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This is the third book in The Anava Chronicles, focusing on the main theme of Divine Provision. We go back in time to Israel during their Philistine captivity to interact with Samson and Samuel, first when the boys are five years old, and then again when they are twenty. We keep the feast of Tabernacles at Shiloh with Rephah's family and Samuel, showing the connection between the seven main speeches of Moses and the first seven miracle-signs in the book of John.
Category - Biblical Novels
According to the law, the dead—and those who touched the dead—were unclean for a full week. 168 Hence, Eleazar and his mother had to set up a makeshift tent outside of the camp, and they chose a spot that would be close to Pegasus and Pleiades. The horses decided to remain with them, rather than join with us in the sukkah for the law study. Sippore, however, flew back and forth between the two camps.
Sipporah and I remained in the main tent with Nathan, and because there was now more room, Shalam was also invited to stay with us. Sipporah fixed a hasty meal, for in the excitement of the late morning, we had all neglected to eat. Samuel joined us once again, and after the meal, we gathered in the Sukkah once again to meditate upon the law.
Samuel began to recite the seventh speech of Moses: “When a man takes a woman and marries her, then it shall be, if she finds no favor in his eyes, because he has found in her some matter of shame, that he shall write her a scroll of divorcement, and put it into her hand, and shall send her forth out of his house.” 169
He paused for a moment with a puzzled look on his face. “It has just occurred to me,” he said slowly, “that Israel is married to God. She became God’s wife at Mount Horeb when she took marriage vows. But Israel immediately worshiped the golden calf and committed adultery with other gods.”
“That adulterous condition has only gotten worse over time,” Nathan said. “Is it possible that this might threaten the marriage itself? Is it possible that God might divorce His wife?”
“Well, certainly, we see that the law gives God the right to divorce Israel,” I responded.
“The fact that He has not yet done so shows the patience and mercy of God,” Nathan observed.
“Yet His glory has already departed,” Samuel said. “Is that not a form of divorce?”
“I believe that this is a partial divorce,” I said. “God is divorcing Ephraim which has hosted the presence of God here at Shiloh. But His presence will return to Judah, so this is not yet a full divorce. Judah must also be given opportunity to be a pure wife that is in fellowship with the Shekinah.”
“Are you saying, then, that this divorce will be completed later?” Samuel asked.
“Yes,” I said. “I know many things that will happen in the future, and I can assure you that what I have said is true. 170 But all is not lost. Though the glory will depart from Judah as well, it will never depart from the remnant of grace. In the end, God never intended to dwell in tents or temples. His intent was always to indwell our hearts by faith. The hearts of the faithful will be His final resting place. He planned this from the beginning.”
Samuel continued reading the law until he came to the law about pledges: “No one shall take a handmill or an upper millstone in pledge, for he would be taking a life in pledge… nor take a widow’s garment in pledge.” 171
“As you know,” I interrupted, “pledges are given by debtors to their creditors as security for debts. In the law, all sin is reckoned as a debt. Because all have sinned, we owe a debt to God against Whom we have sinned.”
“When Earthyman sinned, God took Earthyman’s spiritual garment of glory as a pledge on his debt,” Sipporah added, “and gave him a garment of animal skin with no glory in its place. 172 But the day will come when Earthyman’s debt is paid by the Messiah’s blood. Then will God give back the pledge that He took from us, and we will again be seen in His likeness.”
“Are not the sacrifices on the altar sufficient to pay the debt?” Shalam asked with interest.
“Animal sacrifices are only temporary,” Samuel replied. “This I have learned. Only the blood of the Messiah can fully remove sin and the debt that was incurred. Our faith is in Him, for we believe the promise of God that will yet be fulfilled. For this reason, even though His glory has now departed from Shiloh, it resides in our hearts.”
“The day will come, after the death of the Messiah,” I said, “that the Shekinah will come upon His people in a more observable manner. Then will the earthly sanctuary be abolished, for it will be obsolete.”
“So when the Messiah pays the debt,” Shalam asked, “will God then return to His people the glorious garments that have been taken as pledge on Earthyman’s debt?”
“Not exactly,” I answered. “When the Earthyman’s debt is paid, God will owe us those garments, but He will choose to give us His Spirit as a pledge—as if He is our debtor!” 173
“That is strange indeed,” Nathan said. “How can God become a debtor to us? Surely He is not a sinner!”
“No, debts can be incurred without sin, as you know,” I said, “nor is it a sin to be a debtor. This is a great secret of the divine plan, and I caution you not to teach this openly, for few would understand at this time and place. He has decided to keep those spiritual garments, holding them in heaven until a more opportune time when the plan has been completed and His people are fully ready to receive what is theirs.
“Meanwhile, His Spirit will be poured out upon His people as a pledge until He returns the spiritual garments. 174 He has determined by the Providence of His own will that many more things must come to pass, during which time God will remain a Debtor to His people—those who have received the pledge of His Spirit.”
“Yet as you know,” I continued, “a pledge is a promise to pay, so God’s people will be assured of a full resolution to this divine debt to His children—and ultimately, to all flesh.”
“That is difficult to comprehend,” Nathan said.
“Men will not fully understand it until the end,” Sipporah said. “It has not yet been revealed to men today, for the time has not yet come for the original debt to be paid—or shall I say, reversed.”
“All will be revealed more fully as time unfolds the divine plan in history,” I said. “If you speak to others of these things, you must speak in parables and riddles. But your eyes and ears are blessed to know such revelation ahead of time.”
“Then let us proceed in our study of the law,” Samuel said. As he recited the various laws on neighborly relations, we took note how often Moses emphasized how the law was to be applied equally to all, including widows, orphans, and even foreigners. “You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt.” 175
“In other words,” Samuel explained, “as Israelites who were oppressed in Egypt and treated unequally, we know how that feels. God would have us remember this, so that we do not do the same to others.”
“You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small,” Samuel continued. “You shall have a full and just weight and measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which Yahweh your God gives you. For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly, is an abomination to Yahweh your God.” 176
Samuel paused. “In another place 177 where this law is stated, it is linked to our treatment of foreigners, saying, ‘The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement, of weight or capacity.’ This tells us that the law of equal weights and measures was a command to treat all men equally.”
“Yet we are even now being treated unequally by the Philistines,” Nathan said.
“Yes,” Samuel said sadly. “God has brought us back into the house of bondage, much like when our forefathers were in Egypt. We are having to learn again what it is like to be treated unequally. But God’s intent was not that we should adopt their ways, but that we should learn the contrast between the ways of men and the ways of God.”
Just then Sippore flew into the sukkah, where we were discussing the law, and landed upon Sipporah’s shoulder, whispering in her ear. “It is Eleazar,” Sipporah said to us. “The guards have taken him to the tabernacle.”
“We must go immediately!” Samuel said. “I do not think that the High Priest wants to rejoice with him and Rebekah. They probably want to investigate the miracle—probably to try to discredit it in the eyes of the people.”
We left immediately and made our way quickly to the gate where Eli was seated. The hearing had already begun.