Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
There are several Bible characters who chose to be true to right principle in time of great peril. Some were rewarded for their faithfulness, such as Job, who chose to ignore his wife's cynical advice to "curse God and die!"; or Joseph, imprisoned for his refusal to commit adultery (who finally rose to be prime minister of an empire); and Abigail, whose wise counsel saved David from ruining his own career (and who incidentally saved her own husband from his revenge).
Abigail was rewarded well (1 Sam. 25). But there were others who had to suffer for their faithfulness to right principle. Queen Vashti, wife of Ahasuerus the corrupt ruler of the Persian Empire, the lady who refused his foolish command because she would not expose herself to drunken, leering officials in high positions. Vashti passes off the stage of Bible history into obscurity; we read of no vindication granted her; she apparently suffered a kind of martyrdom for upholding a standard of modesty (Esther 1:10-18).
Another person who had to suffer was John the Baptist. He was faithful to God, even while transgressing the rules of political savvy; Herod treated him like a cat treats a mouse, calling him up out of his dungeon to the royal office for conversations as though he was about to release him to freedom, giving John momentary thoughts of hope, only to send him back to his isolated cell. Finally, in a drunken stupor, Herod watches an immodest young woman dance and yields to her grisly request to have the lonely and apparently God-forsaken John beheaded (Matt. 14).
It would be nice if the Bible story instead had John miraculously released and honored, but that's not what happened. God permitted him to suffer alone as an encouragement to millions of faithful people afterward who have had to suffer, apparently forsaken by God. The only reward John gets (so far!) is to be honored posthumously by Jesus, as a prophet of whom there has been none greater (Matt. 11:11). "Be faithful until death," says Jesus, "and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).
But was John forsaken in his lonely dungeon cell? No, the Holy Spirit comforted him, and angels visited him up to the last. More joy than Herod ever had. Death for Christ is not a tragedy!
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 26, 2001.
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