Ch. 40. Kill the Devil

Much of this was used in Ch. 3 or 4.

Streaks of light shot over the hill east of the vines, but Elijah closed both eyes into slits against the dawn.

Wasn’t the sun watching the King’s Highway yesterday? How could it shine again today?

He opened the gate to the donkey pen. The tiny stream through the southeast corner flowed clear, and the feed trays held small drifts of hay.

“Where are you, Lord? Didn’t you see those little girls?”

He held his hurting head straight and took short, cautious steps.

After the slaver knocked him out, Nathan and his father carried him home and laid him in bed. Yet day after day slavers punched and slapped – and those little girls had no one to carry them home.

Elijah could still help Nathan load wineskins, but those girls could only limp along, knotted into that infernal rope.

And at the end of their trail? His mother and father told him the hideous things the temple priest made them do.

“Can’t you see, Lord? Are you blind?”

The horror in their empty eyes made him sick. His knees gave way.

He reached for the top rung of the gate, but he sank to the ground, and tears ran down his cheeks. Tears of anger, of frustration.

“Why, Lord? Why don’t you stop those wicked, wicked men?”

Nathan came through the gate. “You hurting?” He reached down and grabbed Elijah’s hand.

Elijah gripped and pulled himself to his feet. “It’s those little girls, Nate. It’s wrong. It’s so wrong.”

He draped his arm around the neck of Bilaam, the donkey, and led him out of the pen. “Didn’t King David say something about that?”

Nathan followed with Balak. “King David wrote a lot about that. One of his lines goes, ‘The arrogant cannot stand in your presence.’”

Elijah snubbed Bilaam up to the rail. “So, why does the Lord allow evil men to live? Come here. Let me tie your sandals.”

Nathan put his foot on a stool. “If you tell me why my fingers won’t tie laces or fasten buttons, then I’ll tell you why the Lord does what He does.”

“Right.” Elijah tied his brother’s sandals and buttoned his shirt.

Nathan grabbed Bilaam’s blanket from the shed, and Elijah brought Bilaam’s pack saddle. They saddled each donkey and hoisted two full wineskins onto each pack saddle.

When they had all twenty wineskins tied onto pack saddles, their father came out. “How’s the head?”

“Okay. Just no sudden moves.”

Elijah’s father led the way through their yard and along the path into the village of Tishbe.

Overhead, white storks spiraled heavenward in giant updrafts. At the top, they drifted out of the giant shaft and coasted north, down to the bottom of the next updraft. Again they circled to the top, exited, and drifted north again down to a third updraft. From the Dead Sea to the Sea of Galilee, storks spun in upward circles on their annual migration from Africa to Europe.

Elijah took his father’s left arm. “Dad, the Lord seems to care enough about storks that He shoots the air straight up in currents, so they can float north in the spring and south in the fall without moving a feather. But down on the King’s Highway He lets those slave drivers slap little girls.”

Nathan took his father’s right arm. “But that’s the Devil’s doing, Lijah.”

“So, why does the Lord allow it? Why doesn’t God just kill the Devil?”

Their father walked past the first houses of the village in silence. It was too early for villagers to be out, but the grackles in the trees surrounded them with their rattling song. Finally he spoke. “I asked my own father the same question.”

Elijah stomped his foot in the dirt. “But, Dad! Doesn’t the Lord see that rope? Doesn’t He smell that poop?”

“Yes, He sees. He smells. What those men do is terrible, Elijah.”

“Doesn’t He hate it? Why does the Lord let it go on?”

“He hates it. That much I know. But why the Lord lets it go on? I don’t know, son. I really don’t know.”

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