In this series we shall focus on a category of (generally) nameless and overlooked characters in the Old Testament – the servants. In the social and economic structures of the day, households were large establishments, comprising the family, together with the extended family of siblings, relatives, concubines, children and a host of servants. Throughout the narrative of the Old Testament, we read of servants doing their master’s (or mistress’) bidding and were thus as much instruments of God’s divine plan, though in less obvious ways. What were their perceptions of Yahweh and His human agents? How does God’s Story look like from their eyes? We shall imagine these things in this work of fiction.
SERVANTS OF THE LORD
THE master looks tired … this walk is too much for him. I hope there can be a time of rest soon, and we can drink again.
Oh good, it looks like we will be stopping. The master will never say it, but he will be glad for this rest and a drink.
You know, I didn’t dream that I would find satisfaction in serving in this way, standing by an old man, a prophet of God no less, and serving him.
“Do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them”. Those words echo in my mind all the time.
There was a time when I did want great things: honour and recognition and riches. After all, I went to good schools, for my parents believed that would give me a good start in life. And yes, I could have that “good life”. But to become secretary to a prophet is not the “good life” by any standard.
I suppose I could have a good position if my master was one of the temple prophets, part of the establishment. But my master is not, for he is the weeping prophet.
No honour or recognition or riches.
Ah, but what a life I’ve had! It was not the quiet life of honour and riches, but the excitement of being with a man of God. For the master is one who speaks the word of the Lord and does the will of God.
God’s will does not always seem to make sense, like the master buying a field for 17 shekels of silver. It’s not very much, but still, buying land when the Babylonians are at the door … what good is it?
But the Lord asked my master to do it, and he did. Why? Because there will come a day, soon, when houses, fields and vineyard will be bought again in this land.
We will return, well, maybe not me, but our people will return to this land. So, my master buys a field because he truly believes Yahweh’s word that we will return.
Running away to Egypt is not the right thing, but these people do not really understand the word of God.
The word of God, spoken by my master. The king does not understand that at all, he thinks that if he burns the scroll the word disappears.
As if! How foolish he is. He does not want to hear the hard word of disaster and judgment, so he burns it and thinks that it will go away. The king listens to the temple prophets who preach peace, when there is no peace.
What’s the point of giving such silly platitudes which don’t mean anything! Surely it is better to know the true peace of God, even if it is in a foreign land, rather than be outside his peace in this land?
But the word of the Lord can be hard. I must admit I sometimes find it easier to write the word than to believe, though writing helps me believe. For it was a difficult word, to stay, when the Babylonians are at the door. Because staying would mean that we would be sent to exile for sure.
Many said that there would be safety in Egypt, but there can be no safety if we are disobedient to God.
It is strange to think that it is God’s will that we are to go to Babylon, to build and plant there, to marry and to seek the welfare of that city. That is strange for they are our enemies. But that is what the master says is God’s will for us, that we are to do.
We really shouldn’t be going to Egypt. But they forced my master, and I had to go with him. “Do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them.
Wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.” That is an encouragement to me that perhaps I will live, even though it is wrong to go Egypt.
I will do what I can with the skills and talents that I have, even in Egypt. I do not want great things for myself, but I do want to be able to continue to be able to speak God’s word on behalf of my master.
Perhaps I should put all his words on a scroll and keep them in a jar. — Jeremiah32: 1–16; 36; 45.
Kwa Kiem Kiok, a member of Trinity Methodist Church, is on sabbatical at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky, the United States.
N0 RICHES BUT EXCITEMENT
‘Ah, but what a life I’ve had! It was not the quiet life of honour and riches, but the excitement of being with a man of God. For the master is one who speaks the word of the Lord and does the will of God.’