Isle of Patmos in the year of the world 3825


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This is a historical flashback in a novel I am writing.

Isle of Patmos in the year of the world 3825

The warm Mediterranean sun shone down upon the sand and heated it to the point where it became uncomfortable to walk on barefooted. It was when it became this hot, that John liked to hobble to the seaside and bury his arthritic knees in the sand. This gave him relief, and besides, he liked staring at the sea.

The sea was many things. One of those things was a wall. They were a prison wall and this island he was on was one big prison cell. Yes, it was a prison, but a prison with a beach.

The sea was also a highway. The ships that connected one part of the Roman world to the other used the sea as their road. They had started in a single city and had taken their peninsula. Then they had spread out like a plague across the whole world and they had used the sea.

John liked the breeze off the sea. The sand was hot on his knees, but the sea breeze kept him from being uncomfortably hot. Though, as an only man, he was hardly ever hot. Being hot had been a luxury of his youth in Palestine. In those days, he had gotten hot, but his knees hadn’t ached. He had walked countless miles, and his knees had never ached at all, or if they had, it had not left a memory with him, but then he had so much more to remember from those days.

Back then he walked the same walk as the man Jesus. Life had never been the same. Jesus was the reason he had left Palestine, the reason he had gone to Ephesus, and the reason he had been put in prison on the Isle of Patmos. He looked back on the life he had lead without regret. He wouldn’t change a thing.

However, he did worry about the little ones who were new in the faith. The persecutions the Emperor Nero was pouring down upon them were hard to bear.

To begin with, Rome was like a monster from the sea that had come upon the land. The Romans had come to Asia Minor in their ships and taxed the people. The Romans became the landlords who made the farmers raise luxury goods for export rather than food for themselves. A farmer and his family could be starving, but they would still have to export their crops. It was as if the country had been attacked by locusts.

Add to that Nero, who had taken it into his mind to persecute Christians, and life became unbearable for the people in the churches under John’s care. He had to get a message of hope back to them to help them hang on, but he had to do it in such a way they wouldn’t get into trouble for reading it. Saying “Nero is a jerk” in private to one’s fellows is one thing, but putting it in writing for the Roman’s to read was another.

John stared out across the sea and watched the waves rise and fall, and he thought about the book of Daniel. Much of it was written in code and gave a history of oppression the Jews had endured since their original captivity. John decided he could copy that style. He would put the atrocities his churches in Asia had been forced to endure in that coded language and cap it off with a vision of what the future would be like, and that would help keep hope alive.

One thing eluded him for a moment. How to associate Nero their oppressor with it in a way his audience wouldn’t misunderstand. He thought, and it came to him in a flash. He wrote Nero’s name in Greek on the sand of the beach and totaled up the value of the letters: six-hundred, three-score and six. That was Nero’s number. That was how his congregations could thumb their noses at their oppression.

There was no way anyone could possibly misunderstand.
That's an interesting little piece. :)

Paragraph 4 is a little heavy on the "knees" and "hot", but aside from that, very interesting reading. :)