Eber and the Tower – Part 4

Adah entered the house to find her husband Eber sitting slumped at the table, his face buried in his hands. Peleg was with him.

“Eber, what did those men want and where is Joktan? I haven’t seen him since breakfast.”

Eber stood up slowly and extended his hands toward his wife, “Adah, you had better sit down.”

“What is going on Eber? Has…something happened to Joktan?”

“Adah my dear, please sit down,” Eber said as he gently took his wife by the arm and guided her to a seat at the table. Once she was settled Eber took a deep breath and began to speak.

“Those men were from the king. They were here to tell me that unless we sold our entire hay crop to the tower construction project and convinced all of our neighbors to do the same they would hurt Joktan or…worse.”

“But how do we know what they are saying is true? How do we know they have Joktan?”

Peleg spoke up “Mother, I know for a fact they’ve captured Joktan. I saw them do it.” Peleg then told his mother about the capture, their fight with the guards and Joktan sending him home to tell their father.

There was silence for a moment and then Adah spoke up forcefully. “All right, what are we going to do about this?”

“Pop, I have an idea!”

“That’s good son, hold onto it, I’ll want to hear it in a few minutes. Adah, you and Peleg need to understand that this situation has placed us in direct opposition to the king who is determined to flaunt his power and is determined to go against the will of the Lord. I believe that God is calling us to oppose the king. But, in order to know the best course of action, we need to pray and seek His guidance.”

With that, Eber, Adah and Peleg all slipped to their knees. Eber led his family in confession of sins for themselves and for their community and in an impassioned plea for guidance from the Lord on how to restore themselves and their community to right standing with the God of heaven.

There was silence for some time after Eber stopped praying out loud. Finally he stood and said “All right, I think the Lord has given me a plan. But first, Peleg, what did you have to say son?”

“Pop, we’ve got to fight. Those men who took Joktan really mean what they say. I know…I tried to fight them off. Let me get some of my friends. I know where they’ve got him tied up.”

“No son, I don’t want you to try to rescue your brother. That is way too risky. I do not want to lose you too. I’ll have a meeting with the other farmers in the valley. I will try to convince them to resist the king’s men and then to figure out a way to get your brother back safely.”

Eber left immediately to begin talking with his neighbors. Adah came and stood beside Peleg and said, “Peleg, do you really think that you and some of your friends could rescue Joktan?”

Peleg looked into his mother’s eyes.

“Yes I do. He’s being held in a shack around the east side of the tower construction site. If I can round up a half a dozen or so of our friends, I’m sure that we could rescue him. Let me go and talk to our friends. If they agree, we can do it tonight.”

Adah looked out the window to see Eber riding off to talk to the other farmers, “Please do so my son. I won’t say a word to your father. He may be angry with you but he will also rejoice to see Joktan back home again. I will see to that.”

# # #

Eber went to each of the farmers in the valley. They had all been threatened by the king’s men and were angry at being forced to sell their entire crop leaving them with nothing to feed their stock. None could survive such an action. But, they were also frightened of refusing the king. Eber reminded them of the Lord’s command to Great Grandfather Noah. Not all of them even remembered the command of the Lord. Many had forgotten it and were not sure that they even believed in the Lord anymore since He seemed to be doing nothing to help them against the king.

Eber got them to agree to meet together that night at his farm to discuss the problem. He also got them to promise to pray that the Lord would bless their meeting and give them wisdom to know what to do. Eber headed home tired but convinced he was doing the right thing.

In the meantime, Peleg was also making the rounds of his friends getting them to agree to go with him to rescue Joktan that night. They were to meet Peleg in his father’s hayfield that night when the moon rose.

“Adah, the other farmers will be here shortly after supper so we can discuss if we are to resist the king and then how we are going to do it if we agree that we want to.”

Adah was thoughtful in her response, “My husband, how would you resist the power of the king? After all, couldn’t he just kill us all and take what he wants?”

Eber took a sip of his water and responded, “Yes he could, but that would cause dissension among the people in the city and then there would be no one to grow and harvest the food for the people. They are city people and they cannot grow food. Furthermore, after much prayer, I am sure that resisting the king is what the Lord would have us to do. He commanded us to ‘be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth’ we are not obeying the Lord by building a single large city for everyone to live in. Also, that tower is just being built by the king to demonstrate his power. I have heard that the king believes that he is more powerful and more important than the Lord. I have a feeling that the Lord will step in to block its completion. We farmers need to resist the king and show our allegiance to the Lord. God will take care of the rest. I believe that. I also believe that the Lord will watch over Joktan. I will explain this to our neighbors tonight when we meet together.”

When they were done eating Peleg told his father, “Pop, I’m going to go out for a little bit while you are having your meeting and talk with some of my friends about how we can show our support for your resistance. I think that it’s important for the sons of these men to understand what you and I believe.”

“You go ahead son. I will pray that you succeed in doing that. It will help us all to be of one mind.”

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Two Shepherds

“Jacob, how long are you going to lie there and stare at the night sky?”

“As long as I need to Zebedee, I’ve been watching this star every night for the last several months, and it seems to be getting closer and closer every night. I can’t figure it out.”

“We need to get back to the flock; I’m worried that those Roman soldiers will decide to help themselves to a couple of our sheep while we are away from them.”

“All right, all right, I’m ready to go back now. I made a few notes on the position tonight. It looks like it is straight above that little village of Bethlehem. Maybe we’ll go in there in the morning and look around.”

“Help me gather up our things here, Jacob. You know, after this season is over, I’m going to head back up to Galilee and take my uncle up on his offer to teach me fishing and to set me up with a fishing boat. I am getting really tired of sleeping outside on the hard ground every night, watching a bunch of smelly sheep.”

“That sounds pretty good, Zebedee, but I like being out here. I especially like it at night when I can watch the stars. Ok, I’ve got the food; let’s get back to the sheep.”

The two shepherds head back over several small hills to the small field where they had left their herd. Jacob looks back over his shoulder at the star that has captured his imagination, and Zebedee scans the horizon for any signs of Roman patrols.

“Jacob, why does that star fascinate you so much? After all, the night sky is full of stars. What is so special about that one?”

“I don’t really know Zebedee, for some reason it reminds me of the Lord’s promise to send the Messiah. You know, I heard from a passing caravan yesterday that there was a strange caravan of royal astrologers in the area from some country far away to the east. I heard they were here because they had been following a star all the way from their country. I wonder if it’s the same star. I’d like to run into them and ask them a few questions.”

“Sounds kind of crazy to me. No one believes any of that Messiah stuff anymore.”

“But don’t you remember all the prophecies from synagogue school? One of them talked about a star!”

“Jacob, come on! All of that stuff is just old, tired stories to tell the kiddies at bedtime. If God was going to send a messiah, he wouldn’t have let us get conquered by the Romans. If He exists, He’s off doing other things and has cut us loose to take care of ourselves. Come on, we need to get back to the sheep.”

“I don’t care what most people think, Zebedee. I believe the stories, and I think that star has something to do with them. I just have a feeling about it.”

“Great! Wonderful for you. Me, I just want to get back to the sheep and get some sleep. All this stargazing is depriving me of some well-deserved sleep.”

The two shepherds arrived back where they had left the sheep and begin laying out their sleeping gear and soon settle down for some sleep.

“Here we are, Zebedee. The sheep are right down there in that field all nestled in for the night, and we are here with them. Let’s call it a night. I sure wish that caravan from the east would come by here. I’d like to talk to those men.”

A couple of hours later:

Zebedee awakes. He hears something that sounds like singing. Then, his eyes are almost blinded by a bright light.

“Jacob, what’s that in the sky? It can’t be morning already.”

“What? What do you want?” He cups his hand over his eyes. “Wow! That is really bright!”

“I’m scared,” said Zebedee.

“ I am too,” replied Jacob.

A third voice speaks. The voice seems to come from everywhere.

“Don’t be afraid!”

“Who said that?” asked Zebedee.

“Is that you, Simon?” asked Jacob, in a shaky voice.

“Don’t be afraid!” the voice repeated. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

angel-shepherds

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds just looked at each other.

“Jacob,” said Zebedee, “remember all that stuff about not believing all those old stories?”

Jacob looked at his friend, smiled, and said, “Yes?”

“I’ve changed my mind. I do believe them now. ALL of them. Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and arrived just as the sun was coming up. After asking all around, they found Mary and Joseph in a stable with their baby boy, lying in the manger.

When they saw Him, they both went weak in the knees, knelt, and worshiped Him. They told Mary and Joseph what had happened to them, and they both were amazed.

card_5-shepards-baby-jesus-and-mary_l

Afterward, they told everyone they met what had happened and what the angel had said about this child and where to find Him.

All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished. Many came to worship Him as well.

 

Eber and the Tower – Part 3

“I don’t care how much they need that hay for their livestock! I want it for brick making! Burn down their farms if you have to, but get that hay!” shouted King Nimrod at Leban the construction manager.

“Your majesty, I’m sure we won’t have to go that far. With just a little more persuasion we can bring the leading local citizen, a man named Eber, around to our way of thinking. Besides, I have it on good authority that one of his sons is sympathetic toward the building of the tower. Perhaps, if we have a little chat with this son of Eber, we could sway the balance of the discussions with his father.”

Scowling the king said, “Just see that you do Leban! I am not interested in hearing any more excuses from you. If you don’t get that hay, I’ll see to it that you spend the rest of your life making bricks without hay.”

Leban gulped, “Yes your majesty. Consider it done,” he said, bowing low and quickly backing away from the king.

# # #

The next day Joktan was back in town at the construction site, standing under a tree staring at the tower. Across the clearing at the construction office, two men talked excitedly. One of the men was the construction boss Leban. The other was the tower foreman. The foreman looked around and noticed Joktan. He spoke to Leban, pointed to the boy and the two men walked quickly toward him.

Joktan, preoccupied with watching work on the tower, didn’t notice the two men headed toward him until Leban spoke to him in an overly friendly tone.

“Joktan, are you here to help again today? If you are we have a great job for you.”

“What? You kicked me off the site yesterday and today you have a job for me? Make up your mind!”

“Why don’t you come with us and we’ll show you what to do.”

“But, what’s going on? I don’t understand.”

“Don’t you worry about a thing boy; just come with us.”

Off they went with their arms around Joktan like he was a long lost son.

# # #

Unseen by the two men leading his brother away, Peleg hid behind a tree. He had followed his brother to see why he had sneaked away from the farm.

Peleg slowly followed the trio at a distance to a location on the far side of the tower where they entered a small shack. Peleg ducked behind a stack of bricks and watched the shack for about 15 minutes. Then he crept up close to the shack where he could hear two voices talking loudly inside but he couldn’t catch what was being said. Peleg crept up and knelt outside beside an open window, out of sight of the guards standing at the front door.

He heard his brother pleading with the two men.

“You can’t hold me here. My father is an important man in this town. What do you want anyway?”

“Listen, boy, we want the hay on your father’s farm. He won’t sell it to us. Your father will either sell us the hay that we need or he won’t see you alive again. The king wants this tower built on schedule and he won’t tolerate any excuses. Your father needs to not only sell us all of his hay. He also needs to persuade the other holdouts in the valley to go along. You, boy, are our prisoner and you are going to stay right here under guard until your father agrees to cooperate. If he doesn’t, well then that’s going to be too bad for you.”

Leban and the foreman turned and went outside, gave instructions to the guards and left.

Peleg peeked inside and saw his brother inside tied to a chair, struggling to free himself.

“Joktan! Joktan! Can you hear me? Are you all right? I heard what they said. Can you get loose?”

“Peleg, get out of here. Go home and tell Pop what’s going on.”

“No way, I’m going to get you out of there. I need to think…”

Peleg grabbed a large stick that was lying on the ground.

“Hey, you raise a ruckus so the guards will come inside.”

“Ok, but what are you going to do?”

“Never mind, just start yelling!”

“Alright. Hey! Hey, you guys out there! I’m getting sick in here. I need some help! Heeelllp!”

One of the guards went inside to see what was going on. Peleg gripped his large stick and hurried around to the front of the shack. Seeing no one, he started inside. The second guard had gone around the other side of the shack and returned just in time to see Peleg enter. He rushed up behind Peleg.

Joktan saw the guard running up behind his brother. Then he yelled “Peleg, behind you!”

Peleg whipped around, swung the stick with fully extended arms and knocked the guard down. The other guard who had been dealing with Joktan tried to rush Peleg but Joktan was able to trip him with his leg.

But, as the first guard fell down, he caught Peleg around the knees. Peleg fell to the ground.

Joktan jumped up still tied to the chair and threw himself on the first guard while yelling, “Peleg get out of here! Go home! Tell Pop what’s going on!”

Peleg jumped up, looked at his brother and said, “But…!”

Joktan yelled “Get out of here! Go home, tell Pop!

Now!”

Peleg dropped the stick and raced toward home.

The two guards stood up, untied Joktan and they all sat down at a table together.

“I think that was pretty convincing,” said Joktan. The two guards laughed.

Eber and the Tower – Part 2

Then he ran as fast as he could toward him and executed the best flying tackle in the history of the world. He hit Peleg so hard the two of them went tumbling head over heels together for about ten yards and ended up in a jumbled pile of heads, arms and legs.

“What on earth did you do that for, Joktan?”

“You just about got your head knocked off by a load of bricks older brother. Now, pay attention to what’s going on around you.”

“Uh, thanks, I guess I got distracted by the tower. I never noticed all the men working on it before. There must be hundreds of them. I never got close enough to see them before. They looked like ants to begin with.”

“And you two troublemakers are gonna get squished like ants if you don’t get out of here.”

The two boys turned around at the sound of the voice to see a very large man standing over them. Joktan recognized him as the construction boss Leban. He had the foreman standing with him, both men looked very upset.

“But, we were going to work for you today!” Joktan sputtered.

“You may have thought you were, but we can’t afford anymore accidents around here. There are some people in this valley that don’t want the king to have this tower built and we don’t want to give them any cause to try to stall this project. So you two little boys head on home and don’t come back. Do you hear me?”

Peleg wasn’t sure what to say, but Joktan jumped up and said, “Wait a minute, you can’t kick me out. My father is an elder of this town and…”

“Look kid,” the construction boss said leaning directly into Joktan’s face, “we have a lot of work to get done before the king comes to inspect our progress and we don’t need two troublemakers in the way. Now, get out of here and don’t come back!”

Joktan became angry and even as Peleg was pulling him away from the two men he shouted over his shoulder, “Our father was one of the original settlers in this valley and he won’t take it lightly for you to treat us this way. You’ll hear from us again.”

The construction boss laughed and said, “Sure, little boys you go home and tell your Daddy.” The two men laughed heartily as they turned toward the construction site and walked away.

# # #

When the boys got home, they found their parents in a very animated discussion.

“What are we going to do Eber? We can’t just disobey the King! They said that we had to sell them most of our crop of hay to make more bricks for the tower.”

“I know, I know…but I can’t just go along with it either. We need that hay to feed our livestock. Also, I’ve been praying about this tower and I believe that it is being built as an intentional insult to God by the King.”

“Why would King Nimrod do that?”

“Because he thinks that being the mightiest warrior of all and being our king makes him greater than God!”

“So because of that the Lord told you not to cooperate?”

“Not directly. But Nimrod’s tower and city are the products of disobedience of the Lord’s command to great grandfather Noah. The Lord told great grandfather to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. Like I said before we’ve been doing the first two all right, but now people are intentionally disobeying the third. I just can’t go along with it.”

“What will they do when you refuse?”

Eber shook his head and said, “I don’t know, wife, I just don’t know.”

Adah took her husband’s arm and headed back to the house.

The two boys had stopped behind a haystack to listen to what their parents were saying. After their parents started back to the house, Peleg leaned his back against the stack, slumped down to the ground and said, “Wow. Pop’s in a real pickle here. Who do you disobey, the Lord or the King?”

Joktan looked irritated and said, “It seems simple enough to me. You obey the king. He’s the one with the power to hurt you.”

Peleg looked up at his younger brother in amazement, “But obedience to the Lord is always the most important thing Joktan. How can he disobey the Lord? He’s more powerful than the king.”

Joktan shook his head and looked at the shrinking figures of his parents as they walked across the field toward the house.

“I’m not so sure about that, if the Lord didn’t want the city of Babylon or the great tower built, wouldn’t He stop it…if He could?”

Peleg stood up quickly and looked his brother in the eye, “What do you mean, ‘if He could?’ Don’t you think that they Lord could stop it from being built if He wanted to?”

“I don’t know. I know that we’ve heard all the stories from our parents and our grandparents about the great flood and all about Father Adam and Mother Eve but I haven’t seen Him do anything. I’m not so sure that those stories are any more than that – just stories. Now, the city and that tower are real. There is no denying that. I think Pop’s wrong this time. He should sell the hay.”

Peleg just stared at his brother. He couldn’t believe his ears. He was so stunned by what he heard, he couldn’t say anything back.

Joktan turned and headed for home.

Peleg slumped back down to the ground and closed his eyes in prayer.

“Lord, my brother is bent on disobedience. Help me to stand with you.”

Eber and the Tower – Part 1

I have been busy moving and working. I am hoping to get back to weekly posts again, beginning with this one.

* * * *

Eber and the Tower

Genesis 11:1-9

NNNYYYYAAAAAAA!!

The distressed sound rolled across the barnyard and echoed off the few tightly grouped buildings nestled among the trees of the lush valley creating a deafening combination of sound and echo that pierced the woman’s ears so much that she winced.

NNNYYYYAAAAAAA!!

The woman covered her ears to shield them from the pain and at the same time she yelled, “Eber, what did you do to that poor goat? She’s screaming like you cut off her leg!”

Eber, who was sitting on a stool, milking another goat, turned to the sound of his wife’s voice.

“Nothing Adah, that’s just the problem. She needs to be milked, and I haven’t gotten to her yet.”

Adah caught sight of her husband of many years as she walked quickly into the goat pen.

“Oh, I’ll take care of her then. Where are those sons of ours? Aren’t they supposed to be taking care of these goats?”

“I told them they could go into the city and see that tower. It seems to have everyone’s attention these days, it is getting taller each day, and the boys’ curiosity seems to grow with it.”

Adah had gathered up a stool and a pail and was beginning to milk the anxious goat.

“I wish they’d never started building that thing. King Nimrod said he is doing it to show he is more powerful than God. That is an insult to the Lord.” Adah said.

“I know, and I agree,” said Eber, “when we first settled here there was no one else around. But gradually over the years, more and more people have come to stay. Even more have shown up just to see that tower and to help with the work on it. Somehow, I don’t think that is what the Lord intended when he told Great Grandfather Noah to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. We’ve all been doing the first two but forgetting the third.”

# # #

Joktan was running, urging his older brother to keep up.

“Come on Peleg! It looks like they have put up two new levels since we were here last week!”

“What is it with you and this tower, Joktan? We have work to do at home. I’m sure I heard one of the goats bleating when we left. It’s our job to do the milking in the morning and…”

“Pop said that he would take care of it for us today, remember? Come on!”

“But, Joktan, why are you so determined to drag me to see this tower? It’s just another one of the many buildings that King Nimrod is putting up.”

“I don’t know, it’s just so … big … especially sitting on top of that hill. I’ve never seen anything so big in all my life.”

“It’s not bigger than the eastern mountains or the ones that the Ark rested on. What’s the big deal?”

“I know it’s not bigger than the mountains but, the mountains were made by Pop’s God. This tower is being built by people. It’s like we were building it. I feel so proud to be a part of it all!”

“Proud to be a part of it? You’ve never done anything but come here and watch. Right? What are you talking about?”

“Well, I have been helping out, a little bit.”

“What? Joktan, how have you been helping them to build this tower?”

“Oh come on, Peleg, don’t look so shocked! It’s not like I’ve been down here every day. I just come down here a couple of times a week when we aren’t busy with our chores and do odd jobs, run errands, that sort of thing. The men working on the tower have been really nice to me. Look! They’re hoisting up another load of bricks for the next level. Let’s go see if we can help!”

Joktan took off running toward the construction site to look for the foreman. Quickly he was shaking hands with an older man and then began gesturing toward Peleg.

Peleg walked slowly toward the tower with his eyes on the work going on at the top. As he widened his view, he could see that not only was there a tower being built but a whole city as well. There were many buildings, tall buildings and a palace for King Nimrod. The city was teeming with people, all busy rushing to and fro.

What he didn’t see was a load of recently fired bricks someone was hoisting up from the kiln area with a crane headed right for his head.

Joktan saw what was about to happen to his brother.

He shouted a warning to him “Peleg, look out!”