Unholy empire chronicles.., p.18
Unholy Empire: Chronicles of the Host, Vol 2: Chronicles of the Host, Book 2, page 18
Rachel, the more beautiful of the two girls, next stood in front of her father. Having been barren for years, she had recently given birth to Joseph, who was instantly Jacob’s favorite child. Rachel was the woman Jacob had wanted all along. She too had become a tool in Laban’s hands to keep Jacob at work. Now both of his daughters were leaving for good. It was time to let them go. Laban tenderly kissed his daughter, Rachel, and blessed little Joseph.
Laban said his final farewells and blessed Jacob as he went, “May your God be with you always, Jacob, as He has proven Himself strong all these years. And may He ever be witness to the covenant made between us that we shall never harm each other again!” With that, Laban and his party headed back home to Haran.
The daughters watched their father disappear into the wilderness. Then, as if stirred out of a dream, they began preparing their children for the day’s journey. The activity of a camp on the move was comforting to Jacob. It seemed to him that he was always on the move. Always in search of the next well…or the next pasture…or the next dream. Always pursuing or being pursued—
—by an outraged brother from whom he had stolen a birthright and a blessing
—by an unreasonable father-in-law who had been tricked out of his flocks and did not want to allow his daughters to leave
—by a faithful God, who had made a promise to Abraham and his descendants that they should be blessed and was closing the ring on Jacob even now…
The company of animals, family, and servants made its way west. Jacob couldn’t help but feel a sense of foreboding as the land began to take on familiar features—they were getting closer to home…closer to Isaac…closer to Esau.
They were coming into the land…the very land that had been promised to his grandfather Abraham so many years before. His father, Isaac, had often told Jacob the stories of Abraham’s early wanderings in Canaan: how he met with God as one would meet with a friend; how he was willing to give up his son Isaac on the altar of sacrifice if that was what the Lord required; how Abraham was faithful in so much. Isaac had faithfully burdened the responsibility of leading the family in Canaan; of raising his sons Esau and Jacob and maintaining their closeness with God. Soon it would be Jacob’s turn to lead the family of promise in the Promised Land. His father had always led a simple life of faith in the Lord. Jacob felt so distant from the Lord these days.
He surveyed the arid land around him, peering into the vastness of the open terrain. The sun was beginning to descend into the western horizon, though it was still light enough to see. But it was getting colder as the day gave way to darkness. Jacob searched the twilight sky with his heart and mind.
He could almost feel Abraham looking down upon him from the heavens as he retraced the steps that the patriarch had made so many years earlier. Are you disappointed in me, Father Abraham? Jacob thought in a half-serious-half-cynical frame of mind. I’m sure my father, Isaac, is wondering what ever happened to the family of great promise, Jacob continued in his thoughts. Such promise…two great sons to carry on the heritage!
Jacob chuckled to himself. “What sons of promise! One marries out of the nation—what a scandal that was. The other son is a schemer returning to a land promised to him, but that he hardly even knows!”
Jacob shook his head and laughed a little…then he sighed. And yet, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of destiny in all of this…as if events that had great purpose were overtaking his life in a way that he could not understand. Had not the God of Abraham and Isaac prospered him even while he had been under Laban’s bondage?
God had remained faithful all the time he was away from his father and mother, hiding from the wrath of his brother Esau. The reality of the living God began to encompass Jacob in a way that he had never before realized. His heart was pricked a little as he wondered whether somehow he could know the Lord as his grandfather had…as a friend.
He shook himself from such a foolish notion. How could one whose name meant “deceiver” be a friend to the God of his fathers? Perhaps Esau should have received the birthright after all. Just maybe God would choose another family…another Abraham. Then Jacob could live out his days a wealthy shepherd with family and privilege.
But he knew too much about the promises of God from his fathers. That God would make good on His word to the family…that there was much more at stake than Jacob’s little concerns…that somehow the world was to be blessed through the holy covenant that God had made with Abraham.
If only there was a way to be a part of all this, Jacob thought. He then did something he hadn’t done with real intensity in a very long time.
“God of my father, Isaac, and grandfather, Abraham. If You are truly wanting my family to be blessed, and to be a blessing, I pray You would give me a sign that You are leading me…”
“There he is,” a voice said from the darkness. “There is Jacob.”
“And what are we to tell him?” asked another.
“We are not to say a word,” came the answer.
Before he could even finish his prayer, Jacob saw several figures appear before him on either side of the roadway. Expecting his mount to become frightened, he gripped the rein a little tighter. The animal passed on, totally unaware of the angelic presences. Jacob rubbed his eyes, blaming the sighting on the twilight dimness that was closing in. He passed one of the figures on his right and looked around to see if anyone else could see them. He then turned to see if the apparitions were still there—expecting them to be gone. But there they stood!
“This is where we will camp tonight!” Jacob shouted to the caravan. “This is the camp of God!”
He turned again to see the angels, but they were no longer there. He squinted his eyes to make sure and looked one more time. Only darkness.
“My lord, there is water nearby,” said a servant. “We will go and fill the jars and water the animals.”
“Good,” said Jacob. “Tell me. Did you see anything a few minutes ago?”
“Not that I know of, my lord,” said the servant. “Should I have?”
“Apparently not,” mused Jacob. “Thank you.”
The servant turned to leave, puzzled by his master’s question. The noise of the camp being set up brought Jacob out of his reverie. He found his wives and began telling them everything that had happened. He called the place “Mahanaim” or “double camp,” because, in addition to his own camp, it was quite obvious that there was an unseen camp nearby—of the Host of Heaven. They were indeed a “double camp”!
The fact that he had seen angels gave Jacob a greater confidence that whatever happened to him and his family, the Lord was watching over the situation. He surveyed the camp as it settled down into the evening’s routine. How fortunate he was to possess such capable and loyal servants. He watched as the men divided up the night’s routine of watching, waiting, and securing the animals.
Later that evening, the smell of a meaty stew served by Leah jolted Jacob’s memory. He looked at the thick red mixture of meat and herbs and, as the steam entered his nostrils, his mind took him instantly to another time…another place…another stew…a very costly stew…
The shout of triumph from the field told the tale: Esau had hunted successfully again. This time it was an old boar which had been rooting around the camp for some time but had proven itself illusive. Esau was determined to hunt down this wild pig and kill it. Today he had succeeded.
Jacob and his mother, Rebekah, watched Esau’s athletic figure romping towards them through the fields around Beer Lahai Roi. Rebekah held Jacob closely at her side as Isaac (her husband and the father of the two boys) ran out to greet Esau. Esau’s front was covered with the blood of the great beast and in his hands were the large tusks—a trophy of his greatest kill to date.
“I did it, Father, I did it!” shouted Esau. “I killed that wild pig! You should have seen him go down. He never even knew that I was on his heels, tracking him like a lion…”
Isaac listened wit
“I suppose you had to fight the pig for the knife,” Jacob finally blurted out sarcastically. He felt Rebekah tighten her grip upon him. “Was that the blind old boar that has lived around here since Grandfather Abraham was herding?”
“Poor Jacob. You’ll never make a hunter, will you? I don’t know if you’ll even make a man,” returned Esau. “Did we truly come from the same womb?”
“That’s enough, Esau,” Isaac interrupted. “You and your brother must stop this constant fighting about your life’s paths. God has chosen a different part for Jacob. Not everyone can be a man of the fields like you. Some are assigned…well…other roles in life. By that I mean…” Isaac was getting uncomfortable in his monologue. “Well anyway, it was a fine hunt, Esau. Where is the animal?”
“Just on the other side of the black rock, near the big cedar tree,” answered Esau, pointing.
“Take me to him, my son,” said Isaac. “I would like to see your kill!”
The two walked off together in the direction from which Esau had come. Jacob held back bitter tears.
“Why doesn’t Father love me as he does Esau? he asked.
“Do not worry, my son. Esau is the comfort of Isaac. You are my comfort. Esau is a hunter and a lover of the outdoors, much like his father. God has made you a man of the tents. But remember, yours is the greater destiny!”
The destiny business again, Jacob thought. How many times had his mother told of the circumstances of the twins’ birth. Of how the prophecy described two nations within her; how the older brother would serve the younger; how Esau had been born first, and how Jacob came out with his hand around Esau’s heel, thus earning the name “Jacob” or “one who would be a supplanter.” Destiny is a wonderful thing if it is practical. But Jacob simply couldn’t see how Esau would ever serve anyone—much less the brother he despised…
Blurred images began racing through Jacob’s mind—bits and pieces that vividly recalled the shame of his name: a savory stew…Esau’s appetite…Jacob’s plan…a bargain made…right of firstborn for the price of the stew…Esau swears to this…he eats and drinks…the deal is done…
More images: A dying old man…another plan…Jacob deceives his father, Isaac…lies…Jacob steals Esau’s blessing…Esau’s return…a mournful weeping from the tent…rage…“Run away, Jacob, run away!”…hasty departure…guilt…despair…fugitive…
“Yes…what is it?” answered Jacob vacantly. He had been lost in thought ever since the red stew was set before him.
“We met with your brother, Esau, as you commanded,” said Jacob’s servant. Jacob saw the company of men whom he had earlier sent out standing before him. The fact that they had already returned indicated that Esau must not be very far.
“Good. And what does my brother mean to do?” asked Jacob.
“He is coming to meet you—and in force,” the servant answered. He described Esau’s band of about four hundred men who were even now making their way toward Jacob.
“Esau will settle this his way,” Jacob surmised. “Here is what you are to do. Divide the camp into two groups so that at least part of us will survive an attack.
“It will be done according to your word,” replied the servant. “And may the God of your fathers go with us.”
Jacob prayed to God. He reminded the Lord that he was returning to Canaan as He had instructed; he prayed for deliverance from the hand of Esau; and he reaffirmed the promise made to his family that they would become a great nation. You can’t make a nation out of a dead man, Jacob thought to himself as he prayed.
Having sought God for protection, Jacob now developed a plan of his own. Perhaps if he could not defeat his brother outright, he could buy him off. He instructed the servants to begin taking parts of the herd out towards Esau, leaving at different intervals so that there would be spaces of time between groups. As they approached Esau, the servants would explain that these were gifts from his brother Jacob, who was returning in peace. Jacob watched as the peace offerings went out of the camp in separate groups: goats, rams, ewes, cows, donkeys, and bulls.
Maybe now when Esau sees my face I will find acceptance, Jacob hoped.
As he watched the last group of animals and servants cross the Jabbok, Jacob prepared his own family for the crossing. Leah, Rachel, the two handmaidens and the 11 children said their goodbyes and went on ahead, taking most of Jacob’s personal effects. He watched them cross the little stream. He was quite alone…or was he?
“Who’s out there?”
Jacob could see a figure in the starlit night standing on the out-skirts of the abandoned camp. The stranger stood motionless. He called out again.
Perhaps it is another angel, he thought to himself. Jacob decided to investigate. Slowly, crawling through the brush, he crept up on the figure. By now he could see that it was clearly a man. Could Esau’s party already be upon me? he wondered.
When he was only a few feet away from the man, who remained motionless, Jacob sprang into action. He jumped upon the intruder and grabbed him, throwing him to the ground. The two men began wrestling with each other, a tremendous contest of wills and strength. Dust flew in the air as they rolled on the ground, each unwilling to let up his grip on the other.
“Why doesn’t he simply defeat the human?” asked one of the angels watching the battle. “Jacob could be beaten easily.”
“Because Jacob is learning a valuable lesson from the Most High,” said the familiar voice of Crispin.
He was leading an excursion of some of his students from the Academy, instructing them in the ways of men. He had come to teach how angels can be instrumental in human history in very positive ways when they act in the authority of the Lord.
“Teacher, what is the lesson here?”
“What would you surmise is the lesson being taught here to the man Jacob?”
Crispin looked at his students, proud as a father of his newborn child, as they watched intently the conflict between the angel and the man. He loved to see his students thinking so keenly. So refreshing from the days when the Academy was being infected with Lucifer’s proud doctrines.
“I believe Jacob is being taught to persist in things that matter to humans,” offered a student.
“Indeed?” responded Crispin. “Such as…”
“Well…security, material possessions which seem to hold men’s hearts so easily. I believe Jacob is learning to fight for what he has!”
“Hmm. Interesting,” mused Crispin. “But I would suspect that part of the problem that humans have is fighting for those things they have…or wish to have. It’s called war, and it results in many deaths on this bloodstained planet.”
“I think he is learning that he must face his fears,” said another. “The angel is here as a symbol of all that Jacob fears!”
“Very good!” said Crispin. “And what is it that Jacob fears?”
The conversation stopped for a few seconds as the pair of wrestlers tumbled right in front of the group of angels. Jacob had just about pinned the angel when he was thrown off in another direction, groaning in his fatigue. The angels continued their discussion.
“I believe Jacob fears Esau,” said the angel, with just a hint of pride.
“True, true,” agreed Crispin. “He does indeed fear Esau. Yet he intends to face him tomorrow.”
Finally an angel stepped to the front. This was a student named Joel, whose name meant “The Lord is God.” He was a worship angel who was receiving instruction from Crispin in order to begin teaching at the Academy of the Host.
“Teacher, Jacob fears that
Crispin turned to the student, who was fast becoming one of his favorites. He gave him a proud smile.
“Just so,” Crispin responded. “And well put, Joel.” He pointed to the man who was breathing heavily from the exertion with the angel.
“Jacob is not fighting an angel. Jacob is fighting Jacob.”
“What do you mean, teacher?” one of the students asked.
“Jacob has been at war with himself since he was a child. Humans have a distinct need to know something about themselves. I know it sounds bizarre. But humans are born into this world without a knowledge of who they really are. Their heritage was damaged in Eden. Thus, they look for themselves in everything but their own hearts.
“The many temples dedicated to gods, which are either born in the minds of men or encouraged by our fallen brothers, are merely the human attempt to know who they really are—ultimately they are searching for the Most High with whom they were once connected.”
“But they have broken fellowship with the Lord,” said another. “How can they possibly know that they have need of Him—unless He tells them?”
“He does tell them,” said Crispin. “Or how often has the Lord spoken to humans in their dreams? Remember Jacob’s dream at Haran? Or how often did the Lord speak to Abraham as he looked at the starry night sky? Recall that the Most High told Abraham his heritage would be as many as the stars in the evening sky.
“Mostly, however, the Lord speaks to the spirit of man—his very heart. And though fellowship is broken, as some of you have pointed out, humans still maintain enough of the image of God to realize that He is indeed real, and that the most important mission in life is to discover Him. Thus we have the fraudulent temples set up in the names of demon gods who seek to deceive until the man’s last breath; and thus we have our Lord, who has promised that one day through the Seed of Eve would come a hero to vanquish this darkness once and for all.”
by D. Brian Shafer have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes