Christ's advent, to John it was given to behold Him and to present Him to Israel as the Sent of God. The prophet John was the lesser light to be followed by a greater. No other light ever will shine so clearly on fallen man as the teaching and example of Jesus.HLv 141.5

    Aside from the joy that John found in his mission, his life had been one of sorrow. His was a lonely lot. 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 shone through every word of Christ, shedding glory on the promises of prophecy.HLv 141.6

    Herod believed John to be a prophet of God and fully intended to set him at liberty. But he feared Herodias. She knew that by direct measures she could never win Herod's consent to the death of John; hence she resolved to accomplish her purpose by stratagem. On the king's birthday an entertainment was to be given. There would be feasting and drunkenness. Herod might then be influenced according to her will.HLv 141.7

    When the great day arrived, the king with his lords was feasting and drinking. Herodias sent her daughter into the banquet hall to dance for the guests. Salome was in the first flush of womanhood, and her voluptuous beauty captivated the lordly revelers. A flattering compliment was paid to Herod when this daughter of Israel's priests and princes danced for his guests.HLv 142.1

    The king was dazed with wine. Passion held sway, and reason was dethroned. He saw only the reveling guests, the banquet, the wine, the flashing lights, and the girl dancing before him. In the recklessness of the moment he desired to make some display that would exalt him before 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.HLv 142.2

    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 petition: “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” RSV.HLv 142.3

    Herod was astonished and confounded. He was horror-stricken at the thought of taking the life of John. Yet he was unwilling to appear fickle or rash. The oath had been made 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 besotted to remonstrate. No voice was raised to save the life of Heaven's messenger. Upon these men of high positions rested grave responsibilities, yet they had given themselves up to drunkenness. Their heads were turned with the giddy scene of music and dancing, and conscience lay dormant. By their silence they pronounced the sentence of death on the prophet of God, to satisfy the revenge of an abandoned woman.HLv 142.4

    Herod reluctantly commanded the execution of the prophet. Soon the head of John was brought in. Never more would that voice be heard calling men to repentance. The revels of one night cost the life of one of the greatest of the prophets.HLv 143.1

    How often have the innocent been sacrificed through the intemperance of those who should have been guardians of justice! He who puts the intoxicating cup to his lips makes himself responsible for all the injustice he may commit under its besotting power. Those who have jurisdiction over the lives of their fellowmen should be held guilty of a crime when they yield to intemperance. They need full command of their physical, mental, and moral powers that they may possess vigor of intellect, and a high sense of justice.HLv 143.2

    Herodias exulted in her revenge and flattered herself that Herod's conscience would no longer be troubled. But no happiness resulted. Her name became abhorred, while Herod was tormented by remorse. He was constantly seeking 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 men, he bore a smiling face while he concealed an anxious heart oppressed with fear. He was convinced that God had witnessed the revelry of the banqueting room, that He had seen the exultation of Herodias, and the insult she offered to the severed head of her reprover.HLv 143.3

    When Herod heard of the works of Christ, 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, and failing eyes, and a languishing soul... . In the morning you shall say, ‘Would it were evening!’ and at evening ... ‘Would it were morning!’ because of the dread which your heart shall fear.” Deuteronomy 28:65-67, RSV. No torture is keener than a guilty conscience which gives no rest day nor night.HLv 143.4

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