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Mark 090 - Opportune Timing

Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”

Mark 6:21,23

When it comes to temptation, evil, and falling from grace, it always works like this. Your enemy isn’t in a hurry, they’re not in any kind of rush. They wait, biding their time, waiting till just the right moment.

Do you think the serpent was in a rush to tempt Eve? Do you think he was shaking with uncontrolled anticipation, unable to hold back any longer[1]?

I have a dear friend who made a series of really bad decisions that ultimately led to an adulterous affair. In listening to him, he looks back and can now see how the pieces came together. He admits and takes full responsibility for his actions, but it didn’t happen by accident. This wasn’t a chaotic mix of uncontrolled and random events. It was planned, it was orchestrated, it was scripted to put him in a vulnerable position. And when he came to the fork in the road, he chose, and chose poorly.

Herodias was also patient, waiting for the right time, the right setting, the right set of circumstances. When the enemy waits, we tend to let down our guard. We relax from being on our toes, looking for attacks. We allow cracks to appear and be ignored in our protective armor. We no longer stand up straight, holding our defensive shield up with strength, ready to respond to any attack. Our feet are not firmly planted in the dirt beneath our feet, holding us strong, able to withstand an attack. We no longer have our sword at the ready, waiting to deflect the oncoming attack and blow by an attacker.

The right moment came at Herod’s birthday celebration. Just so we’re all on the same page, this wasn’t some children’s party with cake and ice cream for family and friends. It was an X-rated drunken affair with all the leading men from business, government, military, and those of high, noble birth. It was the hardest ticket in town to get. It was a who’s who, the place that everyone wanted to be invited to, it was where the action was.

And into this sexual stew, Herodias plays a most unusual move. Instead of hiring an actor, a performer, an exotic dancer, she brings out her daughter to dance. This is something that no one of noble birth, from a good family, would do. It was totally demeaning to the girl herself, erotic to the guests, and incestuously sensual to Herod.

To say that her dancing pleased everyone almost makes it sound like people smiled and politely applauded. Like it was the annual recital at the local dance studio. This dance was not to just win approval, it was designed and performed to bring down the walls of inhibition, of good and moral decency. It was to make this great king putty in the hands of this dancing, flirting, girl.

What are the things, sights, sounds, environment that drops your guard? When does temptation just open a crack in the door of your defenses? Weaken your strength and resolve to stand for the right?

But there’s something more important than just doing wrong. The outward action is the result of an inward decision. The “sin” was already in place before the decision was made, before the words were said, before the act took place.

For as he thinks within himself, so he is.

Proverbs 23:7

The sin, that thing that defiles us, the core of what makes us do these things, is the inner drive to make our own decisions. To be the ruler of ourselves. To be king. To be our own god.

I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul[2].

This is the heart of our problem. God has made the universe a certain way, and he asks us to lovingly follow him and his design. It’s not just more selfishness to satisfy ourselves, but it’s our response to his making us, his reaching out and loving us. And we turn away in hurtful rebellion.

And if this wasn’t enough, he doesn’t leave us there to flounder, gasping for lifegiving breadth, left to die. At the opportune time, he came to save, redeem, pay our debts, and restore us to himself[3].

How can we turn away from him?

[1] Genesis 3:1 [2] Invictus, William Ernest Henley [3] Romans 5:6


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