“Nothing but trouble can come of this,” Benjamin, one of the town elders, said. “Herod is a wicked and jealous king. I cannot see him allowing the birth of one who might have a claim to the throne of David.” Several others spoke up in agreement.
“But your king asked us to report back to him when we had found the young prince so he could come also and worship him.”
“Worship him!” someone exclaimed. “Why, he’s killed his own sons for fear they would depose him! If he truly wants to worship this child, it is a miracle indeed!”
The talk went on a while longer, but the kings were tired and soon the villagers left them to their rest. It had been a busy day and I was very tired. I slept deeply in my bed by the fire. Sometime later I was awakened by a stirring in the room. The kings had come together and were talking…
“I had the same dream!” one of them was saying. “We must leave immediately!”
“But we must warn the parents of the King so they can make their escape!”
“No. If we go there again, we might give away their whereabouts.”
“Sirs, what are talking of? What danger is there?” My stomach was twisting with the fear I felt for my friends.
“You, child! You can take the message” The tall king motioned me to them. “Have your mother fix us a light meal while the servants get the animals ready. Then run to Joseph and tell him he must take the child and his mother and leave the country at once! Your King means to harm the child.”
“How do you know?” I asked in confusion.
“Your God came to each of us as we slept and told us. Be sure they believe you!”
I delivered my message to Elisabeth and raced for the little house across town. Eli said later he told the kings of a route that would take them into rough terrain where Herod’s soldiers would not think to look for them.
Rehearsing in my mind what I must say to Joseph, I didn’t’ see the lamplight shining from the doorway or the donkey tied outside the house until I almost bumped into it.
“Joseph!” I called, “I have urgent news for you!”
I stumbled through the door and Joseph steadied me. “I know why you have come, little Micah.” He said, “The angel appeared to me also. He told me to take Mary and Jesus into Egypt for King Herod is seeking his life.”
Then I saw that Joseph was fully dressed and Mary also, with Jesus on her lap. Their few belongings were packed in saddlebags and I saw the jeweled top of one of the boxes among them. They were going away! To Egypt! I might never see them again. Tears stung my eyes as I went to Mary’s side. Looking up she smiled, and I saw her eyes were misty as well.
As I fell to my knees beside them, she gathered me close and said, “You have been like a son to us, Micah, and like a loving brother to Jesus. We will never forget you. And, I think you will one day see your little friend again.”
“But”, I sobbed…
“No, my child, you cannot go with us where we journey. You must stay and be Eli’s child.” She smiled. “I have a little more to do in here. Would you take Jesus outside for a few minters and watch him for me?”
She put Jesus into my arms and I carried him outside into the star-filled night. The morning star was almost as bright as his own, and I pointed it out to him. Though, to my eyes it was blurred and dim. One of his arms was around my neck and the other flung out to the night. I could smell the sweetness of his curls, still damp from sleep, and his eyes sparkled with the reflection of the heavens.
He must have heard me sob, for he looked around and touched my tear-stained cheek.
“O, my little brother,” I whispered. “Micah loves you so much! Be a good boy and help Joseph and your Mama!” I held him close against my chest and, with his arms still around my neck, I walked over to Joseph.
He said, as he arranged the saddlebags, “Mary spoke truly, Micah. You have been a good friend. We will always love you and pray for your wellbeing. And I know you will pray for us.” He took an object from his robe. “Here is the lamb you carved yesterday. I like the new design.” He handed it to me.
“Please, Sir, keep it for Jesus. I can make more and it would be good to know he had this one.”
Mary stood by the donkey. Joseph lifted her to its back and I handed Jesus up to her. “May I walk with you a way?” I asked. Joseph said nothing, but put his arm around my shoulder and started off down the road. I walked with them as far as Rachel’s Tomb, then Joseph tuned and gathered me to him.
“Goodbye, Micah. Go back now. Go in peace. God will be with you, as he will be with us.”
They walked on into the darkness. I stood there until I could no longer hear the plop, plop of the donkey’s hooves. My heart was heavy as I turned back toward Bethlehem. Memories of the years just past went with me and comforted me then; just as they would through the terrible days yet to come.
Old Micah sighed deeply and looked surprised to see the children still there. They were very still and looked with love at the bent old man who shared himself with them each day. “And that’s why you carve lambs, Micah.” Elisabeth said softly. “But why only two kinds?”
“Because those are the two I gave him,” Micah replied. “I went on to become a carpenter, as you know, but I never again carved only for myself. Always I carve the little lambs so children will ask for the story and I can tell them of the precious Lamb of God. Always, as long as there is a Micah, there will be a lamb for each child. And, a story!”
One by one, the children hugged the old man and wandered off to play. Reuben, the last to leave, reached up and took a lamb from the shelf. “Thank you Micah, for the lamb. But, most of all, for the story!”
Old Micah smiled and nodded. Then, he rose and stretched, placing the finished lamb on the shelf, and picked up another piece of wood. As the first shaving curled away, Old Micah’s eyes grew misty. “Young Rachel’s baby is due soon. I’ll need another lamb!”