аЯрЁБс>ўџ SUўџџџRџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџџьЅСG ПpcbjbjŽйŽй rьГьГp_џџџџџџ]ќќќќќќќ ,+ЖTTTTTTTT№ђђђђђђ$сєеœќTTTTTlќќTTTlllTњќTќT№ќќќќT№l„l№ќќ№TH ЎдДєУN№ H O R S E S O F I S R A E L -- P A R T I V A N T E A N N O S T E L L A E 8 5 0-- “Troubler of Israel” Earth II, with its similar but somewhat divergent troubles with the star-stones, also was afflicted by demonic spirits, a number of which were released from the icy protoplanet circling out beyond Pluto that was their sanctuary, when the “need” for them on earth became greater than the need to retain them in their dungeons. One of the chief of them was that which possessed and guided Jezebel, who in turn guided Ahab to his heights of folly, depravity, idolatry, and doom. With no rapture and no seven years of tribulation followed by the Reign of Christ, Earth II faced a much longer and convoluted ordeal. It was just as well that prophets (sopetets) such as Elijah did not know how long and complicated the process would be before its final end when he dealt sword against sword with a Queen of the Armies of the Air. O nce the title was flung at the sopetet Elijah by King Ahab, who quickly hurled it back at king, saying: “You have forsaken Yahweh!” The king let the charge stick, for what could he say? He and his wife had actively, for years, sought to eradicate all worship of Yahweh from their kingdom—and had, except for a few stubborn, ignorant diehards like Elijah, succeeded. All Israel, thanks to their efforts, had converted to Baal and his consort, Asherah. Now, they thought, they had a respectable kingdom to rule over, one that was in line with the more advanced kingdoms, such as Sidon and Tyre to the north. As Elijah waited for his servant, Elisha, to come with his cloak so that they could begin the journey to the Yarden River, his thoughts went back to the events of his life—things he wished to forget but could not. How thirsty he had been, when the brook Cherith, had dried up! The Lord had sent him over the Yarden to a particular spot by a brook to safeguard him while the drought and famine raged in Israel. For a while things went well with him there. The brook was spring-fed and flowed right out of the bare rock, falling down the hillside in a deep cleft where he could hide from the gaze of passers-by when he didn’t wish to be seen—which was most of the time. The hillsides there about were full of caves—which were just the thing for someone who was hunted by King Ahab and his consort, Queen Jezebel, the daughter of the king of Sidon. No one could find him in such caves, for they ran for miles back into the hills. It was a good place to go to wait until the end of the judgment of God upon the wickedness of the king and his wife and the wickedness of the people who had gone whoring after Baal. He had just arrived at the wadi and settled in a cave when the Lord God sent bread and cooked meat in their beaks for him to eat. It was in the morning when they arrived with the welcome food. He had just gone for a drink from the brook when the first flock flew noisily in from the south, which was Arabia. Where they found such fine food, he had no idea, but he consumed it all—and was satisfied. He watched the birds fly off to the northwest, as if heading for Jezreel, where the king had a palace. He went and took a nap after eating, and after the heat of the day he went again to the brook for a drink. Then again another flock of ravens arrived. This one came from the northwest, however—as if from Jezreel, where Ahab and Jezebel had a summer palace. Could it be he was eating royal viands, stolen from the plates of a king’s banquet table? After giving thanks to Yahweh, Elijah consumed what the ravens brought him. Before he could finish, they all flew off, heading south this time. Day after day this continued. He was given two good meals a day, which was sufficient to keep him in strength. Even if he missed an evening meal, it did not matter, for he had customarily fasted during that time, preferring to call on the name of Yahweh, breaking his fast only the following morning. “Troubler of Israel” they had called him, he mused. Yet it was the king, and truly his wife Jezebel who put the king up to most of his evil-doing, who was the true troubler of the land. Together, they had seduced holy Israel, until all the people whored after the gods of the uncircumcised. Then he recalled how the brook dried up one day. The water suddenly stopped flowing! He was left with a dried creek bed, and in a matter of hours he was wondering how he could stay there without water. It was then, in prayer, the Lord God answered his need. “Go up to Zarephath, a city nigh Sidon, and a widow will see to your provision,” the Lord commanded him. “What?” he wondered. “A widow of a heathen land will give me aid? Impossible! She will despise my God and turn me away,” he thought. Yet he obeyed the Lord and left the Cherith—preferring to travel up the valley of the Yarden to crossing into the territory of the king and queen who hunted him like a wild animal. He had given them good reason for hating him. He had not only called down the drought, but he had slain their prophets, four hundred priests of Baal, and four hundred and fifty priests of Asherah, on Mount Carmel. He could never forget it. He had left Zarephath, where the widow had fed him after nearly refusing him, since she only had enough for one last meal for herself and her son before they would die. Yet she had feared Yahweh enough to give him the meal he demanded, and when she did that Yahweh had smiled upon her, and all her pots, which she had borrowed from neighbors, were miraculously filled with oil from her one oil jar which never ran out. He could have crossed the shrunken Yarden without having to part it by striking it with his cloak. He paused from his remembrances to look out upon the river, and it was full of water once again. He gazed back upon the road, looking for his servant, and thought he saw him in a bit of dust being kicked up from a mule’s hooves. It might be an hour before he found out if it were his servant. Elijah wanted to be away, but he could not go without a final test of his servant. No, it was best to wait for him. As he waited he could not help the memories that flooded back, given half a chance. How the king had hated him because he had called the drought to punish the land for forsaking the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and serving the abominations of Baal and Asherah instead. . Everybody had witnessed the priests of Baal dance and slash their arms and thighs with knives as they tried to call down fire from heaven to consume their offering to the god—but hours went by and nothing happened. How he loved to taunt the priests while they leaped like shameless goats, chanted abominations, and even cut themselves to get Baal’s attention—all for nothing. He had said to them, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is talking, or he is making water in his closet, or he is in a journey, or perhaps he sleeps and must be awakened.” In response to his mockery, the priest cried out all the more and gashed themselves until their arms and legs ran with blood—all for nothing, since Baal did not come and burn the offering on their altar. Time passed, midday came and went, and still no god. The priests, clearly exhausted, forced themselves to carry on. It was incredible how they limped and staggered around, trying to dance and chant, when their bodies were spent and their voices were gone. By the time of the evening sacrifice he had decided to call the matter to a head. He called to the people, ignoring the priests of Baal and their doings. When the people surrounded him, he repaired the altar of Yahweh. He took twelve stones, one for each tribe, and set them up on the altar. Then he made a trench around the altar. He put wood and cut a bullock in pieces and laid the bullock upon the wood. He told the people to fill four barrels with water. Then he had them pour the water on the altar, and this they did at his command, twice, even three times. The trench itself filled with water. When this was done he called upon the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, “Lod God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel and I am your servant, and I have done all these things according to your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that you are the Lord God, and that you have turned their heart back again.” As soon as he ended his prayer, fire fell from the sky and consumed the sacrifice and the wood and the stones and the dust and even licked up the water in the trench. Seeing this, the people fell on their faces, saying, “The Lord, he is the God, the Lord, he is God.” And he had said to them, “Take the prophets of Baal, let not one escape.” And they brought them down to the brook Kishon and slew them there. Then, right after slaying the king’s prophets, he had called off the drought. He had thought the king would be grateful, so he had attended the king back to Jezreel when the rain began to fall upon all that region. The Lord God put such strength into his limbs that he outraced the king’s chariot to Jezreel. There he fully expected the king would turn the kingdom back to Yahweh. Yahweh, not Baal, was victorious. But it was not to be. Sending his servant with word that he was in the city, he waited for the king to call him to the palace and humbly submit to the Lord God with all his household. But instead his servant came from the queen to him, with her words, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not treat your life the same as you treated my prophets by this time tomorrow.” In the midst of preparations for the wedding celebration for a daughter, she couldn’t be bothered with Elijah at the moment. But the first free moment she had, she would see to his utter destruction—by the morrow, she had promised! Elijah knew the queen meant every word, and Ahab would not try to stop her, though the king knew the truth—he had witnessed it that very day with his own eyes, that Baal was nothing, and his priests powerless against Almighty Yahweh, Israel’s true God. Stumbling through the crowded market where his servant found him waiting at an assigned place, Elijah’s thoughts tumbled over each other. “What—what---surely…surely not!” Yet he could see the whole terrible scene in the royal palace clearly. The king, on return, had no sooner blurted out Yahweh’s and Elijah’s tremendous victory and the slaying of the 400 sopetets by Elijah’s own hand when the queen seized the king’s own sword. In a towering rage that made her green eyes spit like a certain serpent’s, Jezebel cowed the king and frightened everyone around. “Oh, he slew my priests, did he? Why, I’ll do the same to him!” What now? Go out the Joppa Gate? No—the guards would be alert6ed by now to stop him. Where then? He rushed instead, his servant following him as best he could, into the busiest market of the city—where sheep and goats and cattle were sold, or slaughtered for the meat. He hurried, looking for a man he knew. He burst into a leather maker’s shop. As the man came out to his unexpected visitor, his face took on great bewilderment as Elijah fell to his knees in supplication. “Help me, the queen is seeking my life!” the sopetet begged the tradesman, who was one of a few men in the city who still revered Yahweh. The leather merchant was scandalized, seeing the sopetet of Israel in such a state. He signed for his eldest son to watch the shop’s goods. He pulled Elijah, his servant helping, back into the house, and then in a room where they could be free to speak, the sopetet was set upon a chair. Elijah was beside himself, weeping sorely for himself. Yet he got his story out to his old friend. “The queen seeks to slay me. I slew the priests of Baal, all four hundred that sit and eat at her table. It was done on Mount Carmel this very day! Please hide me from her wrath and her soldiers!” Hearing this, with Elijah’s servant nodding that it was so, the tradesman was badly frightened. “No, not here, O man of God!” he implored him. “Lest you bring her wrath down upon me and my whole household. No, you must leave the city at once. It is not safe here for you.” “But how?” the man of God wailed. “She watches the gates with a hundred eyes! Her spies are everywhere!” “Please, please,” pleaded his friend, “there is a way. Stay here, and do not move until I come back for you.” The tradesman hurried out back of the house and came to a shed that held a wagon. He tethered it to donkeys with Elijah’s servant’s help. Then making sure the servants of his own household were out of heariong, he got Elijah and put him in the wagon, after piling a few carpets round him. Over that he laid hay, along with a few wineskins of water and wine, and some loaves of bread. Then, taking the reins, he set Elijah’s servant beside him, and together they started forth. When they reached the eastern gate, the guards stopped them. “Where are you going?” demanded the soldier. “To the country, with hay? That is not needed! Are you crazy?” The tradesman bowed from the waist, smiling. “But my pastures are dry—not being well-watered and bare of springs—so that my cattle are perishing for lack of forage. So I must go to them with this hay immediately! Trim the fat to save the meat, they say! Ha ha ha!” The gate guard, after giving the hay wain a few pokes, stepped aside. Traffic was being held up—and a royal chariot with an important official was approaching at a gallop, so he signed for the man to be on his way at once. The leather dealer had just moved out of the gate and to the side of the road when the chariot swept past. He saw it was the Keeper of the Royal Dungeons—an official known for killing many of Yahweh’s prophets. Two crack bowsmen stood on either side of him. Truly, it was an important mission for the queen’s executioner. Sweating, the tradesman rapped his reigns and the horses and wagon continued on in the dusty wake of the chariot until finally the chariot disappeared completely from view. Driving off the road into a field, he found a spot behind some trees to stop out of sight of the road. Here he halted the wagon, and he and the man of God’s servant got down. Together, they pulled the sputtering, choking, sneezing sopetet out from the hay and smothering carpets. When Elijah got his breath, he was wordless for a few moments. Then he spoke rapidly. “Where is this place? You aren’t forsaking me in this place, are you?” The tradesman bowed, but he looked shamed. “What else can I do that I haven’t done, good sir? Have mercy on a poor man! Here, take some bread with water and wine. There too is a cloak for the night chill. You are safer alone now, if you only stay clear of the roads. But do not, I pray, name me if you are captured by the soldiers. She will kill us all!” Elijah seemed to understand, though his eyes were dark with fear. He nodded, holding back words of rebuke for the cowardice of his friend. Somehow he held his peace. Meanwhile, his mind reeled. How could things have turned this way? Why wasn’t the queen’s spirit crushed by the news of Yahweh’s victory? She hadn’t flinched at all from proceeding immediately against him, to slay the Lord’s chief sopetet. There wasn’t one drop of fear in the woman’s veins—not one drop! She wasn’t a woman—she was a monster, a serpent! So what was he to do? Stand there in the countryside and be killed like a dog? Turning southeasterly, he started off, his shoulders sagging. The tradesman ran after him and his servant, pressing the food and the drink into the hands of the servant. “Take these!” he cried. “You’ll both perish in the wilderness. And my staff! It will warn off the serpents and wild beasts.” Without a word, the man who could call down fire from heaven with a prayer, took the offered staff and trudged off. The tradesman watched the two figures slowly disappear into the countryside. What sounded like a hyena howled from a nearby rocky hill ridge. Turning his wagon, he dumped all the hay, then turned his wagon and horses back to the road. Together with his servant, Elijah climbed into the hills where few of the king’s men would go since the countryside was so rough and stony. He kept going, heading eastward and southerly. Hours later, he rested when he saw that he was not being pursued. He knew, however, that his life was not his until he got clear of Ahab’s kingdom. No doubt soldiers in chariots were racing along all the roads leading from Jezreel as they scoured the country for him. He had fled all the way to the extreme southern wilderness round about Mount Horeb in Midian after leaving his servant at Beersheba in the Negeb. The Lord God sent angels to give him food, which nourished him for forty days. Finally, when he took shelter in a cave, the Lord God spoke to him, calling him. He felt very much that a terrible fit was coming on. How much worse could things go with him? He despaired of life itself. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God said to him. Elijah, waiting for his servant on the road to show himself, shifted uncomfortably at the remembrance. He had answered the Lord, “I have been very anxious to defend your cause, O Lord, for the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant and thrown down your altars, and I am the only one left who follows you, and they seek my life!” Instead of commending him, the Lord God commanded him to stand up on the nearest mountain. He climbed up to the place shown to him, and suddenly the Lord passed by. A great wind struck the mountain and broke the stones into pieces, but Elijah perceived that God was not in the wind. Then there was an earthquake, but Elijah saw that God was not in the earthquake. Next followed a fire, but God was not in the fire. Only then did Elijah heard a still, small voice. It was God. He went from the cave and stood, his cloak wrapped about him, and listened. God asked him again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” How utterly ashamed he had felt, having shown himself a coward fleeing from a woman in Jezreel as if she were greater than God in power, but he managed to repeat what he had said, that he had defended the cause of the Lord, and he only was left, and his enemies were out to kill him. The Lord told him to go to the country of Damascus in Syria, and anoint the Syrian king. Then he was to anoint Jehu king over Israel. After that he was to anoint Elisha to be his successor. All this he had gone and done, and Elisha was now coming to join him on a last journey. Ah! Here he was! It was his servant. Elisha approached, dust up to his waist, and bowed low before his master, whom he revered above all men, fits notwithstanding. Elijah nodded, then rose with his staff. He said nothing to his servant, and then turned onto the road, with Elisha following. It was time for the final testing. Would his servant follow him or be diverted? It turned out that Elisha could not be diverted, even when the Lord God sent a chariot and horses that were thunderous and fire-spewing, speeding directly at them. Never had mortal eyes seen so terrifying a vision, if vision it was. Elisha, however, remained as before, absolutely steadfast and undeterred. He looked certain incineration in the face and somehow he kept his eyes on his master, which was the one condition for the granting of his master’s cloak and authority as God’s spokesman. Elijah, taken up by a whirlwind, threw the cloak down before heaven swallowed him, and Elijah snatched it as if it were the most precious thing on earth—which it probably was. Meeting the Lord in the air, Elijah had many questions. “What are you doing with me? I have not died, but you have taken my body up with my spirit! If you must preserve my body, then cure it of fits, I pray thee!” “Yes, “ replied the Lord, “I have use for your body, which is mine, for I am the Creator of it. It will live for a time, while you attend me in the heavens. Then I will send another like you back to your people, to prophesy at the beginning of the greater woes that I shall cast upon the earth. He will call down drought and famine, and all the earth will suffer at his word. He will stand with another chosen witness in Jerusalem for my righteousness against the people and their gods, and they shall prevail and kill both my witnesses after three and one half years. Their bodies will lie in the street for three days while the people of Jerusalem But I will raise them up in three days and take them to be with me forever. As for you, with another like you, I will do a different thing. You will not stand as a witness with him in my city, but you will wage war with the queen in the air—the one I will reveal to you. She reigns with her people, who are the first who lived upon the earth before I sent fires from below to destroy them and their nation. She has attacked my holy place in the heavens where an important work is being done. It is there you will stand and slay her and burn her ships with the chariots and horses given you. Will you do these things for me I have commanded?” Elijah bowed before the Lord. What about his life-long affliction, the terrible fits? Was nothing to be done about them? And the Lord’s plan sounded terrifying to his ears, despite he was now in Paradise, with a view of the towers and dome of the New Jerusalem. It was all so bright and glorious that Elijah, restrained and restricted by his mortal body, could not take it in. “Whom have I in heaven but thee?” he cried with all his heart. “There is none in heaven and Earth that I hold dear beside thee! Have mercy upon your servant, for I am weak! oh, so very weak!” By this time, he had forgotten his fiery horses and chariot—and, in his transporting prayer, nearly forgetting his fits. But the Lord listened to his cry of weakness, and Elijah found favor, for He said to his servant, “My Strength is made perfect in your weakness.” So much for asking the Almighty for a cure of fits! Yet God had spoken the final word about it, had He not? Elijah dared not make another plea concerning it. If God was not bothered by the spectacle of His servant shaking and trembling all over His holy heaven, then what could he say in protest? At last, thinking this, he found rest in his affliction. Thus, the mighty Elijah, who had defeated the most powerful forces of Baal and Ashtaroth in a few hours with a contest of power upon Mount Carmel, was comforted and anointed for a new, mightier service. What it was exactly, Elijah could not know. He was glad when he understood he was not being sent to Jerusalem—a “holy” city he knew was prone to slay men of God. All he knew for sure was that he would fight against another queen like unto the serpent-blooded queen, Jezebel. 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