God created sex. He designed our sexuality as a means to delight and bring pleasure to one another within the marriage relationship. But, sadly, as our culture knows all too well, “sex sells” and it has been twisted and used throughout the ages to manipulate and entice and for many other evil purposes, including revenge.
Genesis 41 & 42
Sex, Manipulation & Revenge
He Must Increase
Here we have the sordid story of King Herod, Herodias (Herod’s wife, his half-brother’s ex-wife and daughter of another half-brother) and Herodias’ daughter. It’s Herod’s birthday and this young girl is dancing for the men at the party—most likely a drunken “men’s affair” like a bachelor’s party or “gentlemen’s club” (what an oxymoron that is!)
Herodias, had probably noticed the way Herod looked at her young daughter when he thought she wasn’t looking, and instead of protecting her daughter, she used her to manipulate Herod into giving her what she wanted! And what she wanted was revenge—John the Baptist’s head on a platter! John had publicly spoken against her sinful behavior and she had decided to get even!
6 But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. 7 Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.
8 So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.”
9 And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her.10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. 11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother (Matt. 14.6-11).
After John’s death, we see Jesus’ grief over the loss of His cousin.
“When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself …” (v. 13).
But it was time for John to leave the stage and for Jesus to take full prominence. Remember John himself had said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn. 3.30). God can and does use sinful people to fulfill His divine purposes.
Today’s Other Readings:
Joseph’s Story & Your Story
Here in these two chapters God’s purposes begin to unfold in Joseph’s life. God has used trials to prepare him and in the chapters to come we’ll see that he has learned to trust God’s workings in his life. Now he’s ready to be placed on the world stage and to be reconciled with his family.
How difficult it must have been for Joseph when God gave him the interpretation of the Butler’s and the Baker’s dreams, and yet, to have it seemingly end there! It may not have seemed so strange to us because we know the end of the story, but think about it from Joseph’s perspective.
What has God allowed in your life that seems to make no sense? How can understanding Joseph’s story help you patiently wait on God in your own life?
Finally, if you have a strained relationship with someone in your family, there is much to be learned from Joseph’s dealings with his brothers? Be alert to principles and lessons you can learn as the story unfolds in the days to come.
No Fear of God
Verse 13 says, “Why do the wicked renounce God? He has said in his heart, ‘You will not require an account.’”
The New Living Translation says, “They think, ‘God will never call us to account.'” They have no fear of God! They don’t believe there will be a day of reckoning.
The fear of God might be called reverential respect, a belief that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do—that He is God and we are not—and that He alone is the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe.
Helper to the Fatherless
God is called by many names and descriptions throughout the Bible. While a complete understanding of God and all that He is, is beyond our human understanding, one way He reveals Himself to us is through His many names.
In this Psalm He calls Himself, “the helper of the fatherless” (v. 14). As women, and wives in particular, we sometimes feel our role as “helper” is somehow “less” than that of men. But interestingly, God used a word here that comes from the same root to describe Himself.
What is wisdom?
The writer of Proverbs continues to instruct us in the value of obtaining godly wisdom.
“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding” (v. 7).
So what is wisdom? It’s the ability to rightly apply God’s Word to life. That’s why it’s so important to understand the Scriptures. We can’t apply what we don’t understand. The verse goes on to say, “… get understanding!”
Seek to understand. Why not pray as the psalmist did:
“Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Ps. 119.18).
To “behold” is to really see. When we see and understand, we can rightly apply God’s truth. As we do, we grow even more in wisdom (Heb. 5.14).
Lord, help us to seek wisdom and understanding. Let us pray as the psalmist did, “open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.” And help us, Lord, to apply those truths to our lives, not only when we understand your plans and purposes, but even when they don’t make sense to us. Help us to trust in You and You alone, in Jesus name, amen.
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