I have failed in my solemn duty. “Protect the temple with your life.”
Yes, well, that is not possible when armed guards come into the temple and drag you out like so much evening sacrifice - and I am no longer a young man.
The sacred temple was burned and I watched in hushed grief as the work of Solomon, Nehemiah and others was blackened by a flame hungry for what was holy.
I alone am left among my brothers and we alone were left among the clan of our father, so the knowledge dies with me, but I know You can be trusted with the burden of the knowledge of what is no more.
On the night when by rites I passed from the world of children and was accepted by the family of men I was taken to the temple. The world was asleep save for my father and me. We passed through the portico and then on to the curtained veil between man and God.
“Are we supposed to be here, Father?” I was uneasy.
“What does the prophet Ezekiel say about the Holy of Holies?” Father asked me.
I should have answered right away, but I played shilly-shally because of the solemn place and the need for sleep.
“Answer me, Joel!” Father said sharply.
“It is paneled,” I replied.
“Yes, yes. What else?”
“The walls are decorated with cherubim.”
“Well said. There’s more.”
“A palm tree is carved between each cherubim.”
“One had the face of a man and another a lion.”
“Yes! You have learned well, but there is one more very important detail you have failed to consider.”
“Then what, Papa.”
“Ezekiel told us, ‘The space above the entrance leading into the Holy of Holies was also paneled.’” Father pointed high above the entrance.
“Yes. Of course. Paneled,” I said, certain my father was also in need of rest.
Father smiled and placed a ladder over the entrance. “What I show you must not be shared with another. You must understand, Joel.”
“Yes, certainly,” I replied.
“No, you must never share the knowledge of what I show you with another,” Father said.
“Of course, yes, I will honor my vow,” I replied.
Father pushed upward on a piece of wood. The small fragment of paneling began to move and a chasm was revealed. Father looked inside while I stood in amazement. Inside were relics of our faith; scrolls, Elijah’s mantle and other items I could only guess at in the darkness.
“We are the protectors of these relics, Son,” Father said to me.
“Yes, and we must ever keep a guard over our lips.”
Today I fail my task once more, but the silence has been rendered fruitless. All these years later and the secrets rest only in my recollections. I read the hidden scrolls and I came to recognize the man Jesus for who He really was. I had supposed He was an earth bound king sent to help us break free from the grip of Rome’s tyranny. Yet in the end, the man Jesus died. On the dark night of His passing I found the curtain rent from the top to bottom. It split just at the place where the hidden chasm answered my questions about the Messiah. I had not understood it. Sometimes one must simply agree with the Almighty that a thing is true.
No one challenged me at the place of the skull. I found His thorn woven crown and the placard that claimed Him ‘King of the Jews’. A piece of his garment lay nearby, rain soaked and blood stained. I wrapped the crown and the sign and placed them among the other important relics.
Then Jesus rose from the dead. He had said this is what He would do and I saw Him. It was right for me to save such profound symbols of the suffering of God’s Son.
Over time I would hold the crown and weep as I recalled the pain He endured.
Now the relics I cherished and guarded are dust in the wind. Nothing survived the heat. In a moment it was gone.
Ah well, perhaps it is better to believe without seeing, but I do not lament my vigilance, for the very service I silently endured helped me understand. In that understanding I rejoice.
God, you have always been a good listener. Thank You.
In the name of Jesus, the Messiah,
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