Ninth LeperJ. L. Belk
The Bible, over the centuries, has been under every attempt to be proven wrong. Satan's greatest lie was a painting by a man who loved men. Jesus was painted feminine and erotic. You disagree? Then explain why most of the painting shows him almost naked and robe flowing open in the wind. This is an insult to CHRIST. Satan's biggest lies have been accepted by Christians. Evolution has become the law of the land, the more perverse the lifestyle the more it is condoned. This acceptance by churches are a sure sign of the times. We wonder what happened to our children. We take prayer from the schools and teach them they came from animals. How do you expect them to act? This story is to get you thinking; If you hate someone because of their color, or nationality alone, you may be a Pharisee.
The Bible is filled with stories, action, adventure, rise and fall of empires. Stories of murders, kidnappings, love, hate. Stories of global disasters, destruction of cities, nations, entire civilizations destroyed. How one man became a mighty nation. Great wars, the earth standing still, "proven to be right as NASA had to use this to aim a rocket at the moon". Stories over the centuries have been laughed at, ridiculed, and subject to every attempt of being debunked. The saddest are the betrayals, brother against brother, husband against wife, son against father, creature against the creator. The last is this story, true situations, untold stories. Could this be a true story? Yes, if not in fact, then in our hearts, YOURS AND MINE.
Memories can be a comfort, your first kiss, the first time you said I love you, your wedding. The memory of your children's birth, their life, funny sayings as they grow up, get married and start their own family. Yes, life is full of memories, but also, as you lie dying, all you have are memories. Memories can also be a haunting spirit as you realize your priorities were all wrong. Seeing your children gather around your bed as you draw your last breath, seeing the tears in their eyes as they look at yours. As you realize your life is a lie, and now their fate is not as you want. Lying there thinking, “Dear God, my memories, oh my memories. Please forgive me and give one last chance to explain the truth.”
The first time Ezechial saw him was at the wedding of his friend’s daughter. "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow life gets real". “Why are you not laughing?”, he asked his wife. “Do you not think that was funny?” She replies, “Yes, but not good for such a fine wedding. Why don't you make a more suitable toast?” “Hear me, my friends, please hear me. Caleb as you have surely died to your old life today, as in death we go to a more glorious life. As is now the beginning of your life with your beautiful bride, may your life be happy, and your old age be full of grandchildren.” As he made the toast he could not help but notice that the wine was the best he ever tasted. He asked Caleb where they found those grapes, the wine is delicious. He replied that a friend of his wife's mother was helping with the food, and she got it as far as he knew. “Her name is Mary you'll have to ask her.” When he asked, she told him he wouldn't believe her. He insisted she tell him and she replied, "my son made it out of water". He laughed and said, “Okay, keep your secrets”. She just replied, I will. You need to speak to my son, he's over there.”
Ezechial saw him standing, surrounded by several men, deep in conversation. He was intimidating, muscular, as if he worked in stone or maybe a carpenter. Like the ones who carried the beams, heavy, thick, sturdy beams that supported the crowd on the roof. He wore his hair not as a Nazarene, clean cut and it was red, just as King David. He thought, he's not from here. He had a beard as most Jewish men and his skin was darkened slightly by the sun. But his eyes, there's something about his eyes, the authority, but with compassion. When he looked at him it felt like he was looking deep into his soul. He made Ezechial uncomfortable, so he turned away. But as he looked back, he felt a deep sadness in his heart. He couldn't explain it, but it was there, he was a most unusual man. Throughout the wedding, he glanced at him several times. Every time he looked back as if he knew he was looking at him. Even when his back was turned he would glance back over his shoulder. He dared not approach him for he scared him, as if he knew his deepest secret. Being a Pharisee, he was never intimidated by anyone, this made him angry.
As the day ended he told his oldest son, Jeremiah, to get the horses & wagon ready as it was time to leave. The ride home was normal. Little Sarah points out the flowers, Rachel is talking about her own wedding someday, and Enoch tormenting Rebecca, while Jeremiah just laid back staring at the sky with no one knowing what was going on in his mind. But all he could think about was that man, he bothered him. Was he evil or a saint, the confusion in his mind was unsettling. How could one look have such an effect on him? He had to be evil. If only he knew then what he knows now.
That night before bed, he told the story of Abraham, Lot, Sodom and Gomorrah. He always wanted his children to fear GOD because this is the basis of their faith. As he stood at the girls' bedroom door, he started thinking of how he loved them, and their future. He looked at little Sarah and dreaded the day of her wedding. But such is life, the days we fear bring us the most joy when its ended. Still the sadness hung heavy in his heart, he was having a tough time understanding that man. Wondering who he was, why does he annoy him so much. Why did that one look bother him so? Who is this man? His wife asked if he was going to stand there all night or tell the boys good night. As he told his boys good night he considered how fortunate he was. He and his wife were happy, they had five wonderful children, a large piece of land, and a big house. He thanked GOD for how fortunate he was, and praised him for letting him be a Pharisee. While lying in bed, sleep did not come easy that night. The thought of those eyes burned into his brain.
The next morning was a normal morning. Sleep had wash away the burdens of the day before. It's funny how sleep changes your outlook. What bothered you yesterday doesn't have the same effect.
At morning breakfast, as was custom, his children sat in order of birth with his oldest son to his right, and his wife at the other end of the table. After breakfast, his boys went into the field while the girls helped their mother in the house. His wife had a knack of making chores seem fun. Whoever made the beds fastest got a piece of bread dipped in honey and such. We could hear laughter in the house while we worked in the field taking care of the livestock. He, on the other hand, was a hard worker missing the opportunity to have fun with the boys. The field was on good ground but the boys didn't like removing the stones with oxen and sled while he plowed. While plowing he noticed a small spot on his hand, he thought he had been bitten by some sort of insect, and paid no particular attention to it. In the distance, he watched birds gathering worms from the freshly plowed field and considered how GOD used man to help feed his birds. They just had to search for the blessings.
The next day was the Sabbath, so Ezechial told his boys to make sure the animals were cared for and had enough to get them thru till the first day of the week. The first and fifth days were for fasting, the second & fourth were for community business with a meal. This left the second and sixth days for helping the boys on the farm. But the first was a holy day to be observed as commanded by the law of Moses. So far today they had a lot of work to do. He enjoyed teaching about the law.
Deborah called them to supper, and before they knew it the day was over. It had slipped away, but the chores were done. With the girls help, Deborah had cooked enough food for two days. But, once again, with all his preparations he forgot to tell his family how much he appreciated their hard work and the wonderful meals prepared by his daughters and wife. How he remembers so many days like that now. He was a good father and provided well for them, they had all they needed. But he often got too busy to enjoy his life. How he remembers now.
The Sabbath was their favorite day. Deborah doesn't have to cook, no house cleaning, no chores. Ezechial told the creation story this time, and the reason for the Sabbath. Rachel asked to also hear the story of Job. She loved that story. A wealthy man tested by GOD, at Satan's request, just to prove him wrong about what kind of man Job was. The Sabbath is a good day, a family day, a day of rest and reward for working all week. The food on this day is the high point of the week, everyone loves this day. The morning isn't rushed the family is together enjoying each other’s company. The evenings are full of funny little games and sometimes Sarah's stories. What an imagination.
At the first of the month they will travel to the Synagogue for their sacrifice, this was a twice a year thing for his family. They picked the best lamb, no cuts, no illness, it had to be perfect. Since this was a two-day journey it was a tiring trip, but a must.
On the way home from the community meal Ezechial told of Adam & Eve, and the curses upon man. That was why they had to carry the cute little lamb as a sacrifice. “The sacrifice will give us forgiveness for our part as descendants of Adam and Eve. With the sacrifice, we are covered”. But Sarah was too young to understand, and only thought of the lamb she loved. “Oh Sarah, don't be a baby”, remarked Caleb. Forgetting his tears as he first realized the lamb was a sacrifice, not a gift to the Temple. Now he was old enough and well trained in the law. Sarah, only two years younger, had such a delicate mind, she just couldn't get it. Her mother comforted her and tried to explain that one day she would understand.
Preparing for a family trip is almost as much fun for the kids as going. Packing bed rolls for the first night, food, tent, bows for protection. The road is full of thieves, Gentiles, and murders. It’s a hazardous trip but a necessary one. For the trip back, they will purchase fish in the market for a meal cooked over a camp fire. The girls love this for they get to set back and watch the men prepare dinner.
The first day of the trip was normal, they stopped for the night and pitched the tent and ate the meal Deborah prepared. Ezechial took the boys out for some target practice with the bows and then settled down for the night. He put out the fire and the girls settled down in the tent, while the boys slept under the stars. They knew better than to stop on the side of the road, and camped behind a hill. Suddenly they heard screaming and yelling. He took the oldest and the bows to see what was happening. They saw two men beating a man and stealing his possessions. He took aim and hit one in the leg, the other was startled and grabbed his friend and ran. He told his son they need to hurry back to the camp to make sure the girls were safe.
The morning was as expected. Jeremiah bragging about what happened that night and Rebecca looking scared at the tale. After loading the wagon the boys took hold of the oxen and started walking toward the road with him in lead. As they got on the road they saw the man still laying there. As he got closer he noticed it was a gentile. Seeing the blood and the fact it was a gentile he told the boys to walk a far away as possible. Being a Pharisee he knew better than to get this man’s blood on him. The girls pleaded to stop and help but Ezechial scolded them and told them someone else would come along. Besides, he thought it was a wasted arrow. These gentiles need to stay out of our land.
The noise of the Temple was almost deafening, “Come buy my doves, they are the best.” “Lambs, spotless get them here.” We give the best rate on coin exchange”, and so forth. The noise scared Sarah. He told her, “its ok. They are just trying to make a living.” Sarah cried and asked “Why do they have to mess up the Temple?”. Ezechial and the family presented their lamb to the priests and made their sacrifice. Upon leaving, being a Pharisee, he wanted to make his presence known. Upon reaching forth to shake hands, the priest looked at his hand and withdrew his. He told him to hold his hand closer. As he looked, a worried look appeared on his face. He told Deborah he was, by law, required to be locked up for seven days to determine if he could return home. this made him angry and declared he was a Pharisee and could not be a leper. Then a Roman solder there drew his sword and forced him to obey. He asked if someone could help his family get home, then told them he would be home soon, as he was sure this was a mistake.
The next seven days were extremely depressing for him, not being able to go outside only hearing the business of the city from afar. The room where he was kept was not well lit, and the only window was way above his head. He was angry with the priest and GOD for allowing him to suffer through this needlessly, and in what he considered a dungeon. As he listened to the children playing far off he wondered how his family was doing. The days lingered on as he lost track of time, falling asleep, waking to daylight and wondering what day it was. Is it morning or is it evening, only when the next meal was slid underneath the door did he realize that night was yet to come. The only thing keeping him sane was the family of birds nesting, watching the adult birds flying in and out to feed the chicks.
Finally, the last day came and the priest had Ezechial brought in. The guards made him fully cover himself from head to toe, wrapping cloth around his hands until he reached the priest. Upon reaching the priest he was told to unwrap his hand as the priest looked at him. As the priest examined his hand he sadly looked up and said, "THIS MAN IS UNCLEAN". The words shocked him so that he was speechless as he stared at the priest not believing what he just heard. The priest ordered him to be carried to the leper camp, and left there. He cried out loudly and pleaded that he could go home first and speak to his children and wife. The priest denied his request saying that the guards must also be examined now to see if he had infected them as well. He started crying, pleading with GOD for his family to be clean, begging the priest to have mercy on them. the priest told him that his family could come by and see him but, if they were clean, by law and preferably for love, he had to stay a safe distance from them. If not, they would also be sent to the camp to live out their last days. Loudly sobbing, he rewrapped his hand and was lead off by the guards.
The humiliation for a Pharisee to be in this condition, being put in a barred wagon. He was glad his face was covered. The trip down the long dusty road, through the town and into the wilderness made him pray to GOD to just take him now. "Please, Heavenly Father, take me now. Do not make me live through this. Have mercy on me". Upon arriving at the camp, he saw it was a cave, with a wide opening. Men & women were cooking over camp fires. The stench made him gag as he was forced to leave the wagon. He begged the guards to kill him now, "please just do me that favor". As the guards left he stood there looking at the situation and decided he would just walk off into the wilderness and get lost. Then he remembered the priest telling him he would see his family again, and knew they would not know where he was. He sat under a tree and just buried his face into his folded arms resting on his knees.
As a week and a half went by, all that was left was hope that someone would have pity on him and share their food. He had not seen his family and was hoping this was good, meaning they were ok. The people in the camp quickly took him in and fed him, knowing what he was going through. Finally, he heard what sounded like Sarah calling, “DADDY, where are you?” This struck him with fear that she was also sick. Running out of the cave he saw his family. As he ran toward them Deborah screamed, "PLEASE STOP". With tears in her eyes she said, “We are ok, please have mercy on the children”. Stopping in his tracks he heard her say, "Here, we have some food, we will come by every week to feed you". He just cried and told her that it was not necessary he was going to go off into the wilderness to die. As she cried she begged him not to do so, but he said he did not want them to watch him die this way.
His children started crying as he told them that the boys were big enough to run the farm. The girls were to help their mother and he told Deborah to promise she would take another husband, as there were several widowers in town. He gave instructions on the weekly dinner, and said to find another Pharisee to take his place. He told the oldest that he would someday take a wife, and they were to live there and take care of his mother. He gave instructions on the dividing of the land to all the boys, and what dowry was to be set aside for the girls. As the day ended he just fell to his knees and sobbed bitterly as he watched his family ride away in the wagon. He got up and packed the bag they left with as much food as he could carry, and give the rest to the camp.
Throwing his bag over his shoulder he headed off into the woods crying and begging GOD to please have mercy on him, and end this quickly. The trip into the wilderness was as heart breaking as anything he had ever experienced. Listening to the voices of his family in his head. Knowing he had just told Deborah to take another husband. Remembering her say, “I'll die a widow first.”
Ninth Leper by J. L. Belk have rating 4.4 out of 5 / Based on35 votes