FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 071

DEMACLI THE LEGION DEMONIAC
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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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch16 – part 3

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.”

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 070

DEMACLI THE LEGION DEMONIAC
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.”

ABRAM > ABRAHAM

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]

gen-17-abraham-w.jpg
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.”

SARAI > SARAH

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.

gen-18-3visitors-w.jpg

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]

gen-18-3visitors-2-w.jpg

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]

gen-18-3visitors-3-w.jpg

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]

gen-18-3visitors-4-w.jpg

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.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch16 – part 2

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.”

“Why?”

“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.”

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The story continues on in my next post.

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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]

gen-16-sarai-hagar.jpg
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]

 

gen-16-hagar-wilderness-w.jpg

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]

gen-16-ysmael-birth-w.jpg

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]

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch16 – part 1

SPEARS AND SHIELDS – Gadara, Region of PereaCG-book-cover-w

Two months have past since the confrontation at the Temple. Jesus wanted an expedient route back to Galilee, so, to the quiet displeasure of Simon, Judas Iscariot and a few of the others, they journeyed back through Samaritan country. One of the villages they visited, Sychar, greeted them with open arms. Cornelius was later told by Andrew, Peter’s brother that Jesus and a few of them then, came through Sychar only to purchase food for the trip back to Capernaum. They ended up spending almost four days with Jesus preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven and that salvation was nearby. And according to Andrew it all started when Jesus talked to a woman by the well. The villagers wanted to stay longer but Jesus told them that they had to go. Other villages they went through, some were welcoming some were not. In fact, there was one particular Samaritan village that ejected them that on a hill overlooking that village, James and John plucked up their chest and requested of Jesus that they may ask God to righteously rain fire upon that sinful village.

At first everyone was quiet. The fire that came from heaven, as Cornelius recalled only occurred in the stories of the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah, when Elijah asked God to send fire down to first burn up his oxen sacrifice against four hundred Baal priests and then when he was being arrested fire consumed the soldiers sent three times. Cornelius, who have seen much death, cringed at the thought of such power that can destroy an entire city being unleashed upon that village or onto anyone. Jesus turned and rebuked them. Both brothers bowed their heads in shame. Andrew, the jester among the group whispered a little too loudly, “Sons of thunder.” Laughter broke out among the men, so much so, that even Jesus was laughing when he went to the brother and embraced them both.

An early winter seem to have set in. Large patches of snow dotted the hillsides around Capernaum. Jesus had mainly focused most of his time in teaching his closest disciples. Twice Cornelius was ordered to report to Pilate at his winter residence in the port city of Caesarea where the Mediterranean climate was more to his liking. The first meeting was on Zealot activities in the south which was deemed insignificant enough for any action to be taken at this time. The second meeting was an alert tactical meeting for all officers. The meeting was made up of five Tribunes and fifteen Senior Centurions including Cornelius.

He was quietly talking with Arturos and Flavius when Pilate entered the room followed by General Gaius Alto, his second in command, and Tribune Marcianus. Everyone there snapped to attention.

“At ease, gentlemen,” Pilate said. “The Emperor saw fit to intervene between the conflict between the Arab king, Aretas IV of the Nabataeans, and our friend, ahem… Herod Antipas.”

The men chuckled knowing what Pilate really thought of Herod.

“I need not remind you the reason behind this conflict.^ This region is volatile enough. The Emperor had tasked me to commit our forces. Understand this, gentlemen, we are not at war with Aretas. We are only there as a reminder of Roman interests in the region.” Turning to Gaius Alto, “General Alto, the floor is yours.” The room again came to attention as Pilate left the room followed by Marcianus.

[^ The cause of the conflict between these two kings started when Herod Antipas divorced his wife Phasaelis who was the daughter of Aretas IV and had shamefully sent her away.]

Alto gestured for all of them to gather around a large table with several large maps on it. The map of Palestine, which was intricately drawn in great detail on a tanned hide was on top.

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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q