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Spy thrillers

Exfiltration sounds like a step required in cleaning a coffee machine, but it’s actually a spy term – the opposite of infiltration. It describes the process of extracting an agent from the country in which they’re spying. It is typically a dangerous operation, especially when surveillance is in bedrooms and bathrooms, and radioactive dust is brushed on one’s shoes to track movement, and well-trained sniffer dogs point their noses in every direction, and the professionals suspect that something is up.

There are many spy stories in the Book. Joshua sent out twelve to scope out the promised land. David planted his friend deep inside the royal court to pick up intel about a coup. Elisha possessed a supernatural surveillance system that enabled him to track an enemy’s plans. Paul complained about legalist types who were spying out the new freedoms of the Christian community. And Jesus often detected spies at his lectures.

One of the more dramatic exfiltration stories involved two spies once sent to reconnoitre Jericho. Trapped at dusk on the inside of the city, they were hidden by an unsuspected supporter, who artfully threw off the inquisitive police, then cut a deal with the spies to guarantee her freedom and also that of her family, and agreed on a signal sign to guarantee her rescue. Such was her daring, that her name ends up on the first page of the New Testament, an ancestor of the One who would infiltrate this world, to exfiltrate people like us.

DM 8th October 2022


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