North Central Lebanon
Monday, November 16
5:30 a.m., Local Time
“What is he doing?” General Telnikov growled, though not at the aide standing beside him. The Lieutenant was simply the delivery boy for the daily situation report and experienced enough to keep his thoughts to himself.
The general leaned back in his chair and tried to sort it out. Tariq Kazimi, President of the Islamic Republic of Persia, and erstwhile commander of the Iranian Pasdaran Army was acting more unpredictably than normal. At some point during the night, Kazimi had changed course. His passage had previously cut through the Kurdish territory of northern Iraq and appeared headed across the upper reaches of Syria. As Damascus was a smoldering wasteland, boiling with radiation fallout from an Israeli nuclear attack, the only sensible move for the Iranians was to join up with Russian forces encamped in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. But the little man had pulled a fast one. After crossing into Syria, Kazimi was beating a path southward right through the heart of the desert. His aim was now clear. Iran had decided to push its way into Jordan.
What the man was thinking was beyond Telnikov’s comprehension, and perplexity was a discomfort to the general. Jordan had shown no indication that it wanted any part of the fight, either for or against Israel. The King seemed content to patiently wait until the dust settled before he staked any claim to Palestinian territory within Israel. After all, the Palestinians were his people. If he could reap the rewards of seeing the Jews driven into the sea without having to take a risk, then all the better. He had no fear of an Israeli reprisal. The King felt he could straddle the fence and enjoy the best of both worlds, at least until the direction of the Middle East was decided at some later date.
So what was Kazimi’s gambit? Telnikov hadn’t considered the man an idiot, though he certainly looked the part. The coalition’s mission, designed by Field Marshall Velniak, called for a three-pronged thrust into Israel from the north. The Libyans would drive southward along the coast from Tyre. The Russians and Turks would attack through central Lebanon. The Sudanese army would come upward through the Red Sea to strike through the Negev. If they faltered, it was almost certain that Egypt would throw its tanks and infantry into the fight. How could they not? Islam had arisen, and no presumed Pharaoh could allow any outsider the ultimate glory of annihilating the Jews. That left the Golan Heights to Iran and the Central Asian armies. They were supposed to complete the downward thrust from the north. The designated location of Iran’s attack was almost a gift. Why wasn’t Kazimi obeying his masters and taking it?
“Lieutenant, when was this report issued?” demanded the general.
“Sir, it came in less than fifteen minutes ago. I do not know when the report actually arrived in Moscow,” he answered.
“Track down the time the report was made. I must know the time frame we are looking at.”
“Yes Sir. Here are your morning situation reports and today’s edition of Pravda.” The lieutenant laid a file jacket and the newspaper on the general’s desk and headed for the door.
“I will also require a map of the region. Bring it to me when you return.”
Telnikov reached for the reports, but a headline on the lower half of the folded newspaper caught his attention.
AYATOLLAH ISSUES FATWAH: ALL ISLAM MUST UNITE!
Understanding dawned as he read. The spiritual leader of Islam had issued a decree that left no doubt. Any Islamic nation that refused to join the Iranian’s cause in administering retribution against Israel would be considered less than an infidel. Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia were suddenly bound by the fetters of their radical religion.
Ramat David Airbase
Monday, 7:00 a.m. Local Time
Moshe sensed her gaze long before he turned his head and opened his eyes. He couldn’t tell how long he’d been subconsciously aware of her, but he was certain it had been a while. For one, he’d been utterly exhausted when his head had hit the pillow. He and Tasha had gone to bed well after midnight, but his fatigue from duty had been offset by the joy provided by Ty Dempsey’s revelation. Exuberance might be a better word, for now he knew God had been working all along to bring him to salvation. It was clear and undeniable. No physical exhaustion could overcome that level of spiritual excitement.
“What are you staring at my love?” he asked without opening his eyes.
“Oh, just your handsome face.” She reached over and traced the outline of his ear with her finger.
He smiled and turned to his side to return her attention. “And why are you looking at my handsome face when you could be sleeping like I was a minute ago?”
“I don’t know. I’m just thankful that you are here.”
“Where else would I be?” Moshe was puzzled.
“That is not what I meant. I mean spiritually.”
Moshe tried to stifle a yawn, but couldn’t. “Well, I’m here now. Amazing isn’t it?”
“I was thinking more in terms of the miraculous,” Tasha said. “I could hardly believe what Ty and Blake told us last night. But it makes sense.”
“Because there was so much going on. There you were, flying from danger to danger, and I was caught up in Husifa not knowing what was happening. The Lord knew we needed some outside help to get through it all. I didn’t know if I was going to survive. On top of that was my worry for you,” she sighed. “It just makes sense that the Lord would step in with an intercessor when we needed one the most. And now, that same person is right here in Israel.”
Moshe was startled by the statement. She was right.
“What?” she asked.
“Does God always do things so mysteriously?”
The whole idea that God was truly concerned about the day to day aspects of human life was still beyond his ability to absorb. What puzzled him most was how God had everything so interconnected.
“Not always. Sometimes he does things that are as clear as daylight. We’re just too thick-headed to see it.” She thought for a moment, and then continued. “Some time ago, Pastor Ben shared a message from one of King David’s Psalms. I can’t quite quote it, but the idea has stuck with me.”
“What was it?”
“Ben read a verse about God knowing our coming in and our going out, meaning he knows everything about us.”
“That’s a bit scary!”
“If he knows that much about us, how can he still love us?” Moshe rolled back to his original position and fixed his eyes on the low ceiling above the bed. “It’s really kind of embarrassing.”
Tasha couldn’t help but giggle at Moshe’s newfound innocence.
“What’s so funny?”
“I’m not laughing at you. It is just funny how you are suddenly worried about what God thinks. You were always ten thousand feet above caring.” She caressed his bare shoulder.
“Getting shot down and seeing a nuclear bomb go off has a way of waking a guy up,” he said. “Still, everything seems so clear, so transparent. Religion was a stone wall for me. It was the way misguided people tried to make themselves better, only to get frustrated when it didn’t work. At least that’s how I pictured the Wailing Wall and the heads bobbing up and down in front of it.”
“Honey, that is what religion does,” Tasha explained. “It either leaves a person empty, or kills them with a holier-than-thou attitude. That’s not what God intended. He is more concerned about bringing us into a relationship than he is with all the religious ritual. What happened to you was a demonstration of God’s pure love, not giving you something you think you deserved.”
“Well, I don’t deserve anything. I still can’t believe I was so blind. I should have seen this a long time ago.” He turned back to her realizing how distant he’d been to her spiritual beliefs and the trauma it had caused. “I’m sorry I put you through that.”
She snuggled close to her man, thankful that Yeshua had done a work of divine love in his soul. She’d always adored Moshe, but now, her love went deeper than ever before.
Just then Moshe’s cell phone rang. Ramat David was calling.
The Fields of Nazir Training Facility
The burning had started in his calves and had worked its way into his thighs. Now, his forearms and biceps joined in to become a full chorus of screaming muscles. Try as he might, Ben could not remember ever being forced to climb a wall of netted rope while in combat. In fact, he’d never crawled through stagnant mud six inches under live gunfire during a combat mission either. Running twenty miles in boots and carrying a backpack? It never happened, at least outside of basic training. But here he was doing them all, and his body was violently protesting the injustice.
Ben cleared the top of the wall. Actually it was just a log that spanned two pillars and had a thick net draped over it. He glanced at his training mates to see their progress. Most had already slithered to the ground some twenty feet below. Only two others seemed to be suffering the same physical rebellion as he. He wondered what might be the point of it all if they were simply the prospective pole bearers for the Ark. After all, how much could the thing actually weigh? Ben thought as his feet finally touched the ground.
Before he could catch a breath or relax his knotted muscles, a measly drill instructor appeared in his face and began screaming for him to buck up and move on. A live fire drill awaited a quarter of a mile up the wadi. That would be followed by a five mile run, and it was all happening before breakfast.
As he plodded onward he realized he was angry inside, angry that he’d left his ministry. Angry that he hadn’t been warned this would happen. Angry at the pain his body was experiencing. He was even angry at the drill instructor running beside him, a guy who was at least ten years his junior. Then another thought entered into his mind and he laughed. The drill sergeant took notice.
“What is so funny, mister? Not sweating hard enough?” He barked.
“No, Sergeant,” Ben returned. “Just laughing at the irony.”
“And what irony would that be?”
“That wars are fought by young bulls like you, Sarge,” Ben said as he flicked the sweat off his forehead.
“And what of it?”
“War should be fought by men my age.”
“All right, hold it right there,” ordered the sergeant. “Are you having a heat stroke this early in the morning?”
Ben stopped and put his hands on his knees and bent over to catch his breath. His muscles desperately needed a break. After a few intakes of air, he looked up into the face of a man that was too young to have much facial hair. “No, sir. I’m okay. It’s just that the bad guys would have no chance if older guys did the fighting. I mean, we’ve already experienced life, so there’s not much more to live for beyond arthritis, constipation, and dying taste buds. That means we’re already mad. There’s no point in making us climb walls. Just give us something to blow up. We’ll get it done, and it will make us happy all at the same time.”
The sergeant looked at him for nearly a minute trying to decide if he was serious. He finally laughed. “Got your rest in, didn’t you Mr. Sherett?”
“Yes sir, I sure did.”
The sergeant lifted his arm and pointed toward the live-fire range on top of the next hill. “Time to move on.”
“On my way, Sarge,” Ben chuckled. With a deep breath he stood upright and resumed his jog toward the range.
Jimmy Root Jr
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