Two Mothers

In researching the history of when Mother’s Day became a national holiday, we find the following:

“A PROCLAMATION BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Whereas, By a Joint Resolution approved May 8, 1914, ” designating the second Sunday in May as Mothers’ Day, and for other purposes,”…Now, Therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the said Joint Resolution, do hereby direct the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings and do invite the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”

Today we are going to examine a comparison of two mothers, and we will be reminded of the incredible power of mothers-for good, and for evil.

A Wicked Mother Named Herodias

Mark 6:17-28-For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; for he had married her. 18  Because John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19  Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; 20  for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. 21  Then an opportune day came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee. 22  And when Herodias’ daughter herself came in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you.” 23  He also swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” 24  So she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist!” 25  Immediately she came in with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26  And the king was exceedingly sorry; yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her. 27  Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in prison, 28  brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.

There is much history regarding Herodias that is worthy of consideration here.

“Herodias herself was also infamous for her incestuous marital relationships. She was first married to her step-brother, by whom she had a daughter, Salome. Later, she entered into a marriage with her uncle, Philip; then into a third marriage with Philip’s brother, Herod Antipas. Following in the footsteps of her mother, Salome also broke with what was widely considered to be acceptable behavior in Jewish culture by openly renouncing her marriage vows. This incident is reported by Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews [book 15, chapter 7, section 10].” (Al Maxey, Down, But Not Out: A Study of Divorce and Remarriage in Light of God’s Healing Grace, 1437-1442 (Kindle Edition); Baltimore, Maryland; PublishAmerica)

[Here is an interesting thought: could this Salome (daughter of Herodias that requested the head of John the Baptist) be the same Salome mentioned in these passages?

Mark 15:40-41-There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, 41  who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

Mark 16:1-Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.

If this is the same Salome that was instrumental in the slaying of John the Baptist, what an incredible example of redemption!]

Why was it unlawful for Herod to have Herodias as his wife? After all, the Old Testament was binding only upon those of Jewish descent, and those who converted to Judaism (Deuteronomy 5:1-3; Psalm 147:19-20; Romans 2:12).

Herodias (along with Herod) were both from Idumea, which had long before the time of Christ converted to Judaism.

“Antipater had been able to ingratiate himself with Cæsar in his expedition against the Pontians and Cappadocians, and in return the Dictator made him a free citizen of Rome, and constituted him Procurator of Judea. Thus had the crafty Edomite reached the position for which he had long been scheming. He remained the friend and patron of Hyrcanus, and supported him against the appeals of Antigonus, who was endeavoring to win the favor of Cæsar. But the Procurator was no longer a young man. His honors had been late in coming, and he found the additional burdens heavy to bear. Accordingly he appointed his two sons, Phasael and Herod, governors of Galilee and of Jerusalem respectively, thus putting the Holy Land fully under Idumean rule. On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that Idumea had been conquered by John Hyrcanus, 130 B.C., and the nation forcibly converted and circumcised, so that Antipater and his descendants, though of the house of Esau, were now Jews in religion, at least outwardly. And the after-history of the family shows that they valued Judaism from a religio-politico standpoint; their constant efforts being in opposition to the Grecianizing policy of some of the Jewish rulers.” (H.A. Ironsides, The 400 Silent Years: from Malachi to Matthew (Illustrated), New York, N.Y.; Loizeaux Brothers, Bible Truth Depot)

Notice that Herodias had a homicidal rage directed towards God and His messengers. She was a woman that was consumed with hatred, anger, and hostility.

Consider especially also the kind of mother Herodias was. She had no problem encouraging her daughter in sexual sin (with her stepfather/uncle), and she incited her daughter to murder John the Baptist. Indeed, she would no doubt guilty of child abuse in our legal system today. She disregarded any responsibility in teaching her daughter about her responsibilities to God or to her fellow man.

In every way, she is an example of the horrible influence of a mother that disregards the Lord.

While studying her account, I was reminded of another man who had some very “bad experiences” with his mother. Indeed, America had some very difficult experiences with his mother!

Her name was Madalyn Murray O’hair. She was the woman who had public prayer banned from the classrooms across America. For a long time, her son William was a staunch atheist. However, years later, he realized that there is a God and he became a devoted disciple of Christ and minister. He eventually wrote a book, “My Life Without God.” In it, he describes the horrible influences his mother had on him.

“I now found it relatively easy to accept the concept of a good God who could solve troubles and problems. There had to be good, because I had looked into the eyes of evil. There had to be a God, because I had held hands with the devil.” (William J. Murray, My Life Without God (Classics), 270 (Kindle Edition); Washington, D.C.; WND Books)

“I thought my mother was a Marxist, and she was. I thought she hated God, and she did. She hated American society and the concept of the nuclear family centered on a heterosexual marriage. Her vision was of a society without marriage, but with plenty of sex. She sought a civilization with no rules but with a perfect order. Her ideal was a culture in which all human needs were supplied but no demands were made on the individuals. Her writings in the pornographic magazine Hustler give incredible insight into her state of mind. But none of these single insights allow me or anyone else to view the core of what Madalyn Murray O’Hair was; they just nibble around the edges. However, put everything together—the atheism, the Marxism, the sexual anarchy, the social standards that have never existed in any functioning society—and one soon sees that she existed in a state of Magic Thought. She was a utopian. She believed that humankind could devise a system on Earth that supplied all needs to all people. In her vision of society, there would be no hunger, no pollution, and no war. All would receive what they required—except the self-proclaimed intellectuals such as herself, who would receive more because of their academic genius and ability to liberate the minds of the masses.” (William J. Murray, My Life Without God (Classics), 315 (Kindle Edition); Washington, D.C.; WND Books)

“Ignored by many is the one foundational truth that still exists in the chaos of ideas that swirls around us. Although the lamp has been dimmed by those who repress truth in favor of pleasure, the reality of the life-changing nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ has not changed. It is a truth that endures despite political repression and a church that has rushed to embrace the “modern” world around it. Through that truth I have peace in the knowledge that there is a real paradise—it is God’s domain in heaven. Looking back from 2011, I would not trade even one day of my life in the hands of the Lord for a hundred years of a life without God.” (William J. Murray, My Life Without God (Classics), 315 (Kindle Edition); Washington, D.C.; WND Books)

A Godly Mother Named Eunice

2 Timothy 1:5-when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

The Bible here teaches us about the powerful influence of Eunice on Timothy. Timothy was one of the great heroes of the Bible.

The Bible teaches us here that not only Eunice, but also her mother Lois, were Christians. The faith of God is typically passed on from mother (and father) to child. However, there was a complication with this in regard to Timothy: his father was a non-Christian.

Acts 16:1-Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.

Timothy was a profound Christian, and much of that was “inherited” from Timothy’s godly heritage passed on through his mother.

The following quotations provide insight into the influence of presidential mothers throughout American history.

“HOW HAVE American presidents described their mothers? There is not a virtue that can abide in the human heart, but it was the ornament of hers. JOHN QUINCY ADAMS Gentle as a dove and brave as a lioness. ANDREW JACKSON She who nurtured us in our infancy … taught us to raise our little hands in prayer … such a mother is of priceless value. JOHN TYLER She was a most affectionate and tender mother. FRANKLIN PIERCE Under providence I attribute any little distinction which I may have acquired in this world to the blessings which He conferred on me by granting me such a mother. JAMES BUCHANAN All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother. ABRAHAM LINCOLN I seem alone in the world without my mother. ULYSSES GRANT I can see the golden thread running through the whole-my mother’s influence on me. JAMES GARFIELD Do you know that if Mother were alive, I should feel much safer? I had always thought her prayers had much to do with my success. GROVER CLEVELAND By the blessings of Heaven I mean to live and die, please God, in the faith of my mother. WILLIAM MCKINLEY A sweet, gracious, beautiful Southern woman, a delightful companion, and beloved by everybody. THEODORE ROOSEVELT I thank God to have had such a mother. WOODROW WILSON Dear, dear Mother will wear a crown. WARREN HARDING Whatever was grand and beautiful … attracted her. CALVIN COOLIDGE My recollections … are chiefly of a sweet-faced woman … who kept our little family together. HERBERT HOOVER Those of us who enjoy the companionship of our mothers beyond the average number ofyears are indeed fortunate. FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT She was always a mother who did the right thing, and she taught us … that too. HARRY TRUMAN Mother was by far the greatest influence on our lives. DWIGHT EISENHOWER The glue that held our family together. JOHN KENNEDY She was quiet and shy, but she was the strongest person I ever knew. LYNDON JOHNSON My mother was a saint. RICHARD NIXON The most selfless woman I have ever known. GERALD FORD From my mother I learned the value of prayer, how to have dreams and believe I could make them come true. RONALD REAGAN She was the beacon of our family-the center. GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH”. (Harold I. Gullan, Faith of Our Mothers: The Stories of Presidential Mothers From Mary Washington to Barbara Bush, 480-4493 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)

May God bless each and every mother.

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle is The Hand That Rules The World

William Ross Wallace (1819-1881)

Blessings on the hand of women!

Angels guard it strength and grace.

In the palace, cottage, hovel,

Oh, no matter where the place;

Would that never storms assailed it,

Rainbows ever gently curled,

For the hand that rocks the cradle

Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy’s tender fountain,

Power may with beauty flow,

Mothers first to guide the streamlets,

From them souls unresting grow-

Grow on for the good or evil,

Sunshine streamed or evil hurled,

For the hand that rocks the cradle

Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman, how divine your mission,

Here upon our natal sod;

Keep-oh, keep the young heart open

Always to the breath of God!

All true trophies of the ages

Are from mother-love impearled,

For the hand that rocks the cradle

Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!

Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,

And the sacred song is mingled

With the worship in the sky-

Mingles where no tempest darkness,

Rainbows evermore are hurled;

For the hand that rocks the cradle

Is the hand that rules the world.


The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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