CATHY INSTALLMENT #14

Chapter Ten

“It is so good to see you this evening, your honor,” the maitre‘d beamed at Gerald Robbins, turning next to his extravagantly pretty wife. “And how absolutely stunning you look tonight, madame. Our modest establishment has been languishing in drab sorrow until you came to illuminate it with your beauty. Please follow me.” Gerald and Mary followed him to an empty table, which he designated as theirs with a flourish. He helped her with her chair and clapped loudly for the attention of the wait staff, who rushed over with frosted glasses, an iced water pitcher, the waiter and the sommelier.

His clap for attention was superfluous. All eyes were riveted on the Chief Justice’s wife. Younger than her husband by fifteen years, she carried herself with regal grace. Her elegant beauty radiated throughout the busy dining room, bringing conversation to a halt. The attention on Mary wasn’t lost on Gerald, who welcomed it as the capstone of a lengthy, enormously successful career. Despite the large difference in their ages, their twelve-year marriage had been uncommonly happy for both of them. She respected his intellect and the forcefulness of his personality in dealing with other men; he, of course, appreciated her beauty, but he was grateful that along with it came a generous heart capable of an astonishingly earthy passion. She was one in a million and he knew it; despite his own successes, he had been extremely lucky in finding her and persuading her to be his life partner.

Mary put a gentle hand over his. “I have to use the lady’s room,” she said. “I’ll just be a minute. Why don’t you order for both of us?”

Gerald turned to the sommelier as she arose from the table and walked off. “I’ll take your own recommendation for tonight, Ted,” he told him. Make it a dark wine, and rare. I have a big case coming up and I don’t know when I’ll be able to relax again.”

“Absolutely, sir,” the sommelier said, and departed, leaving him with the waiter. “Hi, George,” he began. “Is fresh lobster on the menu tonight?”

“Of course, sir. Not only are the creatures still alive, but they were in the ocean yesterday. May I suggest a rare chateaubriand on the side?“

“Splendid.” He folded the menu and returned it to George as the sommelier hurried toward them with the wine.

Gerald mused on the upcoming trial as he sipped at the wine. He was on his second glass before he became aware that Mary was taking an unusual length of time in the bathroom. He looked at his watch. After ten more minutes his concern morphed into alarm. He got the attention of the waiter, and asked him if he would be so kind as to ask a female member of the staff to inquire as to her presence in the bathroom. The waiter returned a few minutes later. His hands were empty and he was wearing a frown. “I’m afraid the bathroom is empty, sir,” he told Gerald, who began to rise from his chair in distress.

He returned to his chair under the command of a gentle but firm hand on his shoulder. “Mary’s just fine, Mr. Robbins,” he said. “She’s outside talking to an unexpected friend.” The large, cheerful man dismissed the greatly relieved waiter and sat down in Mary’s chair. The matching relief on Gerald’s face quickly fled. “Who are you?” he asked the stranger. “How do you know Mary?”

“The first thing you must do, sir, is to remain calm,” the man replied. Mary will indeed be all right, after a fashion, but only if you stay calm and don’t make a fuss. No police, no 9-1-1. We’re past that. If you do everything exactly as I say, I might not get to know Mary in a way that you’d find quite appalling. Tell me you understand. Quietly, and smile.”

Gerald forced himself to comply. “Okay. I’ll be leaving now, but other people are watching. You don’t know them, but they know you, and if you do anything out of the ordinary, well, Mary will know about it.”

Heart racing, Gerald called the waiter over and paid the bill with the excuse that an emergency meeting had intruded on their dinner. As he left the restaurant, the friendly face returned and grasped him by the arm. “What do you want from me?” he asked the man, his heart racing in panic. “If it’s money you want, just tell me and I’ll be glad to hand it over.” The man remained silent. Presently they came up to a blue Bentley, and the man ushered Gerald into the back seat. When they were alone, the man told him that Mary would be held in custody for a period of time. His stomach dropped with the news and his inability to do anything about it. “You’ll have to explain her absence,” the man told Gerald. “Say what you want, but make it convincing.”

“But for how long?” Gerald was almost weeping.

“Until your case is over. The lawsuit against the White House.”

“Why?”

“The Supreme Court has, in addition to you, four liberals and four conservatives. They’ll be certain to vote in a predictable fashion. You’re the wild card. You figure it out.”

“Will you promise to return Mary if the vote goes your way?”

“No. But I’ll promise you this: if the vote doesn’t go our way, Mary won’t be coming back. And don’t think that you can cry foul once she is returned to you, if that ever happens. Or if you never see Mary again. You’re up against some people who are infinitely more successful than you. And infinitely more powerful besides. You and Mary take your next breaths at the pleasure of these people. You’d just be going through this all over again, only for a very short period of time.”

At the other end of the country and several days later, the Cooks’ weekend was filled with Cathy and Church. “Chapters 1 through 3 of Revelation, you will recall,” Pastor George told his congregants, “dealt exclusively with the Church. Now we come to Revelation 4, where the scene shifts to heaven as John is taken there in the Spirit. This abrupt change in scenario and topic has led many Christians, both laypeople and theologians alike, to think that the Rapture occurs at this juncture, with the Church leaving earth behind to be in heaven. I tend to agree with this view, although I want you to know that there are good arguments in support of a Rapture that occurs toward or at the end of the Tribulation. At this point I feel obligated to insert a few words of caution regarding the notion of the Rapture being delayed until after the Millennium. Note that I said the Millennium, not the Tribulation.” His emphasis on the word “Millennium” brought a chuckle to those who knew that some Christians tended to confuse the very widely-separated ends of these two different events. “Although I have just acknowledged the real possibility that the Rapture will not occur until the end of the Great Tribulation, I can’t think of any good argument for a delay of the Rapture until after the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth called the Millennium. To some, that mindset involves the notion that we’re in the millennium age even now, or what variously is called “preterism”, “replacement theology” or “dominion theology”, which asserts that the Church has replaced Israel as the apple of God’s eye, and that the Church will hand over a perfect world to a passive Jesus at the end of the Millennium. This very false teaching has led to untold misery for both the Church and the Jews. The truth is that the world will continue to get worse until Jesus Himself comes back to set things straight during the Millennium. Oh, yes, the Church will be involved during that time, but only with the active Lordship of Jesus Christ.” George ran a hand through his hair. “Sorry. I guess I got sidetracked. At any event, getting back to Revelation 4, John finds himself in heaven seeing things that are difficult to put into words:

“’After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven; and the first voice that I heard was, as it were, of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up here, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the Spirit and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardius stone; and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like an emerald. And round about the throne were twenty four thrones, and upon the thrones I saw twenty four elders sitting, clothed in white garments; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderclaps, and voices; and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like crystal and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. And the first living creature was like a lion, and the second living creature like a calf, and the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures had each of them six wings about him, and they were full of eyes within; and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. And when those living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him that is seated on the throne, and worship him that liveth forever and ever, the twenty four elders fall down before him that is seated on the throne, and worship him that liveth forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to achieve glory and honor and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.’

“Think, my friends, of the glory that John must have seen! I happen to be one of the very many knowledgeable Christians who are convinced that John’s visions included a panoramic view of modern civilization, complete with cars and trucks, freeways, trains, airports, airplanes, skyscrapers, factories, smog, and what-have-you. Beyond that, of course, is the spiritual realm which John was also gifted to see. Our earthy vocabulary simply isn’t sufficient to describe the things that belong to the heavenly domain. But he soon encounters an unexpected situation that troubles him greatly.

“’And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.’

“I’ll briefly interrupt the narrative to tell you that in the days of John the backside of a document was used to write any legal conditions that applied to the document, including its terms of unsealing and use. Continuing, then, we see that there are indeed legal conditions that are attached to this sealed document.

“’And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the scroll, and to loose the seals? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the scroll, neither to look on it. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the scroll, neither to look on it. And one of the elders saith to me, Weep not; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the scroll, and to loose its seven seals. And I beheld and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the scroll out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne.’

“I’ll interrupt the narrative again to explain two things. First, as to the identity of the Lion of Judah: all the way back in Genesis 49, the Patriarch Jacob, or Israel, pronounces his prophetic blessings on his twelve sons, the patriarchs themselves of the twelve tribes of Israel as he nears the end of his life. Among these is Judah, over which he says

“’Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he crouched as a lion, and as an old lion. Who shall rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine, he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.’

“This prophecy is generally interpreted as Messianic, for reasons that would take me too long to go into here. Perhaps I’ll deliver a later sermon on the subject. In other words, it is thought to be a direct reference to Jesus Christ, whose bloodline indeed was of the tribe of Judah.

Glancing over at Cathy, Joyce noted something unexpected as Pastor George presented this interpretation of Revelation. She was surprised to see her nod and move appropriately to the words that George spoke. Can she really understand what he is saying? she asked herself.

“The second item that wants interpretation is the identity of the Lamb. Recall in Exodus 12 the institution of the Passover ceremony on the eve of the exodus of Israel from Egypt. As a preliminary to that ceremony, each family was to take into their house a yearling lamb without blemish and keep it for four days, just long enough to become attached to it. Then they were to kill it and sprinkle its blood on the lintel and doorposts. Those families who obeyed this instruction were passed over by God on His way to execute the tenth plague, which was the death of the firstborn of every family in Egypt. This ritual obviously also was Messianic: it was a direct reference to Jesus, whom John the Baptist named the Lamb of God as He came to him to be baptized. Jesus, it must be noted, was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover, fulfilling the ceremony in Himself. It is to His blood that we look for our own salvation from spiritual death.”

Again, Joyce looked at Cathy and was surprised at her apparent grasp of what George was saying. She resolved to ask Laurie about Cathy’s intellectual capabilities.

George concluded his sermon by saying that the opening of the first four seals would unleash the four horsemen of the apocalypse. “We’ll go into that next week, God willing. It will be an interesting sermon,” he said, “especially since there are two very different ways that we can view these horsemen and their colors. So stay tuned and have a good week. Let’s turn to that stirring hymn, “Am I a Soldier of the Cross, number 239.”

After the hymn, George held up his hand for a final announcement. “As most of you know, the Supreme Court has just ruled in favor of the White House in the matter of the rash of executive orders the president has issued. It came as a big surprise to most of us conservatives, who thought that the Chief Justice was one of us. I expect this betrayal to have a very large impact on the future of America. We seem to be following in lockstep the process that enthroned Hitler in Nazi Germany. What concerns me most is the complete government takeover of care for the elderly and handicapped, really for health care in general. I can almost hear them calling the infirm “useless eaters”, as they did in Hitler’s Germany. But no matter. Remember that God is on the throne and everything will work out according to His loving will. Go in peace. I look forward to seeing you back here next Sunday. Oh, and for those who want to pursue the subject at a little deeper level, you’re welcome to come to our Bible study on Wednesday night at six thirty.”

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