Eldorado: Watch and Wait

“Watch … for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. … Be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” – Matthew 24:42, 44 (NKJV)[1]

Baroness Orczy’s novel Eldorado (1913) tells the story of the Scarlet Pimpernel’s rescue of the Dauphin, orphaned son of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, during the French Revolution. This novel isn’t based on historical fact, since there was no Pimpernel and the Dauphin died in prison. It’s still an exciting story, with some biblical lessons.

The Story

scarlet-pimpernelIn every rescue attempt, Sir Percy Blakeney (Scarlet Pimpernel) demands total obedience of his followers. Most give it in admiration of their leader. They trust him completely, knowing that following instructions exactly are crucial to the success of each mission. Blakeney’s brother-in-law Armand St. Just, however, has not learned to trust him. He hasn’t followed Blakeney as long as the others, so he doesn’t know how the man thinks, feels, and acts. This lack of trust produces near-tragedy for Armand, Blakeney, and the Dauphin.

Blakeney lets Armand return to Paris to help rescue the Dauphin on the condition that he won’t renew any old acquaintances, who may thwart the mission. Armand disobeys when he meets the treacherous, greedy Baron de Batz and then falls in love with the actress Jeanne Lange. After the baron tells Heron that he’ll find Armand at Jeanne’s quarters, Heron tries to arrest the young man but the lovers’ quick thinking saves them. Jeanne is later arrested for harboring a traitor to the Republic; Heron hopes that Armand or the Pimpernel will try to rescue her.

After he falls in love Armand thinks only of Jeanne, not his leader or the mission. He doesn’t think of his compatriots or his sister Marguerite, Blakeney’s wife, either. Armand’s blind passion leads him astray, making him disobey his leader at every turn. First Blakeney tells Armand to find work outside the city gates; instead, he tries to see Jeanne again. After he learns that his lover has been arrested, Armand returns to headquarters, not realizing he may have been followed. Blakeney tells Armand not to worry about Jeanne; he must join his compatriots outside the gates, where Blakeney arranges to meet Armand later and give him news on his lover.

scarlet-pimpernelArmand waits at sunset as instructed, but when Blakeney delays his arrival, he walks away. Thinking Blakeney has forgotten Jeanne to rescue the Dauphin, Armand reenters the city to rescue his lover; he doesn’t know that, thanks to Blakeney, Jeanne is safe. Armand then gives himself to his enemy Chauvelin, who successfully lays a trap for Blakeney. Only the Scarlet Pimpernel’s courage and quick thinking save them all.

The Lesson

Sir Andrew Ffoulkes knows and trusts Blakeney so he waits at an appointed place as instructed, although his leader arrives much later than expected with the Dauphin. Armand doesn’t know and trust Blakeney, so he waits a little while and then walks away. Armand also leans on his own faulty understanding (Proverbs 3:5), thereby attributing false motives to Blakeney. He calls him selfish and cold-hearted, but the only selfish one is Armand. Blakeney loves and cares for his own. He’ll never leave a friend or family member stranded, but Armand doesn’t know this.

How well do we know Jesus Christ? Do we know how he thinks, feels, and acts? People who trust Jesus choose to watch and wait. The Second Coming won’t surprise them. People who don’t trust Jesus walk away. Only those who are ready will be saved, the rest cast into hell (Matthew 24:45-51, 25:11-12, 30). Jesus is coming soon. Are we ready?

“Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey.”

[1] Cf Matthew 25:13, Mark 13:33-37, Luke 21:36

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