Princess Salome was a teenaged girl who danced so well at her stepfather Herod Antipas’s birthday party that he rashly offered her anything that her heart desired. Her mother told her to go and ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Why?
Salome was the daughter of Philip and Herodias. Herodias was the niece of Antipas, her husband’s half brother. Herodias had fallen out of love with Philip and fallen deeply in love with her uncle and brother in law, Antipas, and had gone to live with him. No No No!
John the Baptist had pointed the finger squarely at Antipas and told him that it was not lawful to have his brother’s wife (Mark 6:17-20, Matthew 14:1-11). Philip was still alive. This caused Herodias to seethe with anger at John the Baptist and she got rid of him at the first chance she had.
But was Antipas actually answerable to the law of God since he was a Roman? Was John speaking out of turn?
John came into the world speaking the force of bitter truth to all who would listen. His entire lifestyle was harsh and no-nonsense. He didn’t mince words when he spoke. John had gone straight to Antipas and rebuked him for “Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife” (Luke 3:19). He didn’t ever refer to her as Antipas’s wife – she was always Philip’s wife.
The truth is, John spoke the pure words of God’s truth – God does not condone a man taking someone else’s wife and living with them, or even marrying them. “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times” (Psa. 12:6 ESV).
And how important is this rule that a person married to another can’t just go and cohabit with someone else? Well, it was a rule that John knew God felt strongly about and so John thought about it so strongly that he was prepared to die for it.
God wants to refine or purify our hearts, just like gold or silver is refined in a furnace. He wants to make us speak pure words, just like John the Baptist. He wants us to live pure lives, and ultimately we can only do that if we yield in the Refiner’s furnace.
“I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God’” (Zech. 13:9 NLT).