The boy washed the dust from his feet and sighed. He was grateful that tomorrow he would finally meet the person they had travelled so far to see. An audience with the king had been granted for the following day.
His master was resting having studied the sky once more and retired to bed having been disappointed. There had been much discussion among the scholars and the young boy had understood their frustration.
He had laughed at their excitement that night just over a year ago when his master, Alim, had come across an uncharted star in the night sky. He had been studying a separate constellation when Alim had called for everyone to witness the birth of a new star. The scholar had been mapping the small northern constellation of Aquila, the Eagle, when he had found the new light in the night sky.
Nuri and the other students returned to their studies of Leo with new emphasis. The king of all planets, Jupiter had been completing its backward loop near the star Miyan, one of the four royal stars in the sky. The masters began to link the two events.
These events had changed everything. The phenomenon had been debated into the early hours. The interpretation of the discovery of the new star had signalled the birth of a very special person and the movement of the planets told of the most significant king that history had provided.
For the next few weeks, plans were made and provisions gathered. The entire group of 18 masters and their choice of students were focussed on paying tribute to such a person.
The boy looked up and surveyed Aquila, imagining the open wings of the eagle in flight and the new light still shone, although it had faded a little.
Nuri has continued to check that his journey is worthwhile. He has been surrounded by blue tinged mist for months, doubting the importance of the task. He is young and is learning the ways of his people. He has many questions. Maybe, by his journey’s end he will find some of the answers.
He smiles a little as he imagines the wings of the eagle.
The Creator made the stars and knows them by name. He sets them on their courses.
I remember the day He created that particular star, along with the multitude of lights in the universe. He held back the light from that star so that it would reach the earth at the right moment. He knew He would need to rescue the Remnant before he even created them.
What mercy! What grace! What glory! That He would not change his mind but provide a way for the Remnant to be reunited with Him.
I watch as he moves past the guard and joins the group. He settles down quietly in the camp set up away from the town, where there is privacy and greater safety. They do not want to draw attention to themselves.
Nuri straightened his robes and his master, Alim, frowned at him, warning him not to fidget. The group had assembled at the entry to the palace in the northwest corner of the city walls of the city of Jerusalem. They had drawn attention to themselves as they entered the city walls. They were certainly foreigners in this land.
The king sat straighter on the throne, and smiled smugly, as the large doors were opened and the group filed into the court.
I draw my sword.
Nuri is struck by the regal splendour but fails to see as I do. In the physical world, the marble walls gleam, but spiritually, the palace is falling apart, a ruin, destroyed by the authorities that sit with the king. These creatures feel they have no need to hide in this kingship of convenience. Both are mature and believe they have nothing to fear from me, yet they will not harm these travellers. They have fashioned their own thrones, and sit as if there is little more to be done.
The crown sits crudely and awkwardly on the human’s head. He was never made to wear a crown. The jewels shimmer in the sunlight streaming in through the window, but they are nothing more than rust and trinkets.
I sweep away some of the lying haze that fills this place.
‘You are presented to King Herod the Great,’ the court official said as he gestured with his arm.
‘Majesty!’ Alim bowed his head.
‘Ah yes!’ the king began to sip from his goblet. ‘My advisors told me of you. Why do you seek favour with me?’
Nuri frowned at the king. There were so many guards nearby, yet he could not find anything other than the wealth that would suggest this man to be ruler. He began to doubt what the night sky had predicted. How could anything great come from this man?
The scholar spoke clearly. ‘We have travelled from the East and wish to pay homage to the King.’
‘Excellent!’ the king replied.
‘Excuse me,’ Alim stuttered, ‘Not to you, majesty, but to the King born 16 moons ago.’
‘Yes, we assumed it was your child.’
‘Not at all.’ Herod’s face reddened. ‘I have not had any children these past few years. Tell me, you say this child was born 16 moons ago, how do you know such a child exists.’
‘The stars foretold it,’ the master replied, ‘We saw his star when it rose and it is positioned over Judea. It tells of the King of the Jews.’
The king turned to the official. ‘Do you and your community know of any child?’
‘No sire,’ he said. ‘But there was rumour, well more gossip, of a remarkable event surrounding a baby a short while ago.’
‘What baby? Why wasn’t I told?’
‘Like I say, it was merely gossip that originated within the townsfolk. We did not consider it worth reporting. The story was so outrageous!’
‘That is for me to decide,’ Herod replied angrily. ‘Call for the priests and teachers to come at once.’
There was a flurry of activity as the message was sent out and a deadly silence chilled the room.
‘Perhaps,’ Herod said finally turning to the foreigners, ‘You would like to rest a little. I will have a meal made ready for you.’ He did not wait for a reply, but stepped down from his throne and left the room followed closely by a regiment of guards.
Now they stand and pace, sulphur streaming from their nostrils and thick tar seeping from their limbs.
The King of the Jews has arrived. They can no longer claim that name.
It was almost nightfall before Herod came and joined them.
‘I have had the scriptures searched,’ he said solemnly. ‘The prophet Micah talks of this king.’ He unfurled a piece of paper and read. ‘”But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”’ Taking no care with the paper and slightly screwing it up in his hand, the king turned to Alim. ‘So, it appears that you have discovered the birth of this child, this one who will rule Israel. He is to be born in Bethlehem, just a little south from here.’
Nuri’s heart beat fast. They had found the missing information for this nation. He was amazed that a prophet had declared such a wonder, yet the people had not sought out the king for themselves.
‘I wonder,’ Herod said quietly. ‘I wish to bring my own worship to this king, but I am unable to leave my duties here. Would you find this child and return to me with the news of where I can find him?’
‘Of course,’ Alim said joyfully. ‘You shall be able to worship the King of your people, the King of the Jews.’
Herod smiled and nodded, yet Nuri did not think that the smile reached his eyes.
‘You should be on your way,’ Herod announced. ‘This child must be found.’
Before Nuri could grasp what was happening, the whole group had been ushered from the palace and were on their way back to their camp.
The night sky was clear.
The new star led the men to Judea, but there is more to be seen in the heavens tonight. The scholars have been watching and tonight the Creator will guide them again.
Two planets, so far from the earth that most would consider them stars, align themselves. Human records do not show the last time this happened, but I remember it. Another king was born under such an event, a king that the Remnant considers was their greatest king; King David. He would only be surpassed by the Messiah, the one whose every breath, action, word, thought and deed would fully be after the heart of the Creator.
The brightness draws the attention of the group. Nuri is excited once again, not tired from the distance he has walked, but energised by the discovery of the King. The travellers will not rest tonight.
As the earth rotates the planets appear to change direction, away from Jerusalem and towards Bethlehem. The men follow and all those that have camped with them, the women and servants, pack the camels and prepare to move on.
I stay close by.
Nuri wondered why the shortest journey always felt like the longest. It had only taken them three hours to reach the small town even at their slow pace. He had followed the master into the town leaving the group in a nearby valley to set camp once more; some friendly shepherds had offered water from their well.
Alim and Nuri wove through the quiet streets since everyone had retired to bed. The master kept looking up at the stars.
‘Master, what are we looking for?’
‘Nuri,’ the master replied. ‘Can you see that the planets are yet to overlap?’
Nuri stared up at the two bright lights. ‘But they are so close.’
‘Exactly!’ the master said smiling. ‘If we can find the place where they converge, I believe we will find the King. Since he is not to be found in the palace, he will be found among the people.’
They searched until they stopped outside a very small house with an open workshop to one side. The ground was neatly swept but a pile of wood shavings had been collected in the corner by the wind. A simple milking stool and animal trough were pushed up against the wall. They were clean and unused as if they had just been made.
Despite the small size of the house, the door was beautifully made. Delicate carving covered the surface. Even in the hushed night, Nuri could see the detail of the vine, heavily laden with ripe fruit.
I am happy to see my friend Liberate.
‘Well met!’ I laugh as I clasp his hand. ‘I can’t stay long, but I will be back tomorrow. How is He doing?’
‘Walking! His mother keeps a close eye on him, but I am here too.’ Liberate pauses.
‘What is it?’ I ask, concerned for my friend.
‘I still do not understand why the Creator would be so vulnerable. Why He would scrape his knees, why He would teethe, why He would learn to speak when it was His voice that spoke it all into being in the first place.’ Liberate sighed. ‘It makes no sense and yet perfect sense at the same time. He is due all praise and worship.’
I laugh at him. ‘I know!’ We begin to chuckle.
‘You still have some work to do don’t you?’ Liberate says patting me on the back.
‘I certainly do. I will see you tomorrow.’
I flare and arrive at the camp.
All is quiet. Even Nuri, with his unanswered questions, has returned and drifted off to sleep.
Each human is unique. Each considers the world it sees with different eyes and comes to different conclusions. My task tonight is to convey a single message.
Placing my hands out in front of me, palms down, I bring stillness to the air. Then, with a quick succession of swirls with my fingers I create an eddying mist. I gather the mist in my arms and lay it gently over the sleeping men and companions.
The chatter was minimal in the camp as the masters gathered the gifts and loaded the donkey. Nuri wondered why everyone seemed a little distant when their journey was near its end. Although he was tired himself after a dream filled night.
He yawned as he approached the men
‘Did you not sleep well either?’ Alim asked.
Nuri shook his head. ‘I had a dream and couldn’t get back to sleep for a long time.’
‘King Herod appear in your dream?’
‘Yes!’ Nuri said surprised.
‘And what happened?’
‘I was walking into the palace and there weren’t any guards there. It was really dark, but not just without light, it was something heavier than that. Then king Herod tapped me on the shoulder, but before I could turn he had stabbed me with his dagger.’
‘Interesting,’ the master replied, smiling sadly. ‘It seems the king has murder on his mind, be it by sword, dagger, spear or drowning. We have each seen a differing method.’
‘What shall we do?’ asked Nuri biting down on his lip.
‘We shall pay homage to the true King and return home another way.’
They have listened and understood.
Nuri and his master showed the others the place the planets indicated. People stared as the procession of masters and students went past. Their lavish colours and rich fabrics and unusual fashion made them stand out. As they approached the vine carved door, a young woman came out carrying a beaker and plate of freshly baked biscuits. She passed the drink and food to a slightly older man and glanced towards them.
The master bowed his head.
‘Oh!’ the lady exclaimed.
‘We wish to pay homage to the King of the Jews.’
She giggled and shook her head raising her eyebrows. ‘Won’t you come in.’ She turned to the man. ‘Joseph, we have guests.’
Nuri followed the masters into the small room that was simply but elegantly furnished and echoed the style of the door. It was not until the masters began to bow low to the ground that Nuri saw the small child. He was stood against his mother’s leg, holding her skirt with his chubby fingers.
‘We have gifts for the King. May we present them?’
‘Please do,’ the young lady said.
The master turned to Nuri and the other students. ‘Bring them in.’
Liberty smiles at me from across the room.
Nuri brings the gifts to the master and sets them before him.
Alim unfolds the bundles of soft fabric. ‘We bring you riches from our country. Please accept these offerings of gold, frankincense and myrrh.’
Gold; befitting of a king. Even in this vulnerable form is the greatest of all kings. He will be the King of kings.
Frankincense; for the offering and station of a priest. This child will become the ultimate priest, the one who is able to stand before the Creator in the holiest of places. He will be the one who fully knows the will of the Creator. He will be the one to offer the sacrifice for all sin.
Myrrh; for embalming the dead. The only plan to rescue the Remnant would be in His death. This child, so dearly loved, has been sent to die. It will be through His sacrifice that the Remnant will be sanctified and set apart, to be restored into relationship with the Creator.
The child’s confidence grows. He steps forward and starts to wrap and unwrap the gifts, trying to lift the heavy objects while Joseph offers the men refreshment. Mary, his mother, is taking in all the details, she does not want to forget this day. The Creator is merciful and He heard her prayer.
Nuri approaches the child and sighs. Jesus reminds him of his own brother and ultimately his own family many miles away. He has not seen them since before the birth of the star, since before his education began. I watch as the vibrant blue and green sparks of hope and peace fail, and instead he is surrounded by grey smoke.
The child looks up from his game. He sees far more than just the physical. He takes Nuri’s hand and invites him to play. At once Nuri’s colours change as there is no room for dull and lifeless grey. Instead, he is being wrapped by the fierce indigo that flows out from the child’s hand and begins to cover him completely. A single, silver tear runs down Nuri’s cheek and then, suddenly, he can’t help but smile. All sense of homesickness has gone, he feels like he has come home.
Interesting things to note.
* Miyan is now known as Regulus found in the constellation of Leo – the Lion, the king.
** Judah was the tribe known as the lion.
Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this, you may also find my previous post An Extraordinary Night entertaining.
The Remnant Chronicles, books 1 and 2 are full length novels and are available for purchase. If you would like to read the first three chapters of The Times of Kerim or The Days of Eliora, they can be found in earlier posts.