Saturday, June 22, 2013

Confusion, Part 1

"Have you all lost your MINDS?!"

            Shem looked around in horror at the men gathering and the tools and bricks being organized into piles.  He recognized many of the tools as being inventions of his own father - revelation from God on how to build The Great Ark.  Tools of their very salvation.  Now they were being prepped to be tools of their destruction. 

            She had been afraid of something like this happening ever since they had moved to this plain.  There was something sinister about this place.  As mankind had moved east after The Flood, they had settled on this piece of land that, on the surface, appeared very promising.  There was plenty of soil to cultivate, a good supply of water, and plenty of wildlife to sustain their existence - everything that was needed for their survival.  But Shem had always sensed that there was something in the land itself that was unholy - something they couldn't see but that had lurked beneath the surface, ready to strike.  He had had disturbing dreams of late, dreams of empires rising from the dust of the ground to steal, kill and destroy.  He feared these were visions of what was to come. 

            He had tried to speak to his brothers about his concerns.  As the oldest elders in the tribe of man, and some of the last people that actually experienced the Great Flood that had so shaped their destiny, the three of them held great sway among the people.  He had moved into a priesthood status, his brother Ham was considered a king of sorts, and Japheth had the position of a great elder among the people.  If the three of them had come together and said "we will not establish ourselves here," it would have been enough.  But the brothers, although leaders, were not united in their feelings or beliefs. 

            Ham had been distant and hostile ever since the incident with their father's drunkenness.  From that moment on, there was a schism between his family and Ham's.  Ham resented the curse called down on his lineage, and he scoffed at the idea of Shem's family ruling over his own.  They barely spoke anymore.  Besides, Ham had been the one to advocate settling in this territory.  He had led the people there to start a new life, and instead of dedicating it to the Lord and thanking God for His provision, Ham had encouraged the people in their own endeavors and strength - and selfishness.  Shem knew Ham remembered why they were all still alive and that there was only one God and people needed to follow His ways with fear and trembling.  Why was he doing this?  It was as if Ham's anger and bitterness leftover from that moment of weakness with his father had left Ham at eternal odds with God, and he was  going to do everything he could to rebel.

            Ham was, in fact, in favor of this latest folly, this building to the heavens as a sign of their own importance.  He had encouraged his grandson, Nimrod, to do something that would unite the people and solidify his own power.  Ham had seen the potential in his grandson and wanted to use it to the advantage of his family's position within the tribe.  Nimrod was a mighty warrior and hunter, and he had a natural leadership quality about him.  People followed him.  Ham suggested strongly to him that some sort of physical monument to mark their new home would be a project that would be popular with the people and give him, Nimrod, the opportunity to establish himself as a leader.  Nimrod was smart enough to see the wisdom in such a move, and it was he that suggested creating a tower, a tower so big it could touch the face of God.  It would be a symbol of his power and strength and possibly equate him with the God of the Flood.  Shem had tried, as the spiritual leader of the family, to go to Ham and knock some sense into him, but Ham had refused to see him.  It was clear that the split between their families was growing to an irreconcilable place.  Ham had made his decision about what his life and family was going to be.

            And then there was Japheth.  Shem knew his brother longed to explore the world beyond their little corner of it.  He felt an obligation to go where the majority wanted to go - they had always been together, always moved as a group.  It was how they survived in those first few decades after the Flood.  Alone in all the world, given the task of starting over, their family was bound together with a sense of purpose and loyalty to one another.  However, as time wore on, their families grew larger and larger, and the tribe was no longer a small band of warriors fighting for their existence.  Shem knew Japheth needed a release to move on.  In talking with him about the idiocy of the tower, he could see the pain on his brother's face.  While Ham had intentionally split himself from his brothers, Japheth didn't want to split the family, but Ham's treachery made it harder for Japheth to do what Shem knew deep down he needed to do.  Shem had been before the Lord, asking what to do about Japheth and the longing that Shem knew was hidden in his heart, but so far the Lord had been silent on the matter. 
            As far as the tower went, Japheth knew it was wrong, but he didn't know what to do about it.  He and Shem had discussed in long into the night for many nights.  Japheth simply was not as powerful as Ham and Nimrod.  The people looked to them for guidance.  Japheth was respected as an elder, but Ham held the real power.  Shem was respected and followed as one of God's prophets among them, but given the choice between the two brothers, the people followed Ham, not Shem.  The draw of power and the glittering dazzlement of Nimrod's brand of leadership sent people flocking to them.  Ham's plan for his family to hold the power of the tribe of mankind was working.  Japheth longed to take his family and search for lands far beyond, and Shem knew there needed to be a breaking up of this mass of people to move on to the greater things the Lord had for them across the face of the earth.  But here they all were, bound to this place and this project, allowing themselves to be tied down and stagnant in their growth.

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