The citizenry had never known peace.
The soldiers didn’t remember who they were fighting for.
The commanders lived for the battle.
The enemy demanded the king step down, and daily more of his own people agreed. He knew abdicating would condemn them all to slavery. But he would never deny his throne. He was the king and could be nothing else.
Joshua arrived at the front, hidden amid the day’s reinforcements. He received a half our demonstration of how to use a sword, an hour of lecture on the importance of obeying your superior officers, without question. Then the drill sergeant asked if anyone had any questions.
Joshua raised his hand. He asked why the training had never mentioned the king. The veteran soldier bellowed out that it had been a rhetorical question. Good soldiers didn’t ask questions, they just obeyed.
His commanders assigned him to defend a stronghold. He refused, even though they repeatedly reminded him of obedience. Joshua explained, the tower had not been built at the king’s command, it required massive resources, and had no strategic value in the battle.
The angry commanders ordered him to the front, to the location of the fiercest fighting. The commanders hoped he would die there. He didn’t.
When Joshua’s group returned from that assignment, he had been given a field promotion to squad leader. He was followed by many men, including several who had deserted and fought with the enemy. The commanders were livid, asserting those soldiers were traitors worthy of death.
Joshua defended those men, declaring the king rejoiced at their return. This caused the commanders to assert they were the only ones capable of passing on the king’s wishes. Joshua answered these men they rejected were more pleasing to the king than the commanders.
Joshua was charged with treason. The trial was an unholy spectacle, and both sides quit fighting to watch. Joshua was condemned to death, and at the execution the enemy lines celebrated. The commanders couldn’t understand why.
After a few days two weary armies prepared to resume an endless war. Troops on each side of the battlefield waited for the command to charge. They were interrupted by a solitary soldier riding between them.
It was Joshua. He called together all who were loyal to the king, no matter which side they were from. He had paid the price for their treason, those who loved the king could return to serving him.
In the hours that followed, the lines were redrawn. Commanders who had served the battle
instead of the king, were now with the enemy. Joshua, the king’s son, took command of the king’s armies.
The battle was still eternal, but now they knew who they fought for.