ALIVE: Chapter 77 King of the Flesh

There is a golden goblet of life. It is filled with blood-red wine. So thick that one could not tell whether it was born of grape or man. The taste of it is time. It is the time of kings and prophets. To the tongue of a keen judge the wine of life is smokey sweet.


To God, the Lord of time, it is a goblet brimming with the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Once deadly poisonous, calloused souls merely suffer indigestion from this poisonous fruit, like the indigestion of repeated indulgence in hearty meals. Yes, this blood-red wine still kills, but the death is slow and barely noticed is its coming. The drinker accepts this slow death like the eye accepts tears from the heart. Like the lame accepts the wheelchair.


In our journey through the woodland of the earthly life of the sons and daughters of the Maker, we arrive at the era of kings and prophets.


The Promise Land flowing with milk and honey turned into a bloody field of battle where baby boys grew to become soldiers who wrenched their mother’s hearts. Where the King of Glory was swept aside to make room for the king whose power emanated from sharp metal swords. The sword, that tool of murder and victory replaced the mystical staff of Moses. Muscle made a sore substitute for mystical.


The King of Glory gazed upon His Creation with dismay and love. He never abandoned Adam. Like a good father, He answered when called upon, and gave advice when it was not requested.


“Enough leisure!” bellowed God to Gracefeld and Perambula. “Your sabbatical is ended. Go back to earth. There is work to be done.”


“Where will you have us go my Lord?” replied Perambula. “Your people have scattered far and wide. They are free.”


“Free to make a mockery of your Law.” added Gracefeld


“Free to demand a king!” said Perambula cynically. “Will they never cease to insult You, my Lord? Why oh why do you not destroy this lot and start over? These people are clearly not worthy of You my Lord.”


“I agree.” said Gracefeld.


“My dear angels. This is exactly why you are so different than mankind, than Me. I don’t mind taking tiny steps through time. You think that if you aren’t flying, you aren’t moving. Patience! You will behold the day when life ultimately shatters death. When impudence unfolds its moldy layers to heal in the warmth of light. When the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil is fully ripened  and then consumes itself in its rottenness. When blood and oxygen no longer sustain life.”


“In our simplemindedness my Lord, we cling to You and love You and serve You.” sung Gracefeld trying to divert the conversation away from embodiment, the thought of which always confused this angel.


Picking up on Gracefeld’s turn of tone, God said, “For now, my friends, let’s just give them a king.”


There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, a man of wealth. He had a son named Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than Saul; he stood shoulders above everyone else.


“Perambula” said God, “Go down to the House of Kish and lead his donkeys astray. Drive them through the hill country of Ephraim and through the land of Shalishah, then through the land of Shaalim. Go beyond Benjamin to Zuph where My prophet Samuel lives. Saul will be recognized by the prophet and anointed king there.”


“My Lord, with all due respect, first you have me drive your slaves out of Egypt and now I am being asked to drive sheep. Is this a demotion?”


God smiled at Perambula’s attempt at humor. “Drive the animals and watch the young man follow.


Tell Samuel to anoint the tall man the king.”


Perambula looked confused. “My Lord, why would you select a king for his appearance? How can stature and shape of face have anything whatsoever to do with the qualifications of a king?”


“My dear Perambula in their shallowness the people demand to be like their neighbors. They would not accept anything less than physical appeal because their desire is material.


“I will use this big but ordinary man to prepare My true choice for their king. I have already selected a boy after my own heart. Saul is the forerunner.” said God feeling self satisfied in His shrewdness.


Gracefeld chimed in, “Did You just say my Lord that You will give them a tall king who is not even a holy man?”


“Holy?” replied God. “He is not even capable of simple  obedience! The man Saul will served My purpose.  Enough conversation. It’s your turn to be obedient, now go and drive those animals, and for heaven’s sake, don’t get lost!”


Perambula and Gracefeld carried out their mission well, being among the most reliable angels of their rank in the Lord’s stable.

The tall handsome young man was anointed king much to his own surprise. With the confidence that his title bestowed upon him Saul proceeded to act kingly by leading armies to fight enemies..


For all his victories, and unaware of the aid provided by Gracefeld and Perambula, King Saul proceeded to award himself generously. Along with the material grandeur of homes and wives, purple cloth, cheese and leather, came the spiritual decay of hubris, arrogance, and ever increasing self aggrandizement. Saul became a perfect characature of a king. The king that God had warned the people about. Taking their riches for himself. And yet in his soul, perhaps because of his meteoric rise from shepherd to king on one day, Saul keenly felt the inner conflict of unworthiness which of course he continually misinterpreted.


One day in the midst of a losing battle with the Philistines the Hebrews, to save themselves, squirreled into any cave they could find. Meanwhile King Saul was at Gilgal waiting for Samuel to come and pray for victory. Saul had gotten word that Samuel would arrive in seven days. On the seventh day Saul was overcome with fear and anxiety because Samuel had not yet arrived.


In desperation, Saul barked, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the offering of well being! Quickly!” So King Saul went ahead and offered the burnt offering himself instead of waiting for the prophet. As soon as he finished, Samuel arrived and Saul went out to meet him. Samuel said, “What have you done?”


Saul replied that that the people, his soldiers were slipping away and that Samuel hadn’t come yet on the seventh day and that the Philistines were getting ready to attack. He was in a tough spot and needed to entreat the Lord, so he forced himself to perform the burnt offering ceremony.


Furious, Samuel said, “You have done foolishly! You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God which He commanded you. The Lord would have established your kingdom forever, but now your kingdom will not continue because your impatience caused you to be disobedient.”


Saul turn his face from the prophet and walked away sorrowful and confused. How could this old man take his kingdom away from him? Possibly he didn’t, not really. Nothing had changed. He still had his homes and his food.


Saul was not aware of the callouses growing on his heart. He was blind to the army of invisible demons that had latched onto his mind. In fact, as Saul continued to lead his armies to battle against the Philistines he very subtly morphed into an emotionally disturbed tyrant.


Besides, there were more battles and more fighting and killing to be done. Saul felt competent on the battlefield. The more enemies he could kill, the stronger grew his self-worth. There was nothing like a hard fought battle to take one’s mind off of Samuel and his threats.


Months later, on a morning after a particularly fretful night Samuel appeared at the palace of King Saul and was ushered into his throne room.


“What can I do for you?” asked Saul.


“I have come to give you a message from the Lord.”


“Speak.”


“Thus saith the Lord, I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.  Now go to attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”


When Perambula heard the message the angel was astonished.

“Gracefeld, did you hear that? Did you know this? God is ordering mass destruction of a nation of people for something their ancestors did! Even children! How horrid, how violent!”


Gracefeld replied, “Perambula, are you disputing the Lord’s order?! You must know that He has His good reasons. Rest assured that in the end, all will be just and right and good. Now please don’t distract me. Listen!”


When Saul heard it, he was glad. Perhaps Samuel was giving him a second chance to regain his kingship. Coming straight from the Lord God, he knew that victory was in his hands. This was a job he was well suited for and so King Saul went right to work preparing for battle. Within weeks Saul raised up an army of two hundred thousand foot soldiers, and ten thousand soldiers of Judah.


They stealthily moved into the valley by the city of Amalekites.


On the way Saul spotted Kenites and sent a message to their leader, “Go! Leave! Withdraw from among the Amalekites, or I will destroy you with them; but I don’t want to, because you showed kindness to Israel when they came up out of Egypt.”


The Kenites were grateful for the warning and departed en masse as efficiently as they could, every man, woman and child packed up and scurried away from the Amalekites.


King Saul and His army waited to charge.


The battle went as expected and all the Amalekites were destroyed, but Saul and the people spared Agag, their king, and the best of the sheep and of the cattle and of the failings, and the lambs and all that was valuable.


As expected, God saw that Saul disobeyed the directive to destroy everything. Nevertheless God was angry.


Gracefeld was dispatched to tell Samuel about the Lord’s disappointment and fury. The Lord had given Saul one more chance to recover from his mistake of impatience, but once again the man failed to obey.


Gracefeld went directly to Samuel in prayer. The angel spoke to Samuel. “Samuel, thus says the Lord, ‘I regret that I made Saul king, for He has turned back from following me, and has not carried out My commands.’ He will come to you. Admonish him again!”


When Samuel heard that, he was angry too and cried out to the Lord all night. ‘Why oh why Lord did You have me select this foolish stubborn man?”


Perambula heard that and added, “Didn’t I tell you Lord?! How could you have picked a man to be king for his beauty and stature? You may as well have picked a stallion?”


The next morning Saul arrived.


After the victorious batter Saul had gone to Carmel where he set up a monument to himself. On his return he passed on down to Gilgal to visit Samuel and report his victory.


Samuel was sitting under the tree outside his home waiting for the king.


Saul arrived proud and cheerful. “May you be blessed by the Lord; I have carried out the command of the Lord!”


Samuel retorted, “What then is the bleating of sheep that I hear?”


Saul replied matter-of-factly with a big toothy grin, shoulders back and chest out, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the cattle to sacrifice to the Lord, your God; but the rest we utterly destroyed.”


Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me  last night.”


He replied, “Yes?”


Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And the Lord sent you to utterly destroy the Amalekites until they are utterly consumed. Why didn’t you obey? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?”


“But I did obey. I have only brought back the king Agag and the best sheep and cattle  to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”


Samuel replied, “Surely to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is no less a sin than divination, and stubbornness is like iniquity, and idolatry.


Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you from being king.”


Saul, in his foolishness was astonished to hear that he messed up again and just when he was feeling so good about himself! He sensed immediately that this was no time to argue his position, and that contrition was the only valid response.


Saul spoke his mind, “I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice (passing the blame as did Adam) Now therefore I pray pardon my sin, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”


Samuel said to Saul, “You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”


As Samuel turned to go away, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel looked down at his hem and up at Saul’s face and said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this very day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours who is better than you. Moreover, the Lord will not change His mind, for He is not a mortal that He should change his mind.”


Then Saul said again with contrition, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.”


Ignoring this plea Samuel turned his back on Saul. But Saul still went to worship the Lord.


Meanwhile Samuel asked for Agag the king of the Amelikites to be brought to him. When he arrived, Agag could see that he was doomed.


Agag full of fear said, “Surely this is the bitterness of death.”


Samuel replied, “As your sword has made women childless, so your mother shall be childless among women.”


And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord at Gilgal.


Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went” up to his house in Gibeah of Saul.


Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul.


And the Lord was sorry that he made Saul king over Israel.

And Perambula whispered, “I told you so.” winced and then flew into huge white cumulus clouds.

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ALIVE: Chapter 76, Reluctantly Letting Go of Moses

Perambula circled around Mt. Hor, over the dead body of Moses, while Gracefeld accompanied his soul to Sheol. Day and night Perambula hovered there to protect this precious flesh and bones from being defiled by hungry animals. The angel waited for men to arrive to carry Moses back down the mountain and then to bury him in Moab.


Passing Gracefeld and the soul of Moses, God arrived at the scene where Perambula was guarding the Elder.


“My Lord!” exclaimed Perambula surprised to see God appear.


“”Good morning Perambula.”


“Look at this dead body of your servant Moses. This shell of the man to whom You revealed Yourself and the history of the world. He is lifeless!”


“I can see that Perambula.”


“Lord, I thought that you were so disgusted after the Flood that you planned to destroy death. Look at this man, and all those thousands of people, your people, who died before entering the Promise Land. My Lord, and I say this with utmost respect, how do You think You are doing with this plan of Yours to destroy death?”


God smiled His most confident smile and replied, “Patience my dear Perambula. When I destroy death, it will be perfectly and thoroughly done and it will be forever. These human beings, although they were made in my image and likeness have so disfigured My Face that there is much restoration needed, and much for them to experience and to learn.  Besides, I have given the devil and its demons freedom for a time to oppose Me, but actually through their evil deeds they will show men the effects of ignorance and disobedience. This revelation will allow the wiser ones decide for themselves whether or not to choose life.”


“Lord the humans are so weak, is that fair?” mumbled Perambula meekly.


“Of course it’s fair! Freedom is the greatest gift I have to offer life. These beings are free to choose life or death. I see so many of them choose death by rebellion, faithlessness, and distrust; passions gone wild. Satan rejoices in that. But disease, strife and maladies of every kind result and so they go out of their ways with all their intelligence to repair the causes of death without going to the root of the problem, that is that they chose death and don’t even realize it. They choose suffering and then lament it.


One by one a man or a woman learns. The light of life will shine through the darkness. On that day I will rejoice that Life was the precious choice of his or her own will after their personal confrontation with Satan and death. This change of mind, this awakening, this resurrection is important to Me. Transformation means more to Me than even those who chose life from the beginning for the repentant have confronted My enemy and prevailed.”


God simplified His response and added, “My friend Perambula as much as I despise death, as much as death was not, I repeat NOT in My Will for Creation, I must endure it a while longer. You will understand all of this when the heavy fog that surrounds you is lifted.”


Perambula’s angel eyes opened wide to look around for the fog that God meant as a metaphor.


“For now, fret not for Moses or any of the people in Sheol. I will free them and judge them with a judgement that no other keen eye can judge man by: one by one. Reading their hearts and intentions, remembering their acts of kindness and hatred, faith and rebelliousness. Knowing their battles with the enemy and the part the evil one played in their evil deeds. On that day, and I won’t tell you when, I assure you that the heart of flesh will never again suffer death. Trust Me. Here they come. Accompany the men to carry Moses down this mountain. I don’t want them to drop him!”


“Yes, my Lord.” replied Perambula wrapped in a shroud of thought as the angel observed Pineal and Zachariah who were approaching to carry the heavy lifeless flesh of Father Moses down the rocky mountain.


“There he is!” shouted Pineal. Zechariah rushed to catch up. The two men looked down upon old Moses lying on the rock, his face looking up at the heavens and his legs twisted from collapsing beneath him. Zechariah bent down and touched his cold hard hand and in fear he immediately stood back up.


“Let us pray Pineal.”


Pineal nodded. The two strong young men bowed their heads. Zechariah filled with the Spirit said, “Blessed be God, and blessed be His great Name, and blessed be His holy angels. May His holy Name be blessed throughout all the ages. Though He punished this man Moses, He has had mercy on Him. Blessed are you, oh God with every pure blessing; let all Your chosen ones bless You. Let them bless You forever. Be our guide on this path to take Your holy man down this mountain. This mountain where his flesh saw you for the last time, and let us bury him deep in the earth of your making. Give him peace in death. Amen and Amen.”


Pineal added. “Amen and amen.”


Then Pineal and Zechariah struggled to get a good hold on the body and carefully retrace their steps down the steep mountain of Hor.


The task was difficult. Perambula frequently had to adjust the men’s steps. More than once Perambula needed to defy gravity to keep the body from falling out of painful arms. Perambula looked on the lifeless shell of Moses, whom the angel had grown to love with great sorrow and awe. The angel wondered how such a holy servant of God could be reduced to matter alone, like a rock or a piece of rotten wood. Perambula, being immortal, thought that the death of a person, who was so much like God, so much like an angel, must be the most curious, most mystifying of all phenomenon on the planet.


Following the burial of Moses Perambula flew up into the second heaven, beyond the sky. The farther Perambula flew from earth, the cleaner and more free the angel felt. Perambula zoned in on Gracefeld and together the two angels, who had been awarded a sabbatical after decades of watching over Israel, left the tribes to the care of lower angels and flew somersaults in the air. Carefree at last they played and gazed at the universe to see the sun and moon rotate in a steady rhythm like a giant heartbeat. The view from the heavens was stunning. Perambula thought that the beauty of the heavens was a marvel so spectacular that familiarity could not ever diminish its glory by even one iota.


From time to time our two angels scooped down closer to the earth, but never as close as when they had worked there. All they could see from that distance were thousands of specks, each one a soul. One bright hot day the angels hovered over a long shoreline and saw specks in the shore and colorful umbrellas dug in the sand, and some other specks of humans floating in the sea.  Specks, each one representing a heart and soul. The angels didn’t care about the absurdity of those black flecks being important to God. They simply reveled in the light show of days and nights, the light show of time, months and years, which meant nothing to these angelic beings, and everything to God’s mortal creatures.


During this dazzling celestial light show Israel settled into the Promise Land. Each tribe occupied a piece of land that had belonged to others before them. Gad here, Reuben over there. They spread themselves wide apart so each would have plenty of space to grow their nations. Each tribe helped the other to supplant the peoples until each of the twelve tribes of Israel had a new homeland that gradually became an old homeland. No one gave any thought to the men, women, and children that died or had to flee their homes and villages to be replaced by Israel. They simply disappeared from the Promise Land and that was all that mattered to the Jews.


There were men and women, born during the days when Caleb and Joshua first returned from spying out the land, who had known nothing but wandering for forty years. These, it was who never knew Egypt. They  walked day after day from the moment of birth until forty years passed as they grew from lively children to mischievous youngsters and mature adults. These had to make the adjustment from being nomads to residents of a stabile homeland.


Through Moses God had bestowed upon mankind the laws with their consequences and punishments, and also with their blessings. Even as He had fixed the sun and moon in the sky to automatically create the day and to make food grow, He gave the Law to reveal Himself and to govern behavior. God created the earth on a firm foundation of physics, biology, astronomy, and all the sciences man had come to recognize and to learn about. Yet without the Law, without a knowledge of the origin of mankind and its history and its purpose, without the Law to govern human interaction, and man’s interaction with their Maker chaos would eventually make the planet uninhabitable. Wild animals could not destroy the world as much as wild humans.


“Evangeline!”


As I wrote those words, I was shocked to suddenly hear The Lord God call me. Me! Little me!


“Yes, my Lord,” I replied meekly, and frankly quite frightened that I had irritated the King of Glory. “What did I say? What did I do this time?”


“Stop!” He said firmly. “It is time for you to let go of Moses! It’s been two years. Move on, there is much more to describe about being Alive.”


“I just can’t my Lord.” I replied, “I have tried. I promise you. There is so much to say about Father Moses. It’s more than the story. Without Moses, his life, his service to You and for humankind I am afraid that humanity would sink deeper and deeper with each century into the darkness of ignorance, never to see Your Light, to know where we came from and where we are going. I imagine without Moses, his capacity to speak with you as he did, to serve you as he did, we would be no more than animals with speech.”


“Look around Evangeline. I would not allow that to happen. Humanity asked for death through Eve. The light that I offer even through the vail of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil will suffice. I will allow you this final chapter on Moses, but after that I insist that you never mention Moses again!”


“My Lord, that is too much to ask! Never even mention your servant whom You loved, to whom You revealed the secrets of the Creation of the World, who is revered by the holy and the heretics alike?”


“Evangeline!” God said firmly, “Now, I sense you are trying to persuade me as did Moses.”


“My Lord!” said I.


My Lord replied, “There is so much more to write before this book can finally end! You must move along.”


“I know that my Lord. I often think about how far we have to go and the diamonds along the road. In fact, I become overwhelmed by the beauty of it, so that perhaps I fear that I will not be able ....”


“You know better than to say that My child.”


“I know that I must explain the other side of Creation before I can move on.”


“True, I will allow that.”


“And My Lord, I am struggling to cross the bridge that takes me to the other side. I fear that I am clinging to Moses because it is dark and I can’t see the road ahead.”


“Now you are being honest with yourself. Keep writing. But remember My command, that this is your last chance to write of Moses. Leave the man in peace!”


“Until I see him on Tabor?!” I dared to blurt out.


With that my Lord faded into silence, and I returned with renewed enthusiasm and determination to leave Moses to his rest.



As vital as trees and air and food are to human existence, through the Law of Moses, the same Creator provided the vehicle within which mankind may make a safe journey on this glorious planet. The Law complements nature.


No sooner did God grant freedom from slavery and oppression to His people, than did He constrain them with His guidelines. Their voluntary yielding to His will would be rewarded with protection and abundance. God did not demand love, He only demanded respect which He richly deserved after all He had done for Israel by showing His providence and His ability to manipulate nature itself for their sake.



The legal structure that Moses handed to Israel identified these people as unique in their lawfulness. The Law separated Israel from the Hittites and Jebusites, and all the other peoples who God allowed to exist, but who never knew Him. Passion and pleasure drove most men from birth to death, whereas humility, self control, and reason rendered Israel the people of God. 


Dear reader, please be patient with me. Can you see that it was only to Israel through Moses that God told mankind the story of Creation, and the Flood, and about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? That history has spread to all four corners of the earth. These key patriarchs would have dissolved into obscurity as everyone else has, except their part was so fundamental to God’s plan to eradicate death that it had to be recorded and preserved. 


From time to time a prophet arose through whom God communicated briefly to the people, but never like Moses did. Sometimes the prophets were false and relayed messages that were generated by their own thoughts and feelings. But the Law from God through Moses and the commemoration of Passover all formed a rock-hard solid foundation upon which temples and generations of men would come and go, but true life would exist forever.


“Okay Lord, I am ready to move on. Where shall we go?”

ALIVE: Chapter 75, The Death of Moses

To whom much is given, much is required. Most people would not even notice the difference between saying to the rock, ‘Bring forth water!’ and saying, ‘Shall we bring water out of this rock for you rebels?’


These fateful words of great Moses flashed through Christ’s mind when He said, “Therefore, you are to be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48


Perambula was shocked. “My Lord, wise and wonderful, for such a small infraction, your servant Moses who has travailed with your stiff-necked people for so many years and through rivers and drought, and now you sentence this old man to forty years of marching through the wilderness without ever entering the Promise Land. How can this be my Lord?!”


God flashed an angry look at Perambula who shriveled into a droplet of mist.


Time. The revolution of the earth around the sun. Night and day. Around and around we go. Asleep and awake and asleep again in a dizzying cycle from which we would eventually collapse with nausea if not for the life force that propels us forward to create the illusion of a spiral. Infancy to decrepitude, birth to death, dust to dust, circles of life filled with drama like a heap of pennies.


Humanity fills pristine air with good and evil, humility and hubris, peace and war, anger and tears shooting out from hearts like sprays of arrows. Living coins so dense with life that they pretend to exist outside of time. Humble time hides itself in disgust at loud brash and egotistical drama. Then it stealthily grabs each person one by one; the last breath of air, the very last heartbeat; dead. Forever. To exist as spirit in timelessness.


One day Aaron died.


The brother, the mouthpiece of Moses, stopped breathing air. Two strong men planted his body deep in the earth and marked the hidden place of it with a stone. After decades of walking He reached Sheol instead of the Promise Land and discovered an unexpected world. The waiting room of the dead. Like the millions before him Aaron’s life landed in extreme foreign territory no longer to speak; no longer to walk. No need for either milk or honey. What Aaron experienced is a secret. His son Eleazar replaced him on top of the earth as chief priest.  Brother Moses wept.


Twenty-three generations after God had promised Abraham that his family would be nomads no more, in a land rich with cows and busy bumble bees, and four decades after holy Passover night, when the angel of death passed over doorways painted with the blood of lambs to barge through naked doors to grab first-born sons. When Pharaoh’s grief loosened his tight fisted grip on enslaved Israel the twelve tribes finally reached Moab, the gateway to the Promise Land. Exactly forty years after they insulted God and themselves with fear, Israel returned from their futile forty year round trip.


Those men and women died who infected each other with the disease of cynicism, who had forgotten the many miracles God performed for them for the sole purpose of revealing Himself to them, who were so bereft of faith that they were more afraid of men than of their Creator and Judge.


Joshua and Caleb remained alive to see the land again and with God’s help to take it after forty-years of walking while waiting for the unbelievers to die, which they did, one by one. Off to timeless Sheol.


At Moab Moses knew that the time had come for him to die too. To be buried outside the Promise Land. Humble Moses accepted his punishment graciously. Like the father of this nation he was, before leaving the sons of Jacob Moses reminded them of the commandments and the law, and he blessed each tribe with instructions and blessings, leaving behind him an outpouring of holy wisdom in one last effort to transform the nation of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob into children of God.


Finally, Moses gathered Israel and said loudly for everyone to hear without stutter, “I am now 120 years old. I am no longer able to get about and the Lord has told me that I shall not cross the Jordan. The Lord Himself will cross over before you. He will destroy the nations before you, and you shall displace them. Joshua will also cross over before you, as the Lord promised. Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail or forsake you.”


Then  Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: “Be strong and bold, for you are the one who will go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their ancestors to give them; and you will put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you: He will be with you; He will not fail or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed.


Take to heart all the words that I am giving in witness against you today; give them as a command to your children, so that they may diligently observe all the words of this law. This is no trifling matter for you, but rather your very life; through obedience to the law you may live long in the land that you are crossing over the Jordan to possess.”


He paused and in his heart Moses heard the Lord speak to him with love and compassion, “Ascend the mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo; across from Jericho, and behold the land of Canaan which I am giving to the Israelites for a possession; you shall die on this mountain that you shall ascend and shall be gathered to your kin, as your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his kin; because both of you broke faith with Me among the Israelites at the waters of Meribah-kadesh in the wilderness of Zin by failing to maintain My holiness among the Israelites. Although you may view the land from a distance, you shall not enter it-the land that I am giving to the Israelites.”


The people waited patiently and with great respect for Moses to come out of his trance.


When he did, Moses gave his final blessing to them  (Deuteronomy 33) and then walked away from them alone. The crowd watched him go. No one followed him as old Moses, slowly and with a limp walked and walked away leaning on his staff. The giant that had been Moses faded in their sight; disappearing into the horizon on the plains of Moab.


Finally he reached Mount Nebo which is opposite Jericho, and the old man looked up, took a deep breath and began his last hike. Moses’ life flashed before him as he climbed one careful step at a time. Memories of the many hikes up Mt. Sinai crossed his mind. Slowly, breathing hard, stopping often to rest Moses felt thoroughly immersed in life. The life of his body, the breath of it, the tired muscles of it, the thirst and hunger of it. He drank in giant gulps of the feeling of the air passing over his sweat drenched wrinkled skin. His eyes like twin gluttons wanted to see and study the colors, the textures of every rock and tree and leaf, every insect that surrounded him on this last climb. Moses filled himself with the matter of life. No longer was anyone dependent on him. No one needed his judgment or his defense. He was free. He looked forward to being gathered to his people, Mariam and Aaron for he missed them terribly these last months and years.  Perambula and Gracefeld invisibly helped the old man climb, protecting him from falling, patiently guiding elder Moses up the mountain via the shortest path lest he faint or lose his way.


As the sun was about to set, in the dim dusk of evening Moses finally reached the summit. Perambula and Gracefeld felt great relief as the journey was much more difficult for the angels than for the old man they were helping. During all the hours of climbing Moses thought he would never reach the summit, and that he never wanted to for he was afraid of what he imagined to be the dark emptiness of death.


At the summit the Lord spoke to Moses again. He showed him the whole land. Moses gazed around him. He saw the fields beneath him, fields he would never walk through, and he beheld the mountains in the distance and the deep purple sky overhead. Gradually after taking in the site of the Promise Land, the land his ancestors yearned to see, Moses gave up his spirit. His body went limp and he breathed no more. The baby in the basket that reminded Perambula of Noah being saved by the ark died after 120 years.


After experiencing over a million sunrises Moses plunged into the depths of Sheol where Aaron and Miriam and their parents and their aunts and uncles greeted him. They walked him into his new existence.


Never since, has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt and in the sight of all Israel.


No man alive saw and knew the Creator of heaven and earth as did Moses. No one.


The baby in the basket escaped death to become the son of Pharaoh and a servant of God. Moses was the most ALIVE man that ever lived, until Christmas Day.

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ALIVE: Chapter 74: About Failure

Israel continued to walk and talk and walk some more as if the Promise Land was a million miles away when in reality they were walking away from it.


In His frustration with this pack of ungrateful people, as faithless as Eve as weak as Adam, God’s fury subdued by the intercession of Moses, did not go unsatisfied. Moses and Aaron as they walked could not shake the chilling memory of God’s wrath when He said to them, “I will do the very things I heard the faithless fearful people say: their dead bodies shall fall in this very wilderness; and all the people from twenty years old and upward who have complained against Me, not one of them shall come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb and Joshua. But your little ones, who you said would become booty, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that their parents despised. But as for them, their dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And their children shall be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years, and shall suffer for their parent’s faithlessness, until the last of their dead bodies lies in the wilderness. According to the number of days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day a year, you shall all bear out your iniquity, forty years, and you shall know My displeasure.”


The memory of this haunted Moses who was both as disgusted with the people and as he was grieved by the sentence of forty years of this miserable trek. The notion that he was leading most of these people to their death was like a millstone hung around his neck as he walked. Moses suffered for the iniquity of the people Israel. How he suffered. Every painful step was a reminder of the wastefulness of disobedience and faithlessness, none of which was his own doing.


To turn the face of Moses forward God proceeded to dispense more and more rules of conduct and of worship and punishments with increasing specificity. God even gave Moses rules to follow “when they enter the Promise Land” as if he would remember.


One Sabbath day when the Israelites were camped, a man was spotted gathering sticks. Those who found him brought him to Moses and Aaron who put him in custody because it was not clear what should be done to him.


Moses inquired of the Lord Who replied, “The man should be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him outside the camp.”


Hearing the shocking sentence, Moses dispatched Korah and Dothan to tie up the man’s hands and feet with a heavy rope and to drag the convict away from the camp. The rest of the congregation solemnly followed gathering stones large a small along the way.


“This is far enough.” said Dothan and dropped the man who fell to the ground in a fetal position.


For every man and child surrounding him one or two stones was obediently hurled at the wretch who dared to gather sticks on the sabbath in defiance of the command to keep the Sabbath holy. Being stoned is a slow and painful way to die. More than an hour went by before it was certain that he breathed no more. His family wailed. When it was over, his father and brothers carried the body of their beloved to a soft rootless spot in the wilderness and buried it there as deep into the earth as they could manage with the tools they had, their grief subdued by hard labor.


The next morning Moses told the numb people, who killed their own tribesman on behalf of the God they often complain about, to pack up camp and start walking again. There was to be no period of mourning; they needed to remove themselves as far and as fast as they could from that unclean dead man. Moses was the first to be ready and took the lead allowing the thousands of others to catch up as they needed time to pack. 


As he walk Moses wondered, if not Canaan then where were they to go? Where was the Promise Land that flowed with milk and honey, and had weak people, rather than strong healthy people to displace? Where would they walk to for forty years that would take them back to the place they were leaving?


Even Caleb’s sister Hannah’s joyfulness slowly submerged into the malaise of movement as the bane of her existence. Eating manna, drinking water, and walking was all they could do. After the first year of this circular occupation day after day there was neither memory of the past nor hope for the future. The sons and daughters of Jacob became bonafide nomads.


Dramas popped up from time to time. One occurred when three men wanted to displace Moses and Aaron as the leaders.  God opened the earth which consumed these men and their families and all of their possessions sending them all to Hades to suffer for their hubris.


Another time, there was a plague in which thousands of people died. Some of the survivors wished death would free them from the bondage of their nomadic existence.


Miriam died at Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin. Aaron mourned her, as did Moses. They buried their sister’s frail white body deep in the earth and marked the place where she lay with stones. Upon her death, many shared the thought that they would still be eating onions by the Nile had Miriam not been the savior of Moses when he should have been killed by Pharaoh along with their own baby brothers. Instead they seemed to be in constant search for water.


Water, the giver and sustainer of life. Water in the desert wilderness was more precious than gold. God knew that they needed water. He could have made it rain every day, just as He rained manna and quail for them to eat. But He did not.


The people only had to ask, to pray for water. But they did not. Instead they complained and demanded it, as if Moses was their third rate travel guide. Many of the sons of Israel growled that they would start a party to return to Egypt.


For what felt like the hundredth time, Moses and Aaron went to the tent of meeting to ask God to provide water for the people. With tolerance and patience abounding, Moses and Aaron fell on their faces and as hoped, the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord spoke to Moses saying “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. Thus you shall provide drink for the congregation and for their livestock.”


Moses went over to the wall of the tent and took the staff with which he struck the Nile. Then Moses and Aaron repeatedly glorified and gave thanks to the Lord as the luminous cloud of glory vanished from their midst in the tent of meeting.


Perhaps for the first time since that awesome morning when Israel  emerged from the Red Sea, Moses was fed up with the people and their complaints. 


Caleb and Hannah were among a small group milling around the entrance to the tent of meeting. Like infant birds in the nest waiting helplessly for a parent to bring them worms, these thirsty people waited for Moses and Aaron to give them water.


Moses emerged from the tent with his powerful staff clenched in his fist looking angrier than they had ever seen him. “People, follow me.” He bellowed to assemble everyone. He then hurriedly walked over to a big grey bolder and waited for Israel to catch up.


Aaron followed Moses feeling uncomfortable. He was reminded of how angry Moses was when he returned from Mt. Sinai to find them worshipping the golden calf that they had made. Only this time Moses was more wrapped up in himself, and uncharacteristically disconnected from God. Aaron could not shake a strange and awful feeling that something was very different and very wrong. 


As Moses waited for everyone to assemble he surveyed the crowd that seemed to be sucking the life out of him clutching the staff harder and harder until his fingernails pierced his own skin.


When the thirsty congregation was fully assembled and quieted all looking to Moses for relief he bellowed, “Listen you rebels, shall we bring water out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff; water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank and drank to their hearts content.


Gracefeld and Perambula looked wide-eyed at Moses in near disbelief, and then over to God and then to each other. As water rained on the parched people a deep crack had formed between Moses and the Lord. A fissure that could not be ignored.


Aaron thought to himself, ‘That is not what God told him to say.’ For even in his relative dullness of spirit Aaron knew that this time was different from the other time Moses struck the rock at Horeb to get water. Both incidents were said to be at Meribah, but last time Moses perceived that the sons of Israel tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” This time Moses took credit for producing the water. That was wrong. It was inaccurate and it was wrong. Aaron was concerned.


The angels heard God admonish Moses very loud and clear. Aaron heard it too in his own heart. God said to the brothers, “Because you did not trust in Me, to show My holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” At the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord for water, and by which He planned to show His holiness, Moses’ in his frustration took the credit. 


For to the Lord, more precious and more critical than water to a thirsty man is knowledge of His holiness. For the people it was water, for God, the withholding and the giving of water was to be more proof of His providence, of His holiness, of His existence.


This was the crime of Moses, to attempt to take from God his holiness, the credit due Him alone for producing water from the rock. The humility that God loved about Moses devolved.


Let it be understood by this event that God has been known to withhold a need, a great need that He can easily provide, to demonstrate His holiness at the right time and in the right way. This is what it means to trust IN Him.


Nevertheless, the rock gushed forth water for all the people and all their livestock to drink. And they all rushed over to the geyser to grab as much of the watery gold as they could, letting it rain on them with open mouths facing up drinking it and feeling its cool wetness on their faces and on their heads. It was sublime. The people pushed and shoved to demand their turns at the cool water. Greed like the antithesis of life sustaining water filled their hard hearts even as the cool water saturated their dehydrated bodies.


Meanwhile, the Lord was angry. Angrier than He had ever been with Moses, the words echoed in the minds of Moses and Aaron for days and days, “Because you did not trust in Me, to show My holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring the assembly into the land I have given them.”


The effect of this decision was not felt by anyone, but Moses kept it in his heart as he continued to walk and walk and walk, as days and weeks and months and years passed step by step. Moses walked knowing that he was walking long enough for the faithless to die, and that in the end, he would die too before ever seeing the Promise Land. Moses kept this sin in his heart for forty years. No sacrificial lamb would take it from him. Ultimately he would be the one to die with this heavy burden. Like an iron ball and chain tied to his leg Moses walked for forty years in a circle away from and back to the Promise Land of Canaan.

​ALIVE: Chapter 73, Spying out the Land

Hannah daughter of Malach of Judah was young and lovely with eyes as blue as the afternoon sky on a clear day, and long wavy chestnut hair that danced like a halo around her as she moved. More beautiful still was the joy that saturated Hannah’s heart and generated the smile that perpetually lifted the corners of her full lips up to her sparkling eyes. Hannah created a world around her that was filled with hope and enthusiastic anticipation of more and more reasons to be glad. She was blind to evil. Goodness hidden deep within hardships dared to creep out to reveal itself only to Hannah whom she often greeted with a silent knowing calm. To the women around her complaining of sore feet, and parched lips Hannah replied, “We must be close to the Promise Land! I feel it near. I think we will soon reach our new home! Indeed it must be right on the other side of that hill!”


Her friend Milcah shrugged her shoulders and said, “Hannah, that is not a hill; it is a mountain. I will be happy when I see the Promise Land up close. For now come with me to gather manna.”


“I can’t. I must return to Caleb to tell him that Moses wants to see him.” With that she turned and hurriedly went in the direction her heart told her to go to find her brother.


Caleb was busy splitting wood for the evening fire when he saw his beautiful sister approach hurriedly. “Caleb, stop what you are doing, Moses wants you. Go quickly.”


Hannah followed her brother to find out what Moses wanted of him.


Young Caleb spotted the elder Moses entering the tent of meeting and quickly caught up to follow Moses into the big tent where he saw his friend Hosea and ten other men.  Hannah stopped at the entrance flap to listen in. Men were chatting with each other, voices over voices made it difficult for Hannah to discern what anyone was saying. Then she heard Moses loud and clear say, “Okay, everyone is here. Quiet! I have an announcement to make. We have arrived! The Promise Land is near! The land of Canaan will soon be ours for our families. We can build our homes of bricks, and plant trees, orange trees! Fields of flowers will give us honey. Our cattle will have enough grass to produce plenty of milk to drink.”


Hannah heard guttural manly sounds of approval in response to the exciting news of the near end of the journey. Passover night, and crossing the Red Sea were a distant memory. Hunger and dust and the longest parade made men feel as if they were captives of a nightmare.


Moses went on, “From this Wilderness of Paran I want you to spy out the land from Zin at that mountain range over there to the west, (said Moses pointing with his finger as if seeing the mountain through the canvas tent) to Rahab, that mountain range to the east of Zin. Reconnoiter all of Canaan; it will be ours. We will ultimately remove the inhabitants to occupy the land that our God is giving us. Go and return to tell us what you have found. Now prepare for the journey. You will leave at dawn tomorrow. God be with you. Any questions?”


“What do we do if we encounter an enemy? Do we fight?” asked Hosea son of Nun.


Moses replied, “What’s your name? Who are you?”


“I am Hosea of Ephraim.”


“Well, you look like you should be called Joshua.” said Moses with authority. “Joshua, you will have no need for fighting. This is merely a spying expedition. All of you must avoid being seen. The Lord will make your path straight. Bring no weapons, but the shield of faith. Now go. Rest up for you will depart at dawn.”


Hannah ran away from the tent so as not to be seen eavesdropping. She was thrilled at the prospect that her brother Caleb would represent Judah to be among the first to see the land that flows with milk and honey. She remembered her mother telling her stories when she was a child about the Promise Land, promised to Father Abraham. How often she would return in her mind to find freedom and refreshment there when she was a slave.


Hannah ran directly to her tent to wait for Caleb. When he entered she jumped up and went over to give him a big hug. “Oh Caleb!”she ejaculated. “I am so happy for you!”


Caleb smiled because he had sensed that she was spying on the men who were being sent to spy. “You know Hannah, I don’t know what is better, to finally reach the end of this trek with all of these complaining people, or to land in a place of our very own far from Pharaoh.”


“You know Caleb, when you think of it, you will soon see with your very own eyes the land that was promised to Abraham centuries ago! What a long journey indeed. The Promise Land has been waiting for us since before Jacob worked for Rachel’s hand in marriage, before Joseph entered Egypt. The Promise Land is real and soon you will see it, my brother! But now you must rest. I will be quiet. Go to sleep.”


Caleb hugged his beloved sister and gave her a kiss on her forehead and then obediently walked over to his bedroll to sleep.


From the first days after he left, Hannah waited patiently but enthusiastically for Caleb to return. She tried to imagine where he was and what the Promise Land looked like. After a week or two many of the others worried that the men had been captured or that wild animals had overtaken them. Hannah imagined that the men were struck by the beauty of the land and couldn’t tear themselves from it to return to the squalor of this camp in Paran.


Days turned into endless weeks of monotony gathering manna every morning and quail in the evening. Sleeping and eating, going nowhere slowly frustrated even the children as they waited for the spying party to return, not knowing if they ever would come back.


Late one particularly hot and dry afternoon on the fortieth day, when most people had given up and just wanted to start a search party the band of men was spotted on the horizon. Children ran up to greet them. Wives wondered what their menfolk ate while they were gone so long.


Moses stood like a flag waving in the breeze waiting for their arrival. When they approached him Moses said, “Come to the tent of meeting to give me your reports.” The men followed Moses to the tent. Aaron in all his privilege joined them to be among the first to hear.


Hannah was at the outskirts of a gaggle of women who also followed the men and stopped at the entrance to listen in.


“The land is indeed rich and beautiful,” reported Azariah from Dan “but well fortified and the people are too strong for us.”


Caleb contradicted Azariah saying, “But brothers, if the Lord is with us I am certain we could prevail; let’s go back and look again.”


At that suggestion a chorus of NOs and grunts ensued.


Moses was furious at their report and in frustration ended the meeting abruptly.  “Leave me!” he shouted in distress.


The men filed out of the tent in ones and twos to be greeted by the crowd outside. Some men stopped to talk, others plowed through the crowd to go to their own tents to find their wives and to rest.


Once the bad report was widely known the Israelites were generally upset. They wailed and cried, after all that walking and waiting, to receive such bad news was devastating. It was as if spring was followed by a return to the death of winter instead of summer harvest.


Murmuring and complaints, and some weeping salted Israel with bitter disappointment. The most emotional women wailed out loud.


“We have had enough of this!” shouted Barak over the din of disappointment. “Who will lead us back to Egypt.” Barak looked around for such a leader while those men who agreed with the idea contemplated how to cross the Red Sea again. Returning to Egypt would not be so easy.


Caleb, hearing this knee-jerk reaction to the overly cynical report of foolish and faithless men responded loudly to be heard over the din of doubters, “Surely people! If the Lord who opened the Red Sea for us, who gives us manna every day, who brings up water from rocks, surely our God can give us victory over the Canaanites. Why oh why do you doubt Him? Why are you so weak?!”


The crowd quieted down to hear Caleb. Then Joshua (Hosea) added, “Indeed this Promise Land is exceedingly good land! I beg of you not to rebel against the Lord, and not to fear the people of the land, for they will be no more than bread for us when their protection is removed from them.”


Hearing that, the congregation threatened to stone Caleb and Joshua who turned in disgust and together boldly walked to Caleb’s tent where Hannah had prepared manna the way Caleb liked it best. “Hello Hosea, I mean Joshua! Come in! She said cheerfully when the men entered her tent. “I am so proud of you Caleb. Now tell me all about what you saw! How thrilling!”


“Sister, it was truly amazing. I saw cattle grazing in fields of lush green grass where hundreds of lambs were frolicking. Real houses! What we saw was infinitely better than what we left behind in Egypt.”


Joshua nodded and smiled as the memories erupted from the deep recesses of his mind as if what he saw was originally born in the imagination of Father Abraham and carried through the generations to pop up like spring crocuses in Joshua.


Meanwhile, Moses remained alone in the tent of meeting waiting for the Lord to reappear, which He did in all His Godly glory.


The Lord cried to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? I will strike them with pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make you, Moses, a nation greater than they.”


Moses rebutted, “Then the Egyptians will hear that the people are all destroyed and they will tell the inhabitants of the land that the Lord of Israel was not able to bring these people into the land that He swore to give them. Remember Lord when you said that You are slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children to the third, fourth, and fifth generation?”


Perambula, listening to this exchange between God and Moses, was once again astounded at how Moses could keep God from acting on His anger with Israel. “Do these people have any idea of how Moses saved them from the wrath of God over and over again?!” exclaimed the angel.


“Absolutely not!” replied Gracefeld. “Their dullness of mind and spirit are precisely why they frustrate the Lord so much.”


“But why does Moses care?” asked Perambula.


“I can’t tell you for sure, but I suspect that Moses is simply a compassionate man; do you remember how he started on this road by killing the Egyptian in defense of a Jew?” said Gracefeld.


“Maybe he simply wants to defend God’s reputation among the people. That’s how he keeps convincing God to relent.” answered Perambula. “Shhh here He comes”


Gracefeld grinned. “Perambula, you know as well as I do that God heard everything we said.


However, God was too immersed in His exchange with Moses about the fate of the Israelites and their reaction to the great and awesome gift of the long awaited Promise Land to care what His angels were babbling about. Nor did God care at that moment whether this generation of Jacob entered the Promise Land or not. After all, He had waited for centuries and He could wait even longer. As the Master of Time, God could wait.


But Moses’s argument was convincing. It was important for God to be slow to anger, and to be respected which required that He be consistent. “Fine!” the Lord replied to Moses, “but none of those people, except Caleb, for his faith, will enter the Promise Land  to possess it! None, do you hear?! I will have them walk for another forty years, enough time for this faithless generation, for whom I did so much, who I saved on Passover night, to die out. I will allow only their children to inherit the Promise Land. And that is my final decision Moses! Now off you go. Tell them.”


Moses, feeling relief and sorrow in equal measure, sent young boys out to announce a meeting in the great tent. God had found a way for His reputation to be saved while still punishing the faithless.


Hearing the bad news, the people mourned and changed their minds and said that they would go into the Promise Land and occupy it.


“You fools!” said Moses. “Do you still not understand the power of our Lord? He said that you may NOT enter now. His protection will not be with you. If you go now the Amelikites and the Canaanites will destroy you!”


The hard hearted people decided to go anyway, because they felt remorse and because they wanted more to see the Promise Land than they wanted to respect God.


Perambula and Gracefeld were in shock over the stubbornness of these people. They had followed them all this time, and had witnessed much doubt and grumbling. But this decision to face the strong people they had feared, without the protection of God, was clearly the most insane decision yet. “Perhaps the sun has penetrated their minds and warped them.” said Perambula in jest.


Days later, Perambula and Gracefeld hovered over to watch the bloody scene of weak Israel being pummeled by the Canaanites and the Amelikites.


“Well,” said Gracefeld when it was all over. “At at least that’s some faithless people done away with who will never inherit the blessing of Abraham.”


Perambula smiled and nodded in agreement and then said, “If you don’t have faith that God’s promise is reliable, then you may as well dig a deep hole in this precious earth, climb in and go to sleep forever. Because you are less than a mustard seed. You are less than nourishing manure. You are only matter. Useless matter, rubbish waiting for the burn so you don’t take up room on the earth.”


Gracefeld replied, “Perambula, you sound so human all of a sudden! What has come over you?”


Perambula suddenly feeling particularly human added, “But, if you only want the Promise to be true, then you must act on it. You must demonstrate to the ounce of your doubting self that you believe. Don’t look at any the obstacles the enemy of man and God will set before you to dissuade you, to turn you into rubbish.


Not all of your wishes are promises to be sure. But when you receive a Promise, you will know the difference. A Promise comes from outside yourself. It is a ray of light, impossible to catch but luminous and revealing. Let the Promise enter your heart and hold it fast. Be happy and be patient. Sometimes it will be manifest in a bold miraculous way, and sometimes the appearance of the Promise will happen so gradually that you didn’t even noticed until years later that it came true. When you realize it, all you can do is smile and feel the warmth of joy generated by your heart.”


“Who are you talking to?” asked Gracefeld looking around.


“I am talking to the reader silly! Now let’s go for a ride. I’ll race you to that cumulus cloud!”


Before Gracefeld could ask which one, Perambula was off like a rocket. Gracefeld followed Perambula just for the fun of it.

Foolish Jealousy

Perambula and Gracefeld obediently returned to earth silently swooping through the air, invisible, inconceivable by either man or bird. It was very easy to spot Israel, that giant mobile village. The angels swooped down in tandem and honed in on Miriam and Aaron who were sitting on the floor of her tent sipping tea with sweet precious honey and gossiping.

 

“This baby brother of ours is really something else, isn’t he?!” started Miriam. “I often wonder what would have happened if I never suggested that pharaoh’s daughter take him as her own. We probably would be in our cozy homes eating baklava right now, instead of starving in this dusty desert.”

 

“Don’t be ridiculous Miriam.”

 

“Why did he married that Cushite woman anyway? Aren’t there enough lovely ladies in our tribe to satisfy his carnal desires? Humph.  A foreigner. How could God condone that and still speak to him?” snapped Mariam to add a cup more reason to the deconstruction of her unusual brother. “God picked you Aaron to be the mouthpiece of Moses. Why does He need Moses at all? You, and perhaps me, together we could just as easily receive messages from God to relay to the people, clearly and without that irritating stutter of his.”

 

“I don’t know why He speaks to Moses Miriam, but you’re right. I have heard God speak just as clearly as Moses has. He never hid His voice from me. If I am chosen to speak to the people, why do we need the middle man? I don’t know what makes Moses so important. This reminds me of the days of our youth, when I was a slave receiving lashes on my young back and Moses was eating grapes by the pool in the palace.  There was nothing I could do about the unfairness of it all. Shhhh. Do I hear someone coming. It could be Moses.”

 

Moses approached the tent and called, “Miriam, Aaron! Are you in there? What are you doing?”

 

“Yes, here we are.” replied Aaron. Come in.”

 

When Moses opened the flap and was about to enter, Miriam said, “Do you want some tea Moses? I am using a little of my honey today,”

 

“What are we celebrating?”

 

“Nothing, I am just in an indulgent mood. Have some, I’m also in a generous mood.” Miriam ungracefully leveraged herself up from the floor to fetch her brother some tea.

 

Gracefeld and Perambula listened to this conversation in awe.

 

Perambula, wide eyed as usual said, “How could these siblings be so mean and so wrong. It’s as if they are taking a sliver of reality and fabricating a whole evil fantasy from it.”

 

Gracefeld replied cynically. “This is what you get with humans Perambula. I don’t know why God bothers with them at all. Their inclination is only for their own egos. As if the whole world should be designed to please each person according to his or her own desires and pleasure.  No sense even thinking about how distasteful these people can be. We have our orders.”

 

“Not all people;” added Perambula, “the man Moses is very humble, more so than any man on the face of the earth. I like him. Not everyone is so bad. But I wonder how God expects us to put an end to this?”

 

“Since you can hear Me Aaron, and you Miriam; listen carefully!” bellowed God. To the angels He said, “make me a pillar of cloud and place it at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” Gracefeld and Perambula went right to work.

 

“What was that!”exclaimed Miriam, shocked that God spoke, the shock that thoroughly displaced her earlier bitter musings. 

 

“Go to the tent of meeting. I have something to say to you three.”

 

Moses who had not yet sat down followed the voice of the Lord without hesitation. Miriam, who was standing at her firebox getting ready to boil water froze in fear. Aaron slowly lifted himself from the floor. He went over to Miriam and clutched her forearm to guide his frozen old sister out of her tent and over to the tent of meeting which had been erected in isolation far off in the field.

 

As the siblings made their way to the tent of meeting they tried to look inconspicuous while passing children playing, women washing and men repairing, many of whom looked up to greet them without response.

 

Moses was the first to enter the large empty tent followed by jittery Aaron, then Miriam. They stood in dark cool silence for several moments while Perambula and Gracefeld were conjuring up the pillar of cloud. God waited patiently.

 

Finally the cloud was ready and God entered it and caused it to move in a rotating fashion. The people all looked up from their activities to see the cloud slowly make its way over to the big tent. There was murmuring and there was silence all mixed together creating a reverent hum. No one dared follow the cloud, but instead the people either sat and stared or forced themselves to return to what they had been doing.

 

When the God-filled pillar of cloud arrived, the sound of God’s voice was heard by all, “Aaron and Miriam, come forward!” He said, “Hear my words:  When there are prophets among you, I the Lord make myself known to them in visions; I speak to them in dreams. Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. With him I speak face to face-clearly, not in riddles; and he beholds My form. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”

 

Moses gazed at his siblings with deep sorrow at this news of their disdain for him. He suddenly felt abandoned disconnected from them as if threads that had once connected them were frayed and split. Nevertheless he harbored these feelings in a deep state of semi consciousness.

 

That was all the Lord had to say. The pillar of cloud gradually dissipated into the unholy air. God was angry. He was angrier than He had been. For Miriam and Aaron insulted not just Moses, but dared to criticize Him, their Lord and God. Their sentiments reflected the height of hubris. They didn’t deserve to live, in fact that kind of talk was not life, it was anti-life. It was destruction of life, annihilation of the air. God could not think of an animal that would treat Him in such a disrespectful manner. But God doesn’t brood. He just departed leaving behind Miriam who had suddenly became leprous, as  white as snow.

 

Aaron looked at his freakish sister in shock, turned to Moses and said, “Oh my Lord, do not punish us for a sin that we so foolishly committed.”

 

Miriam was crying uncontrollably by then, her fear overwhelmed by guilt and shame. She fell to the ground and covered her face crying harder and harder with thoughts of what would become of her life. The shame, the isolation, the pain, and death.

 

Moses, in empathy looked up into the heavens and said to the Lord, “Please heal her. If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear the shame for seven days. Let her be shut out of the camp for seven days, and after that be brought in again.”

 

Without reply, but in confidence that his request was granted, Moses lead Miriam far away from the camp, carrying supplies that she would need to survive alone in the wilderness.

 

The people they passed were in shock at the sight of Miriam all white and oozy. One by one, people asked Aaron what had happened. Aaron was not ready to talk about it.

 

Miriam was shut out of the camp for seven days, isolated, pensive, and in great pain while everyone else waited patiently and pensively before continuing on the journey.

 

Gracefeld and Perambula were once more surprised that God could be so easy persuaded by Moses’ plea on behalf of the ignorant people. Perambula said, “Maybe God appreciates his compassion and that’s another reason why Moses is so special.”

 

“True. Not being human, God has no idea what these beings have to contend with all the forces thrown at them by the evil one, and by their own weakness.”

 

“I really like that God allows Moses to influence Him.” said Perambula.

 

“Me too.”

 

“Would you angels please stop chattering and come here!”


 

 

 

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ALIVE, Chapter 70 Ahhhh Torah!


Perambula and Gracefeld were hovering in the heavens on a perfectly beautiful day, which is common since there is no nighttime there at all, but let’s pretend. It was their time off as Israel was busy being scared out of their wits by the smoky mountain and the thunderous trumpeting bellows from God which He did Himself without the assistance of Gracefeld’s skill in creating sound effects.


“Do you know what the Lord is going to tell them to do?” asked Perambula.


“Yes, we discussed it.” replied Gracefeld in the angel’s most condescending tone.


Ignoring the slightly rancid whiff of arrogance, Perambula said, “Well, what? After all, so many of them are already old and set in their ways. What can the Lord expect?”


“My dear naive Perambula, these souls are mere seeds. The Lord will treat them as the infants they are, but more importantly He speaks to every man to be born from now to Kingdom Come.” replied Gracefeld.


“Kingdom come?” asked Perambula.


“Don’t ask. It’s too soon to explain it to you. Just know that these instructions will illuminate and define the path to immortality.”


“Will they know that?”


“The sages will. Some will thrive on the guidance, others will rebel against it, still others will be challenged by it and others will feel threatened by these simple, albeit obvious rules. Some will see freedom through the Commandments, others will see constraints.”


“Can’t the Lord of all just make sure everyone understands the purpose and value of these Laws?”


“NO, NO, NO” retorted Gracefeld getting impatient with Perambula’s simplicity.


“Okay, you don’t have to snap at me. I was just asking a question.” replied wincing Perambula. “Let’s get back to work, I don’t want to miss this.”


Aaron and Moses carefully climbed Mt. Sinai together in silence, dodging rocks to avoid tripping and falling. Each old man was thinking his own thoughts about what to expect, and about the difficulty of the climb. Some parts were so steep that it was hard to catch one’s breath. Aaron stayed behind Moses. The intense dry heat made it even harder to climb. God waited and watched patiently as the exhausted elderly brothers drew near.


The people stood in their pack patiently below, while Moses and Aaron approached the thick darkness, not daring to go beyond the limit set for them. Some not daring to look up as the old men made their way to God, until the two dissolved into tiny specks. There was murmuring below, but fear kept most of the people, except the oblivious children, from becoming boisterous.


Hours passed before the elderly brothers reached the spot where they could receive the commands of God. Like receiving instruction on how to breath, or how to make your heart beat, or how to digest your food and sort the elements of it into nutrients to send to the bloodstream, so did Moses, with Aaron as the witness, receive from God almighty instructions on how to exist, and coexist in a world constantly threatened by evil.


Dear reader, imagine a factory where the maker and the made interact. So fantastic and magnificent was this moment, the moment wrapped in time, yet outside of time so as to challenge every flesh-wrapped soul that ever graces our earth. To be told, like an ancient secret, the Will of God, for the very first time, is to hear the echo of “Let there be light.”


Thousands of angel eyes and angels ears witnessed this moment and were in awe that their God cared so much about   humankind that He would not give up, but time and time again interact with this divine animal to form it, to mould it, to teach it. Why, to what end all this effort? A blazing bonfire from which only a candle here and there will be lit.


Aaron stood at a distance away, frightened to the point of numbness. While Moses faced the sound of God, afraid but reverent. Moses stood straight and tall, like an ancient soldier. The babe of a slave who had grown up with mighty Pharaoh as his stepfather was fully prepared to be fathered by God. In fact Moses was visited with a sense of nostalgia every time he approached the Lord.


Moses heard clearly God say:


  1. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
  2. I am a jealous God, you shall not make for yourself an idol, that you would bow down and worship. I will punish to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but show love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commands.
  3. Do not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.
  4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy. The seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. The Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.
  5. Honor your father and your mother so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord is giving you.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, or wife, or slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.


The Lord God bellowed these instructions consecutively without hesitating between them. Moses and Aaron could hardly remember them all but went from listening to one and the next without the opportunity to pause and reflect. The ones that pierced each brother’s soul the most were those that he felt most guilty of.


Silence followed the admonition to be grateful for what one has and to look neither to the left nor to the right with envy, something that was so unlikely for these nomads that the mention of it was absurd. This last rule relieved Aaron who was glad of his innocence on this one point.


For the giver of the Law, that which is wrong is illegal. It is a false measure, it is a broken clock, worthless, and destructive. It is poison. To disobey, which resulted in death and curses to Adam, likewise means the death of sin to his seed. With his disobedience Adam was banished from utopia, and with disobedience his seed is unable to return.


“Is that all, my Lord,” asked Moses to break the silence.


“That’s enough for now. Go and tell my people these basic precepts. There will be more. Hurry down this mountain for the sun will be setting soon, and I won’t delay that for you. Go! But Moses...”


“Yes, my Lord?!”


“Return without Aaron and I will write this down for you.”


Moses and Aaron were quite relieved to hear that as they bowed and departed down the steep mountain in the sunset as quickly as their stiff legs could take them.


While the two men carefully made their way down Perambula who had been listening intently to the rules turned to Gracefeld and said, “Correct me if I am wrong Gracefeld, but did the Lord just say the same thing ten times?”


Gracefeld replied, “You are not wrong. He just said the same things from ten different perspectives. Brilliant!”


Both angels looked at each other and said simultaneously, “Respect Reality!” Then they shared a hearty laugh and the thought of how simple and obvious the Rule was. Gracefeld added, “Now let’s watch them complicate it and disobey in a thousand different ways.” Perambula nodded with a smirk.


Meanwhile, the people below saw only lightening and heard loud peels of thunder and trumpets. They saw smoke billowing out of the mountaintop. In an attempt to endure the fear they remembered Moses say, “Do not be afraid for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of Him upon you so that you do not sin.”


But they didn’t yet know what sin was. Hours and hours passed as the sun was setting behind Sinai, but the congregation still waited patiently for Moses and Aaron to return to tell them what they had to do to satisfy the thunder.

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ALIVE Chapter 69 Pentecost - Circle Back to Meaning

From that day that Moses climbed Mt. Sinai through thunder and smoke with every Jew who inhabited the earth in one place meeting God, from that awesome day of the Lord to this moment of reading about it thousands of years later there has been an annual commemoration of the holy and unique period between Passover night and the day God handed down the Torah through Moses. Never forget Passover. Never forget meeting God and receiving His Law. And never forget the time period between the two.


The time period is called Pentecost in Greek and Shavuot in Hebrew. Pente means five (50 days between Passover and receiving the Torah.) The word Shavuot means weeks, the completion of the seven-week counting period between Passover and (Pentecost) Shavuot. 49 days, plus the Sabbath day of Passover at the head of the weeks, hence fifty.


“But wait!” interjects the well read reader, “Exodus 19 says it was three moons later, not 50 days! That’s 90 days! And don’t forget that Shuvout also celebrates the end of the seven week barley and wheat harvest. Why two celebrations on one day, with the same name, Shavuot?”


On the fiftieth day after Passover, Israel celebrates the day it  was given the Torah and became a nation committed to serving God. Although it was 90 days, it is linked to the harvest to tie together grain, the body’s life sustainer, with the law, the soul’s life sustainer. A bouquet of the life of body and soul.


The law is life because God is life. He gave us the law to teach us how to live in cooperation with Him. By obeying the law, our relationship with God is reciprocal.


From that scary dusty day for a thousand years Israel gathered from wherever they had dispersed to Jerusalem to commemorate Pentecost.


The magnificence of Pentecost cannot be overstated. It was the day that God almighty proclaimed His undying love for Israel. He said through Moses, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians [for you] and how I bore you on Eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed the whole earth is Mine, but you shall be for Me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.” And the people replied, “I will.”


“But wait! There are two Pentecosts!” exclaims the knowledgeable reader.


Yes, and there is not one, but two preceding earth shattering rescues by God.


On Passover, God rescued Israel from slavery. Freedom gave  new life to the seeds of Jacob. During the courtship that became the season of Pentecost, there was nothing asked in return as Israel trekked through the wilderness to Sinai. Bitter water turned sweet for them. When they hungered and thirsted, they were fed manna and water that gushed from a rock. God guided and provided all they needed asking for nothing in return until the day of the Law.


...


The second Rescue by God of Israel occurred on  the night of the Crucifixion, when paradoxically the Angel of Death, instead of passing over the blood of the lamb to kill the firstborn sons of Egypt, honed in on the Lamb of God, His one and only Son.


Yet, imagine the surprise when Hades, the place of the dead received God and was forced to release its captives. On that second holy night Jesus/God rescued all the dead, and the living from the slavery of sin that causes death.


The prison that was Egypt was rendered impotent on Passover night and the prison that was death was rendered impotent on the night of the Crucifixion. Egypt still exists, sin still exists, and death still exists, but they are shells of their former conditions no longer able to hold captives.


Sin is separation from God which is missing the mark of His image and likeness. To divorce yourself from the likeness of the Giver of Life, is to be dead. (To be cruel, to hate, to lie, to cheat and steal etc. is death) That’s why it is said that sin causes death.


First, God rescued the dead in Hades, all those souls who were away from him, and then He set about to make it easier than ever to become like Him, to be truly ALIVE....to enhance the Law with Spirit, on Pentecost.


Passover and Pascha are both followed by a 50 day courting period. High in the heavens above, the stars are in the constellation of Gemini, the twins. Pentecost is the primordial  twin.


The Bridegroom Christ courts His bride Ecclesia, the Church, after rescuing her from the power of death. He walks on earth for 40 of those days as an immortal man, and then ascends to heaven to prepare for Pentecost. On the day Israel commemorated the handing down of the life-giving Law, God descended upon Israel as eternal-life giving Holy Spirit.


On Pentecost the twin, God infuses humankind with life through the Law and the Spirit.


“Wait a minute!” blurted the well reader. “Remember, it was NOT 50 days, but 90 days from Passover to Pentecost. Your theory is flawed!”


When Israel walked away from Egypt three moons passed by before the loud and fearsome day when from Mount Sinai the Torah was handed to Israel. 90 days.


“Exactly 90 not 50!” reminds the smart reader.


Yes! That’s the most amazing aspect of it all!


90 minus 50 equals the holy reoccurring magical mystical 40 days. Between Passover and Pentecost lay a 40 day period, like spirit air, that evaporated into the heavens like holy rain, leaving on the books only fifty days of barley and wheat. Food. The earth’s gift of life.


To the evaporated mystical 40 days between Passover and Pentecost, Christ/God added the 10 days after His ascension to heaven.


A joining of the 40 evaporated days of the journey to Sinai, to the ten days between Christ’s ascension and Pentecost became God’s heavenly Pentecost of 50 days. One for the Law, one for the Spirit on Earth, and one in Heaven too! 50:50:50!


The Bridegroom Christ after 40 days, evaporates in His ascension, leaving the Spiritual Food of His mystical Body and Blood behind to be celebrated with the Barley and the Wheat at the Festival of Weeks, Shavuot, Pentecost.


Pentecost. Acts 2. “When the day of Pentecost had come (to commemorate the handing down of the Torah) they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind (as in Creation, Genesis 1:2), and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability.”


The observers were dumbfounded and thought they were drunk. But Peter said it was only morning. He then explained the phenomenon by quoting the prophet Joel, “in the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh...[and people shall prophecy and see visions and dream dreams.] Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”....Then Peter went on to explain that Jesus is the messiah.


Time never matters for God. For Him the two Pentecosts happened on the same day with the same passionate love, giving Israel the Torah first, then the Holy Spirit .


Jeremiah 31 “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other “Know the Lord” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”


Do you see it? Isn’t it amazing?


Regard the triangle. Left bottom is Passover; the right bottom is Pascha.  They join at Pentecost. One union with God through the Law and through the Spirit.


Infuse your mind and heart with the larger meaning Pentecost to be ALIVE. 

ALIVE, Chapter 64 The Deal and a Meal

At sunrise Moses awoke to find his wife gone. The boys were snoring, that bullhorn that heralds the abandonment of reality in deep sleep. He quietly crept out of the tent to look for her. In darkness, sound is magnified as if it is suppressed in the presence of holy light. Moses could barely hear her familiar sniffles of weeping and followed the thread to find Zipporah (Sepphora) crouched down behind a boulder in deep distress.

 

“My dear, why do you weep? These are joyful days. The people are free!”

 

“I miss my father, and my home. We are near Midian, I recognize the hills and I am tired of walking. These are not my people. I have no friends. I was not a slave, and they resent me for it. I am hungry.”

 

Moses hugged his wife to envelope her in the only comfort he could offer. She soaked it up like the desert soaks up a flash of summer rain. Moses thought back on how much Sepphora endured, and how he had neglected her.

 

“When the boys wake up, I will tell them to take you home. You are right; it is less than a two-day journey to Midian. Go to your father and tell him what the Lord has done. Take a messenger with you to bring us his news.”

 

Sepphora hadn’t felt so calm and happy in weeks. She was jubilant as she hugged Moses and quickly left him to wake her sons and pack. Moses had enough to do; she was sure he would be well cared for by Miriam.

 

Gersam and Eliezer grumbled at having to leave the group, but they knew they had to serve their mother and obey their father. Admittedly, they too looked forward to seeing their grandfather and friends again, and sleeping in their comfortable beds, and eating meat and vegetables.

 

By noon, the troupe was off on their own journey home. Moses watched them walk away until they were reduced to speckles on the horizon. He commended them to the Lord’s care.

 

That night, alone in his empty tent by the sweetened waters of Marah, Moses heard the voice of God loud and clear in his heart. The Lord had made for the people a statute and an ordinance. It was time to put them to the test.

 

The next morning when everyone was awake and bustling around chatting and doing, Moses climbed onto a boulder to make his announcement. “The Lord says to you,” bellowed Moses, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give heed to his commandments, and KEEP all his statutes, He will not bring upon you any of the diseases that He brought upon the Egyptians; ‘for He is the Lord who heals you.’ Now, it is time to move on! Fill your flasks with water and let’s go!”

 

Moses said no more to the people that day. He allowed them to think about the words of the Lord as they packed up their tents and goods and quietly assumed their positions in the parade of refugees that followed Perambula in the cloud.

 

 

“Who was this God who brings on diseases and heals?”

 

“Where are we going? I am so hungry.”

 

“What are these commands and statutes and ordinances that we should obey them? How can we obey what we don’t know?”

 

Every day brought more unfamiliar experiences, thoughts, and places. If it can be said that Israel was reborn in the Red Sea, it was now in the toddler stage of wonder and learning.

 

Moses descended the boulder and began packing with the rest. He also never knew where they were going, or what would happen from one day to another. ‘There it is’ he thought, ‘the deal. From this moment on the Lord will let us know the conditions for His blessings, and the consequences if we refuse the conditions. There is no wasteland in between where these people can ignore the Lord and live in peace. The world is too dangerous a place for that.’

 

Moses and Aaron assumed their place at the head of the mass of refugees, and Perambula in the cloud took position too. They walked and thought, walked and talked, walked and wept.

 

By dusk the nation of God stopped to set up camp once again.

 

The following morning Israel saw the beauty of the place they were lead to. A young girl proudly counted 70 palm trees and ran around cheerily announcing her discovery. As the young bucks explored their new home, one after another found a spring of fresh clean water. When it was clear that there were many springs, Aaron assigned one to each tribe. Coincidentally there were just enough, twelve.

 

This blissful, almost surreal place would have been good enough for eternity, except their bellies growled.  Each day that went by Israel had less to eat. Mothers worried, fathers grew grumpier.

 

After three days walk through the desert wilderness, Moses decided it was time to move on to distract themselves from the hunger and to see if they could find food along the way, although everyone knew that was unlikely in this desert wasteland.

 

Six weeks had passed since they had left their cozy homes. Curious thoughts turned bitter with heat and hunger.  The worried mothers and grumpy fathers joined forces to become a complaining mob that was mystically reduced to the one man, Israel. Israel barked at Moses and Aaron, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger!” Frail people fainted.

 

With furrowed brow Moses looked into the hostile eyes of Israel fearing what could happen. The thought of mass suicide, like an oncoming baseball came hurling at Moses who reflexively batted it away with all his might. At that intense moment the Lord appeared and said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. This is how I will test them, whether they will follow My instructions or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it should be twice as much as they gather on other days, so they may observe My day of rest and not harvest food on the Sabbath.”

 

Moses through Aaron made the announcement of relief and providence, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because He has heard your complaining. For what are we, that you complain against us, but the Lord!”

 

Moses walked away in disgust. He entered his empty tent, and took a nap to escape the ungrateful, short-sighted mob.

 

When he awoke in the evening Moses emerged from his tent to find the whole camp covered with quails and boys and girls and mothers and fathers chasing and capturing them. Others were lighting fires with the brush and anything they could find to burn. That evening Israel feasted for the first time since they ate the Passover lamb. And they went to their sleep with full bellies and content hearts. But no one, not even one person out of the thousands who were fed approached Moses to apologize for complaining and doubting him.

 

In the morning one tent after another emptied out of people who found a light dew hovering throughout the land. When the dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it they said, “What is it?”

 

Moses replied, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an Omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for their own tents. But only take enough for one day! One day ONLY, do you hear me! This is your daily bread! The day before the Sabbath you will gather enough for two days so you may obey the Sabbath rest.”

 

The people took every vessel they could find and gathered the flaky substance. It was delicious! It tasted like wafers and honey. The first day that Israel ate manna the joy of relief spread through the hungry nation like wildfire. Chatting turned to chewing. Chewing and humming approvals like the sound of happy hummingbird wings sucking juicy nectar.

 

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Alive: Chapter 59, Death: The Key to Freedom III

Part Three- Finale

The people solemnly slaughtered their lambs at twilight as instructed. The women wept while preparing for the meal coating their lambs with the herbs, and making unleavened bread.

Children watched in awe as blazing fires settled into red hot coals to roast the lambs slowly and thoroughly. The sweet aroma of the cooking meat and herbs filled all of Goshen with the strong incense of Passover. A smell they will remember all their earthly days as the smell of freedom. This sweet smoke created a dense fog that slowly rose into the heavens carrying with it the thoughts and prayers of the slaves about to be set free.

While the lambs were cooking, doorway after doorway was being painted with deep red blood. The children ran from house to house to watch and the teenage boys asked to help. Fathers handed their sons the hyssop brushes. No one complained, no one questioned. After all that they had been through, each person knew better than to question Moses or his God.

After the ceremony of painting, the menfolk and the children went inside their homes to divided and eat the lamb.

It was time. In Mariam’s house Moses, Sepphora, Gersham, Eliezer, and Aaron with his wife Elisheba, with his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazer and Ithamar and Aaron’s daughter in law, and his grandson Putiel were gathered. With all eyes focused on the lamb, they prayed. “Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam. Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe great and powerful God who hath brought us to this king of moments in all of history, God of life, be with us and guide us through this awful night.” There was nothing more to say. In silence Moses carved the lamb in equal parts to the number of people in the family and passed the platter for each person to take his or her piece of the one lamb that united them with each other. Everyone looked at their meat with thoughts of the lamb who just that morning had been frolicking in the pasture. He alone represented their corporate frailty.The lamb was their refuge. There was to be no leftovers, they ate quickly, with sandals on their feet, ready to run. After the lamb had been completely consumed, when it had gone from the platter into each man, woman, and child’s body to nourish and sustain them for the journey ahead, one by one family members fell exhausted.

Gersham was first to ask, “Mother, I am so tired, may I go to rest now?”

Aaron and Nadab followed, the three first-born men of the family subconsciously felt a great weight on their hearts in sympathy, in grief, in relief that for a reason that no man comprehended, they were going to be spared. That blood was to save him specifically. These three men craved the relief of a deep slumber.

In ones and twos the rest of the family went to their beds to rest. Bellies full and satisfied, hearts sad, minds afraid and excited about the journey ahead.

A feeling of awe and reverence swept through every home in Goshen. Whoever was not ready to leave Egypt was getting ready now. A few, mostly infants and small children, managed to fall into a deep restful sleep. Most of the family member sat or laid in their beds hugging each other and praying with their thoughts in the still darkness.

As forewarned, at midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock.

Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his officials and all the Egyptians; and there was a loud cry in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

The sound of women and men wailing could be heard throughout the land. Everyone who was asleep woke up. The cries, the shrieks of mother’s, of wives, of brothers and sisters collided to fill the air as loud sirens. Every Egyptian was alarmed that so many could die so suddenly. It didn’t take the Egyptians long to realize that each family had lost its first-born son. First born fathers died too leaving their wives and children bereft of support. Shepherds noticed that the first born of the livestock had fallen too. This was no accident, no coincidence. It was mysterious to the ignorant Egyptians, but it was a mystery no one had the energy to contemplate. So strong was their grief.

Pharaoh ran into his son’s room only to see his lifeless body completely drained of all joy and sorrow, of love, and of hopes and fears. There was nothing but a shell of the young man he had poured all his dreams into. With his royal head resting on his son’s still and silent chest Pharaoh saw his dynasty crumble. His heir was dead. Pharaoh walked out of the room of death and went to sit on his throne.

Gracefeld never felt so sorry, so guilty knowing that the bitter grief of Pharaoh was due to the stubborn thoughts that he had planted in Pharaoh’s mind. Gracefeld wondered how this story would have played out if Pharaoh had been allowed to decide for himself how to respond to all the calamities. But then, these musings were too high for Gracefeld, who had learned to trust and not question God long ago.

In his grief, remembering their warning, Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron in the night.

Moses and Aaron, along with almost everyone else in Mariam’s home, were awaken from their deep sleep by the loud harsh knock on their door. Mariam who was still cleaning up after the meal opened the door to see the messenger. She called her brothers to wake up and go to Pharaoh.

Moses and Aaron walked out through the blood-stained lintel to follow the messenger back to the palace. While he was walking Moses contemplated how long he had known that this would happen. From the time he first set out from Jethro’s home, which seemed a lifetime ago, God had told Moses about the deaths of the first born. Before all the marvels, Moses knew that it would culminate in this tragedy. And yet, he was not prepared for how he would feel on this deadly night.

The grief drenched air was so thick with heartbreak that Moses had to wade through it as if he was wading through an ocean of tears in a strong undertow. It was impossible to walk quickly. Every doorway they passed spewed anguish.

As he walked Aaron was reminded of his youth when another Pharaoh had the infant boys drowned in the Nile and how grief-struck his own aunts had been. Perhaps it was to avenge this killing that God’s first act was to bloody the Nile. It was the blood of hundreds of Hebrew infants that spoiled the Nile. He had never realized that before. Aaron had long forgotten those day of anguish, until now. Had their God chosen this genocide as retribution? Aaron was not as sensitive to the cries surrounding him, so absorbed had he been in the memory of the infanticide he had escaped. But, didn’t the murder of the boys also cause Moses to be brought up in the palace and make him particularly well suited for this day? At that point Aaron stumbled on a rock and quickly shifted his feet to keep from falling. Upon his quick recovery he lost all track of his mental exploration.

When they finally arrived in the throne room the brothers found a depleted Pharaoh sitting dejectedly on his throne. In barely audible words Pharaoh simply said, “Rise up, go away from my people, both you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord, as you said. Take your flocks and your herds, as you said, and be gone.”

Just as Moses and Aaron turned to go, Pharaoh added, as if reaching for a life line “And bring a blessing on me too!”

Alive: Chapter 59, Death: The Key to Freedom II

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.

Alive: Chapter 59, Death, The Key to Freedom I

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. 

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.

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.

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.

ALIVE: Chapter 55, The Great Divide


Moses woke up feeling refreshed. The air was warm but clean. He had just been dreaming that he and his sons were leading the people out of Egypt; a vast army of families heavily laden with jewels and supplies were following them. A boy playing a flute walked beside him and his sons. In his dream Moses could see angels guiding them, as if the path had been mapped out for eons.

Sepphora heard Moses rousing and called through the window from the kitchen area, “Good morning sleepyhead. What can I make you for breakfast? We have eggs today! Look, we have no flies! Isn't this wonderful?!”

“Yes.” replied Moses, still deep in thought. “Eggs are fine. Is there any fish and bread?”

Just then they heard a knock on the door and Miriam opened it after wiping her hands on her apron.

A barefoot boy, seemingly out of breath from running announced, “Moses, the Pharaoh wants to see you right away. I am to take you, come.”

Aaron looked in from his room and then over to catch Moses’ glance and smiled. “I’m ready!”

Moses replied, “Go back and tell Pharaoh that I will be there after breakfast. Go; I know the way.”

“But he will be angry if I don't bring you back as he commanded.”

“Then wait for me outside.”

The boy was happy to wait where there were no flies. He wanted never to return to the flies.

Miriam looked over at Moses and said, “Perhaps this is IT! Pharaoh is ready to let us leave this wretched place.”

“We will see.” said Moses “Aaron, there is no rush. What do you want to eat?”

No one was in a hurry to walk into the Egyptian district with the swarms of flies everywhere.

The brothers saw the neighborhoods, one after the other were in shambles. The people looked more miserable than ever. Dead flies, killed by angry humans, carpeted the ground. The city was in ruins because of the flies and the other calamities.

Guards let the brothers go right in. There was more order inside the palace with its cavernous rooms and statues, but the flies were there too, as many, if not more densely populated than in the streets. Moses wished he had brought a woven fan to whisk them away.

They reached Pharaoh sitting on his throne with slaves fanning him on three sides. Over the loud buzzing sound of thousands of fluttering wings and through the screen they created, Moses heard Pharaoh say, “Go sacrifice to your God within the land.”

Moses replied, “It would not be right to do so; the sacrifices that we offer to the Lord, our God, are offensive to the Egyptians. If we offer in the sight of the Egyptians sacrifices that are offensive to them, they will stone us! We must go a three days journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to our God as He commands us.”

Pharaoh thought for a moment and replied, “Alright, I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness, provided you do not go very far away. Pray for me.”

Then Moses said, “Good. I will pray to the Lord that the flies may depart tomorrow, from you, from your officials, and from your people, only do not change your mind again!”

“You may be excused.” replied Pharaoh somberly anxious to be rid of the brothers so he could bathe.

Moses and Aaron quickly walked back through the swarms of flies with their noses and mouths covered by their hands. They decided to go to the hill where they had prayed before. When they arrived, Moses lifted his arms and looked into the heavens saying “Lord God almighty, good God, great God who wants to free Your people from their oppressors, please remove the flies. Without waiting for an answer, Moses and Aaron descended the hill and went into the villages, Moses going to the right and Aaron to the left to announce to the people that they would be leaving the next day. Once again, men, women and children enthusiastically loaded their mules for the journey.

God ordered Gracefeld to lead an army of angels to remove the invisible shield that kept the flies in Egypt so they could disperse.

By noon the next day, as Moses promised, the flies were completely gone from Pharaoh, from his officials, and from his people; not one remained. Each Egyptian from Pharaoh to the smallest infant sighed with relief. No one cared how it happened so fast, only that the flies were gone. Women swept the dead flies into piles inside their homes and out. On every street a deep pit was dug to deposit the flies into. Relief became a fleeting sensation.

Moses and Aaron were too busy organizing for their exodus to notice. They decided to start the journey the next morning. The word went out from one neighborhood in Goshen to the next to be ready.

Meanwhile, Pharaoh changed his mind again. He called his chief guard in to announce that his permission was to be rescinded. The guards were to put a stop to the exodus of the Israelites.

Gracefeld who was invisibly present observed this scene, pleased that Pharaoh could be so easily manipulated.

“But sire! The people are ready! They have already begun to walk away! This will be a very difficult task!”

“How dare you speak thus! Get your weapons and do as I command! No Hebrew is to leave the border of this land or it will be you who suffer! Go and don't let me see your face again.” bellowed Pharaoh to his very frustrated chief guard.

Guards on horses were dispatched into every neighborhood to command the slaves back into their homes. This time, loud sighs not cries filled the air as the slaves obediently shuffled back into their homes to unpack their beasts of burden.

Disappointed but not surprised, Moses too went home, into his bedroom to listen for the familiar voice of the Lord. After several moments of inner silence he heard, “Go to 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 if you refuse to let them go and still hold them, the hand of the Lord will strike with a deadly pestilence, on your livestock in the field: the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds and the flocks. But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing shall die of all that belongs to the Israelites.”

The Lord then set a time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.” It was still light out so Moses immediately went to tell Pharaoh.

The Hebrew people saw Moses walk quickly by as on a mission and wondered what would happen next. Some of them smiled to themselves and to each other. In the Egyptian neighborhoods the people were less cheerful to see Moses.

The palace guards spotted Moses approaching and one was sent in to announce his approach to Pharaoh who agreed to allow Moses to be admitted. This time, Moses walked as one with authority into the throne room, made his announcement without stuttering, and without waiting for a reply, and without requesting permission to depart, turned and left.

Pharaoh was stunned at the forcefulness of Moses. He called for his magicians and told them what he heard and to be prepared to do the same.

The next day all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but none of the livestock of the Israelites died. Pharaoh inquired and found that not one of the livestock of the Israelites was dead. It was becoming more and more obvious to the Egyptians that something supernatural was occurring. Nevertheless, Pharaoh’s stubbornness was set as in concrete, a deep and firm foundation, and he would not give his permission, even to rescind it again, to let the people go. It was his form of retaliation. Powerful Pharaoh refused to admit defeat, to admit that there was a power greater than his own. It was foolishness.

Without a moment’s delay for the Egyptians to recover from the calamity of their dead livestock, or for Pharaoh to wake up from his delusion, the Lord then said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from the kiln, and let Moses throw it in the air in the sight of Pharaoh. It shall become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and shall cause festering boils on humans and animals throughout the whole Land of Egypt.”

The brothers walked on paths by fields of dead animals large and small, of dead cows without milk to give, of rotting lambs and goats. The stench was nearly unbearable so they walked as fast as they could to get to the palace. Once again the guards saw them approach and one went inside to ask Pharaoh if they should be admitted.

Pharaoh filled with the curiosity and hope of one who is suffering, bade the guard to let them in.

“What have you to say today Moses as if I didn't know. Have you come to see a broken man? You won't find him here! Your magic tricks don't bother me! I have the best magicians in the universe and one day you will see what they can do!”

Aaron replied, “Sire, the Lord our God is greater than all the magicians that have ever lived. Our God is greater than your magicians and greater than your gods. Even your magicians shall be afflicted as never before.” The magicians looked on in fear and amazement thinking that this time Pharaoh demanded too much.

Pharaoh’s face was hard and expressionless. He steely eyes revealed no fear.

Then, Moses walked over to the cold kiln and reached inside where a large pile of soot and ashes waited for him. He reached in while Pharaoh looked on in confusion wondering what on earth this man was doing with ashes.

Moses, with two fists full dripping with ashes went to stand before Pharaoh and flung his arms up in the air opening his fists wide. The fistful of ashes rose high and multiplied! It was upside-down rain. The magicians cried out in pain from boils that suddenly appeared on their skin. Painful boils. They rushed out to seek relief. Some went directly into the sea, others rushed for salves of any kind they could find.

Soot appeared everywhere, inside the palace and out of it in every Egyptian neighborhood, and in the fields. Only this was a malevolent soot that caused festering boils on the skins of humans and animals.

Moses and Aaron did not wait for any sort of response, as Pharaoh too was obviously in pain. As he watched them leave Pharaoh shout, “Get out!”

This time Moses fully expected this reaction and walked quickly through the soot filled air past sore and moaning people, until he and Aaron arrived in the Hebrew quarter where the air was clean and children played and the animals were healthy.

And Moses said, “I am hungry. What’s for lunch!”

ALIVE: Chapter 54 The First Degree of Freedom


It uses a false measure for a free man to estimate the impact of seeing those swarms of flies buzzing around the Egyptian’s heads, and not theirs. It was like seeing a vast army of aliens from outer space coming to your rescue after 400 years of oppression. A free person might laugh at the sight of hundreds of sets of flailing arms creating a Jackson Pollock dance, but the slaves felt a mysterious multilayered satisfaction, as if justice was born, a flickering sunrise after the longest night. It was a sign from heaven that the earth was about to open up and swallow their suffocating world, consciousness and all. All they could do was to sit in a semi-paralyzed state and wait to see what would happen next.

The two angels flying overhead reading into slave hearts and minds had pity on these crippled people imagining life with clipped wings. They wondered if they could safely make the short leap from slavery to humility.

The slave is forced to submit to the will of the master, whereas the humble one voluntarily complies with the will of God without the fear or malice of a slave, but instead with the trust and faith of a child. The similarities between a slave and an child of God are striking and profound, and so are the differences. So much more profound than the difference between a steely willful free man and a yielding humble man. The willful man and the humble man can hardly know each other, being more like a tiger and an artist staring at the other with deep curiosity. No.

The metamorphosis from slavery to piety can be silky smooth, albeit with lumps and grit. Each is made with a similar pliable fabric, a similar soft texture. Is this why the heavenly Father endured watching so many generations of misery between Joseph and Moses? Were those centuries of gestation and cruel pharaohs the crucibles of God to mold Abraham’s children into His own? The flies not bothering them, was the first centimeter of dilation before their birth into a brand new state of existence. It was the very first sign that these lowly people were special and beloved. The labor pains were still to come.

The serpent staff, the bloody Nile, the frogs and gnats introduced the Hebrew people to their God with magic. This mysterious ancient God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob of lore became real by showing His power over nature in a shocking way. Egyptian and Hebrew alike witnessed the biggest magic show that there ever was and ever will be until the Second Coming of Christ. For the first time since Creation, the laws of nature, were defied by their Maker in order to show humankind, especially the oppressor-class, the source of real power.

Magicians were allowed to duplicate the marvels. Yes, magic exists in this world of scientific laws, but only up to a point and no further. They couldn't make gnats because they weren't allowed to, and from that point forward the magicians were bereft of their false power.

Thousands of years ago, in Egypt, through a series of shocking events God descended from His throne room to become obvious. It was a unique display of real power. It was real, intentional, purposeful, and effective. This chapter of human history, the story of this one people among the millions of ethnicities was as a flash of lightening that illuminates the heavens for a brief moment. If only we can grasp the sight that was exposed, and remember it through the generations and tell our children and our grandchildren what we saw; we would humble scientist and philosophers. It was loud and bright; it was frightening; it was alarming; it was revealing. It only happened once, and only needed to because God, the Maker of heaven and earth, only needed once to transform this one mass of slaves into a free humble people that He could call His own. He only needed one group that some day He would incarnate into for the grain of thirty-three brief years, for one purpose: to free humankind from the iron shackles of death, in this world and the one under it.

And yet, even God with His armies of angels could not do this alone. He needed one human liaison, one child of man, Moses, whom He raised from birth.

Moses is a giant of a man, because he was a humble man. He humbled himself to God by listening and doing what was asked of him. Moses allowed God to steer him. God needed Moses to link His power from heaven to earth through his greatest creation, humanity. Moses was most alive by virtue of his extraordinary ability, or was it fortune, to communicate with God, to be His tool.

On the day when Pharaoh first rescinded his permission for the Hebrews to leave to worship their God, the people cried. This event too was part of their introduction to the Lord and King. This terrible disappointment was their first opportunity to become humble, trusting people of God. God knew He had to pry them away gently, so He did this with a succession of five offers by Pharaoh to allow them to worship in the wilderness.

God knew that no one was yet ready to be free. He had to tease them out of Pharaoh’s clutches for their sakes and so Pharaoh could get used to the idea. This also explains why Moses only asked for three days when he meant forever.

ALIVE: Chapter 53 The First Big Difference


Guards ordered the grief stricken Hebrews to collect the dead frogs and burn them. The stench was unbearable adding disgust to their disappointment.

While the poor bedraggled Hebrews were collecting dead frogs, and nausea erupted like a geyser through Hebrew bodies big and small, male and female, the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, so that it may become gnats throughout the whole land of Egypt.’”

Perambula looked at Gracefeld and exclaimed, “What! So soon? Shouldn't we wait until the frogs are all gone?” Gracefeld just shrugged angel shoulders and looked down at the chaos of the bloody Nile and the millions of dead frogs, and the people both Egyptian and Hebrew filled with fear and confusion and wondered how Pharaoh could be so stubborn and heartless. The angel saw that it was obvious to most humans that a god, the God, was responsible for all of this. Perambula responded to Gracefeld’s thought, “No Egyptian, not even temple guards, or the queen, dared to discuss the successive catastrophes with Pharaoh. In his palace, Pharaoh is insulated from the outrage of the people. He wants to believe that it's all magic. Besides, you know the Lord is keeping Pharaoh’s heart hard for a reason, don't you?”

No sooner had Moses given him the instructions, than Aaron was ready to pile onto the calamity. Neither brother was as concerned about the chaos as were Perambula and the people. In fact, like mischievous young boys, the brothers reveled in their new destructive power. To keep from smelling the burning frogs, Aaron took a deep breath and then stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, and the gnats poured out onto on humans and animals alike like grains of flying sand; all the dust of the earth turned into gnats throughout the whole land of Egypt. A deep exhale was followed by a hearty grin. Aaron looked over at Moses who was chuckling. This was getting fun!

When Pharaoh saw the gnats he shouted for his magicians who came running to his throne room. “Do it!” He barked. The magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, and for the first time since the marvels began, the magicians could not replicate the event. There were gnats on both human and animals. The chaos among the people both Egyptian and Hebrew could be heard throughout the heavens. People swatted at gnats everywhere with no relief.

The Egyptians were angrier than ever at the Hebrews for causing such calamity and the Hebrews were furious with Moses and Aaron for piling one disaster on another and making them more despised by their neighbors than ever. No one could breathe or eat without gagging and spitting and ingesting gnats. This wasn't freedom; this was torture!

The magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God!” as their excuse for their failure to make even more gnats, as if that was possible. But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord said.

That very night, as Moses lay sleepless in his bed under the net, with Sepphora by his side a flash of light whisked pass him. Then the familiar voice of God, the Lord, spoke to him. God said, “Rise early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh as he goes out to the water, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. For if you will not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you, on your officials, and your people, and into your houses and the houses of the Egyptians shall be filled with swarms of flies; so also the land where they live.’

Hearing that, Moses begged, “Please Lord, spare our people. I am afraid that they feel as persecuted as their oppressors are, and I am concerned that they will be in no mood to worship You, after all this, even when they are set free.” Moses cowered as he spoke thus to the Lord, not knowing how He would react to the suggestion. There was silence.
Perambula looked on curiously, also wondering what God would say.

After many tense moments God replied, “Tell Pharaoh that I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people live, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, so that you and he may know that I, the Lord am in this land. Thus I will make a distinction between my people and Pharaoh’s people. This sign shall appear tomorrow. My people need should know that all of this chaos is happening for them, not against them.” And to his angel he said, “Gracefeld, make sure that no flies come near the Hebrews.”

Gracefeld summoned an army of angels that created invisible walls around the Jewish quarter before God released a great swarms of flies that came into the house of Pharaoh and into his officials’ houses; in all of Egypt the land was ruined because of flies.

For the second time Pharaoh relented when he summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.” But Moses said it would not be right to do so; for the sacrifices that we offer to the Lord our God are offensive to the Egyptians. If we offer in the sight of the Egyptians sacrifices that are offensive to them, will they not stone us? We must go three days journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as he commanded us.”

So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness, provided you do not go very far. Pray for me.”

Then Moses replied, “as soon as I leave you, I will pray to the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart tomorrow from Pharaoh, from his officials, and from his people, only do not Pharaoh again deal falsely by not letting the people go and sacrifice to the Lord.”

So Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. And the Lord did as Moses asked: he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his officials and from his people, not one remained. But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and would not let the people go.

Yet, this time the Hebrews were less disappointed; many of them expected it. Besides, this was the first time that they were not affected by the event and they were rejoicing. Those people who resided on the border of Goshen looked over at their tormented neighbors, some with relief, some with pity, some with hubris. They all were curious about their God. The sun was rising in Goshen while darkness descended on Egypt and its hard-hearted Pharaoh.

Gracefeld looked over at Perambula who still seemed troubled by the chaos and said, “Suffering is a prelude to joy; it seems to be the way of this world.”

ALIVE: Chapter 52 Frogs

Moses sat quietly by the bloody Nile watching men dig to fill buckets of clear water for drink and bath. As he looked upon this scene his mind drifted to his own infancy. This river where his mother laid him, from which he was granted life, had become a sea of overwhelming death. It stank from all the dead fish. It stank of death like the putrid decay of the heart that hatred makes.

Moses thought about the irony of this blood in the water, two life giving elements combined, kill instead.

These thoughts of death recalled to Moses’ mind the dead boys-victims of his grandfather Pharaoh’s lust for power. How could a man have such power over the lives of others as to decide who shall live and who shall die? How the Lord must have grieved to see the innocents slain, to hear mothers and fathers wailing at the loss of their sons. Moses was more determined than ever to remove his people from the murderous grip of such evil. It wasn't until this visit to Egypt as an old man that Moses saw for the first time in his life the effect on the Hebrew people of their captivity. They prayed to a God they didn't know anything about. They begged for freedom of which they were equally ignorant. It was the blindness of slavery that made it all the more tragic.

God hadn't spoken to Moses in nearly a week. He had no idea of what would happen next or when. All he knew was that the bloody river did not impress Pharaoh enough to release them to pray together. To Pharaoh, God's marvels were assumed to be magic tricks. The Lord of all wanted it that way.

Meanwhile, Perambula, Gracefeld, and God were discussing the next marvel.

“Frogs?! Why frogs?” said Gracefeld to God. “That sounds ridiculous. I have never heard of anything so absurd.”

“I think it sounds creepy.” added Perambula.

God returned a mischievous smile and added, “I already made it happen.” Referring to the millions of frog eggs He had planted in the waters that had turned into tadpoles and would soon become frogs. They didn't mind the bloody water, in fact this brew speeded up their metamorphosis.

Then the Lord left His puzzled angels and went to where Moses sat by the Nile. He said to him in the language and tones that had become so familiar and so pleasing to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the Lord: Let my people go so they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs. The river shall swarm with frogs; they shall come up into your palace, into your bed-chamber and your bed, and into the houses of your officials and of your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls. The frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your officials.”

At this message, Moses’ eyes opened wide in surprise. “Frogs, my Lord?!” Perambula who had followed God tuned into the conversation and smiled in agreement.

The Lord replied briskly, “Yes, frogs!” Only God was aware that frogs could survive the bloody water, and He wanted the three months of metamorphosis that frogs needed to time the marvel perfectly coinciding the release of the eggs to the bloody river, plus seven days. Those bloodless reptiles were the only life-form that could survive the corrupted water of the Nile. God alone was the scientist of that era.

God continued to speak to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, the canals, and the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’”

Moses, having received his instructions stood up and walked home to tell Aaron. He was grateful to have a partner in this epic ordeal, and even wondered if his speech impediment had been just for this purpose.

“Frogs? In this bloody water; surely you’re joking!” said Aaron.

“The waters aren't as red and thick as they were. You say why, I say, why not frogs.” replied Moses. “Come on, let’s go. Where is the staff?”

Aaron went into his bedroom where the innocent-looking staff leaned into the corner of the room. A smooth wooden stick that Aaron had whittled from a young sycamore in his youth, and had walked into adulthood and old age with it by his side. Aaron was more surprised than anyone how God could fill his familiar stick with such foreign power.

Moses and Aaron walked nonchalantly through the village to a hilltop where they could overlook the city with its many waterways chatting about the weather, and the latest travails of Gersham and Eliezer. They noticed people watching and whispering to each other as they passed. He distinctly heard one man cynically say, “Now what? Are Moses and Aaron about to make our lives even more miserable?”

When the brothers arrived at the top of the hill, they looked around for a good spot where they could be seen. When they landed they were noticed by the Egyptians and working Hebrews who were gathering wood.

Moses looked over at Aaron and said, “Okay, do it.”

Aaron responded with a smile and a deep breath, then he confidently stretched out his hand gripping his long staff with his mind focused only on the waters; and suddenly thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of frogs popped up and covered the land of Egypt.

A chorus of gasps echoed throughout the region. Children screamed. Mothers quickly gathered their babes and sought refuge in their homes. Chaos took hold. Nothing like this had ever happened before. There was no frame of reference to go to for meaning or relief from the fear. No one, not even Pharaoh knew what this infestation would lead to. Frogs hopped out of bloody waters and into stewpots, beds, and out of sewage holes. They were everywhere.

And all Pharaoh could do in response was call his magicians and tell them to make frogs appear too. This of all lame requests was the easiest for the magicians. Who would know if the frogs they produced were from them or by Aaron’s staff. Nevertheless, Pharaoh was satisfied in believing that his magicians had the same power as the God of Moses.

The next morning, after a sleepless night fending off frogs, Pharaoh decided that he must put an end to this absurd calamity, and reel in the brothers. It was no longer worth it. He decided to let the people have their prayer, so his kingdom could return to normalcy, and most important, so that he could get a good night’s sleep.

First thing in the morning, Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron to come to him. When they arrived he said, “Pray to the Lord to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.”

Moses replied, “Kindly tell me when I am to pray for you and for your officials and for your people, that the frogs may be removed from you and your house and be left only in the Nile.”

And he said, “Tomorrow,” to pretend that he wasn’t as desperate as he really was.

Moses replied, “As you say! So that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God, the frogs shall leave you and your houses and your officials and your people; they shall be left only in the Nile.”

Then Moses and Aaron left the palace and went home. They told the people to spread the word that they should all prepare leave the next day. The city was a flurry of happy activity as men, women, and children prepared for freedom. Prayers of gratitude erupted from dry hearts.

Early the next morning with joy and relief, Moses and Aaron returned to their place on the hill where this time Moses lifted his staff over all the waters; and Moses cried out to the Lord concerning the frogs that he had brought upon Pharaoh. And the Lord did as Moses requested: the frogs died in the houses, the courtyards and the fields. And they gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank.

But after a pleasant night’s sleep and Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, his heart hardened again and he changed his mind.

Oblivious to Pharaoh's change of heart, joyous Hebrew people were gathering by families and tribes to begin their exodus. The town square was crowded with every man woman and child being counted. The elders each took charge of his tribe. Bags bulged with food and clothing.

The parade finally started, but was abruptly halted. Armed guards barked, “Where are you going! Get back to work!”

Moses replied, “By the word of Pharaoh we are going to the wilderness to pray.”

“Well, by the word of Pharaoh to me this morning, you will get back to work!” A fierce wolf-like stare chilled their blood.

The people grumbled and complained. Here and there a man shouted obscenities; children cried; mothers weeped, but in the end, like soldiers or rather like prisoners, they did as the guards demanded. Women returned home weeping to unpack and cook. Bitter men went back to work, children played.

Oblivious to the chaos outside his palace gate, Pharaoh was comfortable in his reversal, for the stasis of his heart was to be hard and mean and stubborn, just as his father before him.