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“How did you get your name?” I asked Atsa.
“When I was quite young,” he replied, “I wandered a short distance from my house, and a coyote threatened to take me. A great eagle swooped down and chased him away. The eagle watched over me from the sky until I returned home. My father did not see the coyote, but he saw the eagle land on the ground near me as I arrived home. It let me touch him, and my father knew that the eagle had taken a special interest in me. So I was given the name Atsa, or Eagle.”
“Is this the same eagle in that tree?” I asked again.
“No,” he said, “but when there is a need to know something, an eagle appears, perhaps one of his family. It is said that eagles have the eyes of God and the wings of the Spirit. This is the eagle that led me and my friends to Newkirk to hear your words from the Creator. The eagle wanted us to hear these messages, and so we knew that you spoke truth.”
“Are you referring to Kuyani and Kika?” Maggie asked.
“Yes, we have been friends since childhood,” Atsa answered.
“What is the meaning of their names?” Maggie asked again.
“Kuyani means to love, 186 and Kika means wisdom. But I will let them tell their own stories.”
We continued walking down the mountain trail until we again arrived at the lodge, where my wife was waiting. She had arrived earlier than expected, and the reunion was most welcome. I introduced her to Maggie and Atsa, who then waited in the lounge while we carried her bags to the room. We ate a quick lunch at the lodge while I shared with my wife the events of the day, and then we returned to Newkirk in my truck.
The bell in the Town Square was again unguarded, so I rang it once and immediately walked away before the wrath of the Councilman could find me. It was not long before all of our company had gathered once again, each reporting no success in locating Joseph.
“I believe everyone is here,” Joshua said.
“We believe that he is in Cosmos,” Atsa informed them. “Eagle eyes have seen him. But if that is the case, he did not go there by his own will. The bloody shirt tells us that he was kidnapped. If he had gone voluntarily, he would have sent word to us by this time.”
“Three of us,” I added, “have just been to the mountain, where the Voice told us that we were being commissioned “to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.” Perhaps we should start with Joseph. We believe that he is alive, but if that is the case, then he is surely being held prisoner. It appears that the Voice only awaits our agreement and double witness in order to establish His word in the earth.”
They all bore witness to my words, and so we gave a great shout: “We proclaim liberty to captives! We proclaim freedom to prisoners!” Our voices echoed through the streets of the town, and the old man of the Town Council soon came hastily upon us, red faced, huffing and puffing, and obviously quite offended. “Stop that racket!” he demanded. “You are disturbing the peace and scaring everyone!”
“We are bearing witness to the Creator’s voice,” I told him. “It is a matter of priority to obey God rather than men, 187 especially when their commands conflict. Surely you know this.”
“Of course I know that,” he retorted. “But the Creator speaks through us—the Town Council—not through you. We are the ones who determine what is truly His voice. We cannot have everyone run around claiming to hear His voice, now can we? That would bring chaos and confusion and many contradictions, and soon disunity would reign.”
“Then why do you not teach the people to hear His voice correctly?” I asked. “Would to God that all of His people heard His voice and prophesied.” 188
“That is ridiculous!” the old man nearly shouted. “They are nothing but rabble, fit only to be led by the wise and learned ones.”
“This rabble will soon prophesy,” I retorted, “and their words will shake the heavens and the earth. No doubt some will speak foolishly from their own fleshly hearts, but their words will fall to the ground when exposed to truth. The Creator does not view them as rabble, but as His children. Every loving father trains His children to hear His voice.”
“God is not a man!” he shouted at me. “It is blasphemous to compare Him to mere fathers! He is high and lifted up! He is unknowable! He is the great Creator!”
“He is also very near,” I replied, “and He is a humble God, one who is not ashamed to call us His children. His desire and purpose is to be united with His children and to train them in His ways. In fact, the entire purpose and goal of creation is to be unified by love, so that the earth becomes an expression of all that He is.”
“You are wrong,” the old man insisted. “The Creator made all of this out of nothing, and it will always be separate from and inferior to Him. Matter is evil and will ultimately be destroyed, burnt up. Those who have done good and have submitted to the Council will leave this earth and live in heaven.”
Joshua now broke into the conversation. “Your view is from Greek philosophers, not from the true prophets. The prophets say that all things were created good, 189 and that sin came afterward. Sin is temporary, and the Creator’s plan is to eradicate sin, not destroy His good creation. Sin has brought a curse upon creation, making it unclean and unholy. The Creator does not need to throw away His creation on account of the curse. His plan is to remove the curse so that the creation may be restored to its original condition, allowing it to fulfill its purpose.”
“There is no reasoning with you,” the old man replied. “You are part of the rabble, and you are all good examples of why we need the Town Council to decide what is truth and what is not. If it were up to you, all men would be saved and no part of creation would be lost. There would be no justice in the earth. But we know that most of creation will indeed be lost forever.”
Joshua replied, “All things came out of Him, they go through Him, and they return to Him. 190 Creation came out of God Himself. It was made out of God-particles, and if any of these are lost forever, then the Creator Himself will forever be incomplete. That is why the plan calls for restoration, 191 not separation or destruction.”
“The Town Councils denounced that view many centuries ago. That teaching has not been held since the first few centuries in Kirk history. Long tradition has now established the doctrine of separation.”
“Perhaps that tradition ought to be revisited,” I mused quietly, “for I recall that it was imposed upon the people through much violence, jealousy, and even murder.” 192
“What was that?” the old man asked.
“Nothing,” I replied. To argue further would serve no purpose. Our views were polar opposites, and only a radical intervention of heaven could resolve the conflict.
“Let us depart,” I said to the fellowship. “We have work to do.”
We walked to the edge of town, while the old man returned to his business with the Town Council. As we walked, Joshua pulled me aside and whispered, “While you were at the mountain, I decided to investigate the Town Council. They had a closed meeting today, but I found an open window and was able to hear what they were discussing. They talked of Joseph, and it is clear that they kidnapped him early this morning as he was returning from the Indian village. They conspired with the Town Council of Cosmos, delivering Joseph to them.”
“Why would they do that?” I asked.
“They convinced the Council of Cosmos that Joseph was as much a threat to them as to Newkirk, that he was seeking to overthrow their authority. Not only Newkirk, but Cosmos and the other towns farther down the valley are built upon tribal land. If Chief Hiamovi exerts his authority over all tribal land, then this could affect the entire area.”
“I see. It is plain that they are mostly concerned about losing their positions of power,” I concluded. “That is understandable from their point of view.”
Arriving at the edge of town, where no Council spies could overhear us, Joshua and I shared our concerns with the group. “We know from overhearing the discussion at the Council that Joseph is imprisoned in Cosmos. But since it is getting late today, let us go to Cosmos tomorrow and see if we can find Joseph.”