Summary: We would not think a man like Herod came close to the Kingdom but his closeness to John the Baptist changed all of that
Two months ago we actually looked at two men from the bible. Nehemiah and Ezra. One rebuilt Gods city the other rebuilt Gods people with his statutes.
This time I would like to look at two men so different and yet so connected in the bible.
The year was 1948 and a young and strange man set up a tent in Hollywood, in Los Angeles California and began preaching the gospel. He dressed in Pistachio colored suits and bright red ties and few in the beginning came to hear what he had to say.
Soon however the numbers of people grew. First hundreds and then thousands. The news media even sent reporters to write on what was going on. Even some of the movie types began to come and many accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Billy Graham the Baptist has been preaching ever since, these last 60 plus years. But there was an even stranger evangelist 2000 years earlier that caused a similar stir and his name was John the Baptist
But John the Baptist and Herod the King are so linked in the scriptures you really have to look at them together.
We are all familiar with John the Baptist. His birth was announced to his father while he served in the temple of God. His parents were old and beyond child bearing age and yet a son was promised who would be the fore runner of the Messiah to fulfill the prophecy in Malachi 4.
He grew in stature and at the appointed time went to live in the deserted places around Judea. He dressed in camels hair clothing as rough as burlap and ate locust and honey. We would call him a hermit and perhaps even a kook.
But when he burst onto the scene and announced that Gods kingdom was about to arrive, everyone went out to hear this strange man’s message. Even Jesus went out to him and was baptized by Him and a great plan had begun to unfold
Remember when we began this series it began with the fall of man. God had announced a plan to rescue or redeem man from that fall and for all the last thousands of years that plan was being revealed little by little until now. John had the message the people had longed to hear.
No one could have been more different from John, than Herod the king, the son of Herod the Great. The man who had all those infants killed in Bethlehem. This Herod, his son, was no less cruel and despicable.
We know nothing of his birth but of his life we know he was treacherous. He had his brother killed to protect his throne. He took another brothers wife as his own while that brother was still alive. He had many Jews killed during a certain feast and even though he was called the king in Israel. He was not even a Jew. He was an Edomite, a descendent of Esau who sold his birth right for a bowl of stew.
If someone had told me a few years ago that Herod at one time came near the kingdom of God John was preaching, I would have been inclined to doubt it.
But some years ago, when I was going through the gospel of Mark, making a careful study of the book, I found this verse which takes place after Johns arrest:
Mark 6:20 (NASB)
20 Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him.
This caused me to change my views about Herod. I think that he was not only brought within the sound of John’s voice, but under the power of the Spirit of God; his heart was touched and his conscience awakened if only for a short time.
We are not told under what circumstances he heard John; but the narrative plainly states that he was brought under the influence of the Baptist’s wonderful ministry. Let me first say a word or two about THE PREACHER.
I contend that John the Baptist must have been one of the greatest preachers this world has ever had. Almost any man can get a hearing nowadays in a town or a city, where the people live close together; especially if he speaks in a fine building where there is a splendid choir, and if the meetings have been advertised and worked up for weeks or months beforehand.
In such circumstances any man who has a gift for speaking will get a good audience. But it was very different with John. He drew the people out of the towns and cities away into the wilderness. There were no ministers to back him; no business men interested in Christ’s cause to work with him; no newspaper reporters to take his sermons down and send them out as they did with Billy.