Some ‘in between’ times are a great challenge. This last look at the Intertestamental Period (ITP) may help you rise to yours. The voice of God seemed to be silent for as much as 400 years (this period is debated, but it was a long time for sure). The Jewish faithful had been scattered, attempted to regroup and were occupied and oppressed. To function was a challenge and their fate seemed out of their control. Under some rulers they suffered extreme persecution and oppression. No doubt they exhibited the full range of human
reactions to their circumstances, but I would like to focus your eyes on just two. I will call them ‘the pen and the sword’.
Most famous of the rebels who used the sword were the Maccabee , who set up a guerilla resistance to the powers who were seeking to outlaw the Jewish religion. It wasn’t quite as simple as that, of course, but the point is that their tactics were to rebel and fight.
The second reaction was an explosion of soul energy, which we now label apocryphal and apocalyptic writings. These writings were rich in variety and fascinating in scope. They were hallmarked by creativity and imagination. They contained myths, legends and stories. Their style was both poetic and prosaic. Some were obviously fiction, others were attempts at history. They contained moral tales and philosophical codes.
Characters such as Bel and the Dragon, The Three Youths, Tobit and Asmodeus, Susanna and the Two Judges, wander through the pages of these stories which grew out of the fertile soil of the ITP imagination.
But behind the sword and the pen, lay a longing, a hunger and thirst. Something was missing and the soul of humankind was searching for it.
There is a tendency to devalue both the sword and the pen in this context. The rebels were seen as violent and the writings as inferior. But that is to miss the point. When under pressure, the hunger of the soul expresses itself through the sword and the pen. Both are expressions of longing for the promised one. Both are symptoms of the desire for reality, authenticity and integration. The Maccabees were fighting to maintain a purity, while the apocalyptic writers were writing to explore its meaning.
Over the centuries, people have used the sword to write a message and the pen to wage war. They are not two, they are one. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but they are partners.
A simplistic, dismissive approach to these symptoms will reduce the chances of finding the gold. The increased activity of the sword and the pen are signs of yearning. The explosion of creativity has a profound value and demolishes the barriers to the manger, where the ultimate word and swordbearer lay.
So in your ‘in between’ time’, do not be surprised at sword or pen reactions; for your soul is telling you how hungry and thirsty you are.
I hope that I don’t need to point out that your ‘sword’ is unlikely to be a literal weapon, but more an inner aggression, frustration or energy. It will drive you to actions and reactions, which bring out your zeal for what is right, as well as the darker side of your nature. Your ‘pen’ may consist of spoken, written or imagined word, but may surprise you, as you engage with their meaning and style.
However long your ‘in between’ time, it will be the birth of the one called ‘the living bread’ and ‘the living water’, who will satisfy, but not before the time is right.
25Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33The child’s father and mother marvelled at what was said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
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