The Hawker of Knives
It was one of those events that might have passed as normal yet struck your street intelligence with its uncanniness. Late one night a few days ago while I was out of town, my daughter called to report what had happened that evening in our little estate of four flats, two duplexes, and four single-room apartments across the short grass lawn on the opposite side of the duplexes. She said that one of those Fulani hawkers (whom we have generally learned to suspect as covert Islamists) was at our door late that afternoon, at about 6.00pm. She had had a visitor in the house who had drawn her attention to the stranger outside. When she went out to see him, he asked if she had a knife to sharpen. She told him she had none. He insisted that even if she did not have all the money, she could pay a part, Ã¢â‚¬Å“even one hundred naira,Ã¢â‚¬Â he pressed. She maintained that she did not need his services. The haggling went on until her friend from the sitting room called her to her senses. She quickly got back into the house, leaving the stranger outside with his bucket of sharp kitchen knives.
They watched him through the window as he slowly left the estate, looking this way and that way as if he was checking to see other exits apart from the gate through which he had come in. Our security personnel had been absent from the gate at the time.
Soon as I finished on the phone with my daughter, I called the Bishop on the adjacent side of my block, to report what I had been told, and how I thought that the fellow might have been on a surveillance mission. The Bishop was then to tell me that the same guy had been at their door, upstairs, but his wife had refused him through the metal gate. All the same, she had given him a knife to sharpen. Strangely, the knife he returned to her was not the one she had given to him. She pointed to her knife, but he insisted that the one he had given her was her knife. The husband got to know, and was understandably suspicious, having lived with those people in northern Nigeria. He told his wife not to use that kitchen knife, even if that was the only knife in the house.
We promptly called an estate meeting the following day. At that meeting, we could not confirm that the knives-hawker had also been to any of the other blocks in the estate. We suspected that the fellow had been on a surveillance mission, and the knives were merely a convenient cover. Everyone uses kitchen knives after all, and would occasionally need them sharper. We had reason to worry about the particular knife he had exchanged for the one from the BishopÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wife. It was either a poisoned knife (like their poisoned arrows) or there was a microchip embedded in it. We broke open the handle of the knife but noticed nothing unusual. All the same, we threw the knife away, careful that it cut no one.
It was curious that the stranger could Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmix upÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ knives when he had been given only one knife to sharpen; that he could be surer than a woman about a knife she had been using every day in her kitchen; that he would climb the stairs up to one clergyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gate, and thereafter invite himself to anotherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s door, insisting on offering a service that was not demanded of him, at a rather awkward time of the day, in a home where he had not previously been invited.
Setting? Port Harcourt in southern Nigeria. The jihadists appear to be getting more desperate in this season, and resorting to every devious means, including polluting the food and fruits they hawk in dominantly Christian communities. May no one feel too secure to watch (with open eyes) and pray (on bended knees). Boko Haram takes different guises.
Last month I sent out a message entitled Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bloody EasterÃ¢â‚¬Â with the diary date of February 20, 2020. It was a prophecy to the Nigeria Church, an urgent prophecy on the framework of Haman in the Old Testament and Herod in the New. In both of those cases, the people of God, especially their leaders, had been under the threat of extermination from wicked powerful politicians using the instruments of government for the perpetration of their genocidal agenda. Both cases were in a calendar season similar to this time of the year: Ã¢â‚¬Å“EasterÃ¢â‚¬Â for Herod and the month of Ã¢â‚¬Å“AdarÃ¢â‚¬Â for Haman, a month on the Bible calendar corresponding to March/April on the Gregorian calendar.
This is the last week of Adar the last month on the Jewish calendar; and Easter is a few days away on the 12th of April. I reposted Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bloody EasterÃ¢â‚¬Â ten days ago on the 10th of March. Coincidentally, that was the second day of the Purim festival celebrated annually by the Jews on the 14th and 15th of Adar (corresponding to the 9th and 10th of March 2020). Purim is an annual commemoration of EstherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s triumph over Haman the Agagite codenamed Ã¢â‚¬Å“Enemy of the Jews,Ã¢â‚¬Â it is a memorial of GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s preservation of His people from Haman the Hitlerist who eventually perished on gallows that he had plotted for a Jew, and he perished with his ten sons.
The multiple coincidence of HerodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Easter, HamanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Adar and EstherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Purim with the present season in our calendar is significantly troubling. In Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bloody EasterÃ¢â‚¬Â I warned prophetically that Ã¢â‚¬ËœHerodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ had taken an Ã¢â‚¬Å“EasterÃ¢â‚¬Â date to wreak a coordinated bloody widespread havoc on the Church in Nigeria (Acts 12:4); that we were dealing with a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœspirit of HamanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ in this season of Ã¢â‚¬Å“AdarÃ¢â‚¬Â (Esther 3:7, 13).
About two thousand and five hundred years ago, Queen Esther with her maids was at the forefront of the confrontation against the Ã¢â‚¬ËœmaleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ spirit of genocide working mischievously from the corridors of power through Haman the Prime Minister, exploiting the instruments of government to a malicious sectarian purpose (Esther 4:16); five hundred years later (or about two thousand years ago), it was again going to take another band of praying women in the house of Mary to contend against and defeat the murderous Ã¢â‚¬ËœmaleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Ã¢â‚¬Ëœspirit of HerodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ that had picked an Ã¢â‚¬ËœEasterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ date against Peter, meaning thereby to negate and mock the Passover essence with the blood of a frontline disciple. To kill Peter at Passover was to suggest that Passover was a lie after all, as even leaders of the Church had not been Ã¢â‚¬ËœPassed overÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ by the plague of death. That was a season Peter should have been preserved from death because the Lamb of God had taken his place. To inflict death then was to mock the season and mark it with a different blood. Herod did not choose the date by mistake.
In Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bloody Easter,Ã¢â‚¬Â I announced the Ã¢â‚¬Å“urgency about the short window of time between the opening of the year until about Easter 2020Ã¢â‚¬Â when we could watch and pray against what I described as the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcalendar of HerodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ (Acts 12:4). Haman arrived at his date through meticulous sorcery (Esther 3:7, 13). Herod would have been guided by no less meticulous diabolism that gave him the Passover date, to desecrate that season.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I Also and my MaidensÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â
A few days ago, a global womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s prayer movement headquartered in Nigeria, the Wailing Women Worldwide, heard GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s call to hold a solemn day of prayers on the Sunday after Purim, on March 15, the same date that President Donald Trump had led the United States to prayers against the corona virus. I am not sure if the Women understood the full significance of that call to which they promptly responded. God was raising strategic female voices against the bloody spirit of the season: Esthers and their maids against Ã¢â‚¬ËœHamanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ (Esther 4:16), and Rhodas and Marys against Ã¢â‚¬ËœHerodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ (Acts 12:12-13). Much earlier in history, it had been Miriam the little girl, Mama Jochebed, and a princess Ã¢â‚¬â€œ PharaohÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s own daughter, that had been in the all-female team that scored the decisive goal against the earliest Jewish holocaust captained by Pharaoh Ã¢â‚¬â€œ another male ruler.
Does it mean anything that this same week, just a little after the WomenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s prayers, Nigeria is hosting a weeklong global Islamic conference at the Islamic Centre along the Federal Poly road in Afikpo, Ebonyi State in south-eastern Nigeria? That Centre is reputed as the third largest in Africa? I spoke with a pastor in that city who was requesting prayers as Ã¢â‚¬ËœtheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ were Ã¢â‚¬Ëœeverywhere.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ Another missionary was later to say that that Centre has usually been a preferred place for their strategic meetings Ã¢â‚¬â€œ off the spotlight, off the common radars on Sokoto and Kaduna and other northern Nigeria Muslim populated cities. Might that gathering in this particular season in the Christian south mean anything?
11 Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?
12 The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come (Isaiah 21:11-12).
The Lagos Explosion
At about 9.00am on Sunday, March 16, there was a huge explosion in Abule Ado section of Lagos in southern Nigeria, with impacts felt as far away as about ten kilometres. Almost immediately, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (with its largely Ishmaelite hierarchy) was quoted to have said that it had been a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœpipeline explosion.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ It was as if Ã¢â‚¬ËœsomebodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ knew something and had been waiting with a prepared Ã¢â‚¬Ëœofficial explanationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ to give to the world. Unfortunately, eyewitness reports were generally of the view that it had been a bomb, especially as there were no burst pipes to show. The widespread ruins from flattened buildings much resembled those of war-ravaged Syria. According to another voice from the NNPC, Ã¢â‚¬Å“There is something suspiciously different about this explosion. The scale of the destruction is nothing like any of the pipeline explosions we have monitored and documented for several decadesÃ¢â‚¬Â (vanguardngr.com of March 16th). Where lies the truth? When shall we know?
If that blast is the handiwork of Haman, as many suspect, then the day and time of the explosion as well as the location had been carefully Ã¢â‚¬ËœcalendaredÃ¢â‚¬â„¢: Sunday morning when most people were either generally at church in that predominantly Christian settlement, or at home from their weeklong businesses. Bethlehem High School is a Catholic girls boarding secondary school there. Its hostels and other buildings were almost entirely levelled by the blast. Students were said to have been at their morning worship when it occurred. Some of those children were trapped in the ruins. One reporter estimated that the houses impacted by the explosion could have been about a thousand. According to the Guardian online, Ã¢â‚¬Å“many are still unaccounted for and suspected to be under the rubble of collapsed houses.Ã¢â‚¬Â Contrary to official claims that put the fatalities at fifteen, eyewitnesses have put their estimates at about three hundred and more, and the value of the loss (houses, cars, and other properties) in millions of dollars. Bloody Easter Ã¢â‚¬â€œ so soon? What other dates might there be on HerodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s calendar?
Distracted by Corona
About a week ago, I told a group of Christian leaders that Nigeria was soon going to implement its own Corona lockdowns, but I added my concerns, especially in this season of Haman-Herod. Three days later, Lagos announced the closure of schools and other restrictions on the allowable number at religious congregations, for the next four weeks. Other states soon followed with similar restrictions, with airports being gradually shut to international flights.
Much as governments are commended for their safety precautions, in the case of the fate of the Church in Nigeria, Corona could be a distraction. I have been asked, What is God saying about Corona? Corona seems to me a Ã¢â‚¬ËœPassover plagueÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ whose peak shall be this season, but shall not cross over to the next half of 2020. Its fury shall soon be a humoured memory, but my worry is another plague: Haman-Herod. May we not focus so much on the passing Corona that we lose sight of the Enemy we have had before Corona came, and shall still be contending with after Corona shall have sailed out. While the restrictions on large congregations could hamper plans to attack such large Christian gatherings in the Bloody Easter season, I am not about to stop the prayers, as I fear that the new status could also make stay-at-home Christians into trapped targets for jihadists patrolling in fake military outfits, as it is said to have happened in a northern Nigeria state during a curfew that kept the Christians in while the others killed them secretly under cover of the same curfew. Already, I worry at the following headline quoting Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Herdsmen now adopt guerrilla tacticsÃ¢â‚¬Â (www.newtelegraphng.com, March 17).
My next point is not a voice I have heard from on high but a worry in my soul. I sense strongly that Corona carries a pregnancy. The President of America is calling Americans back home; Canadian Prime Minister is doing the same. Israel also. Germany is sending planes to return their people. Everyone is Ã¢â‚¬Ëœgoing homeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ in response to the Corona call. About two thousand years ago, there was a similar global summons, which sent Mary and Joseph back to Bethlehem where the Messiah was born. Then it was King HerodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s call birthing the King of Kings; now it is Corona compelling people home. Strangely, Ã¢â‚¬Å“coronaÃ¢â‚¬Â means Ã¢â‚¬Å“crownÃ¢â‚¬Â in Latin, suggesting that we could symbolically also refer to Corona as a kind of royalty Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a king or queen. My worry is not Corona, but the Ã¢â‚¬ËœchildÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ that Corona shall birth for the age. I cannot put my finger on it, but the season could reveal an apocalyptic Ã¢â‚¬ËœchildÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ in line with predictions in the book of Revelation. The world seems now so focused on the Ã¢â‚¬ËœcensusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ of Corona deaths that it is generally oblivious of Ã¢â‚¬ËœCorona birthsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ in unreckonable mangers of global consortiums. Every time God is about to show His Ã¢â‚¬Å“great wonderÃ¢â‚¬Â in heaven, the dragon comes up with his counter of Ã¢â‚¬Å“anotherwonderÃ¢â‚¬Â in the same space (Revelation 12:1-3). The season is pregnant, but I am unable to name the child it carries. However, one thing troubles my spirit: the special restrictions on religious gatherings and governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s enforcement of those restrictions in respective nations will be a crucial dress rehearsal of how to take on the Church and how the Church itself will respond to government restrictions when the Big One eventually comes, soon. Watch out!
A Second Call
In the light of the foregoing, may I kindly repeat the call that was made in Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bloody EasterÃ¢â‚¬Â of February 20, 2020, while I thank all that responded to that call and have been on their various watches since then:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ May churches and other leaders in Nigeria (and beyond) kindly occupy the dates from March 1 to April 15. At least, get volunteers to each take one of those days, until all the days are covered, fasting and praying, pleading the Passover Blood of mercy against the bloodthirsty gang (Revelation 16:6). That way, on every day from March until after Easter, someone would be fasting and praying, tearing up HerodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bloody calendar and enforcing Passover for GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s people and against the first borns of OppressionÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ This could be our Passover, HamanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s waterloo in his own gallows; HerodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hell before his select cheering audience. Amen.
From The PreacherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s diary,
March 20, 2020