He truly did.
It wasn’t just the beauty of her walls as they reflected the light of the morning sun or the quiet tranquility of the Temple mount – a place of holiness and peace for him still. It was something deeper.
The ancient poetry of his people said it best:
Yahweh is great and supremely to be praised
in the city of our God,
the holy mountain, beautiful where it rises,
joy of the whole world;
Go through Zion, walk around her,
counting her towers, admiring her walls,
reviewing her palaces;
Then tell the next generation
that God is here,
our God and leader, forever and ever.
Benjamin had been aware of a yearning in his heart ever since he began to study the Torah at the feet of his grandfather, Gamaliel. He thought of the moisture in his grandfather’s eyes whenever he spoke about the holy city.
One day he began to read some of the forbidden manuscripts circulating among the followers of Yeshua of Nazaret. He tried asking subtle questions of his grandfather in order to confirm the stories but received only vague answers in return.
It was dangerous to even speak about these heretics so he had to be careful and indirect in his discussions with his grandfather. But, even so, it was not enough. Benjamin decided to seek the followers of Yeshua out.
It took a few days. He was the grandson of the Rabbi Gamaliel, after all. But Natan´el, one of the original disciples of Yeshua, firmly convinced the fellowship to allow this young man full of holy curiosity to be a part of them, an observer if that’s all he wanted. Even though it was dangerous.
There was something about Natan´el. He had been with the Rabbi Yeshua and Benjamin had a difficult time leaving his side. He wandered through the streets with him, feeding the poor, encouraging the faint hearted, discussing and arguing gently over the stories about Yeshua. Always itseemed to be about Yeshua.
Although these people were simple and had no great book learning, they had something that Benjamin wanted with all his heart. But what it was exactly, he couldn’t put his finger on.
One night, Natan´el finally told him the story of those last days, that final Passover, the shame and horror of the cross. It was all true. He wept. Yerushalayim had been visited by her God and had rejected Him.
Natan´el paused in the telling of his story, but finally he raised his head. “Benjamin, the story is not yet at an end. The best is yet to come, and your life will never be the same.”
“You will complete your mission in Yerushalayim and then you will be sent to another place to speak of the things you have heard this night.” Natan´el’s eyes looked off into a far distance as he spoke into existence Benjamin’s future.
“You must follow the Yerushalayim oracle through the dark and dangerous days ahead for that is your path –”
“The Yerushalayim oracle. . .?”
“– and at a time and in a moment not expected, you will enter the gates of the new Yerushalayim and all your yearning and sadness will be turned to joy.”
Benjamin sat upon the hard dirt floor. What is he talking about? What is this all about? Then he heard the rest of the story, of what happened after the cross and, before the night was through, Benjamin was a new creature, reborn and alive like he had never been before.
Shalamar and his brothers celebrated with great, but quiet, joy in the holy city, as Benjamin gladly entered the spiritual battle for the soul of his grandfather, Gamaliel.
He began to pray and cry out to God earnestly and he was heard in the throne room of the Almighty.
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The Temptations of the Cross by Bert A. Amsing
Copyright © 2012 by vanKregten Publishers. All rights reserved.
Footnotes and references included in original manuscript.