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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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    Saturday
    Dec312016

    ALIVE: Chapter 40 - Every Body Dies


    "Perambula, why do you sulk?" questioned the Lord with compassion over the angel's fallen countenance.

    "I am going to miss Abraham." replied the angel.

    "So, you finally forgave his adulteries? You weren't always so generous." inquired God.

    "Yes, but that scene on Mount Moriah. How could a man who didn't trust You to protect his wife from Pharaoh, or to give her a son, be willing to give back to You his greatest blessing, the seed of Your covenant promise of nations of offspring?"

    Without hesitation God replied, "Abraham learned to trust Me. He learned from his bad judgment. Don't fret Perambula, Abraham won't be locked in Sheol forever. I have a plan."

    "Forever? Lord, You are God! Just shine on Sheol and wake him up! Let his soul live with us."

    God was a little surprised to hear Perambula speak this way. He assumed that the angel understood the laws by which He had made heaven and earth, and the underworld, laws that govern life and death. After all, Perambula was in Eden. The angel heard God warn about the effect of eating the forbidden tree when He said, "ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ ξύλου τοῦ γινώσκειν καλὸν καὶ πονηρόν, οὐ φάγεσθε ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ· ᾗ δ᾿ ἂν ἡμέρᾳ φάγητε ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ, θανάτῳ ἀποθανεῖσθε.

    (Literal translation: away from the wood of coming to know, of perception [of] the good and oppressive toil, whoever of you eat from them, or in the day [you] eat from them, [you shall] die by death.)

    θανάτῳ ἀποθανεῖσθε. 'You shall die by death'. Adam and Eve were doomed to die when they ate of the wood.

    Puzzled Perambula pouted. The angel could not comprehend how awareness could cause death.

    Reading the angel's thoughts God explained, "Imagine that the sudden awareness of good and suffering created a surge of electricity in mankind's soul that triggered a short, a shut-down, death."

    Perambula, said with meekness, "Lord, they didn't die right away. They were expelled from the garden. What does this have to do with Abraham anyway?"

    "Perambula, there is a place in the center of the earth, or rather it is a state of being, that you are not capable of experiencing, which is death. It is said that the place is deep inside the earth and that they fell into it. That is why the experience of death is called The fall of man. There is no light there, no awareness, no sound. That place, that void, happened on the day that Adam and Eve became aware of the contrast of good and oppressive toil (sometimes considered to be evil.) On that day death, the effect of that awareness, became their destiny. That is where they went, their state of being, when their bodies died, and that is where Abraham is now."

    "Lord, do you mean that their awareness while in the body, triggered an equal and opposite response, the absence of awareness when out of the body? How interesting! Genius!"

    Perambula's enthusiasm suddenly collapsed in confusion. "Lord..."

    "Yes, dear one?"

    "Abraham didn't eat it. Why did he have to die too?"

    The patient Lord of all allowed silence to introduce His response. Perambula waited.

    "The perception of good and oppressive toil, once discovered, could no longer recede from human consciousness. Adam and Eve took it with them when they left paradise and they conveyed it to their children. Through the generations the perception of good and suffering, which each man surmises on his or her own, which may be separate from My perception, have existed. Thus by perceiving good and suffering separated them from Me.

    Humankind continues to feed from this wood, and thereby continues every day to feed the need to die. It is a cycle that will not cease. But I planted the antidote in the garden from which I expelled the miscreants, the wood of life; on the day they eat from the wood of life they will no longer die."

    "Wonderful!" exclaimed Perambula relieved. Quick, where is it so I can awaken Abraham and feed it to him!"

    "No." replied God. "I have removed all access to that tree, flames surround it and besides the humans have been evicted from the garden where the life-giving tree is planted."

    Perambula's face grew contorted and darkened into a deep purplish gray color, streaky and gloomy. "Abraham is doomed forever" thought the angel.

    "Trust me Perambula. The annihilation of death is not to be so easily achieved. Their perception, once gained, should not be erased. In due time..."

    Perambula blurted out, "How awful for Abraham, for all the others! But Lord, You despise death. Why did you make it?"

    "Death was not made any more than darkness and void were, which pre-existed creation. Death and darkness, even evil don't exist of themselves. These are the absence of life, of light, of good. They are parasites, or the exact opposites of what I made."

    "I have an idea!"

    "What is it?" replied God skeptically. "You made light! Look towards Sheol and Your light will blind the demons and the souls will wake up. Do it Lord!"

    "Good try angel." I cannot enter Sheol, because it is not a place but a state of being. Only humans may go there in death, and only to be captive to its darkness and its stillness."

    God disappeared before Perambula could ask about His plan."

    Abraham died. At the age of 175, his spirit vaporized and pulled away from his frail flesh and bones. He watched as his sons Isaac and Ishmael carried his empty body to the cave where he had carried Sarah years before. The men whom his boys Ishmael and Isaac became, carefully laid him as close to Sarah as they could. Servant boys held oil lamps to help them find their way through the dark silent cave in the earth. Isaac wondered if the God of his father had foreseen the destiny of this hollowed hallowed earth as it slowly formed these hundreds of years to perfectly fit and caress the bodies of the Patriarch and his queen.

    After setting their father down, Isaac and Ishmael stood in silence staring at the wrapped lifeless figure of Abraham, remembering the days they had spent together loving and laughing, learning and living.

    Ishmael thought about the day of circumcision, when he obediently surrendered his penis to his father and to God. His memory was painless. Isaac remembered being tied up and laying on the fire wood. Both sons of Abraham survived their sacrifice. Neither son was quick to walk away from this giant of a man whose blood ran through their veins.

    The younger and closer Isaac was the first to turn and walk out after reaching his hand over to touch Abraham for the last time reciting the words he had heard so often from the parched lips of Father Abraham. "Barukh ata adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam." A short while later the young light-bearers followed teary-eyed Ishmael out of the cave, together the sons rolled the stone back over the mouth of the cave and secured it with reverence and fear. They hugged each other; finally free from the rancor of Sarah and Hagar; then the brothers went their separate ways.

    Abraham, in spirit observed the private ceremony with sadness and nostalgia. So many similar separations salted his long life, but that was when he was on the side of the living. Abraham was grateful for the chance to witness his burial before sinking into the silent depths of darkest Sheol where he was to sleep the empty sleep of death. When he arrived in Sheol, Abraham was not aware of being dead. He lost consciousness, and yet God knew exactly where to find him.

    Abraham was neither aware of his condition nor that he was surrounded by thousands, that Noah and Adam were in the same area of darkness, that Melchizedek was on his left and Cain and Abel side by side again. In Sheol there was nothingness, no time, no light, no fear or illness or greed. No land to own. No love.

    Abraham wasn't aware when Isaac arrived and then Ishmael, he never met Moses. In darkness, in stillness, in silence, the souls of Saul, David, and Joel, Samuel and Elisha along with millions of unknown, even all who perished in the Flood, fell deep into the earth. No one suffered, no one rejoiced. No one worshipped God, no one cursed Him. No demons bothered them, no angels encouraged them.

    No one expected to wake up. No one was aware of how close the demons and Satan were.

    Meanwhile, revolutions transpired on top of the earth. Kings were born and kings died. Countries were started and countries died away or were overthrown. Empire upon empire waxed and waned like the moon China, Greece, Rome while the deep darkness of death continued to receive and consume one life after another, century after century. A sliver of life in time for a world of death.

    Sunday
    Dec182016

    Christmas is Champagne

    The closest thing to man in the world is not the ape, it is the grape.

    Grapes, like humans, come in many varieties, shades of red and green, sweet and sour, seeded or seedless. Like people, the grape can be used in a myriad of ways. It can be a juicy fruit, or a dry raisin, or squeezed to drink.

    It is fun to think of one’s self as a grape. I wonder what kind of a grape I am. Am I a big sweet white grape or a shriveled rotten one? Or, in my old age, am I a dried up raisin? Did my sister turn to vinegar? I wonder if the girls waving their batons in the parade are grape juice.

    The royal role for grape is wine. Wine is the only living beverage. Unlike spirits (e.g. whiskey) or fruit juice, wine improves over time. It is alive! Like people, wine is influenced by environment. The quality of the wine depends on the type of grape and the soil and weather conditions.

    When Jesus Christ raised a glass of red wine and said, “Drink of this you all, for this is My Blood of the New Covenant” He was deliberately lifting up the grape. It was not because there was no water, or lemonade nearby that Christ used the glass of red wine to be His blood. It was because red wine promotes health of the blood-processing and nutrient-distributing heart, the core of our embodied life.

    According to Saint John the Evangelist, when Jesus was on the Cross, after several hours of suffering He cried that He was thirsty, so they sent up a sponge dipped in vinegar. "When Jesus had received the vinegar, He said, 'It is finished.' Then He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit." (John 19:28-30)

    Sour wine, vinegar, is the end of the line, it has finished living. Perhaps the instant the vinegar quenched Christ’s thirst it hit His bloodstream and turned His blood to wine. Perhaps Jesus Christ reversed the death of the grape, just as He restored immortality to humanity.

    That is one imaginative theory for why when the Church claims that wine-flavored Eucharist really is Christ’s blood; we are 100% right! Christ’s blood when infused by the vinegar became wine! It is holy chemistry!

    It should not be surprising to note that the grapevine lives for an average of 33 years, the number of years Christ walked on earth. It is all so perfect!. If Saints were grapes, they would be fine wine.

    Baby Jesus, in grape form, is Champagne! Champagne bubbles are produced during a second fermentation in a strong bottle that can withstand great pressure. Christ's dual nature can be compared to this second step. As God with us His human nature is formed by the pressure of His condescension from divine to human! Therefore, I say it is most fitting to celebrate Christmas with champagne! Partake of the symbol of baby Jesus,

    Baby Jesus is the break-through of sunrise after a very long dark night. Celebrate His arrival with the royal champagne grape!

    Merry Christmas!

    Evangeline


    Summary:
    People are grapes.
    Saints are wine.
    Jesus is Champagne.

    Thursday
    Dec152016

    ALIVE: Chapter 39 Abraham the Great

    Abraham suppressed the logical thought that shouted to him in his heart that his love for Isaac was good, and that to kill Isaac, to obliterate the son of his promise, would not only be evil, but nearly
    suicidal. To kill his precious son, because God asked him to, was to defy all knowledge of good and evil.

    When he set aside his knowledge of good and evil, Abraham entered the mysterious realm of faith and trust. In that realm Abraham was given a foretaste of immortality, of being alive in an incorruptible way because he had chosen to replace his will with that of his immortal God. It was only a test.

    After he descended Mt. Moriah with his son Isaac in hand, Abraham's life resumed its ordinary texture and tone as an old wanderer and squatter. Slow steady rotations of sun and moon watched dizzying cycles of eating and sleeping, working and resting.

    Not many moons later, Abraham's precious Sarah passed away in Kiriath-arba (Hebron). Sarah fell into a deep sleep, into darkness and then plunged into a deeper place of shadows from which she could not return. She looked down upon her lifeless old body with nostalgia and then wafted over to Abraham and hovered near him while he wept.

    Filled with alarm and grief, Abraham asked the Hittites for a patch of land to bury her in. He asked for the cave of Machpelah owned by Ephron the son of Zohar. The Hittites regarded Abraham as a mighty prince among them, so Ephron offered to give Abraham the cave, but Abraham insisted on paying for it. Four hundred shekels of silver passed from Abraham's treasure chest to Ephron's.

    More than sixty years after God first told Abraham that he and his offspring would possess all the land he could see, Abraham owned a cave in which to lay his sister and wife Sarai - Sarah.

    God picked out Abraham from a field of ordinary men, as He had Noah centuries before, and then lured him repeatedly with the same promise of land and a royal lineage. By withholding and then promising land and children from Sarah and Abraham, God fed a yearning with which He kept Abraham alert to His presence.

    Starting with Abraham, God marked a body of people to be His control group. He had created humankind in His glorious, intelligent and loving image and likeness for companionship. He longed to live in a world teaming with love and invention, with discourse and beauty. God loved nature and was proud of it, but His human gods had to master nature, not be subservient victims of it as they had become. God wanted to restore His image and likeness, and immortality, to humankind using their own free will day by day battling with and conquering the corrosive power of the blinding knowledge of good and evil.

    The trusting moment Abraham raised his arm to stab precious Isaac began the process of reversing the distrusting moment when Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit. God knew the process would take centuries, but He had time.

    The mark of the covenant, circumcision, was a genius way in which a nation of people could be identified as Abrahamic, particularly before they formed a distinct tribe with the temple and the law.

    To be the son or daughter of the great I AM, is to have a strong ego. Unless that ego uses its equally strong will to unite itself to the will of God, then it is subject to death. It is enslaved by the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. To oppose or ignore the Source of Life, is to descend the chain of life below innocent animals, and like them to be victims of nature, and fodder for evil.

    Everyone is born. Everyone with his or her own life chooses what is most important to him or herself. To grow here, and shrink there, to blow in the wind, or to burrow deep roots.

    In a relationship with the almighty sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, keep in mind that He is in it for the long game. As we beg God to satisfy our longings, cast a thought for how our lives could be useful to Him. For many, that is not good enough; there is too much room for doubt and disappointment. Well, perhaps that's why Jesus said the road is narrow and few go there to eternal life. Yes, to some it's a big gamble, to others their ears are always alert to words from above for guidance and ways they can serve the Creator.

    Abraham died at 175 years old, 38 years after Sarah, and was buried with her in the cave that they owned without ever having received the promised land.

    Abraham gained very little in his lifetime. He never owned land; he had only one son with his primary wife Sarah. Yet, all of God's promises to Abraham came true. Abraham became the forefather of kings and of the King of kings. His children through both Ishmael and Isaac indeed posses all the land Abraham could see from where he stood on that day when it was first promised to him.

    God is trustworthy. We who want to be truly Alive should be too.

    Thursday
    Nov102016

    ALIVE: Chapter 38 the Sacrificial Son

    Perambula looked on in horror and turned to God in fury.

    "My Lord, this is the most outrageous thing I have ever seen You do. What can You be thinking? How can You ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son?! If he does, then how can You honor Your covenant with him?" Tears streamed down angel eyes as Perambula's rage exploded. "Look at that innocent child! You are asking Your chosen one, Abraham, to behave as an ignorant pagan looking to satisfy an evil spirit?! I have disagreed with You before, I have misunderstood You, but I have never been so furious!"

    God patiently allowed Perambula to vent. During a momentary break in the tirade He replied, "Be quiet and trust Me. I need to see if a man can allow his only begotten son to be sacrificed for the sin of others. I know that an ignorant animal can be sacrificed, but would a child be so trusting as to surrender, and could a father give up his only son, his most precious son in whom he placed all his hope? I need to know if this is realistic, if it is within the realm of possibility. I need to know if Abraham and Isaac trust me to the death."

    Perambula listened intently to God's reply, then sighed, and meekly asked, "Shouldn't you have conducted this experiment BEFORE Abraham entered into covenant with you my Lord? Then, if the man failed, you could find another man, and if he passed your outrageous test, then he would be found worthy of the covenant. I am afraid that tormenting him so, and appearing to rescind your offer after-the-fact will tarnish your pristine reputation."

    "God smiled big and replied, "Let Me worry about My reputation, but thank you for your concern. I have a task for you that will calm you down, but first, watch this."

    Young Isaac lay still on the wooden plank with his arms and legs firmly encased in a net of unyielding rope. His arms hurt the most. How he wished he could stretch them out. His head throbbed. Even Isaac's little feet were tied up. He knew that his father was just stalling by using up every inch of rope, to postpone as long as possible the carrying out of God's cruel command.

    Isaac closed his eyes, but the pain grew sharper, so he opened them again. Abraham could not bear to see his young son's eyes. He prayed, "God of my fathers I give to You what is yours: my precious son. Have mercy on me and my wife for the many times we have forsaken You. Help me and forgive me in the coming days, as I grieve, when I am lonely. Help me to cherish Your will and not my own. Help me to tell Sarah what I have done."

    Isaac's mouth was not tied up. The child added, "Amen. Into Thy hands I commend my soul and my body." and then he closed his little brown eyes to begin his eternal sleep.

    Abraham pulled the knife out of its sheath. It was time. He had to get this over with. He looked upon his yielding son and gained strength from his humble surrender. Abraham lifted his arm to cast the fateful blow into his beating heart.

    Just as the knife began its dastardly decent, Perambula loudly called to him and said, "Abraham, Abraham!"

    Abraham's arm and dagger fell without hesitation as he looked up and around to see who called. Without seeing anyone, he replied, "Here I am."

    Perambula, proudly and joyously speaking for God said in a clear loud voice, "Do NOT lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son from Me."

    Isaac heard the voice too. How suddenly did his obedience yield life instead of death; reprieve. Still tied up tightly, head still throbbing, deep within his soul a sensation of pure life, oddly secure and incorruptible welled up. Was it sheer relief or was its source more celestial than that? With closed eyes searching the darkness within Isaac looked for evidence of the God who asked for his death and then saved him.

    Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. God had provided the sacrificial ram. He ran to grab. Without more rope to tie the ram with, Abraham immediately bludgeoned it with the happy knife so recently relieved of committing a much more dastardly deed.

    While the dead ram bled on the hallowed ground, Abraham lifted limp Isaac from the bier and untied him. Isaac was weak and deflated. Saved from the power of the knife, Isaac sensed that nevertheless, he had indeed been sacrificed.

    Like a sack of potatoes, Isaac was propped up against a rock and then His father lifted the bleeding ram onto Isaac's wooden bier and looked up to heaven to worship and thank his God.

    Isaac mustered up the strength to ask, "Father, may I set the fire please?"

    "By all means my son."

    Little Isaac slowly rose and limped over to the little flame that had quietly witnessed this sacred scene. He carefully lifted the candle out of the earth and reverently lit the sticks as he had done numerous times before. The flame grew with vigor to consume the sacrificial ram. Isaac gazed upon the dead and burning animal. He had to turn his head and look away.

    Abraham stood mesmerized by the flame as it consumed the ram instead of his son, first cooking, then burning, then pulverizing it until nothing was left of the innocent ram but ashes. The father and son sat in empty silence, their thoughts and feelings spent by overuse.

    As Perambula and God also watched the wood being consumed, memories of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life, and then the Tree of Crucifixion welled up in God's timeless mind.

    When the ram turned to ashes, and the sun was retreating in the horizon, Abraham and Isaac gathered the rope and the knife and headed back to the waiting servants.

    Abraham said to Isaac, "I will call this place, 'The Lord will provide.' Isaac, wondered what God may have in store for his life as he walked ten steps behind his elderly father who was also deep in a syncopated rhythm of contemplation and worship.

    As he walked, Abraham heard the Lord call him a second time saying, "By myself I have sworn, says the Lord: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gates of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed My voice."

    God loved Isaac like His own son.

    "Perambula, go and find the strongest and most able among angels to guard this precious child Isaac, perhaps fetch Michael. Go, and then come to tell me whom you have chosen."

    "Yes, SIR!" replied Perambula before gleefully flying up into the heavens.

    Meanwhile, Abraham and Isaac arrived at their servant's camp.

    "Welcome master. Enter into your rest." said the young man showing Abraham the bed that he had prepared for him.

    Exhausted, Abraham nodded, forced a smile and went into the tent to collapse in sleep.

    The next morning the troupe packed up and headed back to Beer-Sheba and the refreshing well and Sarah who was waiting patiently for her son to return.

    Watching the humble father and son as they stumbled over rocks to descend Moriah's mountain, God's mind flashed to the future vision of a great and magnificent temple built on the spot where Abraham proved himself to be a God-fearing man. There at that place thousands of animals will be sacrificed as punishment for the sins of man. The Temple Mount is truly hallowed ground where God was trusted as never before.

    Sunday
    Oct232016

    ALIVE: Chapter 37, Abraham's Test

     


    One particularly hot and dry afternoon, Abraham, bent over his well, lowered the bucket and pulled up its cool refreshing water. After grabbing the cup to ladle it out and drink, he transferred the rest to his other bucket and carried his water to the tamarisk tree in whose shade he sat to pray and think. Abraham wondered how Ishmael was getting along; he wanted to give thanks again for his well, and he marveled again that Sarah gave birth to Isaac. As he was busy thinking about himself and his desires and concerns he suddenly and unexpectedly heard in his heart God call him.

    "Abraham."

    "Here I am." he replied.

    God said, "Take your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you."

    "WHAT?!" thought Abraham. Had he heard correctly? What an impossible request. Why would God wait all those years to finally grant elderly and barren Sarah a son, which in itself was a miracle, perhaps the greatest miracle the world had ever known; only to ask him to sacrifice this child?! How could there ever be another, how could he ever become the Father of a multitude, if he was not allowed to keep the one son who could ignite the succession?

    Abraham instinctively fought this request. Could it be from the devil trying to take away the covenant promise? No. Abraham recognized the voice of God. But what good would killing young Isaac do? The angel of the Lord whispered in his broken heart, "God is not asking you to kill, as much as to sacrifice. What God gave you is His. He wants you to acknowledge that and give Isaac back to him. Would you deny the Lord what is His own?"

    Ishmael's departure then began to make sense. Letting go of Ishmael, as hard as it was, was practice for letting go of Isaac. Abraham thought to himself that he could find the strength to sacrifice Isaac from the strength he had mustered to release Ishmael. What was the difference between death and Ishmael's absence? He had to trust God. Perhaps it will be through Ishmael after all that his children will come.

    Abraham didn't know why, but he knew only one thing, that he had no choice but to accept the shocking command and obey God. As the master of men and animals, he knew the importance of obedience. And he knew that the Voice he had heard from time to time was wiser than he could ever be. To ignore this or any request from God was worse than suicide; it was to deny his own sensibilities. To deny it now would be to destroy all the altars he had built in his journeys through life and throughout the land.

    Even as Abraham was deep in gut-wrenching thought, he slowly fell into a deeper sleep. Sleep was the only way Abraham could cope with the shock of this horrific request. In his sleep Abraham was given a vision of the place he was to take his son. It was high atop the mountain belonging to Moriah. He looked around and memorized every bush and rattle. He looked down at his surroundings and took in every feature of the place. Slowly this vision melted into total darkness and an empty healing sleep kept Abraham under the tamarisk tree all night long.


    He rose earlier than usual the next morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, one to carry the flame and the rope, the other to carry the wood, and he took his son Isaac, and his knife. The troupe set out to go to the place that God had shown him in the vision.

    On the third day of the solemn journey Abraham looked up in the distance and recognized the place he had seen in his vision. So he said to his men, "Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over to that hill. We will worship there and I will come back to you."

    Abraham took the flame from his servant and gave it to Isaac and then took the rope and wood and off they went, Abraham and his precious son began the hike up Mount Moriah to worship and obey his God.

    Over rocks and between sagebrush Abraham walked in silence contemplating the meaning and purpose of sacrifice. Isaac startled him when he shouted over to him, "Father,"

    "Here I am, my son."

    "The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"

    Abraham replied, "God himself will provide the lamb my son." Isaac said no more. Father and son spoke as they continued their trek up the mount, while innocent Isaac looked around for a ram to capture.

    A mile later, Abraham saw in the distance the place he had seen in his vision. The flame flickered with fear and awe as if aware of its dreadful mission.

    "There it is!" exclaimed Abraham to himself." Isaac struggled to keep up with his father, rushing over to him to see what Abraham recognized, still looking for the ram.

    When they arrived at the site, Abraham dropped his load of wood and took the flame from his son's little hand. He then carefully planted the flame in the ground and piled small rocks around to hold it up while Isaac looked on curiously.

    "Isaac, help me gather stones about this size to build the altar."

    The child obediently and solemnly walked the site back and forth carrying grapefruit sized rocks to the spot of sacrifice. Abraham, holding back tears brought in the larger rocks, working as slowly as he could. He was thinking of all the lambs he had sacrificed with young Isaac watching.

    Abraham had taught his son that God is perfect and demands perfection from people. Because Abraham had no law, and no example (i.e. Jesus) to follow all he had to do was to trust and obey God, exactly what Adam and Eve, and Noah had to do.

    Abraham knew how he fell short from trusting God. He fell short when he gave his wife to Pharaoh, when he received Hagar into his bed, and on numerous lesser occasions. Abraham taught his son that animal sacrifice helped man to see the real tangible difference between life (trusting God) and death (mistrusting and therefore disobeying God).

    Abraham had shown Isaac that life is the frolicking lamb nuzzling its mother to drink her nourishing milk and breathe in her sweet smelling sweat, while death was being restricted by rope, stabbed and burned to ashes.

    Once the stone altar was built, Isaac watched his father carefully arrange the wood to lay a mighty fire, just the right proportion of solid to air. Abraham intended to build a fire so big that it would quickly consume its lunch of flesh and wood.

    "Now, go get me the flame Isaac."

    The obedient little boy hesitantly went over to dig out the precious flame and carried it to his elderly father. Not a breeze had blown to threaten the life of the flame since they had left home three days earlier. Keeping the flame alive when they slept required a rotating night watchman. Every time he transferred the flame, Abraham thought about what it meant, every time the old short candle kissed the new one, Abraham, pondered the life and death of his only son, and then he thought about mighty God who is without beginning or end.

    After the flame was safely replanted closer to the altar, Abraham, with his knife waiting patiently in its holster, went over to the rope he had set down and approached his precious son. With tears filling his eyes he said, "My son, come to me."

    Isaac lovingly and obediently approached his father, shivering with the sense of doom.

    "You know why we must sacrifice the lamb, don't you?"

    "Yes, father."

    "Isn't it unfair to the lamb who was innocent to suffer the punishment of death?"

    "Yes, father."

    "Then isn't that the most noble creature of all?"

    "Yes, father."

    "We must be obedient to God or our lives are as ignorant as the lamb who neither speaks nor understands, and yet is punished for our sins. How much more just for an innocent human to be sacrificed for human sin. God has commanded me to give Him you, my precious son of the promise. You know how long I waited for you, all my life till I was an hundred years old I waited and longed to have this son that is you."

    Tears began streaming down Isaacs young eyes. He sensed what was coming, but he didn't run away.

    Isaac my precious son, our God has told me to give you to Him, as the sacrificial lamb."

    "But father!" cried Isaac. "What did I do wrong?! I am sorry. PLEASE father forgive me! Mommy! Mommy!"

    "My son, my son. You are innocent, as innocent as the lambs we have sacrificed together. But God asked me to give you back to Him in this way. You did nothing to deserve this, I promise you."

    Abraham hugged his sobbing child. Isaac smelled love in his father's bosom. Swallowing down his tears, he tried to muster the courage he needed to accept his fate. Immediately, child as he was, Isaac knew that he, a human being, could not be compared to an ignorant lamb whose fate, sooner or later would be to be slaughtered and consumed. These thoughts started the tears flowing again. Did the God he heard his father speak of from his earliest conscious moments truly demand his life or could his elderly father be mistaken? Either way, Isaac knew that he was doomed to obey, and that the sooner he accepted death, the sooner his torment would end. Isaac bravely turned sobs into whimpers followed by a gentle silence. Still sitting in his father's lap the child rested.

    Abraham consoled his precious son, "You and I will obey Him together. Giving the Lord your life is giving Him my own. I believe Isaac that in a flash like lightening you are going to see the face of God, to live with Him as a precious son, and I will remain to mourn you until with God's blessing, we will meet again at his throne. You, not I, have the best part."

    These words helped to strengthen Isaac. He felt brave. His young life had meaning well beyond any other human he knew. His father from birth had taught Isaac to revere and worship God, now here was his test, and Abraham's test of that lesson.

    Abraham solemnly released his son from his lap, and rose to fetch the rope. Both father and son were ready to get the sacrifice over with so that each could go his separate way, one to heaven, one to earth but together safe and sound in the Will of an omnipotent and mysterious God.

    Soon, the rope replaced the strong arms of Abraham cradling his promise child. As Isaac sat tied up like a little lamb he pretended that the ropes were the arms of God holding him tight.

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