Ted Dekker’s A.D. 30 is a breath-taking novel that follows the tumultuous journey of a young woman, Maviah, born into shame, though the daughter of the great sheikh of the Banu Kalb tribe in the northern Arabian deserts, Rami bin Malik. Already living in seclusion with her infant son, her father’s wife and only friend, Nasha, the daughter of King Aretas of the Nabataeans, dies, releasing King Aretas from his covenant with Rami’s kingdom of Dumah. Maviah is thrown into a living nightmare when Dumah is violently ambushed by the Thamud tribe, and she escapes with the unfathomable responsibility of restoring the honor of her father and of all the Kalb, the very people who’d rejected her since her birth.
Accompanied by her father’s two most prized warriors, Saba and Judah, Maviah sets off to King Herod of the Jews to ensure an alliance with him. The venture promises much danger as she and her companions must stay clear of Thamud, cross the fatal Nafud desert – whom little survive, and win the favor of harsh rulers who care for nothing more than their own reputation. Though still perilous, the plans of her mission take an unpredictable turn when she meets a certain man; the “mystic:” Yeshua.
Meeting Yeshua flips her world upside down – the graceless world of woman born a disgrace; the brutal world of kingdoms fighting for power and wealth; the world of Maviah, at once the daughter of a great sheikh and his slave, doomed by the world and the very path she’s been given. But Yeshua speaks of another kingdom – one not of this world, yet now at hand and within anyone who believes in him; a kingdom that no other can level up to in power, and extends this very power to all who embrace it. Changed in every way by the words of Yeshua, Maviah eventually takes hold of this new truth and way of life, and the last days of her mission are an epic unraveling that will leave you hungry for Jesus and ready to conquer the world.
In a harsh world with what seems like a hopeless life, Maviah carries the burden of an impossible task that she’s sure will end not only in failure, but in death. Throughout her journey, her own mind proves to be her worst enemy, constantly haunting her with deathly whispers of inadequacy, worthlessness, loneliness, fury, and self-pity. Sounds familiar, right?
After many encounters with Yeshua, she grows to understand the biggest problem in herself that causes her to cower under these devastating thoughts: the wrong gaze.
As she encountered more and more danger, she was reminded more and more that Yeshua warned all who listened that His “way is easily forgotten.” Faced with each new bout of fear, she seemed to completely lose memory of all of Yeshua’s teachings, which promised her unwavering hope and power. Instead of setting her gaze on Him and His ways, she placed it on each new circumstance; on her condition. And in doing this, she placed her faith in the world and in herself, which are neither even remotely sufficient or secure.
We may not live nearly as horrifying lives as Maviah, but we live in no less of a broken world. We are indeed faced with hardship and trial that gives the Enemy a perfect opportunity to hiss the same venomous lies into our minds and hearts, but like Maviah, we can choose how we respond to this; we can either fasten our gaze on the lies – in turn putting our faith in ourselves and our circumstances – and shudder with submission to them in weakness. Or we can glue our eyes to Christ Jesus, in turn putting our faith in Him and His promises and being empowered by the Spirit of God Himself.
Maviah lives in a world much more dangerous than ours by a long shot, yet even she – a daughter born into shame – is able to sway rulers, soldiers, queens, and battle trained assassins by setting her gaze on Yeshua, the Messiah who was, and is, and is to come.
“Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
Proper gaze, proper faith, proper power