Sunday, November 17, 2013

Never lose your head!

I normally write about scripture and tie it neatly all together so that the casual reader can apply it to their own life. However, today is different! My question to myself "How many accounts of beheadings are in scripture?" My curiosity was aroused because those latter day Christians will suffer beheadings for Christ's sake. Is that God's will? His plan? I wanted to take a look at scripture to see if beheadings are his will or simply when he removes the hedge, so to speak.
With that thought in mind, learn with me as we look at Bible beheadings:
The first account are of Oreb and Zeeb. They were Midianites who were descents of Abraham and his wife's handmaiden Keturah. They were Semites, cousins to the Israelites. They worshiped the gods of the Moabites,  Baal Peor and the Queen of Heaven, Ashteroth. The Israelites were enemies of these pagans and upon the finish of a battle of 300 soldiers picked by God against the entire Midianite army, they were destroyed and their leaders, Oreb and Zeeb beheaded.  Here's the account of that:

Judges 7:25 "And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan."

As a young shepherd lad, David came to power by killing the Philistine giant, Goliath, and beheaded him and presented his head to King Saul. David became a "man after God's own heart", King and ancestor of Jesus, who was called of the line of David.

1 Samuel 17:46  "This day will the Lord deliver thee (Goliath) into mine (David's) hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel." 1 Samuel 17:51 "Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled."
In disrespect to the will of God, who had anointed King Saul before removing the anointing, the Philistines, allied with David slew King Saul and beheaded him.Thereafter, the Philistines further disrespected Saul by putting his armor in a pagan temple.
1 Samuel 31:8  "And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa. 9 And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people. 10 And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.
Upon hearing that Saul was dead, David in righteous anger, put the man to death in Ziglag even though the man thought he was doing good! Now, Saul's grandson, who was lame and was the son of Jonathan, David's best friend, was also put to death and beheaded:
2 Samuel 4:6  "And they came thither into the midst of the house, as though they would have fetched wheat; and they smote him under the fifth rib: and Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped.
7 For when they came into the house, he lay on his bed in his bedchamber, and they smote him, and slew him, and beheaded him, and took his head, and gat them away through the plain all night.
8 And they brought the head of Ishbosheth unto David to Hebron, and said to the king, Behold the head of Ishbosheth the son of Saul thine enemy, which sought thy life; and the Lord hath avenged my lord the king this day of Saul, and of his seed."   2 Samuel 4:12 "And David commanded his young men, and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth, and buried it in the sepulchre of Abner in Hebron."

Sheba was against David's kingship and David's men deserted him for Sheba. Joab rallied an army in support of David and went to seek out the armies of Sheba. As Joab's army was battering the walls of the city a wise woman advised Joab that she would handle the situation. Inside the city she advised the Israelites and they beheaded Sheba and threw his head over the wall. Joab returned to Jerusalem and peace was restored:
2 Samuel 20:21 "The matter is not so: but a man of mount Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, hath lifted up his hand against the king, even against David: deliver him only, and I will depart from the city. And the woman said unto Joab, Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall. 22 Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king."
Jehu plotted to overthrow King Ahab of Samaria. Jehu sent letters to the city officials. It turned out that to appease Jehu the great men of the city killed and beheaded the seventy princes, sons of Ahab. It turned out that none of the seventy had plotted to overthrow Ahab. It was Jehu himself. Jehu used wile to have his enemies killed and beheaded:
2 Kings 10:6 "Then (Jehu) he wrote a letter the second time to them, saying, If ye be mine, and if ye will hearken unto my voice, take ye the heads of the men your master's sons, and come to me to Jezreel by to morrow this time. Now the king's sons, being seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, which brought them up. 7 And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king's sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent him them to Jezreel. 8 And there came a messenger, and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king's sons. And he said, Lay ye them in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning.
Now we move to the New Testament. The beheading continues. Because John the Baptist preached against the adultery of King Herod, animosity existed between John and the Tetrarch Herod. Although Herod had wanted to kill John, it was Herodias who pursued that evil:

Matthew 14:7  "Whereupon he (Herod) promised with an oath to give her (his adulteress wife, Herodias's  daughter) whatsoever she would ask. 8 And she, being before instructed of her mother (Herodias), said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. 9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her."  Matthew 14:10 "And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. 11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. 12  And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus."
King Herod had John beheaded and his head brought to the daughter of Herodias on a platter.
These are all the beheadings mentioned in Holy Scripture. Let's take a look at them now:
1) Oreb and Zeeb beheaded. They were pagans and Midianites, enemies of the Israelites.
2) David killed the Philistine giant Goliath and had the head of that pagan. As a result he became a trusted general and finally king himself.
3) David's allies, the Philistines, killed King Saul and beheaded him, all against God's will. Saul had fallen out of favor with God because of presumption.
4) David's supporters who though they were doing "good" killed and beheaded Ishbosheth, Saul's grandson to insure the throne for David although he was not even a pretender!
5) Sheba mutinied against King David and took all the army with him. When he was besieged a wise woman convinced the Israelites to sacrifice Sheba. He was killed, beheaded and his head thrown over the wall to David's general Joab. The war was over.
6) Jehu overthrew King Ahab by framing the seventy sons of Ahab who were summarily killed and beheaded. Jehu went on and killed all the opposition and became king himself.
7)  For revenge Herodius beguiled King Herod into beheading John the Baptist.
These are all the beheadings. Oreb and Zeeb were beheaded because it was God's will that the Israelites inhabit Canaan. It was God's will that Goliath be killed so that David would become King, a man after his own heart. Sheba was beheaded because he rebelled against God's choice for King; that David was the rightful heir. It was God's will that he die and peace be had.
All the other beheadings were because of disobedience. God did not desire that Saul be beheaded. It was not in God's plan tat Ishbosheth, an innocent young man, be beheaded just because of who he was. It was not God's will that Jehu use trickery to obtain power resulting in the beheadings of seventy princes.  It was not God's will that John the Baptist lose his head to Herodius. However, God had  a plan for mankind, Although it was not in God's plan for evil to be done, it was necessary that the evil that was done be done. Nothing happens without God allowing it to happen. He could stop anything at any time!
In the case of John, his ministry was complete! He had come to prepare the way for Jesus and he did just that. If he had lived longer scripture shows us that some were ready to follow him, believing him to be Elijah or the promised Messiah himself. John's beheading was not a punishment from God, but God allowed John to die for him as a show of faith. A martyred death is the greatest honor to God!
During the tribulation period there will be Christians who profess a belief in Jesus. That's not what the Anti-Christ demands, so just as John the Baptist those Christians will be "beheaded for the witness of Jesus"!  They will be the ones who have the faith and confidence in the divine nature of Christ that they fail to submit to what's evil!  If they "go along with the crowd" by taking the mark of the beast and adhering to the government/god of the Anti-Christ, all would be copacetic. Not so! They were faithful to Jesus. There reward? "They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years"! Death is no obstacle for Jesus. A misplaced head isn't an issue. God is omnipotent!
If we're here when Christ returns and we're faithful, we will arise in the air and go to heaven with Jesus. Later, there will be Christians who finally see the error in their thinking. These will be those who are persecuted. You have a choice. You, if you're wise, will never face eternal death, you will never face the guillotine! However, for others, here is a sordid account of what will happen:
Revelation 20:4 " And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."
If you want to read about dying for Christ sake, read Foxes Book of Martyrs. If you need more modern evidence, read the history of the French Revolution!
The beheadings are part of God's plan. He doesn't desire that his followers be killed and guillotined, but he allows evil for a spell. His plan is that if we're tested we follow his plan. The thought of being beheaded even for Jesus is staggering, but the loss would be the ultimate privilege. A privilege those in obedience now will never have to face!

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