A Dearly Bought Gift
The next morning Talonka awoke early – much earlier than usual. She got out of bed without disturbing her husband. She wasn’t feeling as awful today as she had yesterday.
Speaking with Eliora yesterday afternoon had both intrigued and troubled the young queen. Then, hearing from her mother that evening had almost pushed her over the edge of what she could handle right now. Deun’s release of the Mossad hounds had relieved some of Talonka’s anxiety, but she still felt as though something terribly wrong was about to happen.
She dressed and left the bedroom, going back to the window she had been sitting in yesterday before Aurelia’s call. Today though, Talonka did not bring a book with her. Instead, she just stared out at the capitol city, watching the goings on as if for the first time.
It was too early for many of the denizens to be up and about, but there were those whose jobs required them to be out long before the sun rose. The first rays of the sun began to gild the horizon, spilling over it and flowing out onto the beautiful planet, lighting up everything in the majestic glow of morning.
“How are you feeling?”
The voice startled her and she jerked around to look for the source.
“It’s only me.” Deun said, resting a calming hand on her shoulder. “So how are you..?”
Talonka smiled at him and placed her own hand over his. “Better I think...”
“Not thinking too much about yesterday?”
The queen turned her face towards the window again, “I don’t know... I just want this nightmare my mother has created to be over...” she said quietly.
“I know...” Deun replied. “I do too.” With that he sat down on the opposite side of the window seat.
The couple remained there in the peaceful silence for a while before Deun slowly stood back up and said, “Do you feel well enough to eat downstairs with the rest of us today, or shall I call for a servant to come again?”
Talonka thought about that for a moment then remembered what she had told Eliora. “Send a servant. But not just any servant – a particular one. Her name is Eliora. Ask for her specifically.”
When Deun gave her a questioning look she said, “She... is good company for me.”
“Very well then. Eliora shall be here.” Deun started to walk away but his wife caught hold of his hand, tugging him back to her so that she could kiss him before he left.
An hour later Eliora delivered Talonka’s morning meal to her.
“Thank you again, Eliora.” the queen nodded to the woman.
“You do not have to thank me, Majesty.” Eliora said respectfully.
“Perhaps not, but I will anyway.” replied the queen. “Please, sit down.” Talonka gestured to one of the couches that inhabited the room.
“Have you eaten yet?” the queen asked.
“Yes, Majesty. Thank you.”
“Eliora, you don’t have to call me ‘Majesty.’”
“But, my Queen –”
“It’s alright.” said Talonka. “Really. Please call me Talonka.”
“Yes, Maj – Talonka...” Eliora said, feeling strange calling the queen of Gamilon by her given name.
“I have a question for you...” the queen said, seeming a bit anxious now. Not waiting for a reply she dove into her inquiry, “Do you know what would happen to you if you died...?”
The seriousness of the question struck Eliora. “Yes, I do.” she said with quiet confidence. “Do you...?”
The queen looked at Eliora for a moment, her eyes seeming to become wet. “No... I don’t.”
“Does it trouble you?”
A tear ran down Talonka’s cheek. “Every day... Especially now...”
“And why is that?” Eliora asked softly.
The queen looked away from the servant, ignoring her food for the moment. More tears began to fall as Talonka said, “There are those who would seek to kill me...”
“My lady!” Eliora gasped, her hand flying to her mouth in surprise. “But who would dare attempt such a thing?”
“If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me...” Talonka replied.
“You would not lie to me, Maj – Talonka.” the servant said.
Talonka breathed deeply, then said, “My mother.”
“Her plans for me are... terrible. She has never said it to my face... but I know it. Somewhere deep down in the core of my being I know what she has planned for me...”
“Your mother is not Adonai, Talonka.” Eliora said. “She does not hold the power of life and death in her hands.”
“She has killed countless people... How can you say that she does not have the power of life and death in her hands?”
“Only the One who created life can truly take it away again. Your mother, by her killing, has tried to put herself in the place of Adonai. No person can do that and not face consequences for doing it. Your mother, whatever her power or position, cannot defeat Adonai, nor can she foil His plans.
“Throughout the ages everyone has had to face the question of death and what comes afterwards. Some people’s lives are shorter than we would want them to be and others live much longer than we want them to. It is not up to us to decide who is worthy of life and who is not. That is not our place. Sometimes the taking of a life is necessary for the protection of another or in self-defense, but murder is always wrong. If your mother has violated that divine law, then she has committed a sin, not only against her fellow beings, but against Adonai Himself.”
“I’ve heard all of that before...” Talonka said, “But you are the first person I have ever met that has told me that they know what will happen after their own death. How is it you know this? If I knew what would happen, perhaps some of my fears would disappear...”
“‘For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’*”
Talonka stared at the servant. “I... I don’t understand...”
“It is something from a letter that a man named Paul wrote to a group of Christians living in the city of Corinth many centuries ago, but it is also written to every Christian who will ever live. When a person accepts the gift of life that Yeshua – Jesus – offers freely to us all, our sins are cleansed and we are given eternal life – we put on immortality. When a man – or woman – has this immortality, death no longer has power over us. Yes, our bodies will die one day, but our inner being – the part of us that we cannot see, the part that makes us who we are – is taken from this physical world and transported to another world – we call it Heaven. It is where Adonai dwells with His angels and all those who have accepted this great gift that He has offered to us.”
“Why don’t more people accept this gift. If it is free, surely many would gladly take it.” Talonka asked, confused.
“Because to accept this gift is to admit that one cannot save himself... Many simply have too much pride to admit such a thing...”
“Can’t they just swallow their pride for an instant?” the queen asked.
“Oh, they could...” Eliora said, “but they don’t want to. They are more concerned about what others think of them than what Adonai thinks of them...”
“My husband speaks of Adonai sometimes.” Talonka said, seeming to be a bit more comfortable now.
“And what does he say?”
“Not much, I suppose. Mostly he talks about how he can garner the favor of the religious segment of the population – which represents about two-thirds of the entire planet, and that’s not counting all of the colonies we’ve established over the years.”
“Ah. He speaks of Adonai as a political tool then.”
“Yes, I suppose you could say that.” the queen nodded.
“He is so much more than that...” Eliora said. “He isn’t merely a pawn that we can use to our advantage; He is the all-powerful Master of this entire universe and anything else that exists beyond it. If He ordains something, no one and nothing can stop Him.”
“If He is so powerful, why do people like my mother get away with murder?”
“Because everyone is given a choice – to follow Adonai or to follow themselves and what they want. God will not force a person to follow Him. He wants us to love and follow Him because we want to, not because He made us do it. All people have an inborn tendency to sin. People who choose not to follow Adonai follow their natural tendency to sin... That is what your mother has done...”
Talonka sighed. “I see...” her eyes shifted downward again, looking at her elegantly shod feet. Then she looked up again and asked the question that Eliora had been hoping would come. “How do I accept the gift Adonai has to offer? You say it’s free, but how can such a powerful being be so generous?”
Eliora let out a small, joyful laugh. “Oh Talonka, it is because He is so powerful that He can offer such a gift freely. And to accept it all you need do is believe that Yeshua is your Saviour – that He has made the Atonement for sin – that it is He and not you who can save you from the ugly sin that is condemning you to an eternity of torment without Adonai – separated from all that is good and holy.”
“You speak of Gehenna...” Talonka breathed, wide-eyed at the mention of the place of torment. “I thought it was just a legend...”
“No, my lady. It is no myth; it is very real. Yeshua spoke of it many times. He described it as a place of darkness where the fire is not quenched. And He would know – the place was created for Abaddon and the angels who follow him.”
The young queen stared fearfully at Eliora. “You mean... that without an atonement for my sins that... I’ll be sent to be with... the shêdim? Forever?”
“Yes.” the servant said in a tone that gave no hint of deceit. “All sin must be paid for – it is the way the universe works. If a person does not have an atonement made for their sin before they die, they must spend eternity paying for it. But because we sin against an infinite Lord, we must pay an infinite price for our transgressions.”
The look of horror returned to Talonka’s face.
“Do not be afraid, my lady.” Eliora gave the queen a reassuring smile. “Yeshua has already paid the price that you owe Adonai. He paid it because He loves us – more than we can understand.”
Talonka started to breathe a sigh of relief.
“But.” Eliora interrupted, “Unless you accept Yeshua’s payment as being made for you, you will have to pay your debt yourself.”
“So that is what you mean by ‘accepting Yeshua as Saviour’?” Talonka asked.
“Yes, it is.” the servant replied.
“But why Yeshua? What sacrifice did He make that Adonai would accept?”
“Do you remember what we talked about yesterday?”
“Of course; that Yeshua is the Son of Adonai.”
“That the sacrifices we make in the Temple were a symbol of –” Talonka gasped and tears began to well up in her eyes again, “they’re a symbol of the Atonement that Yeshua made for sin...” the tears began to fall. “He was slaughtered... wasn’t He...? He died a bloody death – and if what you say is true... He did it for me.”
“Yes, my lady. On that cross all those years ago He showed His bleeding love to us all. One of Yeshua’s names is ‘the Lamb of God.’ He was the final Atonement for all sin. That is why Adonai accepts it as a valid payment for sin...” Eliora stopped, letting Talonka finish processing what she was saying before asking one last question. “Will you accept it?”
Talonka looked straight at Eliora, her glistening eyes holding a look of wonderment. “If He did such a thing – if He endured that for me... how can I not accept such a dearly-bought gift as this?”