The man in the desert
by thadd presley
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I stood face to face with Azriel, a man-god. I had been summoned to his temple and knew that I had no choice but to attend, so I went willingly.
Until now, I had only seen him from a distance but I knew that he was very powerful. He could destroy me if he wanted, but he didn’t.
I wasn’t scared of him. At least, I wasn’t scared for my life. I knew things that could bring his temple down and I knew things that could prove his power was evil. But, I want him here, because as long as he is in this town I can watch him and know his moves. If he leaves, he would simply go to another city and dilute their knowledge of the truth. It seemed only right that I let him remain, so that I can counter his measures. If I could put him anywhere, I would choose this town.
He chose to address me privately when I arrived at his temple. I entered through a back door and went directly to his study where I was announced to him. I waited to be spoken to.
“You are an old wizard, Gabriel.” The god spoke, suddenly, but slowly. “I know we can be friends. Don’t be so foolish as to go against me without knowing what I offer.”
“I have no choice, Azriel. You have lead many of my people to
death with your lies. Even now you send them to their death by telling them lies about a man in the desert.”
“Gabriel, don’t be deceived, there is a man in the desert that has heard from the Creator. Even now he works on the arc.” The god hung his head, as if saddened. Pleadingly, he continued, “I am only trying to help this city, as I always have. This man, I swear to you, the man in the desert is the only way to save the people from Creator‘s judgment, from the Creator‘s Flood.”
“Flood?” The wizard scoffed, gripping his staff. “Where? Here!! In the desert? Baa!!”
“I am truthful about the man and about the rains that will soon
come. Wizard, send your people to me so that I can purify them. They have to be purified by a god before the passage onto the arc.”
“You can not save the people, Azriel. You are also damned and cast out of God‘s Garden. We all strive for the same thing.”
“You know that I am a god. I am man’s earthly father. I represent God on earth. You know these things. Why do you rebel against the truth?”
“My people are believers in the Garden of Paradise. We believe that only the Creator can purify their sins. It is through sacrifice that we may attain passage back to the Garden. These sacrifices can only be to the Creator. That is the only way mankind may have forgiveness. No one on earth can forgive us our sins.”
“But wizard, haven’t we gods shown you many things? Haven’t we only tried to help mankind?”
It was true. I could not deny that the gods had shared with the people many things. Fire and magic were among the chief secrets that the gods shared with man. Much was taught to men by the gods. But, the gods were only helping the people to gain their trust. Then, in one fell swoop, the gods would turn on them and lead them into death.
“Face it, Gabriel.” The god said, sounding as thunder. “The
Creator is going to destroy this world. It has been made known through Noah.”
“But, Azriel, how can it rain in the desert?”
“I am telling the truth, old wizard. Bring your people to me and I will purify them for the passage. Through me all shall be saved.”
“Perhaps,” the old wizard said, loudly, trying to show that he was not scared, “Perhaps the people do not remember, Azriel, but I have the scrolls and the ancient texts, which tell of the time when a god lied to the people of the Garden and lead them into death. The god lied and because the people trusted him, the Creator cast them from the Garden of Paradise.”
“Who wrote these scrolls, wizard?”
“The people of the Garden wrote them after they were cast out of
Paradise. The people who remembered the stories wrote them.”
“Who taught the men to write, old man?” Azriel smiled at this question.
It was true, the gods gave men the art of writing and also the
art of song, but still the wizard felt that it was only to gain the trust of man. “The gods of this world taught men to write. But… ”
“So, the scrolls were made possible by the gods as well as the
songs about Paradise. Why do you think I lie now? Do you think I was not here and did not see Paradise.”
“You are a liar. All the earthly gods are liars. The scrolls tell about the time when you dwelled in heaven, but because you went against the Creator you were cast to the earth.”
“Then, if that is true, what did man do to be cast to the earth? What did they do to lose heaven? You say the gods lead man astray in the Garden, but in fact man was astray in heaven. That‘s why they are on the earth. At least, by what you say. ”
The wizard didn’t know what to say. Was man once in heaven? He did not know. The scrolls didn’t have knowledge about man before the Garden. “Because of the gods,” the wizard started, “man was forced out of the Garden. Before the gods interfered, man was in Paradise living with the Creator.”
Suddenly, the wizard felt dizzy with hunger. He was an old man and could not argue with this liar all day and night.
“Wizard, I plead with you. Save your people and send them to me so that they can confess their sins. Unless they confess to a god they can not be saved.”
“I am returning to my temple now, Azriel. I will tell my people about your desert man. I will tell them about the rains that you say will come. But, I will tell them to sacrifice only to the Creator of the Garden. Only He can forgive us our sins.”
“You are going to mislead them.” The god said, disappearing
into a mist.
Back at the temple, Umma sat over a great tome of the Ancients. She was looking for a passage that could prove the gods were once servant of the Creator, but a rebellion broke out and all who went against the Creator was cast out onto the earth for punishment.
She stood when she heard Gabriel climbing the stairs.
“Finally,” she called, “your back. I was worried!! Where have you been?” She got out the wizards bowl and poured the soup. “I knew you would be sick. You have been gone too long. You have to eat more regular. An old man like you…”
“Yes, yes,” the wizard answered, not wanting a lecture. He was more than five hundred years old and didn’t need a youngling
telling him about suppertime. “I have been thinking of the people and about this god…”
“The patron god.”
The Wizard looked at his understudy. “Do not be mislead, these patrons are not gods. They are only servants to the One God.“
She nodded her head. “I know… but he is so…“
“I know,“ he said. “He is beautiful and knowing. But, he is misleading the people into death.“
“Yes, sir.“ She said, looking down and feeling her stomach.
“Well, have you found anything in the scrolls?”
Azriel was the patron god of their city. He was recently worshipped, along with many other gods that had wondered through their country, as life givers. But, Azriel did more than the other gods had ever done in this city. Azriel had taken wives and seduced many women into fornications and other lustful acts. In fact, so many people were worshippers of Azriel that a temple, which stood high above any other building in town, had been built.
“I think,” Umma began, “that Azriel is going to be a good god I don’t think he is going to be a liar like the serpent.”
The wizard dropped his spoon at this. “Umma, please. Do not be mislead by any of these earthly gods. They are arrayed against the Creator. Haven’t you learned that by now?”
“But, master, I have read all the scrolls and all the Ancients
writings. No where have I found that the gods were cast from heaven. No where does it say that the gods are leading us to death.”
“If you believe that, then you have forgotten why we no longer
live in the Garden. Don’t you remember what we read in the scrolls?”
“Yes, a serpent…”
“No!!” the wizard shouted. “A god in the form of a serpent!!”
“A god, in the form of a serpent, seduced the people of the Garden and lied to them.”
“And then the people sinned against the Creator and were banished out of the Garden.”
“You see, these gods on earth are liars and seducers. They are
leading man into further death, as if it wasn’t enough to lead them against the Creator.”
“I know all this, but Azriel seems as if he cares for…” She stopped suddenly and the old man looked at her.
“So, you have spoken with him. You have been to the mass.” Umma looked down.
That was all he needed to hear. He knew it was already to late for her. “Did he tell you about the man in the desert?”
She nodded her head. “He told us all.”
“And did you want to go on the journey? Did you want to be
forgiven for your sins on earth and ride this arc into heaven?”
Again she nodded her head.
“So, you confessed…”
She slowly looked up at her temple leader, “It wasn’t the only thing I did to get to heaven. I also prayed to the Creator and sacrificed on the alter here at the temple. I did both so that I would be sure.”
“But you have to put your faith in only one, Umma. Who do you believe is in the desert, a man of the Creator or a man that the gods put there to deceive the people like before?
“I do not know who is there. But, word has reached us and in fact there is a man there and he is building an arc. This man’s name is Noah and he also says it is going to rain.” She gave to the old man more broth.
“Thank you, but I am not hungry. I feel as if the whole town is lost and will leave for the man in the desert. You know if they do that they will die in the sand.”
“The old man is not far from here. Perhaps we could see him.”
“I do not want to see this desert man, he is full of lies and works of evil. He is for the gods.”
“You don’t know that.” Umma screamed. “You are only jealous of Azriel and wish your temple was as big as…” Then she stopped. “I’m leaving.”
“You don’t have to,” the old man said, “I know how you must feel. Even I am confused at the moment. Azriel even has stumped me with his questions.”
“What do you mean.” Umma asked looking at her temple leader. “You spoke with him.”
“Yes, child, I was summoned to his court and we talked. We argued and exchanged knowledge for quite some time, during the which he asked me a question that has not left me.”
“What did he ask?” Umma asked, nervously.
“It’s not for a young mind, child. Questions about the Creator only lead to dissatisfaction. We are his servants, we do not question Him. If we do, you can be sure of disappointment.”
“But I have to know.”
“I need to know so that I can look up the answer. I know the Ancients have provided everything we need know in the Book of the Garden.”
“I fear that not everything has yet to be written. There are times when we have to trust in the Creator even when we do not know the answer.”
“I trust the Creator, but what if the man in the desert was sent to save us from judgment? What if we miss our only chance to see heaven.”
“Little child, do not believe in man or in the gods. Only seek the Creator, for in Him all things can be known.” With this the old man stood and walked to his bed. “I am sleeping now. Please stay in and do not attend the mass of Azriel tonight. I fear terrible things from him.”
“I will,” she said, as she washed the old man’s feet. “Will you do me one thing. Please, tell me the question that he asked you.”
The old man sighed. “I fear it will only cause doubt in your mind.”
That night, Azriel held his mass and all the people in the city were present. They came so that they could learn more about the man in the desert.
Azriel, provided for the people, having water and food brought. He told them to take all they wanted for the journey through the desert, but he said, “Do not start this journey without being forgiven for your transgressions. The arc is large and many rooms has been provided but only the ones in salvation may enter.”
This was all Azriel had to say. A line formed at the alter and for hours, until sun-up, Azriel preformed the ritual of salvation to the people of the city. When it was completed they went to their houses and prepared for the journey into the desert.
The old man awoke to find his apprentice gone. He feared the worst for her, but when he walked into the streets to find the market abandoned he feared for the whole town and for himself. He vowed that he would not go in search for them and that only the Creator could show the way.
Suddenly, the old wizard, saw a man. But when he looked into the heat waves, it was only Azriel, the deceiver. The wizard did not go to him. Instead he just stood there and looked into the heat of the day. He wanted to talk with him. He could know where the people had gone, but in a flash the man that the wizard saw was gone.
Gabriel, the old wizard, walked through the abandoned city and found the tables where the food had been displayed for the people. The alter was still there and much blood was spilled. Azriel felt shame for the people and for himself, and wanted to wash the ground were the blood has spilled.
Then, the rain started. In astonishment, the old man looked into the sky.
Suddenly, the ground heaved below him. He stepped back to catch his balance, but it was no use for the ground was heaving there also. It was only seconds before the old wizard fell onto the ground. Before he could regain his balance, he was covered with water. Of course, the old man, being a desert dweller, didn’t know how to swim.
If you are confused at what happened to the people and who got to enter the arc, read Genesis 6-9. In Genesis chapter 9 the people who enter the arc are alive and well again on the earth.
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Published on: 2006-11-25
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very clever story. I was afraid all the people would be saved on the arc, but you kept referring to "lies" either way the people died in the flood, right? I thougt at first the story was going to be too long but it kept moving.