SPEARS AND SHIELDS – GadaraCG-book-cover-w

Cornelius was relieved that he was finally alone. He hoped that there will be no distractions for the rest of the day. He sat on his chair and opened up the big book. The night before, he completed translating a prophetical discourse of the Messiah’s message of encouragement to Israel. Whether it is to the Israel of today or the next generation is still up in question. The next passages he was reading had the beginnings of a new chapter designation. This chapter piqued his interest for it had a different ring to it than any of the preceding chapters. The Prophet Isaiah seems to be describing on what is to happen to the Messiah and it describes him suffering greatly even unto death.

On a separate parchment sheet, he translated the fifteen Hebrew verses into Greek. After reading it three times, he had to wonder if Isaiah was describing a literal happening or something that was figurative. He hoped it was the latter.

When Jacob returned, he beckoned that he sits next to him. “Jacob, look at these passages!” He slid the big book to him and pointed at the desired passages. “Let me read out loud my translation to you and you follow by reading the Hebrew. Tell me if I have gotten it right.”

“Behold, my servant will prosper;
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.

“Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.

“Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand. [Isaiah 52:13-15 NASB]

“Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

“For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

“He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.

“By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

“His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

“But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

“As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.

“Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.” [Isaiah 53 NASB]

“Cornelius, this is going to be strange to hear,” Jacob quietly said as he lifted his eyes. “But you have come upon a passage that I am strangely unfamiliar with. Though I have read this prophet many times, I do not honestly recall these particular words. Of course, I do tend to mostly focus on prophetic promises. I am ashamed to admit that this selfishness had blinded me to miss out on what should be a profound revelation to my God’s character.”

Jacob went silent. Cornelius could see that he was lost in his thoughts and did not want to intrude. He reached for another sheet of parchment which had his notes of the preceding chapters including many chapters that he jumped ahead right after this one. On his notes, he reviewed the list of the works of the Messiah. It is quite clear that the Messiah will fulfill everything that God had promise to not only to Israel but to the world. But this chapter which describes what happens to the Messiah stands out from the rest. He could not make it fit.

“This chapter is an enigma!” Cornelius said, breaking the silence.

“How so?”

“This indicated that Messiah is to be killed and that God allowed it. How is this futuristic kingdom to be ushered in if the Messiah is killed?”

“There lies the mystery. As a young scribe, I tried to make sense of much of prophecy. The problem is that we are reading of things that are yet to happen. Understanding comes when they are finally fulfilled. Look at what we uncovered so far that convinced us that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. When I first came upon the prophecy of the sign of the virgin birth, I did not think it was literal. Then we hear Mariam’s account of Jesus’ birth. Then there are those things that he had done which again fit. But his story is not yet over. There is only one absolute truth that we can count on. If God says that it is going to happen, then IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN!”

“But why such suffering and then death?”

Before Jacob could answer, multiple whistle sounds can be heard through out the fort. Then the trumpets were sounded.


The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q


33 AD – The Last Supper – Jerusalem, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

As they entered, Demacli and his companions were also greeted by the rest of the Twelve. From what he saw, he estimated that there were about forty people there. The large room was set up with twelve low round tables already laden with food and beverage.

“Demacli, you and your companions will join my family,” said Simon of Bethany who happily led them to the middle of the room. On a raised platform at the center, two laden tables were reserved for Jesus, the Twelve and selected few. Simon and his household occupied three tables adjacent to the platform. The Greeks decided to split up among the three tables. Demacli and Elpida sat with an aged man named Imraam who was a close friend of Simon.

Imraam was quite jovial. They discovered that the reason for his joviality was that for thirty eight years he was once an invalid but then miraculously cured. To emphasize it, he quickly got to his feet with the agility of a teenager. The others around the table were clapping and laughing with him. After which he proceeded to tell them his tale.

Imraam was once a sprite young man. At an early age, he became successful in his business. He became one of the riches men in Jerusalem, but then tragedy hit. His neighborhood was struck with pestilence and many died. As for Imraam, he survived the sickness but it left him paralyzed for over three decades. In desperation, he heard of a story of an angel that stirred the water of a pool under north east wall of the Temple Mount where the sacrificial sheep were gathered. It was called the pool of Bethesda which was surrounded by five covered colonnades. The story was that when the water was stirred and the first person to jump in would be healed. Several times, the water rippled and a stampede of the blind, the lame and other cripples would clamber over each other to get into the pool first. Usually Imraam never had a chance without help.

One day, he was lying on his mat away from the crowd of waiting sick people, when he saw his friend Simon walking with a group of men whom by their clothing he surmised were from the northern province of Galilee. They were at the other end of the pool walking toward the entrance of the Sheep Gate. He wished he could hail his friend but he felt particularly weaker that day. Then, one of the Galileans paused in his stride and looked toward him. At first, he thought the stranger was looking not at him directly but at something else beyond. Simon who noticed that the stranger had paused, also peered at his direction. Simon recognized Imraam right away, raised his hand in greeting, at the same time was whispering in the stranger’s ear.

Imraam was imagining what Simon was divulging and was a little upset. But then Simon and four of the men started to work their way through the crowd toward him. When they were about ten feet from him, that stranger, who seem to be the leader, gestured for them to wait. He approached, crouched down and asked, “Do you want to get well?”

Imraam was a little surprised by the question. He wanted to scream a resounding ‘of course’ but instead mumbled something about him unable to get help so he can get into the pool when the water is stirred. Then the stranger smiled and in a gentle but yet commanding voice, he said, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

Then Imraam felt a heating sensation going from his lower back down to his toes. When he looked at his legs, his eyes widened to find not his shriveled legs but a pair of healthy limbs. The stranger stood and held out a hand. Imraam was even more surprised that he had strength to reach up and grasp his hand. The stranger pulled him up onto his legs. He felt dizzy for a quick moment and his legs were a little wobbly as he stood there looking down at his toes wiggling. Then, he turned, took several steps and looked at the invalids around the pool, some of whom had the look of astonishment as they watched him. It was then that the realization finally hit him that he jumped in the air and whooped. After several minutes, he quieted down and remembered something. He went back to his mat, rolled it up and picked it up. He looked around for the stranger to ask him who he was, but he was nowhere to be seen. He decided to walk home and shock his relatives. [John 5:1-15]

Imraam burst into laughter and jovially told them on how he got into trouble for carrying his mat on the Sabbath. It was then that he re-met with the stranger and found out who he really was. Then he plopped down feigning exhaustion and looked at Demacli asking, “So, what is your story?”

So, Demacli told him about his own experiences and how Jesus freed him. Wide eyed, Imraam was esctatic again.


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SPEARS AND SHIELDS – GadaraCG-book-cover-w

The winter was harsh out here in the wilderness east of Gadara. Four cold months had past. The fort was built on top of a table top plateau. The plateau had only one way in; a wide naturally sloped ramp that descended into a valley. The other three sides were sheer drops to the bottom of a deep canyon. This made it an ideal defensive location for the Romans. Because wood was scarce, the engineers dug a deep trench spanning the entrance of the plateau leaving a bridge in the center wide enough for wagons. Then they used the dug up material to build up a fifteen foot high earthen works leaving a gap in the center for a gate. Finding a ready supply of shingle rocks, they also manage to build up six foot tall walls with battlements on the earthen works.

On one particularly cold morning, Cornelius and Flavius were inspecting the high fortified earthen works in the trench. An unseasonable squall came in from the west and it brought chilling rain off and on instead of snow for the past two days.

“Well, there are no signs of erosion,” Flavius shouted from one end of the trench. “The rain did not even pool up in bottom of the trench.”

“Good thing too,” Cornelius called back. “That last squall last night brought in a lot of rain. But it looks like the engineers did their job well. Come, Flavius! Let us go back in out of the cold.”

Cestus was on the top of the trench holding a length of rope waiting to pull them out. When they finally climbed out, they went back into the fort through the stout gates. To avoid walking in the chilled wind, they walked in between the rows upon rows of large campaign tents. Occasionally, they would stop to warm their hands with a group of legionnaires huddled around a brazier. When they finally reached Cornelius’ tent, Jacob was there with hot spiced wine waiting for them.

Looking around, Flavius asked, “Where is the lad?”

“Cestus had him doing punishment duty,” Cornelius and Jacob were chuckling. “He is standing watch near the latrines at the far end of the camp.”

Flavius was laughing. “You have to admit that his practical joke on the fifth squad was inspiring. When I saw that ram dressed up in Optio Gallino’s armor butting its head against those men, I was laughing out of my skin. They should not have teased him so much.”

“Yes, it was amusing, until that same ram went into Tribune Arturos’ tent and almost burnt it down when it knocked down a brazier. The lad was lucky that he was not punished harshly. But he did get an earful from the Tribune.”

“Oh yes, we could hear him way in the other side of the camp. Do not fret, you know the Tribune is as fond of the boy as we all are.”

Flavius walked over to the table where Cornelius had all his books open and loose parchment papers were strewn over them. “Are you still studying this manuscript of?” he peered closely at the translated title, “I s a y a h? I thought you would be finished with it by now.”

“Cornelius is not as adept in reading old Hebrew as he is to speaking it.” Jacob said off hand. “But he is persistent.”

“Besides which that I have been busy with the Tribune and looking over your shoddy work as well.”

“I see. I see. I know when I am no longer welcomed. I will leave you to your scholarly work.” He left the tent laughing.

Jacob was also wrapping his cloak around him. “I will bring this hot food to the boy. I shall return soon.”


The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q


33 AD – The Greek Visitors – Jerusalem, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Recap Part 68 & 69

Several minutes had past when Philip reappeared at the double doors of the house and happily gestured for all of them to enter.

Looking about the large entryway of what Demacli could tell was once a grand residence of old. But instead of ornate furniture, the room had bags of grain stacked all the way up to the ceiling. Rows of worktables were pushed up against another wall.

“Who’s house is this?”

“It is mine.” A man about the same age of his father and a younger man came ambling through a side door carrying trays of flat herbal breads. He handed the tray he was carrying to a passing servant who was also bringing food up the stairs. “Welcome,” he said, “I am Simon of Bethany. The master told us to expect you and your group of believers from Hippus.”

Demacli blinked. Simon chuckled at his reaction. “Yes, I know. The master still surprises me the same way. Come. Let us go up.”

They all started to ascend the broad stairs case.

“I have done business at Hippus in the past,” Simon said. “At that matter, I do a lot of trading in the free cities.”

“You probably dealt with my father, then,” Demacli said.

“Oh, I have,” Simon said.

Demacli turned to look at him.

“As soon as I set my eyes on your face, I saw a younger image of him.” Simon was chuckling again. “Your father and I were dealing with each other since before you were born. But I have not seen him in the past ten years. Oh, I still deal with him but through my merchants that treks back and forth. I’m afraid I’m just a little too old taking those long trips through a scorching desert and fighting off robbers. And then I had to deal with your father. He was a shrewd man. Those were good days.”

“Demacli!” A voice called as they reached the top of the stairs. “You have arrived.”

Demacli saw it was the Master waiting with some of the disciples by tall ornately carved double doors. He and the other Greeks rushed up to him and quickly got down on their knees bowing to him.

“Get up, my friends,” Jesus said. “You have arrived on time for our celebration.”

“Thank you, Lord.”

Jesus greeted them all. When he got to Elpida, he smiled greatly.

“Elpida,” Jesus greeted fondly, “My heart is joyful of your union with Demacli. My Father’s blessings to your household.”

Elpida again went down on her knees with tears in her eyes, but Jesus help her back up.

“Come! Let us all enter.”


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Sketching HIStory #20

Gen 17, 18 – Covenant of Circumcision
                       Child of Promise

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”


promise-coin-wAbram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” [Gen 17:1-8]

covenant-coin-w.jpgThen God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”


God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” [Gen 17:9-16]

What about Ishmael? You can read about it HERE.


The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.” [Gen 18:1-5]


So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”

Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.

“There, in the tent,” he said.

Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” [Gen 18:6-10]


Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”

But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.” [Gen 18:10-15]


After the meal, the visitors got up to leave and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then, two of them parted ways leaving Abraham with the Lord.

Where are they going? We will find out in our next post.


SPEARS AND SHIELDS – GadaraCG-book-cover-w

Alto pointed at an area east of the sunken salt sea, “This is the region of Perea. With Herod as tetrarch of this region, the area had been experiencing frequent excursions by Aretas’ forces. Lately, these excursions were mostly raiding parties by tribal Bedouins loyal to him. Aretas had managed to annex three small outlying villages that were already allied to him. The Decapolis and Trachonitis regions up north have, so far, not been touched. But he does have his eyes on them.

“We have recently received some intelligence that he had acquired a mercenary force of five thousand Nubians. This can only mean he is planning something major. Our task is to offer a show of force along the eastern frontier of both Trachonitis and the Decapolis. However, if Aretas sends his mercenary force into our territory, we will respond with deadly force. Herod’s forces will handle the Perean region. The garrison at Caesarea Philippi will secure Trachonitis. For us, I have tasked our engineers supported by two cavalry units to build two forts; one – east of Gadara; the other east of Gerasa. They should be completed by week’s end.”

The rest of the meeting was mostly on logistics. When the meeting was finally concluded, Cornelius heard that Arturos’ two cohort units was to garrison the fort at Gadara. When he heard this, he sought out General Gaius Alto.

“Sir! I would like to go along with Tribune Arturos on this campaign.”


“Sir, two reasons – One, this will be Tribune Arturos first campaign. I would like to be there and help him out. Two, the man Jesus is hold up in Capernaum for the winter. He has no plans of going anywhere until Spring. Centurion Porcius knows all of my informants and they know him well enough. They can report to him and if need be he can send for me.”

“Very well, I will inform the Governor General.”
In two days, Arturos’ two cohorts, made up of fifteen hundred men, marched out of Caesarea heading east. Cornelius rode north back to Capernaum to organize his men and to bring extra supplies. He also wanted to talk to Jesus.

Upon arriving at Capernaum that night, he had set Cestus to get everything ready for the morning. Then, he went to Peter’s house to find that Jesus was expecting him.

“Lord, I have to join my cohort somewhere out east. I may be gone all winter.”

“Cornelius, I sense that you are still concerned,” Jesus said knowingly.

“Yes, Lord. You have told me that my task is tied to your task. At first, I thought I knew what I was supposed to do, but these past months I am not sure.”

“Cornelius, continue to seek the answer in the words of the Prophet Isaiah. But keep this in mind, as I only seek to do the will of my Father, you too must do the same. A choice you must make. This choice may change countless destinies.”


The story continues on in my next post.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

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Thank you

Johann Q

Sketching HIStory #19

Gen 16 – Hagar


gen-16-sarai-offers-hagar-wNow Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” [Gen 16:1-2]

Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. [Gen 16:3-4]


gen-16-hagar-haughty-w.jpgWhen Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.

Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”

“Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. [Gen 16:5-6]



The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.

Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

The angel of the Lord also said to her:

“You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. [Gen 16:7-14]


So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. [Gen 16:15-16]