Monday, May 24, 2010

The Second King - Chapter 2: The Tempest

copyright ©2010 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com/)

(Continued from Chapter 1: Duty)

Obed brought his chariot to a stop as Jehu ordered the army to a halt. The thunder of the chariots disappeared into an eerie silence, interrupted by the occasional cough of a dust-stricken soldier or the snort of a weary horse. With the exception of these intermittent sounds, the only noise Obed could hear was the whisper of wind in his ears. His brother was positioned slightly behind Jehu, and from his position to the right of Ginath, Obed had a clear view of the two approaching chariots. King Joram of the Northern country was accompanied by his nephew, King Ahaziah of the Southern kingdom. Obed knew them both well.

As the two royal chariots continued to approach the army, Obed allowed himself to drift into thought. He realized they had come to stop in the Royal Vineyard, purchased by Joram's father from Naboth the Jezreelite shortly after he “enlisted” in the Royal Guard. It was no longer the proud vineyard that Naboth had nurtured. Looking around the field, Obed saw how it had fallen into disrepair. It was just a shadow of the vineyard it had been when originally purchased.

“No!” he thought, “As surely as I was conscripted into the king's service, Naboth's field was confiscated.” Joram's father had wanted to purchase the field from Naboth, but the wine-maker had refused. Obed remembered rumors of the scandal. The king had made a generous offer to Naboth, one which most people would have accepted without much thought. But the field was so much more than dirt and grape vines to Naboth. It was part of his heritage, having been handed down from generation to generation since the One God had established his ancestores in the land. Naboth had poured his life into making that field the best vineyard in all the kingdom, and in the end, he refused to give up both his heritage and his life's work. The king was sullen, completely devastated that he could not have his way. Obed was standing guard outside the dining hall as the king told his wicked wife the cause of his disappointment.

“Why are you so resentful of everything?” She asked at the time, “Why don't you eat?”

“I talked to Naboth from Jezreel and offered to buy his vineyard. I even offered to give him another vineyard if he'd like, but he refused to give it to me.” replied the king.

Obed heard the queen stand up abruptly, obviously disgusted. “Aren't you the king!” Her admonishment prompted Obed to look inside the room. The queen was looking away from her husband, But then, she slowly turned around and smiled, that wicked-haughty smile that she so often wore. The smile that Obed imagined a spider made when it spun it's web, thinking of what prizes it might catch.

“Get up! Eat and cheer up! I'll get you that vineyard from Naboth of Jezreel!” And having said those words the queen walked out of the dining hall.

Obed dreaded her approach towards him from the doorway. Brushing past Obed, she lightly touched his bicep in a lingering fashion as she exited the dining hall. Obed could see out of the corner of his eye how she turned to look at him as she walked down the hallway. He could imagine her spider-smile as she swayed down the passage toward her chambers. He could smell her rich and fragrant perfume as his upper arm still tingled from the touch. Obed continued looking forward, wondering if he would be in the Royal Guard his entire career.

How long had he been in the King's personal guard? Joram had now ruled for 12 years, but Obed entered the army seven years earlier, before Joram had taken the throne. It was Joram's father who gave him that position as a reward for valor on the battlefield. The king thought he was rewarding Obed, but to the young officer, it seemed like a death sentence. He had observed countless Naboths being executed on made-up charges so that the royal family could live out their latest whims.

Over the years, Obed had often thought that Joram's father could have become a good king, but every time the king did something to inspire hope, the queen would do something to turn him back. He remembered the pain and sorrow the old king displayed when certain injustices happened. The queen, though, had a way of controlling her husband and perverting the truth into something that bent his will. She was truly a witch, and had practiced the dark arts of Phoenicia since childhood, passing them on to her children. And unfortunately she had a special interest in Obed. Even more disturbing, when the old king died, the witch-queen's interest became even less constrained.

In her late-thirties at the time of her husband's death, she was still a very attractive woman. She was ambitious, intelligent, and completely self-serving. Everyone knew that although the king wore the crown, it was really she who ruled the country. She had given her husband three children, all as wicked, ambitious and self-consumed as herself. Joram was the second of two boys, the eldest having died from complications after falling through a second-story window. Rumor had it that he was drunk at the time, but Obed decided not to listen to the gossip. It simply was. And as a result, Joram became the new king.

His older sister, Athalia, followed the career path of her mother. Like her mother, Athalia was crafty, beautiful and interested in certain members of the Royal Guard, expressing interest with a similar, spider-like smile. Fortunately for Obed, she had left the palace a few years earlier to marry the crown prince of the Southern country; it was part of her mother's long term plan to re-unify the two kingdoms. To Obed's regret, Athalia often returned to confer with her mother. Two spiders, spinning webs of intrigue, with spider smiles that sought to ensnare any man that would please their immediate interests.

***

“Is everything alright, Jehu?” asked King Joram, jolting Obed back to the present. The chariots of both kings had arrived. Joram scanned the eyes of the assembled army, seemingly coming to some conclusions in his mind. Concern slowly grew on his face as he finally made eye contact with Jehu.

Perceiving his cue, Jehu responded, his voice growing louder and more authoritative with each syllable. “How can everything be alright...” Joram's eyes widened with apprehension as Jehu's eyes flared in intensity “...as long as your mother continues her idolatry and witchcraft?”

Joram did not waste time with questions. He did not care for answers. Having realized his own army had become a threat, he quickly turned his chariot around as he yelled to his nephew: “It's a trap, Ahaziah!”

Ahaziah just stood in his chariot, watching in confusion, eyes darting left and right, his left hand twitching on the reins as if it trying to move. His mouth was hanging open, and he looked anything but kingly.

Jehu's composure was a stark contrast to the two kings. Where Joram was panicked, Jehu was composed. While Ahaziah was slow and confused, Jehu was quick and decisive. He swiftly strung an arrow in his bow and shot Joram between the shoulders with such force that it came through Joram's chest, coming to a halt in the grass a few feet in front of the chariot. The carriage came slowly to a stop as Joram slumped down, obviously dead.

Ahaziah continued to stare as his shaking became more pronounced.

Jehu turned to his attendant, Bidkar, and ordered: “Take him away and throw him into the field that once belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite.” Bidkar turned to jump off the chariot when Jehu grabbed his arm, speaking as a man does to a close friend.

“Remember when you and I were driving our chariots behind his father? There was a prophecy spoken at that time: 'Just as I saw the blood of Naboth and his sons yesterday, I will pay you back in this field.'” Realization formed on Bidkar's face as his eyes locked knowingly into the face of his new king.

At the mention of this prophecy about his grandfather, Ahaziah finally regained his composure, and understanding that these fanatic rebels could seek to fulfill the prophecy with his own death as well, he turned his chariot to the right, in the direction of Beth Haggan, hoping to make his way back to his own kingdom.

Obed and his brother Ginath heard Jehu's words to Bidkar. As Ahaziah sped away, Ginath spoke up. “What about that one, my king? Should we not bring him down as well?”

“Attend to Joram's body, Bidkar.” Jehu said, stepping down into the field and toward the two brothers. “Walk with me, my friends, for I have need of your counsel.”

Obed stepped off his chariot with legs like wet leather, ready to collapse into the ground. He hid his face for a moment as he struggled to contain the tears that welled up. Joram was dead and his old friend, Jehu, was now king! But beyond all that, he found himself a counselor to the new king!

In a few paces, they had walked off the path into rows of grape vines. Although the vineyard had fallen short of it's former glory, Jehu picked his way carefully through the vines, making every attempt to preserve the life and health of each plant. It reminded Obed of how Joram's father walked through this same field shortly after Naboth's execution. Smiling, laughing and jumping, the former king crushed many a vine, broke even more branches, as he happily claimed the object of his desire. As Obed watched the spectacle, he stood stoically by the king's chariot, inwardly recoiling at the abuse of another man's life's effort. At that moment, with the display of utter disregard for Naboth's work, Obed knew the vineyard would fall into disrepair. The queen encouraged her husband: “Explore my gift to you, my husband! It is all yours and for your pleasure! I, however, will wait here and enjoy the scenery as you examine your new prize.”

Obed remembered the way the witch-queen moved toward him, with her spider-smile. Although he continued to look forward, through her and past her gaze, he knew that she was trying to make eye contact with him. He remembered the wisdom of an earlier king, who wrote: “Do not desire her beauty in your heart. Do not let her catch you with her eyes.”

“Hmmph!” said the queen with an exaggerated pout. “Why do you not look at me, Obed? I am told by others that I am still a very desirable woman.” She moved closer to him, as the king ran further away into the field. “So strong you are, and yet so unable to enjoy yourself...” she purred as she moved within a hand's width of his body. “I can help you with that...” Obed felt her hand on the back of his upper thigh.

Maintaining control of his body and senses, Obed calmly and firmly replied: “As you are from Phoenicia, my queen, you are probably not familiar with our customs. I am simply following the wisdom of one of our country's fathers, written when the two kingdoms were one: 'Let your eyes look straight ahead and your sight be focused in front of you.'”

“Dearrr Ooobed...“ she almost whispered in his ear, her hand softly moving as she spoke, “you are so knowledgeable about your people's customs. Perhaps you could teach me things that my husband has not. I promise to give you my full attention.”

With the same impartial tone, Obed answered her. “My queen, I would be glad to do so. May I start with a lesson handed down from our people's law-giver. He taught that a man should not desire another man's wife, nor should he lay down with her as with his own.”

“Arghh!” cried the queen as took two brisk steps away from Obed. “You are a misguided, unimaginative fool!” and then regaining her composure: “Have you not noticed how certain guards can advance further than others? I can help, or hinder, your career like no other. My husband knows of my appetite for variety just as I encourage his own explorations. Your study of wisdom would be best applied to more modern techniques, rather than out-dated ways!”

“I understand your 'wisdom', my queen. But if I may further explain the culture of my people, it is written: 'There is a way that seems right to a person, but eventually it ends in death.'” Obed continued to stand guard, immovable and vigilant.

“It seems we may have a found a point of agreement, my young, devoted soldier. This way that seems so 'right' in your eyes is certainly leading to the death of your career. You will not advance if you cannot learn to think in new ways. I can promise you that.” The smile had disappeared from the queens face. Her eyebrows were slightly raised as she stood awaiting a response.

“My devotion to the royal family is founded on a devotion to the old ways, my queen. Perhaps you can learn to appreciate that. Or maybe you would prefer to transfer this simple soldier back to the regular army?” Obed hoped she would!

“No.” said the queen. “You are challenge. And unlike my husband, I enjoy a good challenge. You will come over to my ways, Obed. And I will make you beg for the pleasures that only I can bring you.” And with that said, her spider-smile returned. Her head turned quickly in the direction of her frolicking king and she ran toward him, shouting: “So how do you enjoy my gift? Does it not please you, my husband?”

***

Jehu stopped walking, and the two brothers looked toward him. “What do you think on this matter. Obed, you know him better than either of us. Will he run and hide or will this result in a war with the Southern Kingdom? And more importantly, I ask the both of you, what do you believe the right thing to do is?”

Both pairs of eyes drilled into Obed. His counsel and wisdom had been spurned for over a decade, excepting those inside his own house. It was now awkward to find himself as an advisor to the king. Yes, for years, he had observed the royal family of both kingdoms. He had watched this young king from the south grow up. The dolt was not worthy of the nation's fathers or the loyalty of his people. He embraced the 'new ways' of his grandmother. He was haughty, impetuous, and selfish like his grandmother with the weak character of his grandfather. Yet, did he deserve to die?

“I believe the young king will run and hide for a while. But his mother will spur him on in some way. Athalia has always been crafty and unpredictable. While her mother has always been content to rule through another, she is not her mother. I have a sense that she will play into our future somehow.”

“You have not answered my questions, Obed.” replied Jehu. The new king had always been direct and expected the same from others.

“My king, I give you information for your decision.” Obed replied. “But to answer directly, Ahaziah will not decide to wage war, his mother will make that decision based on how it will advance her own power. Her son has always been simply an instrument for her purposes.”

“Ginath, since your brother avoids an answer, can you give me your counsel?” The words hurt Obed tremendously. The right thing to do was to provide background information to his new king! But it was true, his king wanted a direct answer, and he did not give it. Obed would learn from this.

“Pursue and destroy Ahaziah, my king. It is a step toward fulfilling the prophecy you had stated yourself, regarding Naboth.”

“It is as you've said, Ginath. This is your assignment: to accompany me in this pursuit. Take as many men as you need for this purpose but no more. Upon my return, I will take our army to Jezreel to cleanse it of the filth that has occupied it for generations.

As they walked back, Jehu placed his arm on Obed's shoulder and spoke gently: “You are wise and knowledgeable, my friend, and I apologize for speaking so harshly. Now that I have an answer, I can see that I will value your words on this matter even more in the upcoming months. Teach me to understand you wisdom, but understand my need for a direct conclusion.”

His feelings restored, Obed simply nodded to his friend and king.

Removing his hand and walking more briskly through the vineyard, Jehu assumed his new mantle and commanded: “Obed, you will take charge of this army as its general and prepare it for our excursion into Jezreel. We have ridden quickly from the war to this new battle. There must be no ambivalence in the hearts of the men, nor unnecessary weariness in the horses.”

(Continued...)

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Second King - Chapter 1: Duty

copyright ©2010 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloyblogspot.com)
From a distance, the grumble intensified like a growing thunder clap that refused to end. And as the low-lying dust cloud approached, small flashes resembling lightning bursts reflected off the armor of the approaching army. Hooves beat the ground with the ferocity of a thunderstorm, leaving the soil pocked and up-rooted. The raucous sound was accompanied by the clack and chatter of chariot wheels, the clinking of armor and the occasional grunt of a warrior as they stoically rode the thunderous wave of invading chariots. No word was spoken. No word would suffice. This mission would bring to conclusion the soldiers' frustrations... one way or another. Growing thunder. Foreboding lightning. The storm was coming, and it seemed long overdue.

The driver of the lead chariot stole quick glances at his passenger, trying to glean some understanding of the thoughts that consumed his general. His leader's eyes were intense. Focused. Wild! These eyes reflected a fury that would not be quenched until the mission was complete, until the outcome of the journey was known. The man's eyes hinted at both confidence and fear. They suggested a righteous anger that has been strengthened by clear direction. The eyes belonged to a man of destiny, whose decisions would impact nations. The eyes belonged to Jehu, a soldier who would be king.

It was not unheard of in this region for a soldier to become the monarch. In the neighboring country of Aram, the kingdom was usurped by a mutinous soldier named Hazael. And if the rumors were to be believed, Hazael was emboldened in his treachery by words of The Prophet. This prophet foretold both Hazael's rise to power and the ensuing blood-bath that had been brought into Jehu's country. Until recently, Jehu and his men had been struggling against the forces of Hazael in support of a king they abhorred, but now they were now seeking to displace the undeserving tyrant.

Ironically, it was The Prophet who placed Jehu on this journey. Jehu would never have claimed this kingdom for his own, although deep in his heart he desired deliverance. He yearned to see his people set free from the devil-worshiping dynasty of his “king”. For forty-six years, since the time of King Omri, the rulers of this nation had rejected the One God and embraced the demonic. The Prophet warned the people of the Northern Country that they were moving toward destruction. For in rejecting the One Who Truly Is, the Northern Country could expect little more than famine, war, and cruel tyrants.

The Prophet had predicted Hazael's bloody aggression, and as with all things uttered by The Prophet, it eventually came to pass. Jehu's nation, the Northern Country, was now at war with King Hazael of Aram. Joram, king of the Northern Country, had joined forces with the Southern Country, led by Joram's nephew Ahaziah. As descendants of the wicked King Omri, both embraced their ancestor's ungodly practices. Ahaziah was in his first year as ruler and only twenty-two years of age. He had looked for a mentor and finally chose his uncle Joram. What a tragedy! How much better if Ahaziah had only chosen to follow The Prophet instead!

The Prophet was, in a word: amazing! All that he foretold came to pass. He could make iron float, cure disease and even resurrect the dead! He had protected the accursed Joram from death at the hands of Hazael's soldiers, and on one occasion, The Prophet had blinded the Arameans sent by Hazael to assassinate him. Even more amazing was how The Prophet protected these same assassins from execution, an act which led to a period of peace between Aram and the Northern Country.

***

Bidkar, Jehu's chariot officer, turned back to the general and shouted with uncertainty: “A rider from Jezreel, sir!” And after a brief pause, “Umm... I meant to say: 'Sire'.” Jehu remained silent, his lips taunt, his jaw set. But his eyes betrayed a smile.

Yes, Jehu was equally uncomfortable with the situation. He would have avoided it. He even tried to make a joke of it. But The Prophet had left him no other path. The Prophet had obviously directed his disciple carefully. It happened too quickly, and for once, Jehu was left bewildered. There at Ramoth Gilead, sitting in the company of his fellow officers, The Prophet's disciple came to speak with Jehu.

“I have a message for you, commander.” he said. All eyes turned upon this man, a well-known follower of The Prophet. No one asked, “Who sends the message?” Everyone knew. And everyone knew that it was foolish NOT to listen to The Prophet. A life, a battle, a war, an entire nation could depend upon listening and acting on what was relayed by a messenger of The Prophet.

“For which of us?” Jehu asked. He was hoping it was for another one of the senior officers. Anyone but him. But the man of God continued looking Jehu in the eyes, a deep and ageless stare, as he replied: “For you, commander.” The words were spoken softly, slowly and purposefully. But as soft as they were uttered, all the senior officers, Jehu's friends, heard each tiny syllable. All eyes were on the two of them as Jehu led the man to an inner room.

Once inside, the man spoke quickly and boldly. He poured oil over Jehu's head. The words, though uttered frenetically, seemed to resonate in Jehu's mind. It was as if they were etched permanently on stone tablets deep inside his very being. They reverberated in all directions. His mind wheeled, turning around on these words, this oil, this man, who finished all that he had come to say, opened the door and ran away just as quickly as he had spoken.

Jehu wandered out of the room, dazed and covered in oil. One of the officers, Ginath, had drawn a sword. He was prepared to chase after the man in the event that The Prophet's disciple had somehow harmed Jehu. Another man alternately looked at Jehu and the fleeing messenger, obviously wondering what had transpired. But it was yet another one of Jehu's companions that finally said: “Is everything all right? Why did this lunatic come to speak with you?”

Although his mind was still reeling, the words echoing in his head, Jehu straightened up with a smile followed by a laugh. “You know that man and the crazy things he says!” Still smiling, waving a hand over his shoulder toward the fleeing man, Jehu returned to his spot at the table and started to refill his drink.

“That's not true.” said one officer. “That was one of The Prophet's followers.” added another. “Tell us what he said.” insisted the first one. Jehu sat with a smile as he drank one huge gulp. All eyes upon him, he took another gulp, this time forgetting to smile. Eyes stared at him. Inquiring eyes. Expectant eyes.

“All right!” Jehu knew they would not let it rest. It was no small matter to be anointed with oil by a prophet, yet alone this prophet! Jehu would rather not say another word, but the fragrance of the oil kept prompting a response. He could not stay quiet. He had fought alongside these men for years and knew their tenacity. They would press in until they had an answer. In desperation and with trepidation, he summarized the words spoken quickly over him. The Prophet claimed that God had now made him king over the nation.

Before Jehu could begin his arguments against the ridiculous proclamation, he was stunned to see his companions shout with excitement, laying down their cloaks in service to him. The noise increased as a trumpet sounded and one of the officers declared loudly: “Jehu is king!”

In just a few minutes, Jehu had become either traitor or king! He could flee the kingdom or he could pursue a crown. News quickly spread around the camp as the spontaneous rejoicing spread like a joyful tidal wave.

He remembered the story of another king, who was anointed by a different prophet. It happened when the Northern and Southern countries were still one nation. The king who ruled the land in that earlier time had also rejected the One God, so God sent a prophet to declare the new king. However, the newly anointed king refused to harm the current ruler, wicked though he was. Instead, he chose to be exiled for a full decade until the old king was finally killed in a war.

No, The Prophet had left Jehu only one real choice. He could never flee. It was not in his nature. He may not have chosen this path, but he never shirked from responsibility. For years, he had placed himself in harm's way, willing to die for both his country and his companions. He had fought foreign enemies, knowing at a subconscious level that the real adversaries of his nation were domestic. But now that his companions had aligned themselves in rebellion with him, he could never abandon these men. There was only one direction for Jehu: He would claim his crown!

***

The rider from Jezreel approached at a furious pace. Recognition shone in his eyes as he stared at Jehu and the other commanders of the army. Seeing that Jehu was neither slowing down or turning aside, the new chariot turned and came along side Jehu's chariot, all the others trailing behind.

“This is what the king says: 'Do you come in peace?'”

Continuing to look forward, Jehu responded authoritatively: “What do you have to do with peace?” Then, turning his piercing, dark gaze upon the messenger, Jehu added: “Fall in behind me.” The look was convincing. Jehu was in charge. The messenger's chariot slowed down, coming into position as part of the invading force.

***

All happens at the right time. When a woman has gone through seven months of pregnancy, she may wonder if the baby will ever truly come. By the ninth month? Oh, the longing! So it was with this army. For twelve years, they had served Joram. They desired a king worthy of their service. For years, the army had endured the oppressive, ungrateful leadership of the royal family.

Oh, what a contrast from within their own ranks! The army's commanders were of the highest integrity! Even so, no man found worthy of such loyal support as Jehu! When others may have played the politics, Jehu simply lived what he believed. He treated each man with respect and was surprised to find that the men respected him. He never uttered a word against the king, but in his heart, he longed for the birth pangs of change. The gestation period had been so long, and the tensions of serving such an unworthy royal family had been agonizing. By the time Jehu was anointed, the soldiers would have been willing to trade a goat for their king. The proclamation of Jehu's sovereignty was more than any soldier had dreamed possible!

***

“A second rider, Sire!” shouted Bidkar. The driver smiled and winked as he said the word “Sire”. Jehu almost smiled back. Instead, he nodded, acting the part of a monarch on a serious mission. The driver understood the response of his new king and admired him all the more because of it. Before this day, the driver would have gladly risked his life to save Jehu. But now, he was risking his entire family. All of these men were fully committed to the task. The lives of their wives and children would be forfeit should they fail to achieve their mission. But the prize... redemption! A king worth serving!

***

Weaker men gladly place their hands in shackles: some out of fear; others from complacency; and still others in exchange for shallow comforts. Men such as this would gladly sell friend and family so that their life may not be uninterrupted by duty. They claim to disdain the character of greater men, and rationalize so well that they eventually believe their own lies. And so they are caught in a snare they have crafted for themselves. In their pursuit of pleasure and fear of deprivation, they never truly live, and so death slowly pulls them from the earth as everything they were made to be dissolves into nothingness.

The men that followed Jehu, however, were not of the weaker sort. They were, each of them, a prize in themselves. Jehu naturally respected each of them, and seeing both their dedication and belief in him, he resolved to be worthy of that gift. He knew the price they were willing to pay for him, and he desired more than anything to be the man they believed him to be.

***

The second messenger from Jezreel reached Jehu's army much more quickly than the first. Turning to match Jehu's course and speed, he also shouted: “This is what the king says: 'Do you come in peace?'”

Jehu recognized this man. His name was Obed, and they had known each other for over fourteen years. Fourteen years! They fought alongside each other at the first battle of Ramoth Gilead nearly fourteen years ago. Obed was known as a fearless warrior, and it was at that first battle of Ramoth Gilead where he earned special recognition for his unyielding valor, receiving as a reward the king's personal invitation to join the royal family's private guard. Obed was known for boldness with both sword and tongue, and consequently he earned a reputation for his devotion to the One God. This reputation earned Obed the respect of many outside the palace, but it cost him advancement opportunities with the royal family. However, while the king would never promote him, he cherished Obed's prowess in his private guard.

The years had been hard on Obed. His wife and children were constantly being enticed to join in the wickedness of the palace, and he had spent many a day fasting in prayer for his blood line to remain faithful to the One God. Jehu heard stories about how Obed's situation was further complicated when the queen mother took a fancy for his sturdy frame. The queen mother was renowned for her compelling manner, her beauty, and her occult practices. She was a witch from the land of Phoenicia, and Obed avoided her as much as possible!

Through his years of service in the guard, he had struggled with both his self-esteem and his faith as men he trained were promoted above him; he noticed their attitude towards him gradually shifted from respect to pity and eventually to disdain. But Obed persevered. For more than a decade, he had prayed to be free from his service to the royal family. For a period, he had even prayed for death to find relief from his present pain. But finally, Obed learned to pray for strength. He learned to live in complete trust that the One God would deliver both him and the Northern Country from its vile rulers. Lines creased his once smooth face and gray streaks highlighted the thick, dark curls of his beard, but his eyes reflected an inner strength that had grown in face of ridicule. The assurance of his identity out-weighed the circumstances of his position.

***

“What do you have to do with peace? Fall in behind me!”, shouted Jehu as he stared into the deep and understanding eyes of Obed, who respectfully saluted the commander. As he started to fall back into position, Obed noticed the motions of a senior officer, inviting him to drive alongside. It was General Ginath. Only a few days earlier in the more recent conflict against the Arameans at Ramoth Gilead, the two veterans had fought side-by-side. King Joram had been wounded by an enormous Aramean, and had it not been for Obed's long stride and quick sword, the king would certainly have perished that day. Obed stood valiantly over the fallen monarch against a score of Arameans, a sole defender against overwhelming odds. Ginath then led a charge that routed the enemy, placed a hedge of protection around the king and subsequently secured the city for a time.

But like Jehu, Ginath had known Obed long before that battle. These two soldiers had known and loved each other for nearly forty years. They were brothers, Obed being the elder.

Amidst the rumble of the advancing army, Ginath related the events that had led to this moment. Tears of joy welled in Obed's eyes as he heard of Jehu's anointing. In turn, Obed informed his younger brother about current events in Jezreel. The king was wounded but recovering. Furthermore, King Ahaziah of the Southern Country had also come to Jezreel from the recent battle of Ramoth Gilead to check on his uncle's condition.

“I see.” responded Ginath with a smile. Then he motioned to the two approaching chariots. Joram and Ahaziah were coming out to meet them.
(Continued...)

Friday, May 14, 2010

His Mouth

I believe the gifts of the Spirit continue to manifest in Christ’s Body today and that every believer can become more sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit. I believe that He often gives us visions, dreams, and soft, gentle thoughts that come from seemingly nowhere as present-day revelations both of what He is doing as well as what He is about to do.

I believe that many times, His people receive “revelation”, but they never take the time to press in for the FULL revelation. So when I receive a revelation, I believe He wants me to ask Him about it’s meaning. We also make the mistake of assuming the “interpretation” without spending time with Him to let Him interpret the FULL meaning. And often we assume the “application” of the revelation.

So there are three points of failure in prophetic ministry: revelation, interpretation, and application. In fact, there are 4 points of failure if you add “timidity” as a factor. I was praying for someone at a men’s retreat when the Lord gave me a word for a man that the Lord was about to grant him the desire of his heart, something he thought was impossible. My unspoken sense was that the Lord would grant this man and his wife a child; I didn’t want to speak such a thing for fear of being wrong and falsely raising this man’s hopes. So I played it safe and allowed the man to interpret my words however he felt inclined. He later came up to me, told me that he refused to accept the word I’d given him and that he discussed my false message with his wife. He interpreted my word to mean that he would somehow get back together with the girl he had dated before marrying his wife… OUCH!

I truly wish I hadn’t played it safe that day, and I wish I could do it all over. But God is faithful and continues to fill in our gaps, bringing restoration to every willful and unconscious shortcoming we bring to the table. This man and his wife now have children, have a wonderful marriage, and continue to be brilliant testimonies of Christ.

A few years ago, the Lord gave me a word: “Those who hear His Voice are called to be His mouth.” So when I receive a revelation that’s intended for a group of people, I press in for a full understanding and ask the Lord how I should respond. I recognize that sometimes the Lord speaks and does not give the full revelation, interpretation or application to a single person at a given time. He wants us to draw close to Him and listen; He wants us to gather together and discuss what might be going on. So I encourage anyone reading this to pray and send me feedback.

This past week the Lord gave me two visions. The first vision was for America and it was very disturbing. It was also very real, as if I slipped into a dream while praying, or was somehow part of a movie, coming immediately back to full consciousness when the experience was over. This first vision was of a large city, like New York or Chicago, and I saw average people living out their daily lives. I recall a mother on a cell phone and a child on a swing, and when I looked at them, I didn’t see a stranger. Even though I have never seen these people in the physical, when I gazed upon them, I knew them as family. And although I was not physically visible to these people in the vision, I watched them live out their day. As I silently watched, there was a sudden flash of light that dissolved the flesh on the bones of these people. I saw a televised party like New Year’s Eve at Times Square except the weather was warm. Suddenly, the television went blank. Later, a distraught correspondent appeared, reporting onsite at the location where the party had been televised. The dead bodies of people who had been at the party were lying everywhere. Later, I saw the image of one body naked and white; the face showed obvious fear. It was like the plaster cast of a body I had seen when I visited Pompeii some years ago.

The Second vision was far from disturbing although less “real” than the first. I saw two flowering trees, one with white blossoms and the other with pink blossoms. As I’ve since prayed about these trees, I understand they represent churches and the flowers are a promise that they will bear fruit; they are awaking from a dormant period. I’ve since had another vision where I am walking through a grove of barren trees. As I breathe on the individual trees, blossoms appear, covering the branches. My interpretation is that the church needs to be reminded of Who the Bride of Christ is called to be, that the Church needs to again receive the Holy Spirit, and it will awaken to bear fruit. Then it will be pure and beautiful as symbolized by the white and pink blossoms.

The surrealistic nature of the second vision compared to the first vision causes me to believe the first one is a snapshot of what will actually happen. The Lord has given me some visions like this in the past, and they have sometimes taken years to be seen in the physical. I believe that I “knew” the people in the vision because they were believers, part of the Body. From that, I believe that the judgment coming on America will fall upon both believers and non-believers. I believe that our society will shift from a hedonistic party atmosphere to utter despair in a flash. And the Body is called to pick up the pieces without ever uttering the words: “I told you so”; we are called to empathize and will share in the sorrow.

I’ve prayed further about the application of these visions. If you’ve read this far and if these words have resonated in your spirit, then I can tell you with certainty this applies to you: Draw close to the Lord. Do not live in the party atmosphere of the culture… the eat, drink and be merry mentality. Draw close to the Lord with greater and increasing intentionality. Do not party your life away, but draw close to God and He will show you each next step that leads to life… for both you and your family. Draw close to God on a daily basis, inviting Him to breakfast, lunch and dinner. What God desires most is a relationship with you, the object of His love. The Bridegroom is calling for His Bride, and as King, He will surely get Her attention.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Partial Commitment (Part 2)

So back to partial commitment: it’s a killer in marriage, and it’s a killer in our relationship with God. Scripture compares our relationship with God to a marriage… a troubled marriage, where each of us plays the role of the guilty party. But it takes on a new dimension in our relationship with God, Who is not only the Lover of our soul, but also the faithful and rightful Authority over our lives. As Lover, He desires our full commitment. As Authority, He demands it. As Lover, He is always faithful, forgiving and patient. As Authority, He continues to work on us, refining us into the marriage partner that He deserves.

God’s Role of Lover and Authority binds obedience and love together. Jesus told His disciples, that the one that loves Him is the one that obeys Him, and Christ commits to revealing Himself more to the person who faithfully obeys (see John 14:21). The Lover desires and the Authority demands a heart that is wholly devoted to Him. He deserves better, especially when you stop to think about how ultimately faithful He is and how consistently unfaithful we are.

Now personally I don’t like the idea of being the “guilty party” or the “unfaithful one” in the relationship and being accused of infidelity seems a bit unfair at first. Yet if I’m completely honest with myself, I’m really not faithful, and I never stay fully committed. He gave His life for me, suffering unbelievable pain. He sent His only Son with a message of peace between God and men. He modeled a sacrificial love for me to become an ambassador of this love to others, but I still tend look after my own best interests, at times questioning God’s motives in the midst of suffering.

Why is it so hard to trust and obey God when trials come? Some people doubt God’s ability to bring good from the situation. Others believe He’s unaware of what’s happening, thinking: “Why would God take notice of me?” I don’t share these doubts. In my mind, a God who is not all-knowing and all-powerful is not truly God. My tendency is to disbelieve His love and faithfulness “for me”.

It’s been said that we don’t have an obedience problem, we have a love problem. If we truly loved God, we’d obey Him. But I think it goes even deeper than our love problem. We have a belief problem. If I truly believe that God knows about my situation, that He has the ability to bring good from my suffering, and that He’s working it out for my best interest along the way, then obedience is easy. We need to believe Who God is “for me” before we can trust Him. And we need to trust Him before we can love Him. Then and only then will our love be transformed into obedience.

Regardless of the tough situation we are in, God knows about it, cares about it and has a plan to work good through it. Our part is to believe, trust, and live in His love throughout the circumstances. Then we will see Him work a miracle in and through us.

So there is hope for my friends’ marriage. There is hope for the friend looking for work. There is hope any situation I come across, because my God, my Friend, and my Father is fully committed to me.

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws… Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices.

Ezekiel 36:25-27, 31

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Romans 12:1


copyright 2010 Mitchell Malloy (http://mitchellmalloy.blogspot.com)