Tubal ran with the other two boys, quietly, from bush to tree to boulder. Hidden behind the natural terrain, they were invisible to the bent figure sitting on a rock near the still pool of water.


“You go further around Tubal, behind that small rise above him,” whispered Temar, “and Banor, you go around the other side behind those large rocks.”

The old man’s doleful face was visible in the smooth mirror of the small desert pond. A small, white lamb lay curled comfortably at his master’s feet and the rising palms softly blanketed them both with cool shadow. Once in their designated places of observation the only movement the boys saw was the little lamb calmly craning his head to sip at the silvery surface near the old man’s feet. Tubal heard the full, tender voice that came from his tented face. Unlike Tubal, Temar and Banor couldn’t hear the old man’s grieving sighs, or see the tears rivering down his face.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. –1 Peter 1:18-19

“Little one,” he spoke in to the sky, “today is a day of great sorrow, of death and of life. O Lord, see my humble and obedient heart.”

Caressing the soft underchin of his precious lamb he gazed down and said, “You are my only companion here in this desert. Indeed, now a most sacred thing. I look at the jewels and precious cloth those hated Egyptian taskmaster gave me the day we left, and it doesn’t compare with your companionship. And now…” his voice faded into despair and his bent figure hung a bit lower.

Life was precious to this man, and the small, spotless lamb was all that he had. The work in Egypt had been hard, and the young wife had died under the crush of cruelty without bearing a single child. Now he was alone. Except for this one precious lamb.

The boys slipped quietly away as the sobbing silhouette embraced his most prized treasure. His anguished groans seemed graven into his mind as Tubal skillfully withdrew undetected from his cover.

Tubal joined Banor and Temar who were already in a vivacious discussion some distance from the oasis.

“Why was that old man so upset?” Banor asked Tubal as Temar glared anxiously for his reply.

“I don’t know,” Temar replied, “but it seemed like he had great sorrow in his heart.”

“Has someone in the camp died?” Temar said almost shouting.

No one had died, of course, since they left that hated land of slavery. It seemed miraculous. He’d heard his father talk about it. Other miraculous things, like the shoes and clothes that never wore out, were spoken of almost in hushed reverence. It really didn’t mean much to the young boys who were tasting the sweetness of freedom for the first time ever. Their disucssion of the old man’s behavior left them puzzled long enough only for some other boyish adventure to distract them.

Tubal was pensive long after.


His chores done and his mother satisfied, he started off to meet his friends when his father called.

“Tubal,” he said in a solemn, calm voice. “Tubal, before you to to meet Banor and Temar, I need to talk to you, …to caution you,” he paused. “The tent–you know–the one outside the camp. You will stay away from it. Do you hear?” His father stopped abruptly, and the harsh face slowly softened. Temar could see the expression of pain for just a moment, before his father regained his usual composure, and a smile gently curled onto his face. His large hand reached down to Tubal and gently squeezed his firstborn son’s shoulder, as fathers will often do. Suddenly his large figure crumpled to the knees and drew Tubal close in embrace. “Just stay away from the tent outside the camp.”

He nodded his submission to his father’s will, paused, then darted away quickly to join Banor and Temar. Briefly they discussed the scene at the oasis the previous day before galloping off to a new day’s adventure.

“Let’s go outside the camp where those large rocks are. We’ll be soldiers. The army of the Lord!” caisd Banor.

“Onward to defeat the heathen army!” droned Temar.

“We follow the Lord! He is invicible!” trumpeted Tubal.

Temar and Tubal took off behind Banor who was already in a full rush to reach their objective. They played among the large boulders looking for scorpions to molest and crush just as the Lord had crushed the Egyptian army under the Red Sea. Imaginary battles took them from boulder to boulder until finally they were at the opposite verge of the rock outcropping from where they had entered. Dropping exhausted and hoarse from their mighty endeavors, they stretched out beneath the shadow of a huge monolith. Suddenly, it seemed their voices were lost in a vortex of silence and their heavy, rapid breathing gradually died into relaxed calm.

It seemed forever that they lay there. Banor was almost asleep, and Temar was motionless except for the relaxed swell and collapse of his abdomen from deep sleep.

Tubal reflected on his father and mother. He was the only child of his parents, and they cherished him dearly. He’d hoped for a brother, but in his seven years, not even a sister had come. A sister would have been better than nothing, he concluded. Racing from thought to thought, he finally mused upon the queer event at the oasis. What about the way his father had acted today? Somehow his young mind couldn’t really connect it all.

As Tubal brooded over these things, he didn’t perceive that the silence had been broken. Distant at first, he soon identified the sound as the vibrato bay of sheep. Not many sheep. In fact, it sound like one animal.

“Wake up Temar,” nudged Tubal quietly, “wake up.”

“Wh–at is it?” he croned sleepily.

“I hear sheep,” said Tubal.

“Where?” asked Temor.

“I don’t know. Perhaps it’s lost. Come on. Let’s find it,” Tubal said excitedly.

Banor was still half asleep and confused but he followed them up the huge stone to get a better idea of where the animal’s cry had come. Soon they attained the summit and scanned the horizon from the direction they’d entered the rock outcropping.

Tubal gasped as his quick scan of the land brought his eyes to rest on a lone tent outside his people’s huge camp visible just beyond. Quickly remembering his father’s instructions from just that morning, he became frightened. His nature was one of obedience, and he never went against his parents wishes. What may have seemed an insignificant misdemeanor to most boys was a major offence in Tubal’s mind. Fear and guilt pierced him.

“Look!” Temar cried.

“There’s Aaron, Moses’ brother. My father said he’s a priest,” said Banor who was now fully awake with his young veins full of adrenaline.

“What are they doing?” exclaimed Temar.

Tubal, who was frozen to the granite, stared intensely. An old man with a small white lamb in his arms was talking to Aaron. The boys were close enough to see what was happening, but didn’t perceive the sacred words that passed between them.

“What are they doing?” exclaimed Temar.

Tubal, who was frozen to the granite, stared intensely. An old man with a small white lamb in his arms was talking to Aaron. The boys were close enough to see what was happening, but didn’t perceive the sacred words that passed between them.

“What are they doing?” exclaimed Temar, again more loudly.

“Quiet,” said Banor.

The three of them watched, but only Tubal felt a fear of the unknown as he quickly remember his father’s strict orders. The Tent of Meeting, as Moses called it, was a solemn place. The boys had seen the frightening pillar of cloud over the tent before. As they watched, Tubal knew that it was a sacred place–a fearful place–and that something unusal was happening.

The old man set the small lamb on its feet in front of the priest. Aaron talked for a moment, and the old man listened. Tears began to flow down his face just as at the oasis. While nuzzling his master’s hand, the old man caressed the spotless animal ever so gently while gazing away in deep, watery reflection.

The priest handed the bent figure a brilliant, jeweled knife. It seemed that he stared forever at the sacred, yet deadly instrument while still tenderly stroking his precious lamb’s muzzle. He took the expensive instrument of death in his right hand. Aaron gently reached down to steady any giddiness in the small creature. He needn’t have. The animal was perfectly still and gazing unafraid at his master. With one wiry hand on the lamb’s head, the old man slowly brought the glistening blade next to the animal’s throat.

Tubal screamed as the blade performed the sacred and bloody task which was its only reason for being. The liquid of life flowed forth form the animal splashing onto the crouching figure and Aaron, the priest. At the altar, in the Tent of Meeting, the priest presented the blood to the Lord. This sacrifice of life was over.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and now a life for a life. For a time, at least payment for sin was delayed.


Many, many, many years passed and countless sacrifices were offered.

Another Father and Son talked.

“Son, the fullness of time has come.”

“Yes, Father, indeed that time has come.”

“My Holy Spirit will go with you.”

“Father, I will please you.”


“Who is that pitiful creature,” screamed a street vendor to his neighbor who could barely understand him over the throng of people screaming and loitering in the way.

“I don’t know for sure. Heard someone say he was a criminal. Convicted of some state treason or something or other,” he yelled back.

The man carrying the heavy, rough splintered wood was barely able to put one foot before the other. His head had some sort of vine, no, no–a thorny vine wrapped around it. The flesh yielded to the woody thorns that penetrated deep to the bone, and the blood oozed in wide streams. Some of it was dried giving perceptive eyes reason to supect head had borne the terrible head covering for some time.

His eyes were blackened and swollen from the fists of the soldiers. His lips were protruding and distorted, and blood drooled from his mouth. Numerous blows to  his arms, torso, and back left their scarlet impressions. Deep gouges that opened like gorges showed the work of the whip on his back.

“He’s a pitiful sight,” said the street vendor again to himself. He held his young son close to him. Wasn’t it enough that his son had to endure the bloody sacrifices at the temple. When would enough be enough?

The condemned man crumpled before the street vendor, and he and his son could not ignore the cruelty before them.

“You there!” shouted the soldier–that hated foreign soldier. “You carry this for him.”

As the man obediently squatted to put his shoulder to the task, he couldn’t help but look the criminal in the face. His gaze was surprisingly soft. Something was different about this one he thought, but he couldn’t say what.

All the way outside the city to that cursed hill he carried the condemned man’s load. The vendor’s son followed him and they were reunited at the hill. Flesh gave way to the steel as the soldiers joined that poor man’s body to the wood. Father and son watched them mount the wood in the ground as the new attachment quivered with pain. And the liquid of life flowed fresh once again in sacrifice.


“Father, I have done as you pleased,” said the Son.

“The Blood has been sprinkled on the alter and you have returned to me,”replied His proud Father.

“Well done, my Son, well done. Come, sit at my right hand.” He paused.

“Never again, my Son, never again. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. For all time payment for sin is made.

The end.



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