Unholy Empire: Chronicles of the Host, Vol 2: Chronicles of the Host, Book 2, page 30
“Listen to me,” pleaded Joshua. “The Lord has promised us this land. He will give it to us if we are willing to fight for it!”
Shammua stood to speak. He had been quiet all along. As a member of the tribe of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel, his opinion carried a great deal of weight with the group. He looked over the faces of the men, glowing from the dying embers of the fire.
“I say this,” he began. “We are to finish this mission and make a report to Moses. But as far as I am concerned, I have seen enough to tell me that we are bringing our families into a hornet’s nest. I for one will not see my wife and children destroyed in this land of demons and giants!”
The group agreed heartily with Shammua’s assessment. Joshua and Caleb were disappointed by the lack of courage among these leading men of Israel. Caleb stormed off into the night and Joshua looked at Shammua.
“You would discourage the plan of Almighty God for our people, because you are afraid?” he asked.
“No Joshua,” said Shammua. “I would discourage the plan of Moses, because it is foolishness!”
Had Joshua been able, he would have seen just off Shammua’s shoulder the reddish eyes and ape-like face of a demon grinning wildly at him.
“Moses, what were you thinking?”
The people were filled with curiosity at the size of the cluster of grapes, which had to be hauled in by two men. They gasped at the pomegranates, dates, olives, and other wonderful foods they had been without for so long. From time to time a child, too young to remember such delights, plucked a grape and tossed it into his mouth, to the amusement of the adults.
Inside Moses’ tent, the leaders of the expedition reported exactly what they had found in Canaan. Before they were allowed to fully give their reports, though, Moses told them to appear before the people who were clamoring for news about their future homeland.
One by one the men addressed the crowd, extolling the wonderful nature of the land and its produce. They spoke of green valleys and plenty of water, great herds of livestock and lush grazing fields. It was truly a wonderful place. But as they spoke, the spirits of fear that had accompanied the explorers in Canaan began arriving and covering the spies’ eyes with their hands. Into unsuspecting but open minds the devils spoke the fearful thoughts that they had cultivated on the journey. Caleb and Joshua, ignored by the offending devils, merely hung their heads in shame as one by one the men reported:
“The people who live there are mighty!”
“The cities are fortified with great walls and well-defended!”
“Great giants, Anak’s very descendants, live there!”
The Israelites recoiled in horror as the men painted a bleak and frightening picture of life in Canaan. Though a place of great beauty and wealth, in spite of its reputation for flowing with milk and honey—all in all, Canaan was to be avoided by any people who wanted to survive. Shammua assessed the situation for all the men with his simple statement: “We were like grasshoppers in our own eyes!”
Lucifer had arrived for the final summation by Shammua. He applauded Pellecus’s subtle intrusion into the minds of the explorers. Pellecus acknowledged Lucifer’s gratitude and began speaking, when suddenly Caleb blurted out:
“We should go and take this land!” he implored. “We can most certainly do it!”
“Silence him!” ordered Lucifer. The devils immediately began moving in and out of the people’s minds. An already tense attitude instantly turned hostile, and the people shouted Caleb down.
“That’s how you deal with dissenters,” said Lucifer. “Human mobs always come together when they are afraid of something.”
Off to the side and keeping careful watch on Joshua, Caleb, Moses, and others who merited special attention from the Most High, Michael and Serus looked at the pitiful display in amazement.
“I shall never understand humans,” said Serus. “The Lord is indeed a longsuffering God to put up with such nonsense.”
“Longsuffering, yes,” agreed Crispin, who had arrived with a group of student angels to demonstrate to them the fickleness of the human heart. “But my feeling is that there is a limit to His patience.”
“But where does one cross the line?” asked Michael. “I for one am ready to move on from these people!”
Crispin laughed. “I’m sure, Michael, that were it up to you or me, these people might have ceased to be long ago. But the Lord is true to His promises. And that is the difference between a creature and a Creator.”
Chronicles of the Host
The evening passed slowly as the people of God became people of fear. On the very edge of realizing a great promise, the Israelites tossed it away on the strength of the bad report.
Many meetings occurred throughout the camp that night, as groups of men discussed the future of the nation. The question that passed every lip was: Can we actually move into this land or not?
There would be a fearful reckoning before the issue was decided…but it was not to be decided by the faithless spies, or faithful men, or even angels, good or bad. It would be decided by the Lord of Hosts…and would affect Israel for the next 40 years…
“This should prove a very interesting meeting,” said Kara, as Moses emerged from his tent with Aaron.
Joshua and Caleb took their places with the two elderly leaders in front of the assembly of Hebrews. The air was filled with a tense feeling of unrest. The men waited until the appropriate time, and then Shammua, encouraged by Korah, stood to speak.
“My demons have been hard at work,” remarked Pellecus. “All night long.”
“I’m sure they have done remarkably well,” said Kara. “Almost as well as my demons might have done, given the chance.”
Pellecus smiled at Kara’s obvious jealousy for having been passed over in this action. “Lucifer calls upon you when an issue requires gathering information,” Pellecus said casually. “But when a subtle approach to the mind is needed, he defers to me.”
“Well,” said Kara. “Let us see how well your demons did. The fool Shammua is about to present the people’s case before Moses.”
Shammua walked over and greeted Moses with great respect. Moses received him coldly and asked him to proceed. All eyes were upon Shammua as he recounted, once more, the excursion into the land. He walked about, stressing his desire “as much as any son of Israel” to claim the land that had been promised them. His tone began to get more and more hostile as he spoke, and in the end he was accusing Moses and decrying the whole idea of entering into Canaan.
As Shammua talked, Pellecus gave a signal. Hundreds of demons began hovering over the assembly, pouring in from every direction and creating a dark covering over the entire scene. Only around Moses and Joshua and a few elders who stood with them, where Michael had set up a parameter of very powerful, hulking warrior angels, was there a break in the darkness.
“Moses, what were you thinking?” Shammua demanded. “We would have been better off never to have left Egypt! In fact we were better off dead there—or in this desert. Here at least we will not have to witness the plunder of our possessions and the murder of our families, which we will surely witness if we proceed with this idea of moving into Canaan.
“I was there, Moses. I saw it. You did not. Only these two who are blindly loyal to you offer up any opposition to the will of the people.” He held up a small child for everyone to see. “Do you want to watch this little one perish at the hands of Anak or on the altar of Molech?”
He set the child down and looked over in the direction of Korah.
“I say it is time to forget this nonsense, select a new leader, and return to Egypt, where at least we know we will survive with our families!”
A cheer went up from the crowd. Devils were buzzing all over the camp, jabbering excitedly and moving in to further agitate the crowd against Moses and his loyalists. Kara was impressed with the scene.
“Your angels are doing a marvelous job, I mu
Pellecus indicated the small, black, shadowy creature that had attached itself to Shammua and seemed to be resting its head on Shammua’s shoulder.
“That is Kreelor.”
“Ah yes,” said Kara. “Formerly the Temple steward. He is still bitter at having been talked into throwing in with us.” He laughed at remembering Kreelor’s pleading ignorance when confronted for his complicity with Lucifer during the attempted rebellion. “He hasn’t spoken to me since we vacated Heaven!”
“He is quite useful now,” said Pellecus. “And as you can see, he is doing quite well handling Shammua.”
“I’ll mention to Lucifer about having him permanently assigned,” said Kara, who was having thoughts about recruiting Kreelor away from Pellecus.
“I already have,” said Pellecus, with a sly look on his face. “And he already is.”
After Shammua’s address to the assembly, Moses and Aaron didn’t say a word, but simply fell to their faces on the ground in shame of what the people were asking.
Joshua angrily tore his clothes and began addressing the people. Serus, ever watchful, stayed right with him as he spoke.
“Israelites! Brothers! Do not do this dreadful thing,” Joshua began. “It is the Lord God of Abraham who brought you out of Egypt to bring you into this land of which we speak. Yes, there will be some challenges. But do not be afraid! The Lord God will go before us into the land and will sweep the enemy before us!”
“I say we stone them here and now,” came a voice.
It was one of Pellecus’s demons. Everyone looked about to see who said it, but it didn’t really matter. People began to pick up on the theme and call for stoning the men on the spot. A few actually picked up stones as people began pulling away from the four men.
Michael stood by, sword drawn, as did his angels, ready to protect and even kill any person who made an attempt on Moses’ life. Serus moved close to Joshua. He did not have the same authority to kill if necessary, but he could more than handle any human that might attempt something. Besides, it really wasn’t humans who concerned him. He was watching the increasing number of both Kara’s and Pellecus’s demons closing in on the group.
Suddenly the devils shrieked and scattered like leaves in a maelstrom, disappearing in every direction. Kara and Pellecus were thrown to the ground in a great shudder as the glory of God burst forth over the tabernacle of meeting. Even the humans saw the brilliant display, so intense that they had to turn their heads from it. Most of them dropped to their faces in fear, humbling themselves before God’s mighty presence. Moses and Aaron stood, helped to their feet by Joshua and Caleb.
Moses entered the tent, with Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb waiting outside. The people remained uncomfortably quiet, fearful of what the verdict would be when Moses returned. Korah managed to slip away to his tent to await the news there. Shammua remained behind with the other spies, trying to encourage them that perhaps this was another of Moses’ tricks.
Michael and Serus waited with everyone else. Gabriel, Crispin, Sangius, and many other leading angels among the loyal Host had arrived as well to hear what judgment the Lord had rendered.
“I fear, Michael, that this time they have gone too far,” said Serus.
Michael remained silent and motioned Serus to do the same. The other holy angels shuddered in reverence at God’s mighty presence and what it portended. Even the normally conversant Crispin remained silent.
Kara had recovered himself by this time and, though he remained on the ground, he managed to skulk away, complaining bitterly of the Lord’s undue interference and questioning the justice of it all. Pellecus, who could hear Kara’s nonsense somewhere behind him, could only shake his head at the foolishness of such a highly placed demon.
When Moses finally emerged from the tent, his face was very grim indeed. All eyes were upon him. Even the children seemed to sense the importance of the occasion and remained quiet. He waited until Aaron stood next to him and then began to speak.
“The Lord your God is slow to anger, abounding in love, and forgiving of sin and rebellion,” he began. “The Lord God has forgiven your insolence and your rebellion in not going up into the land…”
A huge relief moved through the camp as people began to feel a bit more at ease with Moses’ words. Korah, listening from his tent, hung on every word. The 12 spies who were indirectly implicated in the charge were stone-faced and silent, averting their eyes from anyone in particular.
“The Lord God reminded me that you have tested Him ten times now, since He delivered you from bondage in Egypt. You shall therefore not enter the land that He promised you. The Lord declares that since you desire to remain in the wilderness, in the wilderness you shall remain. All of this evil generation from the age of 20 and up shall die here in the desert. You shall not see the land the Lord promised you. Rather your bones shall rot here. Only Joshua and Caleb and their families shall the Lord your God bring into the land. For you have tempted the Lord, and He has spoken against you!”
Moses returned to his own tent. The sounds of anger and bitter complaining gave way to weeping and wailing by the people, who now would remain in the desert until their deaths. Joshua wept as well at the sight of his people, who, because they did not have the faith to endure Canaan, must now have the will to endure the wilderness.
“Such a dark time for the people of God,” commented Crispin finally.
“And a dreary time for angels as well, good teacher,” mused Michael.
In his tent, Korah brooded about the developments. Dathan and a few others were with him. Now Moses had not only arrested his movement toward returning to Egypt, but had relegated the people to hardship in the wilderness for the next 40 years—and under the law that he had composed on the mountain! The more he thought about it, the angrier he got. It was clearly a case of vengeance on the part of Moses to punish the people for not agreeing to his personal dreams of conquest in Canaan.
Evidently Moses had never recovered from losing prestige in Egypt when he went from a ruler to a runaway. And since the people were unwilling to crown him king in Canaan, he now was content to remain a prisoner of Zin.
“Who does he think he is?” came a voice in Korah’s mind.
“Yes. Who does Moses think he is?” thought Korah.
“Are you going to stand by and allow Moses and his family to dictate to millions of people what their destiny is?”
“I cannot simply stand by and allow Moses to rob me of my destiny as a ruler in this nation,” Korah said aloud.
“But what shall we do?” asked Dathan. “Moses has decreed it so.”
“Perhaps it is time to confront him and expose him.”
“We shall expose him for the fraud that he is,” said Korah. “And that sorcerer brother of his as well. We will expose them and then stone them according to the law! They are conjurers and experts in witchcraft and all manner of evil arts that Moses learned in Pharaoh’s house.”
“And then what?” asked Dathan.
“And then I will lead the people back to Egypt and away from this accursed desert. I am of the house of Levi, am I not? Who is Moses to be prince over all of us? If indeed one Levite holds the authority to rule and take us out of Egypt, where at least we were well-fed, then who is to say that another of the tribe of Levi cannot take us back to Egypt? I shall lead the people to the true promised land!”
They exited the tent, agreeing to take the plan up with other key leaders in Israel. Inside the tent, Pellecus said, “Well done, Kara. You certainly know this man’s heart!”
“Of course I know it,” said Kara smugly. “I helped create it!”
Lucifer stood on a hillside, surveying the camp at dusk. He was amazed at how the camp had so quickly settled into the routine and the realization that the desert would be their home for a good many years. Glancing at the tabernacle, where God resided periodically and dramatically, Lucifer sneered with contem
“Well, Most High God,” he said. “It seems that You can never shake Yourself from rebels. It seems that all of Your creatures are bent on escaping Your Presence. Even these pitiful creatures made in Your very image have a rebel nature within their hearts that drives them always away from Your face.
“Law? For these lawless hearts? You truly believe that these sordid and sensual people will be able to abide Your law? They broke it before it was even born on Sinai. And now You desire to build a nation—a kingdom of priests—to carry Your law forward, when they cannot even keep it themselves? I have known You to be a God of the downtrodden and a friend to widows and orphans, Most High. When did You become the God of rebels and outlaws?”
He pointed down at the camp.
“These are Your people, Lord? These who would cast You off in an instant if given the opportunity? The only way You hold them is by terrifying them with great billowy smoke and fire and bloody Niles and blotting the sun! What sort of allegiance is measured by intimidation?
“I suggest that You have failed, O Lord. These people shall never bring forth the Seed that I have so long dreaded. I am more confident than ever that in the end, the base and carnal instincts of humans will always win out over Your clever compelling—even when done with great thunder and lightning!
“In the final outcome, O Lord, You will vacate this miserable world and leave it to fester in the sin that You Yourself created by giving these miserable creatures the ability to turn on You. And I shall be here ready to lead them in a new and glorious season on earth. Stay in the heavens, O Lord, for that is where You belong. But leave earth to me!”
Chronicles of the Host
True to Lucifer’s brash boasting before the Lord, the people were stirred up once more. Korah, a distant relative of Moses, had rallied some 250 other leaders in Israel, determined to end Moses’ leadership and take the people back to Egypt. Once more Moses met a delegation of leading Israelites who questioned his ability and right to rule over them. And once more Moses responded with great authority as given Him by the Most High God…