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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Pen is Mightier than the Sword (04/08/10)

TITLE: In the Shadow of the Fortress
By Mary Knoll Santos
04/12/10


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First time I knew him, he couldn’t be more than twenty years old, a child brazen with zeal, always stirred, always set for trouble. I knew him as unshakeable fortress of brass walls. I knew him as city of iron pillars, of unyielding will to the oppression of our townspeople. He set his face like flint, unashamed of every word he said. My friend I knew so well.

“Your cries and pleadings have fallen on deaf ears, unheeded, Jeremiah.” I fingered the scroll in my hand, and then carefully placed it in the recesses of my tunic.

“Forty years with these faithless...” He yanked a thorny plant trailing under a dark ledge of a rock, “stony wasteland gave no fruit, except thorns and briers.”

“Baruch,” he passed his eyes over the dreary undulating mountains, “the Lord spoke against Israel and Judah and about their end.” And then eyeing the thorny plant laid on his hand, “I’ve warned. I’ve pleaded...” With dismal droop of his head, he cried, “but they defy the Lord”

“I see the land to its death spreading its cruel net.”

“My faithful Baruch,” Jeremiah’s wonted voice trembled, “unless His espoused people of promise turn to the Lord, He will not avert His judgment by fire and sword.”

The strength of the nation exhausted all false hopes of escape. Hopes and dreams deferred to nothingness, unless they come back to God.

God had visited. His judgment had come. Babylon would burn Judah, would devour them by the sword. Great Babylon caved in the land with the shadow of God’s wrath. The expected doom arrived. The people of promise fell into their hands.

“I fear for the nation of such defiant people. They clench their fist on God!”

“I’ll stand by you, Jeremiah. The Lord is our Help.” I assured him, “He wants king Jehoiakim, his officers, and the priests to hear His written words.”

“Yes, and as lawyer in the king’s court, perhaps your colleagues will listen. You’ve written every word from God’s mouth.”

“The Lord commanded it, I must read them to the people in Jerusalem.” I took the scroll from beneath my robes and unrolled it. “Maybe they’ll come to their senses.”

“If this is our only hope, do it.” Jeremiah breathed in and smiled, “God bless you, my friend.”

The arid and hostile mountain ranges rose before them as they knelt, face on the ground. My friend Jeremiah gave way to fervent agony, lamenting for the people who had forsaken the living God.

And then, Jeremiah stretched up his arms to the mountains, “Awake from your wretchedness, O, Judah, to the fury of the LORD!” And he covered his head with his hands in despair.

Not one soul was moved by the reading of the words I wrote which Jeremiah dictated. King Jehoiakim hated the words of the holy God. He tore the scrolls and fed them to the hearth.

The written words burned.

“Baruch,” Jeremiah said, “they’ve rejected God. Surely, they’ve fallen into the hands of Babylon, as God had planned it.”

---

Four more years in Jeremiah’s life spent with passion arousing the chill of death in people’s hearts to an all-consuming flame to love God. But their hearts deadened at Him instead.

Kings had come and gone. All did wicked in the sight of God. Israel and Judah refused the warnings from Him.

Jeremiah, my faithful friend remained steady. I stayed with him. I continued writing the prophesies, as the Lord commanded.

In the same year, the priests and the people of Judah gathered and chided, “We will escape to Egypt, or perish in the hands of the Chaldeans!”

The heated argument ebbed and crested Jeremiah with anguish. They fiercely pressed him, persecuted him.

“God said we must not go to exile in Egypt, He’ll array Nebuchadnezzar with its ruins!” Jeremiah lamented and warned.

I pleaded for Jeremiah, “Go to the Chaldeans in Babylon.”

“Treason!” People shouted, king Zedekiah had Jeremiah tied and lowered into the mire of a deep pit.

----

I laid the roll of papyrus and engaged my pen on the inkstand. Beyond the stone palisades of the king’s court, beyond the fortitude-- laden with enemies of Israel. Chaldeans besieged round Jerusalem.

“Lord, my friend met with grief. I, with discouragement. Jeremiah’s enemies became mine too.”

“Gird up. Trust Me. Go up to Babylon. I will take care of you both, My servants. Keep all my words and write them. I know My plans for you.”


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This article has been read 281 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amanda Brogan04/15/10
". . .plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to bring you a future and a hope." You ended with the beginning of one of my favorite Scripture verses. :)

I like how you dug into the mind of Jeremiah's secretary and told the story from his point of view. It kind of has a "knights of the round table" feel to it, only in a Biblical setting. Lovers of ancient literature will especially love this piece.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/15/10
An interesting POV. You brought the story to life with your details. How wonderful that the word of God was written for so many people to hear.
Mildred Sheldon04/16/10
I loved how you wrote this story through his secretaries eyes. Very well written. Thank you for sharing such a moving story of Gods power.
AnneRene' Capp 04/22/10
I felt like I was "watching" a movie! This is so well told.

I felt as though you were describing MY grief at the rebellion of those around me in this age.

Well written, engaging and loved the POV from Baruch.