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The Boko Haram Trojan-1

The Parable of Troy

The Past sometimes comes alive in the present, but often in compelling contemporary costumes rather than in its aged rags or robes.  Those, whose necks are too stiff to look back, or have been deliberately stiffened from looking back, often receive every event with the shock or amusing courtesy of novelty.  I look back into Greek mythology and I think I find a parable for today.

In the second Book of the Aeneid, the Latin epic poem by Virgil, the story (also recounted in Homer’s Odyssey) is told of a long-drawn war between the Greeks and the Trojans.  After a fruitless siege of ten years on the city of Troy, the Greeks came up with a treacherous stratagem, to construct a large hollow horse of wood and hide some special forces in it.  That project covertly accomplished, the Greeks pretended they were deserting the war and sailing back home with their armada of 1000 ships – whereas they just turned the corner to the island of Tenedos.

The watchers on the walls of Troy had seen the war ships sailing away.  The horse had been left at the gates of the impregnable city.   The unfortunate Trojans, when they found it, took it as an ominous gift from or to Athena the goddess of war, with whom horses were associated.  Part of the ploy had been a Greek spy whom the ‘departing’ army had left behind, who pretended that he had been punitively abandoned because he was, to use our political terminology, in the ‘opposition,’ and had chosen to ‘defect’ to the Trojans.  He urged the people of Troy to take the horse into their city because it would make the city impregnable.  In Islamic warfare, it is called taqiyya – the doctrine of hallowed lies or deceit in furtherance of the cause of the religion. Against wiser minority counsel, especially from Casandra the prophet of Troy, the Trojans trooped out to celebrate their victory at last, and proceeded to drag the gigantic horse through the gates that they had opened, plus a broken section of the fortified walls, to let in the ‘gift’ from their god.

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After the party, at night when no one was expecting any more war, the warriors who had been hiding in the horse got out, killed the unsuspecting watchers and opened the gates to the rest of their solders who had sailed back under cover of darkness.  The city of Troy fell at last.  All its males were killed and the women and children taken as slaves back to Greece.  Thus painfully did the Trojan War end.  It is Greek mythology, but its eternal echoes of truth have been with us, such that today “Trojan horse” or simply “Trojan” has become the name in information technology for malicious software (malwares) that are usually embedded in innocent-looking mails or applications, which release their concealed ‘enemies’ once those malicious mails are opened or programs downloaded.

Treacherous Truths

That something is true does not always make it good, let alone safe.  According to Paul, the fact that something is true does not sufficiently justify the telling of it, not especially when the telling is laced with lovelessness.  In other words, according to him, something is critically wrong with a ‘right’ message from a wrong heart; that even when the words might be right, the message could be an error if the telling heart is wrong.  So, a heart could be grossly wrong even when the words could be glowingly right (Ephesians 4:5).  Total truth, then, is not merely a matter of the ‘facts’ but also of the heart; not merely of the words but also of the originating motives.  You may never know this if you have never experienced treacherous truths.  I have.  Many times.

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The apostle was speaking from painful experience when he made that treatise to the Ephesians.  Lately ordained and commissioned by the noble clergy of Antioch in Acts 13:1-3, he had been many days on a rather successful first outreach to Philippi when he was joined by one of that city’s notable ‘converts’: a rather loud and loquacious ‘repentant’ cultist – a young woman who had been a prominent front for the underworld witchcraft trade in the commodity of human souls (Revelation 18:13).  Regularly her voice was heard, loud and clear over other voices.  She was a voluble publisher with whom the outer system had no problems, until something sinister suddenly came out.  Of Paul and his companion on that great mission, she often publicly announced without a fee, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17).

Her words were right – Paul and Silas were the servants of a God who, without flattery, was “most high.”  Any preacher’s head should swell whose God was so generously and publicly exalted even over the publisher’s native gods. Her statement on their mission was also very correct – those preachers were showing men and women “the way of salvation.”  Notwithstanding those glowingly right words, her spirit was wrong, and that was where the timed danger lay.  She meant to have made of herself a Trojan horse, intended for the unguarded time after those preachers shall have left town.  While Paul’s outer ear heard her frequent and familiar true words, his spirit kept being troubled by something deeper than mere intellectual sensors could detect.  He could stand it no longer one day and vehemently spoke out against the error.

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Everyone had been hearing a human voice, a female voice; but Paul had been hearing a spirit-voice, “And…Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her” (v.18).  Why should any ‘normal’ person be “grieved” at another’s frank compliment of their labour?  That is where prophets differ, sometimes unpleasantly, from other mortals.  We do not always hear the same things even when we might be hearing the same voice.  The devils got out of her who herself had been their Trojan horse.  Then was when all hell broke loose, as they would say, and her secret sponsors came out to the open to give those apostles their first baptism of fire – on grounds of a very different accusation (Acts 16:16-24).

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