Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fire-fighter (10/05/06)
TITLE: Saving God's House
By Marty Wellington
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“I don’t know. I just know we have to continue to stand firm. This city belongs to our Lord. We are God’s people—His temple. Ephron, remember as infants we were given to the priests for service to our God. We are here to serve and to fight for our Lord.”
“Jeremiah the prophet said that the temple would be destroyed. I’m so scared.” Tears began to streak Ephron’s dust-lined face. Josiah reached out and embraced his younger brother, reassuring him.
The Babylonian King’s captain of the guard, Nebuzaradan, was camped just outside Jerusalem. His troops surrounded the walled city and the siege was becoming unbearable. Famine and disease had taken up residency in the city as well. Bodies littered the streets.
From the highest reaches of the temple mount, Josiah looked out across the walls and onto the fierce army arrayed in battle attire. He shuddered, knowing the city’s destruction was imminent. Jeremiah had foretold the tragedy. Suddenly, from the corner of his eye he noticed a flickering of light. Swords were gleaming and shouts traveled upon the wind. It had begun.
“We must warn the priests.” Grabbing at his brother’s tunic, Josiah nearly lifted Ephron from his feet. They flew across the roof, tumbling down the stone stairs in a heap. Dusting themselves off, they clambered up and ran to the chambers of Zephaniah, the second priest. They found the adjoining rooms empty and Zephaniah was missing as well.
Josiah took the lead, sprinting to the outer courtyard. There he walked along the eastern wall until he found a secret stone panel that swung inward revealing a dark passageway. Ephron drew in his breath, glancing with uncertainty at his brother. Josiah wasted no time explaining, shoving his younger brother into the darkness.
“Where are we going?”
“Ssshh. You’ll see,” Josiah hissed, reaching for one of the torches lined against the wall.
A labyrinth of tunnels stretched before them, but Josiah knowingly marched on with purpose. Soon, the narrow tunnel he chose opened up into a larger cavern lit by moving torches. Priests and servants were busy preparing themselves for the upcoming invasion. There were provisions and armaments and all matter of precious items from the temple. Ephron looked on in wide-eyed wonderment at the glistening gold and silver objects.
Josiah quickly found the officers of the temple and Zephaniah. Leaving Ephron, he told them what he had seen outside the walls of Jerusalem.
“Yes, Josiah. Our fate is now in God’s hands. Go. Make preparations with the others and we will soon make our escape through the tunnels.”
Josiah turned to his brother, pulling him away from the others. “Ephron, we are not going with the priests. We’re not running away. We’re going to fight for God’s temple today.”
Ephron’s countenance changed. While his heart was pounding like the rhythmic beats of a hammer upon an anvil, he trusted his older brother without question. “Yes, Josiah.”
Making their way back through the tunnels, they began to hear muffled shouting and screams through the temple’s stone walls. As they approached the entrance, Josiah warned Ephron to be silent as he gingerly pushed on the stone barrier.
The brothers emerged from the darkness only to face a world at war. The outer courtyard of the temple was in chaos. Flames were clawing their way up the walls. Heavy smoke obstructed their view.
“Hurry, let’s find the lavers. They are still full of water. Maybe we can slow down the fires.”
Feeling their way along the stone walls, they found containers and filled them with water. With heartfelt perseverance, back and forth, they carried waters from the lavers until they were empty. Then, seeking out the waters from the spring Ein Eitam, which flowed from the hills of Bethlehem, they struggled on to save God’s house—the hollowed place of His glory on earth. Others joined in the battle to purify that which was wrought with flames of evil, but Jeremiah’s prophecy came true that day—gold melted, cedar burned, and earthly treasure was lost.
Josiah was fifteen and Ephron was eleven the day the Lord God of Israel made them his firefighters and then welcomed them into His kingdom. "Well done, faithful servants."
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