While the death of Isaac has been the most difficult challenge in his life, Nahum continues to look for answers. When he meditates daily, he often will sit for over an hour, alone, thinking of events in his life, trying to replace Isaac’s loss with memories of the amazing blessings God has provided him.
Yesterday, in his meditative state, he brought back the memory of his granddaughter being born.
His memory went like this:
The sounds of horses’ hooves bounding through the early morning mist startled Ruth as she was feeding her chickens early one Saturday morning. She was relieved when the horse and rider came close and she saw it was Samuel and he was smiling, she was very relieved. He got down from his horse and told Ruth that if she wanted to see her new granddaughter, she best be on her way to Elisabeth’s home as soon as possible. The rider then said he had a few more miles to go to tell Elisabeth’s folks the same news.
It was a matter of minutes until Nahum had the team hitched to the wagon and they were off to see their new granddaughter. The two families arrived a few minutes apart and by this time Hannah had Elizabeth and baby sister all cleaned up waiting for their families to arrive.
It had been a bit of a surprise birth as they thought Elizabeth had a couple more weeks before delivery, but as Ezra said to his mother, you know what little girls do they march to their own drummer. Everyone was delighted; first of all, that both mom and baby were healthy, but also for little Paul who told everyone that it was a sister in his mommy’s tummy; he was right!
The families enjoyed their visit but decided to return home late in the afternoon, leaving the young family in the capable hands of Miriamne, Hannah and Ezekiel. They would return next week for more celebrations.
When the baptismal for little sister was held, she had not been named, Paul kept calling her simply “sissy”! At the ceremony Elizabeth asked Miriamne to come sit beside her; the fragile lady was so pleased for everyone, knowing they had been blessed with a son and now a daughter.
Elizabeth asked for everyone’s attention and started making a little speech. She thanked everyone for their kindness and generosity, for the wonderful family and group of friends they share, and then she said there was one couple who really had changed their lives, and for the better, as it turned out, and that couple was Yohanan and Miriamne.
This startled the aged lady as she was not expecting it! She looked a bit dazed by it all and was at a loss for words. Elizabeth recognized this and quickly drew the lady close to her and announced that their new baby was going to be called Miriamne! This really surprised her to the point where both Hannah and Ruth came over to give her added support. By now the tears were flowing like tiny rivers. She looked up at Elizabeth and said oh, Yohanan would be so pleased, but realizing she did not mention herself, she said of course I am too.
This broke the tension and everybody had a little chuckle which she enjoyed. Ezekiel was the one who said we need to make a toast to Yohanan, Miriamne, Elizabeth and Miriamne. Everybody cheered and raised their mugs. It was a wonderful happy occasion for Nahum The Carpenter and his family and friends.
Those memories filled him with joy and temporarily replaced his sorrow.
Today, he continued his pleasant memory theme by recalling the wedding of his second son Ezekiel. Of course, his recall started by giving thanks to God again for the recovery of his son from the dreaded fever he came home with.
The wedding of Hannah and Ezekiel took place after Ezekiel had made two trips into the country spreading the Jesus story to some of the more remote towns and villages.
Nahum smiled as he was meditating as he recalled the story Ezra had told him after his brothers wedding. It went like this:
Ezra was very proud of his brother and enjoyed his company. Ezra was one who liked to remember things from the past. Zeke would occasionally laugh at Ezra when he brought up stories from years ago. They both had a good laugh when Ezra asked Zeke if he remembered the night, he told his dad he did not want anything to do with that smelly leather shop. It was a fond memory! I think our two lives have worked out quite well after going in two very different directions.
Ezra was bringing up some of the old days for a reason, he was mentally preparing for Zeke’s up coming marriage and he wanted to secretly get Zeke’s help in what he remembered and what he found funny or embarrassing. Ezra would use that at his wedding.
As one would expect, the wedding was causing a stir in and around the east end of Jerusalem. Ezekiel, along with Isaac, had preached to many people about this man Jesus and they had made many friends. People were loving the message they presented, basically to love your fellow man and to learn to forgive, also many of the old Jewish traditions were replaced with direct prayer to Almighty God through his son Jesus Christ. People liked this new way of worshipping.
Also, Hannah had become well known in all the communities around the clinic for her professional and loving manner in which she took care of her patients. It did not matter what religion, colour or creed, she treated them all fairly.
This meant many people were interested in the wedding of this young couple. Ezra and Elizabeth along with family decided on a very special wedding day for Zeke and Hannah.
Nahum pointed out to Ezra that since these Jesus following people were now being persecuted by both Jewish factions as well as Romans, that a quiet wedding might be the be the safest for all concerned.
Ezra discussed his options with his horse owner friends, with family and with some of his customers. It was decided to spread the word of the wedding quietly but widely and not to broadcast it to the public. They also decided to have the wedding ceremony on Yohanan’s church allocated property with the reception held in the fields of Ezra’s farm.
While Ezra was stressing and planning for the wedding, Nahum was spending many hours praying to God for advice. He wanted to speak to Claudius, the Roman Commander of the army around Jerusalem.
Nahum’s shops did a lot of business with the Roman army, fixing their wagons, carts, harness and leather sandals and clothing, but the contact with the army was purely business with literally no personal dialogue between the parties.
Finally, Nahum felt he had God’s approval to approach Claudius.
Claudius told Nahum that Rome had directed him to leave the new Jesus people alone as long as they did not cause any trouble. He added that he and his men appreciated the professional and quality workmanship Nahum’s shops provided. So, therefore he assured Nahum they would be safe.
Nahum rode back home a very happy man. He sang and praised God all the way to his home where he shared the news with Ruth, and later with Ezra.
The wedding took place as planned, it started out as a rainy wet day, but by noon it was sunny. Ezra had arranged with some friends to look after the guest’s horses and mules in his fields while the guests partied.
Isaac conducted a wonderful ceremony, stressing the contributions of the young couple to both the new Jesus church and the medical centre that helped so many people. Following the ceremony, a huge reception was enjoyed by the guests, many of whom brought food and wine to the happy occasion. After dinner Ezra, aided by his talented wife Elizabeth gave a very humorous, loving roast of his brother. The crowd loved it and cheered at every joke Ezra told.
The celebrations lasted until the next morning when the guests retrieved their horses and mules and found their wagons and drove home.
Ezekiel and Hannah took a similar trip that Ezra and Elizabeth had taken a few years ago and spent three lovely days in a seaside resort.
They returned and immediately started setting up their new home. The next day Hannah returned to her clinic and Ezekiel met with some of his brothers to plan how they could continue to worship Jesus and avoid persecution. It was a very stressful time for the new Christ people.
A new fear is gripping the city of Jerusalem! There are rumors of a Roman attack on the city in the next few years. The attack will be against the Jews, but the new Christians are worried they may be part of the attack too. Many have already fled to other countries.
Nahum and his boys have discussed the possibility of an attack either by Jews or Romans. Considering their relationship with many Jewish customers and the recent non-threatening actions of the Roman soldiers they have agreed to continue living their lives as they have been for seventy years.
Nahum and family are feeling safe, but many of their friends and customers have been slaughtered by Jewish rebels as they try to eliminate the followers of Jesus.
The Jews are also shocked and angry thousands of Jews are converting to this new Christianity every day. Even in time of persecution, Jesus word is bringing in new followers.
Nahum, while so grateful for all of Gods love and provisions but was a very worried man now.
The photo shows, “Maria, Sister of Lazarus, and Jesus,” Nikolay Ge, painted in 1864.