The phone rang. “Hello, this is John Mark.”
“Hi, JM. This is Simon Peter.”
“Oh, hello, Mr. Rock,” said Mark. “What can I do for you?”
“Well, JM” said Peter, “I’ve been very impressed by your recent essays in the New Jew Review, especially your series on David as the anointed one, pointing to our Lord Jesus. Some of what you’ve been writing about dovetails, if I may use the word, with what some of us have been hearing from the Spirit.”
“New prophecies?” asked Mark.
“No. What I meant was the way the Spirit has been leading our conversations. JM, Agrippa is becoming intolerable. The man is scum, but bears the title of `king’ thanks to that loony Caesar Littlebooties; and now that old pseudo-philosopher Claudius has added Judea and Samaria to Galilee and given it all to him. He thinks he’s Herod the Great reborn.
“JM, I don’t know if you’ve been following all the politics, but now that Herod Agrippa has the whole country, including Jerusalem, he’s determined to show just how good a Jew he is. He’s been buttering up the whole Temple crowd, and they’ve been filling his ear. And you can guess what they’ve given him to read.”
Mark said, “Brother Jacob’s letter to the dispersion.”
“Yes,” said the Rock. “With all that ‘howl ye rich’ stuff that Jeremiah originally said to Jehoiakim. Agrippa’s not stupid, and he gets the point. It’s reported that he told some of the chief priests that if James thinks we should count it all joy when we encounter trials, then he, Agrippa, is going to give him what he wants.”
“Sounds bad,” said Mark.
“It could be,” said Peter. “Look. What we are thinking is that Brother Levi’s book about our Lord Jesus needs to be rewritten in a shorter version, leaving out the Moses-like sermonic material, and presenting the Lord as a new David. Antipas could be called ‘king,’ even though he never got the title formally from Rome, because as you know, the Hebrew word ‘melech’ has a broader meaning. This new book needs to present Jesus as David and the Herods as Saul.”
“Well,” said Mark, “That certainly fits. It’s interesting you should phone me about this, Mr. Rock, because, well, here’s the thing: The end of the prophecy of Daniel predicts the rule of Herod the Great and the arrival of Octavian, and then the coming of the Lord as Michael. But that whole last prophecy uses the history of Israel as a template, so that the Ungodly King, Herod, is in the position of Saul, and Michael is in the position of David. So you see, Gabriel has already told us that the Herods are Saul and that Jesus is David. I was working on an article about this for the New Jew ‘View when the phone rang.
“You know, I really like this idea,” Mark continued. “Are you telling me that you men have been thinking about asking me to do this? That the commission is coming from you Top Brass?”
“Yes,” said Peter. “Obviously, we’ll help you with it, read over the completed draft, as we did with Levi’s book. And before you start, we’ll want to lay hands on you and set you apart for this work. But we keep coming back to you, JM. You’re the man for this task.”
“I’m interested,” said Mark. “And something else. I’ve been a bit concerned by some trends I see in some of the meetings. Levi’s book, of course, presents our Lord mostly as a Moses, giving a new law, and commanding that all nations be brought under His theocratic rule. I think that’s very important, of course, but I’d like to stress Jesus as a man of action, as a warrior, as the One who actually brings the kingdom, even if first of all in a concealed and hidden way.”
“That’s good,” said Peter. “We do have, all of us, a tendency to become rule-oriented, and then even secretly proud of our faithfulness. It’s just our sinful nature – especially us Jews. Hmmm. I can see that becoming a problem in the Church before too long. Yes, a second book that balances the rules and demands in Levi’s book with a picture of Jesus as the One who fought and brought the kingdom on our behalf, well, that would be very good. You’re right that Levi’s and Jacob’s books can be misread as laying out rules of some kind of hyperpiety, and that was not Jesus’ intention. It’s certainly clear in both books that Jesus brought us the kingdom by Himself alone, but another book that really stresses that point would be very good.”
“You think Agrippa’s going to strike against us soon, Mr. Rock?” asked Mark.
“The signs are that way,” said Peter.
“So, maybe these are the end of the last days of the first covenant?”
“Well, our whole generation is living at the end of the last days,” said Peter. “But every other time like ours has lasted forty years, not only twelve or so. Still, if Herod attacks the Church soon, and then judgment comes upon him, that would be a foretaste of what is going to happen at the end of this generation. Oh! I see your point, and yes: It would be good to stress the coming judgment in your book. With Jesus as Davidic warrior, you can bring that theme out just as prominently as Levi did.”
Mark said, “In Levi’s book, the coming judgment is against spiritual Egypt. I’d be contextualizing Jesus’ words as against the spiritual house of Saul.”
Peter said, “Precisely. You’re really tracking with what we want, JM. Please do seriously consider the commission.”
“I will, Mr. Rock,” said Mark.
“Very well,” said Peter. “I’ll phone you tomorrow and see what you’re thinking.”
“Good bye for now, then.”
“Good bye, sir.”
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