Authors: Gilbert Morris
Tags: #FIC042030, #FIC042000, #FIC026000
Lions of Judah, Book Three
The Gate of Heaven
Â© 2004 by Gilbert Morris
Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
Ebook edition created 2012
Bethany House Publishers is a Division of
Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any meansâfor example, electronic, photocopy, recordingâwithout the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.
Cover design by Lookout Design Group, Inc.
Unless otherwise identified, Scripture quotations are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSIONÂ®. Copyright Â© 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
To Moody Adams, Evangelist
In one of his lyrics Shakespeare asked the question: “Tell me, where is fancy bred, or in the heart or in the head?”
In other words, does genius come from the intellect or from the emotions?
We all know the penalty of a sermon that is all “head,” for all of us have been bored to tears by sterile intellectualism untouched by passion, just as we have been exposed to teachings that are totally emotional, devoid of serious thought.
Moody Adams is one of those rare servants of God who is blessed with both a burning heart and a penetrating intellect. Whether on the printed page or by means of the spoken word, this man speaks the truths we desperately need to hear with compassion, zeal, and bare-handed honesty.
In a day when some have lost their integrity and set their sails to catch the prevailing wind of popular opinion, Evangelist Moody Adams proclaims fearlessly the Good News that our world is starving to hear.
Our poor world needs men and woman who sound the trumpet with the courage of the Old Testament prophet and with the burning heart and clear vision of the New Testament apostle.
Brother Moody, you are an evangelist in the richest and purest sense of that word. May God continue to use you in the work He has given you to do.
A war chariot cut a path between low-lying hills, its wheels swirling up a pillar of dust and crushing the delicate wild flowers that dotted the land. The horses' hooves thundered across the valley, breaking the silence of late afternoon. With reins in one hand, a whip in the other, and a fierce- looking sword dangling from his belt, a dark-skinned man wearing a bronze helmet drove the animals without mercy. Beside him lay a double-convex war bow, flanked by newly sharpened arrows, their bronze tips gleaming in the sunshine.
The driver yanked the horses to a halt and turned to the two men behind him who were clinging to the sides of the chariot.
“Magon, what's that camp up ahead?” he demanded as he sliced the air with his whip, indicating the tents and flocks they were approaching.
“I don't know, sir, but I hope they've got food. My stomach thinks I've been dead for hours!” The speaker was the shorter and stockier of the two men in the back of the chariot. A scar distorted his features, dragging his right eye downward into a squint and pulling the right side of his mouth up into a perpetual sneer. He shielded his eyes from the sunlight and peered toward the camp. “Oh, they're nothing but a bunch of Hebrews, Captain Ahad. They won't have any food fit for real men.”
“Magon, you'd eat a dead buzzard,” Ahad snorted.
The soldier shook his head. “They eat lentils and milk, sir. A man needs meat.” He laughed. “We'll take one of those fat sheep over thereâand the best wine they've got, eh, Remez?”
The third man in the chariot was tall and lean, with sharp, hawklike features. He wore a bronze helmet like his two companions, but his face was not as marked by cruelty. He gave the camp a quick examination and shook his head slowly. “I know this tribe,” he said. “This is the camp I tried to tell you about, Captain Ahad. From what I hear, their leader is a man with strange powers.”
Ahad stared disdainfully at Remez. “You told me, but it made no sense.”
“Of course it didn't,” Magon retorted. “The Hebrews are all crazy!”
“These Hebrews are a strange people,” Remez said thoughtfully, ignoring his companion. “I know a little something about them.”
“What do you need to know?” Ahad shrugged. “They're like those stupid sheep out there. Which gods do they worship?”
“Well,” Remez said slowly, “they say there's only one god.”
The two men stared at Remez and then Ahad guffawed. “They probably can't afford more than one.”
Magon joined in with the joke, but Remez made no reply; he simply shrugged as the three men surveyed the scene again. Black tents sprawled across the landscape, and a line of donkeys waited patiently for their masters to finish loading them for a trip. Farther on, a boy drove six white goats into a shed built of saplings. Nearby, a woman was churning cream in a goatskin suspended over a wooden frame. As she rocked it back and forth her eyes turned toward the strangers, as did the eyes of others throughout the busy camp, until gradually everyone was staring at the war chariot.
“We'll take whatever goods we want,” Ahad sneered, winking lewdly and adding, “We may even borrow some of their women for a while.”
Magon smiled broadly. “I'll take that one over there.” He indicated a young woman with glossy black hair who was grinding grain with a round stone. “Come on,” he said. “Let's go take what we want. If they don't like it, we'll cut their throats.” He pulled a wicked-looking dagger from his belt, licked the blade, and laughed.
A troubled look crossed Remez's face. “I don't know how wise that would be. As I told you, their leader is an unusual manâand one not to be trifled with. I've heard my grandfather tell about him.”
“Humph!” Ahad snorted. “I'd fight their chief any day.” Then as if doubting his own hubris, he asked Remez, “What else do you know about this chief of theirs?”
“Well, I know his name is Abraham and that he's very old now, but my grandfather told me he came up against him in a war once.”
“What kind of a war?” Ahad grunted with disdain, gesturing toward the Hebrew men who stood watching, armed only with shepherds' staves. “They're obviously not fighters.”
“My grandfather said the army he was with thought that too. They captured one of Abraham's relativesâsome fellow named Lot. Abraham came tearing after them with a small army of Hebrews and rescued him.”
“Your grandfather must not have had much of an army, then.” Ahad shrugged.
“On the contrary, sir. My grandfather said the fighters he was with were the best. But this Hebrew leaderâthis Abrahamâhe's got some magical powers, or so my grandfather believed.”
Ahad slapped the backs of the horses with his whip and laughed coarsely. “A magician, eh? Well, we'll make him do some tricks for us, then!” His white teeth gleamed as he grinned. “Mind you, the prettiest woman belongs to me!”
“Isaac, look! A war chariot with three soldiers in it.”
Isaac turned to look in the direction Rebekah indicated. “Those are Hittite warriors,” he said uneasily. “They're always causing trouble.”
“Don't worry about them. We'll feed them and they won't bother us.”
Isaac looked carefully at Rebekah, who was sitting on a wooden chest, holding her belly. He noticed the pained expression on her face and asked, concerned, “Are you hurting, dear?”
Even this late in her pregnancy, Rebekah was a beautiful woman, with skin like alabaster, dark, lustrous eyes, and coal black hair. But the pain she felt now was clearly etched in the lines of her face. “It's like aâ¦a
going on inside me, Isaac,” she whispered. “Feel.”
Isaac leaned forward and put his hand on Rebekah's swollen abdomen. His eyes opened with astonishment as he felt the movement. “That's not natural, Rebekah!”
“I know it. I don't know what's wrong.”
“Have you talked with the midwife?”
“Bethez insists that having twins is just harder,” Rebekah said, shaking her head.
“But even so, they shouldn't be giving you such pain already.” Isaac would have said more, but he saw that the chariot had drawn up to the center of the camp. The three warriors got out, and one of them pulled the horses and chariot to a nearby scrub tree to tie up the animals. “I wish they had gone on,” Isaac murmured.