The Lost ePistles from the Dead Sea iParchment

If the Bible was a laptop what would you find in the inbox?

A collection of humorous and thought-provoking emails from various Bible characters.

Useful for your own reflection, or for reading in services, small groups or other events.

The first 12 can be viewed and downloaded as this PDF: The Lost Epistles – The first twelve chapters.

Six more can be found below. The rest are gradually appearing on the Free Resources page, here – http://davehopwood.com/christmas-journey/.

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18. Caleb

Numbers chapter 13 & Joshua chapters 14 & 15 & Judges 3

caleb@oldandwise.wecandoit
to
joshua@manofvision.frontiereland

Joshua

I want those hills. I want that land. I am not done with the challenges of life just yet. I don’t want to put my feet up with a hot cup of milk and honey staring at daytime parchments every morning and dozing in the afternoons. Remember when you and I first ventured into the Promised Land? Remember the vision we had? We could see past the giants and the pitfalls and the problems. We could see the future, we could this as a land full of potential. Well, I’m not done with that. I saw potential in those hills and I want to take them.

Remember the Anakites with their impressive walled cities? That’s what I’m after. If God has given us this land and if his promises are not hollow, then let me take it. There is nothing to fear. I have good men who have courage and faith – the combination of those two is a powerful cocktail. They fear God, they believe him, and they are brave men. So they will follow me into those hills. There’s one guy in particular that I have my eye on. Othniel. He is a hero believe me. I see us in him, it’s like looking at you forty years ago. I’d give him my own daughter if the time was right. He is a powerful young man. Maybe a future leader even? God forbid that the people ever lose their way with the Lord, but of they did he would be a man to bring them back. People in general are like sheep, Joshua, you know that. Moses saw that. They always need good leaders and without good leaders the majority always go astray. Always. It’s a fact of life, but with good leadership, compassionate, courageous, humble leadership, anything is possible. Othniel, if you ever read this and the people need a saviour – get out there! You’re the man for the job. And I’m serious about my daughter, Achsah is a great catch for any man – she knows her mind and will speak it, believe me. She gets the better of me at times…But I digress.

What I’m trying to say is… give me those hills! Please. I mean it. Give me those hills! Or I’ll come round and put a scorpion up your pyjamas.

What do you say? Can I take the battle to the Anakites? Can I storm their pagan cities and tear down their altars to foreign gods? Can I assault those walls and take those strongholds? All those years ago I was fobbed off with an interminable period of waiting in the wilderness by all those people who had no vision. I don’t know why but they couldn’t see how great the gift of God was, they could only see the problems. Why do some people get like that? Why do they focus on the difficulties and miss the opportunities?

Get back to me soon, we’re kitted up here ready to go. Remember, a scorpion.

Caleb

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17. Joshua

Joshua chapter 5

incharge@confused.com
to
stranger@lurkingnear.jericho

Dear Sir

I am confused. As we embarked on the Jericho campaign a group of our foot soldiers met you just outside the city. When they presented their arms and demanded which side you were on you refused to answer. Do you not realise this is a war zone? You were clearly armed. If you do not declare which side you are fighting for you are liable to get yourself killed. This is not some Sunday afternoon picnic. We are here to take this city, anyone who gets in the way of that will be taken out, I assure you. Tomorrow I shall be patrolling myself near the walls, if you should cross my path please be prepared to declare your allegiance. Anything else could be fatal for you.

Yours

Joshua, commanding officer of the forces of Israel

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

stranger@lurkingnear.jericho
to
soyouthinkyourincharge@confused.com

Dear Joshua

Let’s be clear about one thing. The important question here is not whose side I am on. I can take care of myself, believe me. Allegiance for me is not a question. However, for you it’s an issue which must be settled. I too am a commanding officer, I understood how it works. I tell those beneath me to go and they go, I say do this and they do it. It’s all very straightforward. But I do that because I know who I serve, and I know whose army I am in charge of, and it is not my own. I am placed here by one who is above all generals, all commanding officers, all foot soldiers and all conflicts.

You must familiarise yourself with that person. Don’t worry about me and whose side I am on, get to know the one above all wars and battles. You are an officer, you expect those beneath you to serve well. Now you must choose to serve the one who made them. Whose side are you on? His? Or your own?

Better decide soon, before you undertake your next battle. And when we next meet you’ll be on Holy Ground, so I suggest you take Moses’ advice and impersonate him, remove your sandals and bow. Remember what Moses told you about humility. It may not just save your life, it may well make it great.

Yours

That stranger with the big sword

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16. Rahab

Joshua chapters 2 & 6

top-pro@citywall.ex-jericho
to
joshua@conqueringhero.jerichorubble

Dear Sir

Just wanted to thank you for saving my life. And for honouring your promise and preserving my family too. When your boys knocked on my door I wouldn’t let them in at first, I only take one customer at a time. I’ve been caught out before. Plus they didn’t look rich and I’m a high class girl you know. I take some paying. Anyway, I’m glad I did. thanks. If I’m honest I didn’t expect you to honour the promise. Why would you? Just some alien hooker begging for her life. I’m used to men using me for their own ends and then conveniently forgetting to follow through on their promises. Men and cheap talk are real bed buddies, believe me. Thank you for being different.

I don’t know what the future holds for you or me. You’ll probably go down in history as some great hero of your people, most men do, and me, I’ll most likely be forgotten by tomorrow lunchtime. I have to make a new home here now in this place amongst a strange people. We’re not exactly refugees thanks to the new home your men gave me, but we are strangers in a strange land. We haven’t travelled far but in some ways it feels like a million miles. Nothing is the same anymore. Neighbours, shops, food, way of life. And these strange religious customs.

Who is this God you all talk about? I don’t get it. No child sacrifices, no temple prostitutes, no orgies. And only one! He must be a busy God – fire water sky earth weather war peace pain pleasure food drink tears laughter – he seems to be Lord of them all. I’ve never encountered anything like this before. And where are the idols? How can you relate to an invisible God? I hear tales of him looking like smoke and fire in the desert – but you can’t touch that. How’s that help? Doesn’t even have a real name. Just ‘I am’ – the present. Don’t you need something more tangible? More confinable. Strange.

My little boy Boaz was thrilled and horrified to see the city burning yesterday. He laughed and cried. He’s always playing soldiers with his cousins, so he was fascinated by the sight of the real thing. Weapons and officers, strategies and explosions. But that’s his world gone up in smoke now. The only place he’s ever known. He hasn’t spoke since he woke up this morning. I think the reality of all he’s lost is sinking in. I’m glad he has his cousins and uncles here.

I met one of your people yesterday, a woman called Naomi, she was kind and helpful. Made me really welcome. Not sure if we’re destined to be friends but just her smile and conversation made me feel better about things. She has two baby boys, so I guess she understands the stresses of being a mother. She seems a good woman.

Not sure if I’ll see you again, you’re a busy man and I’m a nobody. But thank you again.

Rahab

* * *

15. Nadab

Exodus chapter 24

aaronslad@younggun.wannabe
to
unclemo@princeturnedprophet.smellyshepherd

Dear uncle Moses,

That was an astonishing morning! I can’t quite get my head around what happened. And I still can’t quite see straight after all that blinding light. I’m still seeing stars. Did we really see… what we saw? Did we come face to face with that… and live? How can that be? How can we be here to tell the tale? How can I be sending you this message from my i-Parchment? You can’t do that, you can’t look on something like that and live! It’s not possible, not since Adam and Eve were banished from Eden and forfeited those kind of privileges. I’m astonished and confused. But more than that, I think we should keep this quiet.

You see Moses, the meeting we had and the food we ate are all very well, but people might misunderstand. Do you know what I mean? We want the people to fear God, not think that he is somehow just a celestial picnic thrower. They can go doing what they like without threat of destruction. We can’t be having a God who just throws parties and welcomes anyone can we? A deity without the fire and the thunder will make us a laughing stock to the other nations. We need to show these other countries that they can’t mess with us, that we’re right and they’re wrong and we have a God to back us up. Too many stories of sapphire pavements and a God throwing a feast on a mountain and they’ll all want to come! We need to be careful. We are different, unique. I mean, God’s not going to throw that sort of feast in a hillside for anyone and everyone is he?

Is this what you’ve been doing all this time? Going up that mountain and breaking bread with the Creator. How? How can that be? How can we do that and live? No one can see God and survive. Maybe one day the unthinkable will happen, the glory of God will appear in such a way that anyone can fix their eyes on him. Perhaps that magnificent pavement of sapphire will weave its way through the streets of our land and we’ll all walk it. But until then we need the sacrifices and the blood spilt, we need the blood of the covenant.

A word of warning – I noticed you ventured a good deal closer than the rest of us. Be careful Moses, don’t imagine that your particular relationship with God somehow makes you special, you are our leader and we would not want to lose you. Remember those who so recently lost their lives because of their arrogance. Remember your place, and whatever you do don’t encourage others to venture close to God like this. We wouldn’t want the whole world to think that they can climb God’s holy mountain and share a meal with him.

God is almighty. Not all-matey. We are his servants, not his friends. He is surely never likely to get that close to us. How could he? How could the divine, omnipresent being reduce himself to a state where he could sit at the same table as us? Who would he would cease to be the God of all creation if he became one of his creation. So let’s just keep it between ourselves. We had an incredible experience, we sat down and ate a feast in God’s presence, we saw his majesty and that incredible sapphire pavement. Now enough of the visions, let’s get back to reality. Somehow we have to get through this desert and make it out the other side. Abihu and myself will do what is right as priest of the most high. I just ask you to do the same.

Nadab, son of Aaron

* * *

14. Miriam

Leviticus chapter 10

mim@tambourinesister.dancingqueen
to
brother@mouthpiece.sparepart

Dear Aaron

I wanted to send my deepest condolences regarding Nadab and Abihu. This is a terrible terrible thing that has happened. I don’t know what else to say. The appalling accident that took their lives will haunt us all for a long time. They were dedicated men and fine sons, they served our God wholeheartedly and I cannot imagine what caused this tragedy. Yet something must have happened to mislead them. Moses tells me the enquiry is underway as I write. But more importantly I want you to know that my heart goes out to you and our prayers are with you. We will miss them both dearly.

Miriam

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

mo@princeturnedprophet.smellyshepherd
to
brother@mouthpiece.sparepart

Dear Aaron

This is a tough email to write. We looked into the case about your boys and it appears they took the law into their own hands. I know this sounds like madness, they were so dedicated when they began, they were there when the tabernacle was completed. They knew the ropes. There are specific rules about their job and it seems they flouted these. They did not take God seriously. I know you will not thank me for bringing this up, but I can’t help wondering if the calf incident influenced them in some way.

If there is anything I can do let me know.

Moses

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

mim@tambourinesister.dancingqueen
to
mo@princeturnedprophet.smellyshepherd

Moses! I can’t believe you brought up the calf thing again! Will you never let it go! And at a time like this! It’s highly inappropriate. Highly!  For goodness sake. Let Aaron grieve for his boys.

M

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

mo@princeturnedprophet.smellyshepherd
to
mim@tambourinesister.dancingqueen

Dear Miriam

I know you are angry with me, but you don’t have my job. Leadership is hard, I have to keep things on track. God is God and you cannot have it both ways. We are his chosen people, his mouthpiece to the world. We cannot have that honour and behave like spoilt children. I only bring up the calf incident to make the point that crimes come with consequences. Sometimes short-term sometimes long-term. It seem that this golden idol has cast a long shadow, that’s all.

By the way, don’t email me at this address if you want to tell me off. My wife reads them and may well come round and punch your lights out.

We are all grieving for these boys. Let’s lay them to rest and move on now.

Moses

* * *

13. Moses

Exodus chapter 14 & Joshua chapter 3

moses@nebo.theend
to
joshua@nextbigthing.thejordan

To Joshua

I’m writing this now and will get my servant to send it after I’ve gone. Thought you could do with a bit of encouragement from beyond the grave.

Some advice – people are a tough nut to crack. For one thing they’ll probably complain that you’re not me, and of course they’ll conveniently forget all the ways I drove them mad, and I’ll be hailed as a saint the moment I’m gone. But don’t be deceived. If you’re to lead this glorious rabble you’ll need nerves as steady as a pyramid and skin as thick as a camel’s backside. Leadership is no mug’s game!

So here’s what I think you should do. Impersonate me. Don’t worry about the voice or the limp or nervous ticks or the annoying habits, I’m talking about grander things here. Do some miracles early on. It worked for me. People need to know that you have the same credentials, so don’t go for subtlety. You need a big act of God. Now you don’t need the ten plagues, that was so last century. You won’t need that where you’re going, but the water miracle, that’s where you want to go. You see, when we hit crisis point back in Egypt, and it was do or die, all I could do was hold out my staff and command that water to part. And as you know God came through and the people were very convinced. Well, you’re going to need to cross the Jordan soon and I know it’s not the Sea of Reeds, but if you call on the power of God and part that water people will instantly make the connection. You will be the new Moses and they will follow you. No man can open up the sea, only God can; trust me, do the water miracle and they will know God is with you.

Remember though, you’re not me, you have very different gifts. You’re a warrior Joshua, a fighting man, I was never that, so you must be true to yourself. It’ll be tough at times because people will want you to be something else, but remain true to the man God has made you. It’ll also be tough because I have seen how competent and resourceful you are, but never be tempted to become self-sufficient. Never let your ego lead you, I made that mistake and I am paying for it now. When I cracked open that rock out of anger I sealed my fate. I didn’t listen to God. So never think you know better than him, never think you are wiser or more competent than you are. Stay humble. Humility is a man’s best friend, and ultimately it well make you more like God.

Strength and courage, my friend. It’s over to you now.

Moses

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