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ALIVE

ALIVE is a book presented as a blog series about human life from its inception. It studies the purpose of life, the philosophy of life, and the difference between physical life and spiritual life. The book does this by delving into the relationship between humankind and its invisible but highly active and involved Creator.

Based on Biblical narrative ALIVE enters major events and fleshes them out. In so doing ALIVE makes discoveries about the origins and evolution of human life.

ALIVE combines imagination and scriptual accuracy to develop the themes of what it means to be much more than physically ALIVE. Although imaginative, ALIVE never contradicts Scripture. Enjoy and learn.

The Bride's Year

This is a series of posts that make up a story describing the Year of The Church. The Church is The Bride of Christ who will be married to Him at The Wedding Feast of the Lamb as described in the Book of Revelations to John. The Wedding of Jesus Christ with the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church occurs after the destruction of this old earth and the inauguration of the new earth, also known as The Land of Immortality. 

It is a tale of a cynical little angel that God sent to earth to learn about the mystical year of synchronic time and about His Betrothed.

My writing offers readers a fresh way of looking at and learning about orthodox Christianity.

The style is intended to help the mind and heart overcome old prejudices and awaken them to the Truth of God’s plan for the human-gods that were created in His image and likeness.

 

About the Blog

This blog is for those who take the line in the Nicene Creed seriously that says, “I await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the ages to come.” That is the life immortal into which Jesus Christ will someday usher renewed humans. For centuries these people have been called Christians, and they are still called Christians, but since Christianity has become such a broad term and Christ said that the gate into immortal life is narrow and difficult to squeeze through, then perhaps those few serious people would be better identified as “Aspiring Immortals”.

 

This blog is a journal of just such an Aspiring Immortal. Through stories, poems, and journal entries I teach orthodox Christianity. I am not a religious rebel, instead I’d rather identify with GK Chesterton, CS Lewis, and my favorite Saints such as Francis of Assisi, Chrysostom, and Climacus whose vision and creativity have guided so many aspiring immortals through this earthly life.

 

A companion to this blog is my book entitled “The Immortal Life (TIL).” TIL teaches orthodox Christianity to those who want to know the reason for life and death, good and evil. TIL explains it all from the fall of mankind to the annihilation of this planet with a refreshing contemporary voice that is at times even funny.

 

We all work very hard to improve life on this planet for ourselves and for each other. And yet there is so much more life has to offer. Aspiring immortals are the salt of this earth and the substance of the next one.

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    Sunday
    Nov192017

    Alive: Chapter 59, Death: The Key to Freedom

    Part Two

     

    This chapter, being the climax of the event, had to be very long, which isn’t practical to post, therefore I have split it into three sections. When the book comes out, that won’t happen, but for now I ask for the indulgence of the reader, promising to post the final part of this chapter next Sunday.

     

    God continued speaking to Moses, slightly annoyed by the distraction of Perambula’s loud thoughts, He continued, “then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two door posts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.

     

    They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until morning; anything that remains until morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the Passover of the Lord.”

     

    Hearing this, Perambula suddenly understood the meaning of it all. The blood of the unblemished lamb will save them from the grief and pain of death. As with Isaac, the lamb replaced the firstborn son. Now the sons of Jacob too will be rescued by the sacrificial lambs. Abraham’s faith will be rewarded once again. The covenant will be sealed anew.

     

    The lamb’s death, in return for their life. The lamb’s death was the key to their freedom. This lamb, cut up and shared equally would work its way through their bodies to cleanse them from within, and prepare them and qualify them to be free from slavery forever. Once again, Perambula was amazed by God’s plan. He thought of everything!

     

    “For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every first born in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”

     

    Moses listened intently to the instructions. He neither commented, nor allowed himself to fret as Perambula did, nor to question them. Moses was not nervous, but rather in a state of heightened anticipation after a very long drawn out effort, like a war or campaign whose culmination was near. It had been a very long time since Moses first encountered God in the burning bush. A very long time; much had happened, and all to lead up to this moment when the key to release the prisoners would be gently placed in the ancient lock, and turned.

     

    “Oh Egypt,” thought Moses, “how much like a mother’s womb you have been to our people Israel. Within your walls we found protection and nourishment; we were formed in here and grew. Now mother-Egypt must expel us. Without desire or permission, Egypt will go through birth pains as a woman in labor, shrieks in agony before the moment of relief when her womb will be evacuated with a violent birth.”

     

    Moses solemnly called all the elders of Israel who gathered quickly to receive their instructions, and said to them, “Go, select lambs for your families, and slaughter the Passover lamb.

     

    Take bunches of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood in their basin. None of you shall go outside the door of your house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike down the Egyptians, when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your house to strike you down.”

     

    The elders listened intently. They sensed the intensity of the moment. No one murmured or questioned Moses. Perambula wafted through the Israelites like a sheepdog gathering the elders at the foot of the holy hill where Moses could be easily seen and heard. Then the angel went over to Moses and whispered in his heart to add the most important, enduring aspect of the cataclysmic event, that it should be remembered, re-enacted, and respected by every generation, until the end of days, or else it would be meaningless. Or else all that had happened to destroy Egypt for the sake of Israel, for the sake of its freedom from slavery, but much more than that, to create from Israel a unique nation among all nations in all of time. It wasn’t enough for God to create Adam and Eve in His image and likeness. He wanted a nation, a society within which to make Himself known. God wanted a family, Abraham’s family.  He first had to extract this family from the womb where He planted it, to extract it in a violent painful way, like a long and arduous labor that would be so intense that it would form the essence of the family lore.

     

    “You shall observe this rite as a perpetual ordinance for you and for your children. When you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as He promised, you shall keep this observance. And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this observance?’ You shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, for He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when He struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses.’”

     

    Hearing this, the elders lowered their heads in awe and humility. The youngest elders fell to their knees, some fell into a fetal position with their faces hidden between their legs, and worshipped. After several moments of silence when each man listened to Perambula’s wordless reverence placed in his heart, the elders, filled with awe and humility quietly disbanded, each man walked with fear and reverence in his heart to relay to his people the instructions that it was time to slaughter their lambs and paint the entrance of their homes with its blood, before eating it.

     

    Tuesday
    Nov142017

    Alive: Chapter 59, Death, The Key to Freedom

    Part One

    This chapter, being the climax of the event, had to be very long, which isn’t practical to post, therefore I have split it into three sections. When the book comes out, that won’t happen, but for now I ask for the indulgence of the reader, promising to post the subsequent part shortly.

    Goshen was abuzz. Every man, woman and child sensed that the time was near when they would leave Egypt together. Surely there was nothing else God could do to ravage Egypt any more. The land was a virtual disaster area after the hail, locusts, frogs and everything. Everyone, except Pharaoh was exhausted. They had long forgotten what a normal day was.

     

    No one, neither Hebrew nor Egyptian could imagine Egypt without its Israelites. So entwined were the two cultures for centuries. Egypt had been the refuge of the Israelites, then when their Joseph managed the country with such skill it was their pride, before it was their prison.

     

    They ate the same food, their children played together, they even shared idols. This God who suddenly came to make himself so obvious to them and to call them out of Egypt into a land of their own was a mystery to everyone, save Moses.

     

    Had they asked for all of this commotion, this devastation of their land, when they simply prayed for relief from the tyranny of Pharaoh?

     

    God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to let Israel know of His power and their uniqueness as a people. He remembered His covenant with Abraham. Generation upon generation after the attempted sacrifice of Isaac, buried the stories of Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel with days of harsh toil.

     

    This Egypt was surely not the Promise Land. Not this place where they had to ask permission to worship, but the other part of the covenant was coming true, the part that promised Abraham that he would become the father of a multitude, that he would have more children than the stars in the sky, from one son, Isaac, born in his old age; that part was coming true. That the population of Israel had exploded could not be disputed. For every Egyptian baby born, there were several Hebrew births. The women were fertile, and the babies were strong. Since that prediction was coming true, perhaps there was a Promise Land as well.

     

    What would life be like without the chains and handcuffs of Pharaoh to order their waking days? They would have to wait and see. This God, whether by His sovereign Will alone, or in answer to their prayers had woken up. He came determined to destroy Egypt for their sake.

     

    Word had trickled out in Goshen that the first born of the Egyptians, both human and animal, from the son of Pharaoh, to the son of the prisoner and all livestock that broke the womb would die. Those who knew were not quick to spread the word, so terrified were they. Those who knew clutched their first-born and wondered how it was that they could be spared. Every Israelite knew that although they lived in Egypt for over four centuries, they had been set apart in Goshen. Although the Egyptians were slaves of Pharaoh too, the Israelites had been treated much more harshly. Can centuries of ill treatment be offset by a few months of bizarre favor?

     

    On this particularly bright morning Perambula was more fidgety than usual. The angel had received some strange news and didn’t want to challenge God (again) and didn’t want to hold it in. The perplexed angel flew over to the palace to find  Gracefeld.

     

    “Gracefeld, have you heard what is going to happen next?!”

     

     “Yes, of course.” replied Gracefeld with an air of superiority and calmness. “I suppose you mean that the angel of death is coming to take all of the first born. Thankfully, we don’t have to do that. Messy job. Disgraceful.”

     

     “Yes, but no!”cried Perambula. “I mean the sacrifice of the lambs! The Lord will tell Moses that each family is to sacrifice a lamb, right here...in Goshen! I mean how can this be?! Wasn’t it that they had to leave on a three day journey simply because this animal sacrifice would be so repugnant to the Egyptians, and now, He will have them do this right here where they live! I am so confused!”

     

    “Calm down Perambula!”ordered Gracefeld. “Yes, I admit that this is a switch, but the Lord requires it for a very good reason. Besides, Pharaoh asked for it, ummm thanks to me! He wouldn’t let them go into the wilderness, so they would just have to do it right here under their noses. Pharaoh and all of the Egyptians too will see for themselves the power and meaning of the animal sacrifice.”

     

    Gracefeld had a wonderful way of calming Perambula, which is why the Lord often paired them up on missions.

     

    Gracefeld added, “Do you know which angel of death is coming?”

     

    “No, and I don’t think it matters. I must be getting back for the announcement. Thank you.”

     

    “I heard that we will be getting reinforcements for the Exodus!” shouted Gracefeld as Perambula drifted away. At that, Perambula merely smiled and didn’t reply.

     

    When Perambula glided into Goshen, the meeting had begun. Perambula heard God speak to Moses and Aaron, “This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it.

     

    Perambula wondered why Moses did not seem at all surprised by the request for a massive animal sacrifice that was to take place, not in the wilderness away from the delicate sensibilities of the Egyptians, but right here in the city limits of Goshen! But then again, Moses was in no position to challenge God again since the beginning when he tried to turn down the assignment and was given his brother as assistant.

     

    God ignored Perambula’s loud and useless thoughts as He continued with His instructions. “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month;”

     

    Hearing this reminded Perambula of the sacrifice of Isaac. Keeping the sacrificial animal for four days, assumed Perambula, was to make them familiar with the animal. This sacrificial lamb was to be no anonymous piece of meat, but rather more like a pet whose every feature had been first inspected for its perfection and admired. For four days and three nights the family looked upon this perfect animal that they knew they would slaughter. In the eating of this lamb, each person might remember a moment of connection, when the animal was stroked, or when a glance into its eyes created a spark of sorrow. The thought of this saddened Perambula. To the angel it was as if Isaac had been slaughtered after all, and not the stranger-ram the Lord provided. To Perambula, it was as if each Hebrew family was required to slaughter their Isaac to join in the covenant with God before being saved from genocide ahead. 

     

     

    Friday
    Oct202017

    ALIVE: Chapter 58, Darkness

     

    Pharaoh tossed and turned all night. It was getting harder and harder to be the strong decisive leader his father had taught him to be. He was in agony. He didn’t want to fall asleep because every night plagued him with horrendous nightmares, dreams of frustration. The sleep state found him lost and desperate to find his way, or being chased by wild animals and not able to hide, or falling off a precipice. He was afraid of where his mind would take him, and yet his waking hours were just as horrendous. His idiotic magicians proved useless. From his birth Thutmose had always gotten his way. Anything his heart desired had only to be named and it came to him within hours, the tastiest food, the most beautiful women, the best performers of music and dance. He remembered the day that he was told that his father died and he was crowned Pharaoh as the most thrilling day of his life. Then, when his first born son was presented to him. Oh joy; what magician conjured that up! A miniature version of himself with a touch of his father and of his mother all rolled into one sweet smelling bundle of emotions. The baby smiled and gurgled so much; how he often wondered what was making this child so joyful.

     

    Could it be that if only he would release the Israelites to go into the wilderness to pray, then their god would be pleased and restore his kingdom and his peace of mind? Thutmose could not understand why he vacillated so, and why he was being so stubborn? Why did Moses only ask for permission to go away to pray, when they both knew full well that once gone, they would never return? Why did Moses repeatedly expect him to believe the lie that they would return? He might as well have asked for permanent release. Did that false brother of his think him a fool? He should just let them go and be rid of the whole lot!

     

    NO NO NO, what demon placed that thought in his mind? Absolutely not. He would not be bullied by that god of theirs. Pharaoh admitted that he showed his weakness too often when he asked Moses for prayer and offered to let them go. He really had to stop that. He must win. He must show himself strong and decisive. If only he could get a good night’s sleep, everything would be better. He needed a sleeping potion. He would try one more time to clear his mind of thoughts and focus on resting his every muscle from his royal toes up through his body until he reached his mind, the summit of his being and even there he must be in control enough to sweep away any thought that displeased him. Pharaoh craved rest, to fall into the warm soothing waters of oblivion. 

     

    Meanwhile, back on the hill, the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness that can be felt.”

     

    Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was dense darkness in all the land of Egypt.

     

    Pharaoh stayed in his bedroom and tried to sleep as long as he could. His man servant entered holding a candle and said, “Sire, how long shall this darkness last? The people have stopped working. The cows have stopped giving milk. The roosters won’t crow. The people want to know when the light will return. What shall I tell them?”

     

    “How should I know!” shouted Pharaoh. “Tell them that the light will return when they have pleased their gods. Tell them that I proclaim a holiday and that they need not report to work until the darkness is lifted. Tell them to pray to the gods that their rest is deep and restorative. Now GO and leave me be!”

     

    “I have one more message Sire.” added the daring messenger.

     

    “What is it peon?” replied Pharaoh nastily.

     

    “I am told that Gotham is bathed in light. They have no darkness there.”

     

    “How can that be?” replied Pharaoh incredulously.

     

    “We don’t know.”

     

    “Then they should be working! Order the slaves of Goshen to clean their streets and their fields. I will send inspectors in three days and expect to see Goshen spotless! And while you are there order Moses to return to me. Now please leave me!”

     

    The messenger walked out after kissing the hand of Pharaoh and bowing low. His first stop was to the municipal room to tell the officials about the holiday.  They chuckled at the news. 

     

    Then the messenger turned to start his trek to Goshen to give them their orders. He had a very difficult time making his way through the streets of Egypt. His candle blew out. The darkness was so dense and pure that he had to walk waving his hands out in front of him and around his sides. No one else was out, which made it easier than it otherwise might have been.

     

    As he approached Goshen he was shocked to see the dull luminous fog that made it much easier to walk. The closer he got to Goshen, the more light. It was amazing, it was dumbfounding. Goshen was filled with light, as opposite as the darkness of the rest of Egypt could be. He looked up at the sky for the sun, but found not the familiar ball. The messenger wondered if the light came from their God. Was He showing Egypt that He was indeed the God of light, and they were people of darkness?

     

    With no task masters showing up for work, with all the merriment he observed, it appeared that they were the ones having the holiday. The messenger went directly to the Town Square and announced the requirement to clean their streets.

     

    Then the messenger walked to the home of Miriam where he found Moses and Aaron eating lunch as if it was a typical day in paradise. He ordered them to return with him to the palace.

     

    Moses didn’t seem to have half the trouble walking back to the palace as the messenger had had wading through the darkness. Either he was being guided by an inner light, or the path was so familiar that Moses could walk it in his sleep.

     

    They arrived to find lit candles everywhere. Pharaoh’s throne room was bathed in jittery candle light.

     

    As soon as he spotted Moses, Pharaoh said, “Go, worship the Lord. Only your flocks and your herds shall remain behind. Even your children may go with you.” Pharaoh felt, that by saying this he was being generous and yet, authoritative enough to demand reasonable limitations. He expected Moses to comply and he looked forward to the end of the standoff. Sitting in darkness, Pharaoh had no clue that the worse was yet to come.

     

    Without hesitation, without compromise, Moses replied, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings to sacrifice to the Lord our God. Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must choose some of them for the worship of the Lord our God, and we will not know what to use to worship the Lord until we arrive there.”

     

    Pharaoh was angry that Moses wouldn’t take the olive branch that had been so hard for him to offer. This demanding, unyielding, uncompromising opponent would not get the best of him. Pharaoh had no power over the light; he didn’t know the reason for the strange darkness, or when the light would return, but he still had it in his power to keep Israel from leaving, and that would be good enough. Good enough for this meeting. Good enough for this dark day. He would just try to fall asleep again.

     

    Pharaoh turned his stubborn heart inside out and barked, “Get away from me! Take care that you do not see my face again, for on the day that you see my face, you shall die.”

     

    Moses replied, “Just as you say! I will never see your face again.”

     

    Then the brothers departed from the palace for what they figured was the very last time. As they walked through the dark halls into the pitch blackness, they knew not what time of day it should be. All was darkness, all was stillness, like the day before creation, like the day of death. Moses and Aaron walked back to Goshen in silence as they tried to maneuver the streets without stumbling and falling.

     

    They finally spotted the dim yet welcome light of Goshen in the far distance and used it to guide them home quickly. They went straight to their hill and waited, but not for very long.

     

    Moments after they arrived the Lord said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go from here; indeed when he lets you go, he will drive you away. Tell the people that every man is to ask his neighbor and every woman is to ask her neighbor for objects of silver and gold.”

     

    Moses and Aaron were immensely relieved to hear that the end was indeed near, as they had suspected.

     

    On the third day the people of Goshen could see the light of their district expand throughout Egypt. The days of darkness were over.

     

    The Egyptian people, tired, and hungry, innocent victims of the battle between egotistical Pharaoh and the powerful God of Moses were thoroughly drained; they had lost everything, their fields, their herds and flocks, their air of superiority.

     

    It was clear to everyone that Pharaoh with his useless demands was the weak one, the loser. Many of them wanted to leave with Israel. The Egyptians through all of these calamities saw what Pharaoh was blind to. Sitting on his throne, his own people rooted for Israel to win the battle and move on. Moses was clearly the victor, in the sight of Pharaoh’s officials and in the sight of his people.

     

    As they were told to do, the Israelites took advantage of the favor they sensed from their neighbors. The women went into the Egyptian neighborhoods, knocked on doors and asked for items of silver and gold to take with them. By then it was not a matter of whether they would leave, but when. Egyptian women gladly handed over their precious metals as a prayer offering to the god of the Hebrews. Each household tried to out do its neighbor in generosity to the slaves and their powerful God. Little did they know that their biggest sacrifice was yet to come.

     

    Strengthened by the return of light to Egypt, and by the treasure they were given by the people, Moses sensed too that he had won. Their God won!  Only now, the plague was yet to come. Until this time, in spite of all the loss, not one human life had been taken. God thought it only fair to give Pharaoh a warning of the tenth and final event, the plague, that would break Pharaoh’s God-produced strong will.

     

    The guards saw Moses and Aaron approach and sent a messenger to ask Pharaoh if they should be admitted. Feeling better after the three day rest, and the morning light, he consented to receive the brothers. Perhaps they were coming to concede, he thought. Perhaps, they were willing to leave something precious behind to insure their return. That’s all he ever really wanted anyway. He didn’t care that they had a holiday, he just wanted to retain their usefulness, and his power over them.

     

    Moses entered the throne room with an air of confidence and solemnity that shook the better mood out of Pharaoh. Aaron said, “Thus says the Lord: About midnight I will go out through Egypt. Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the female slave who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock. Then there will be a loud cry throughout the whole land of Egypt, such as never been or ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl at any of the Israelites-not at people, not at animals-so that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. Then all these officials of yours shall come down to me , and bow low to me, saying, ‘Leave us, you and all the people who follow you.’ After that, I will leave.”

     

    Moses had worked himself into a fury with this message. He was angry that it should come to this, the killing of so many innocents to force their release. By the time Aaron finished speaking, Moses was clearly fed up and in hot anger he turned without saying a word and walked out with Aaron at his heels.

     

    The Lord spoke to Moses’ heart, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, in order that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”

     

    Moses was comforted by those words; he understood that God’s ways are mysterious. It was more important to God that His power and favoritism of Israel be recognized, than all the destruction and death that it took to make it obvious to Pharaoh, to the Egyptians, and to Israel.

     

    Gracefeld and Perambula were both very pleased with themselves for so successfully helping the Lord carry it off. These angels had never worked so hard, neither in the galaxies, nor on earth. They expected great rewards would follow and their names to be  written in the Angel Hall of Fame.

     

    Moses and Aaron too clearly sensed that these were holy days. For all the frustration and suffering, surely future generations would hear of the marvels and the plague that was to come, and stand amazed that God orchestrated such an epic release from the chains that had bound them to Egypt and to Pharaoh for centuries.

     

    However, it wasn’t over yet;  the Lord still hardened Pharaoh’s heart, in spite of the threat of the death that would ensue, through his able emissary Gracefeld, and he did not let them go.

    Wednesday
    Oct112017

    ALIVE: Chapter 57, Locusts

    After the hail subsided, even the angels Perambula and Gracefeld grew weary observing all that the transplanted Hebrews and the native Egyptians had to endure together with one calamity after another in a non-stop barrage of misery. No one was free to leave Egypt; everyone had to suffer not knowing what would come next to frighten or repulse them.

     

    “Gracefeld,”asked Perambula, “how are you managing to keep Pharaoh so stubborn through all this? I really thought that the hail had to be more than he could endure, knowing that it is in his power to relent and return to normalcy. His kingdom is utterly destroyed!”

     

    “It isn’t easy Perambula.”replied Gracefeld. “You see how many times Pharaoh weakened. Over and over I spoke through his heart, that surely the Hebrews would not return once they left. To have less than half of his workforce, and to be left with the least skillful builders would spell the end of his pyramid project. His own tomb could not be built. What is a Pharaoh without a tomb? Besides, I told him. No matter how bad it got, the Hebrew slaves would be the ones to clean it up and restore the fields.

     

    Then I tell him that he, not this Hebrew god, has ultimate authority. He loves that. To let the Israelites go would make him subservient to their magician of a god.”

     

    “Ooo Gracefeld! Did the Lord hear you say that?”

     

    “I don’t know.” said Gracefeld. “He didn’t say anything to me.

     

    Perambula, doesn’t it make you wonder why God has to cause so much pain and suffering to prove his greatness?”

     

    “No, not really.” replied Gracefeld. “Someday soon, the Israelites will need to remember these days. Besides, I imagine that to leave a destroyed country is easier than to leave a tidy country with their cozy beds behind them.

     

    They will need to know first and foremost that their God is almighty, that He has the power to destroy all that sustains them. Besides,” added Gracefeld, “their lives have been too comfortable. Now that they are such a large nation, it is time for God to completely extract them from their small world. Like a long lost Father, he wants to reintroduce himself and mold them. That will take much hard work on everyone’s part.”

    “Especially ours!”exclaimed Perambula. 

     

    “I believe you are correct. Enough chatting Perambula. We must prepare for the next calamity. Farewell.”

     

    The angels departed, one flew to the pharaoh and the other back to God for further instructions. Perambula found God speaking to Moses again.

     

    “Go to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials in order that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I have made fools of the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them-so you may know that I am the Lord.” 

     

    As instructed, Moses and Aaron returned to Pharaoh, with Perambula following closely, and Aaron said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, so that they may worship Me. For if you refuse to let My people go, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your country. They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land. They shall devour the last remnant left you after the hail, and they shall devour every tree of yours that grows in the field. They shall fill your houses, and the houses of your all officials and of all the Egyptians - something that neither your parents nor your grandparents have seen, from the day they came on earth to this day.’” When Aaron stopped speaking Moses turned and walked out with Aaron at his heels. Perambula and Gracefeld’s angel eyes met briefly to exchange a wide-eyed look before Perambula hurriedly followed the brothers out of the palace.

     

    Gracefeld stayed to hear Pharaoh’s officials say to him, “How long shall this fellow be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God; do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?”

     

    Before they reached the palace gates messengers were summoned to retrieve the brothers. When Moses and Aaron returned, Pharaoh said to them, “Go, worship the Lord your God! But which ones are to go?”

     

    Moses himself said loudly and slowly, “We will go with our young and our old; we will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds, because we have the Lord’s festival to celebrate.”

     

    Gracefeld whispered to Pharaoh, “See! They mean to leave you forever, and then who will clean up this place? This city is in shambles,” Pharaoh paused to listen to his invisible angel, and then replied indignantly. “The Lord indeed will be with you if EVER I let your little ones go with you! Plainly you have some evil purpose in mind. No, never! Your men may go and worship the Lord, for that is what you are asking.” Pharaoh gave the sign to his guards to escort the brothers out of the palace. Within moments they were gone, leaving Pharaoh to brace himself for the next event.

     

    As if returning home from a typical day at work, Moses and Aaron walked out of the palace and back to their favorite spot on the hill in silence.

     

    The Lord had been waiting for their arrival. He said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt, so that the locusts may come upon it and eat every plant in the land, all that the hail has left.”

     

    Moses obediently stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night; when morning came, the east wind had brought the locusts. The locusts came upon all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never before, nor ever shall be again. They covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was black; and they ate all the plants of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left; nothing green was left, no tree, no plant in the field remained in all the land of Egypt. This time even Goshen was a swarm of devastating locusts. Man, woman and child, rushed into their homes and shut their doors tight. Window openings were covered to keep as many locusts out as possible. Screeches  and shouts reverberated throughout every building. The inside air grew thick and stuffy. It was hard to breath. The people’s hunger was gradually turning to starvation. Locust appeared everywhere as if they could pass through the walls. 

     

    It was as bad at the palace as it was in the hut. Pharaoh hurriedly summoned Moses and Aaron who were both quick to heed the request of Pharaoh’s messenger. The men crushed locusts with every step of their giant feet, as the streets were coated in swarming bugs who loud humming wings were deafening to the ears.

     

    No sooner had the brothers entered the throne room than Pharaoh said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. Do forgive my sin just this once and pray to the Lord your God that at least He remove this deadly thing from me.” Perambula looked over at Gracefeld with a look that said, “Is this IT?!” 

     

    Moses and Aaron turned and walked out. There was nothing more to say. They went directly to their hill and prayed to the Lord who immediately changed the wind into a very strong west wind, which lifted the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not a single locust was left in all the country of Egypt.  No one before, and no one since has ever received such instant response to a prayer as when Moses asked God to remove the locusts. The devastation was more than anyone could bear. 

     

    Gracefeld was given orders that it was still not enough. He would have to try harder to stiffen Pharaoh’s resolve in spite of the hunger and devastation. Gracefeld thought and thought of how he could turn this ship around again. “Oh Great Pharaoh,” said Gracefeld, “would you cave to the orders of a mere Hebrew, the false brother that so often stole the affection of your father? What will your son think of you, the great Pharaoh being tossed by the wind like a mere locust? No, this is a matter of dignity. The Hebrews must remain and restore your land that their god destroyed.” 

     

    Success! Pharaoh soon announced his reversal. NO! He would NOT let the Israelites go, after all. Not even after the locusts.

    Sunday
    Oct012017

    ALIVE: Chapter 56, Oh Hail!

    Miriam lay sleepless in the quiet darkness of the night. Thoughts that poured into her mind clashed with each other, taking turns for flashes of attention before dissolving. She felt the earth tremble under her.  She sensed the pain and suffering of her Egyptian neighbors while all was calm and peaceful in Goshen. They were still in Egypt, and yet they weren't. Her world was transformed daily while she remained fixed in her familiar home. She was confused and yet thrilled. Within a square mile existed both heaven and hell, peace and torment. "How bizarre," she thought, "for the most degraded of peoples to suddenly be the reason for calamity, like sweet revenge. Who is this God of ours?"

    Miriam had no one with whom to share these thoughts. Sepphora, being a foreigner, was a relatively free woman since the strangling hand of Pharaoh did not reach as far as Midian, Sepphora would not understand the magnitude of what was happening and Aaron was wrapped-up in his new role as spokesman and super-magician. Her neighbors were too busy with chores and forced labor to discuss how they felt about the series of calamities.

    While trying to fall asleep, she thought back to when she began to feel so unsettled. Was it when the calamities started, when the Nile turned bloody and the frogs and those horrible gnats appeared everywhere? She must have swallowed a cupful before they suddenly disappeared. No, oddly enough, she thinks she was most unsettled when the calamities happened to the Egyptians and not to the Jews. Who is this God?

    All her adult life, Miriam wanted to escape her captors, the pharaohs with their demands, but she wondered what this God would demand of her? Were they being set free, only to be flung into the clutches of a vastly more powerful tyrant? All her life Miriam made idols and worshipped them and prayed to them. She was in control of these gods made with hands. She placed her hopes onto these figurines. Sometimes they would grant her wishes and sometimes they didn't. But they never did anything on their own that she knew of, and they certainly never controlled nature like this. How could she love and trust this mega-powerful God of Israel Who spoke to her brother Moses, and wreaked havoc? 

    Before Moses came back into her life she only thought of God when she was being mistreated. For the most part, it was the menfolk who were the forced laborers. The women did the work they would have always done anywhere, raise the children, cook and clean. This was the kind of life no woman could escape, except prostitutes, and they had their own, worse and perverted forced labor.

    Perambula who was wafting through the house read the thoughts of Miriam and felt saddened. These people, these slaves of Pharaoh are so precious to God while they knew so very little about Him. Slavery and living among their oppressors stifled not only their freedom to assemble, and to fill their days, but their awareness of God. The concept of gods made by human hands, was too much for Perambula to bear.

    Trying to recall everything she knew about this God, everything her mother taught her, Miriam drifted into a deep refreshing slumber. She woke up before daybreak as usual, lit  the fire and was about to bake the bread-dough that had been rising all night.

    Aaron entered. “Good morning sister. Ahh fresh bread this morning!”

    “Miriam looked up and said with a hint of sarcasm, “What does our God have planned for us today?”

    Aaron replied, “I don't know. He just tells Moses before it is about to happen.” And then tossed a fig from the bowl into his mouth.

    Just then Moses enetered the room and said, “Come Aaron, let's go back.”

    “I’m ready.” replied Aaron enthusiastically and gave his sister a peck on the cheek and rushed out to catch up with Moses.

    In the middle of the night Moses had been awakened by the need to urinate. Back in bed, while trying to fall asleep again, the Lord spoke. He said, “Rise up early and present yourself before Pharaoh, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and upon your officials, and upon your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth.

    By now I could have stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But this is why I have let you live: to show my power, and to make My name resound through all the earth. You are still exalting yourself against My people and will not let them go. Tomorrow at this time I will cause the heaviest hail to fall that has ever fallen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. Send, therefore and have your livestock and everything that you have in the open field brought to a secure place; every human or animal that stays in the open field and is not brought under shelter will die when the hail comes down upon them.”

    As they walked Moses was anxious to deliver this message. He tried hard to repeat everything God said to Aaron in his garbled way while they walked to the palace. Aaron was made for this role. He remembered every word that Moses relayed to him, and never questioned or argued with the message.

    Moses and Aaron arrived at the palace, walked in, delivered their message to Pharaoh and his officials who had just arrived for the day's duties. At this latest message Pharaoh appeared dumbfounded. The timbre of Aaron’s voice was so clear and had such authority for a pitiful peasant, that Pharaoh had no response. His magicians had been reprimanded so severely that they hadn’t shown their faces in over a week. Moses and Aaron promptly departed. The officials followed close behind them.

    Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried their slaves and livestock off to a secure place. Those who did not regard the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the open field. On the way back home, Moses and Aaron returned to their favorite spot in the hilltop in Goshen to listen for further  instructions. Before long, the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven so that hail may fall on the whole land of Egypt."

    Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire came down on the earth. And the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; there was haiI with fire flashing continually in the midst of it, such heavy hail as had never fallen in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. The hail struck down everything that was in the open field throughout all the land of Egypt, both human and animal; the hail also struck down all the plants of the field, and shattered every tree in the field.

    Only in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were, there was no hail. From their perch on the hill, Moses and Aaron could see the clouds ejaculating onto the neighborhoods in the distance.

    On their way home a band of locals approached Aaron and asked what was going on. He reported the news about the hail. Some of the men were astonished while one or two others chuckled.

    While the family was eating supper they were suddenly startled by a loud forceful knock on the door. Eliezer got up to answer it. It was no surprise to anyone to find a messenger from the palace who had come to summon Moses and Aaron.  The messenger, not much older than Eliezer, was drenched and bedraggled. Eliezer asked him to join in the meal and the Egyptian boy gladly accepted.

    After supper everyone stood up to leave for the palace. Miriam said, “Don’t you think you should find something to shield yourselves from the hail?”

    “Good idea!” said Aaron.

    “Indeed!” added the messenger boy.

    Miriam looked around the house and decided to let them take her platters to deflect the watery bullets.

    “We must be going now,” said the messenger. “Pharaoh will be furious that I have delayed.

    The brothers agreed and followed the young messenger out of their dry cozy home.

    As they made the familiar trek to the palace it was interesting to note how gradually the driving hail progressed from light rain to thousands of tiny bullets as they approached the palace. They used Miriam’s platters to shield their faces, especially their eyes from the driving hail so they could see where they were going.

    As they passed a field the brothers saw that the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in the bud. But the wheat and spelt were not ruined, for they were late in coming up. It was a tragic sight. Their walked turned into a jog. The streets were empty. Even the animals were sheltered, some in barns and others in homes.

    When they arrived at the palace drenched and dripping they were given towels to dry themselves and then the brothers proceeded to the throne room.

    Pharaoh had been waiting for them on his throne. Without a greeting, Pharaoh looked down at the marble floor and said meekly, as if he was about to choke on his words, “This time I have sinned; the Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to the Lord. Enough of God’s thunder and hail! I will let you go; you need stay no longer.”

    Moses replied “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s. But as for you and your officials, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God.”

    “Be gone!” shouted Pharaoh forcefully. He had been humiliated enough and didn’t need these peasants to tell him whether he feared God or not.

    Aaron and Moses left the palace with the platters deflecting the hail that would have stabbed their faces mercilessly. It would have been impossible to look up to the heavens under those conditions.

    When they arrived at the first spot where there was no more hail, Moses stretched out his hands to the Lord; then the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain no longer poured down on the earth. Moses listened to hear the cheers of the people he saw in the distance venturing out of their homes.

    Back at the palace, when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and thunder had ceased, he sinned once more and hardened his heart, he and his officials. He no longer saw a reason to lose his labor force, and once again changed his mind. So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses.