Chapter Three (continued)



Sidney took Joyce’s place next to Earl on the floor of the big RV.  “I know you’d rather have Joyce next to you, but we might as well make the best of this situation.  How about another seminar?”


“Might as well,” Earl replied.  “So you Jews have a tradition that’s around thirty-five hundred years old,” he began.  “As a rule, you’ve been very faithful to it.”


“You’re talking about our Pesach, the Passover, aren’t you?”


“I am.  We Christians read the Old Testament too.  At least we should, because it all goes together.”  The word “Christians” caught Millie’s attention, and she picked up her ears.  So did Jimmy.


“As you know, the account is in Exodus 12,” Earl continued.  “The month Nisan was to be the first month of the year because of the greatness of the event that was to take place.  Very shortly the entire people Israel were to be a nation apart, dedicated to God.  They were to leave Egypt and their enslavement behind after four hundred and thirty years to the very day.  In preparation for it, on the tenth of the month, each family was to take to itself a yearling lamb, without blemish of any kind, and bring it into their household.  There they were to care for it as part of their family.  After four days, on the fourteenth of Nisan, and after learning to love this gentle little lamb, they were to kill it and sprinkle its blood on the doorposts and lintel of their home.  They would roast it in fire and eat it in haste, for that evening the Lord their God would perform the last of His plagues upon Pharaoh by killing the firstborn of every family in Egypt.  But in doing so, He would pass over without harm all those homes for which the blood of the lamb had been applied to the doorposts and lintels.  On the very next morning, the fifteenth, Israel would depart en masse from Egypt with Moses as their leader.”


“You know our custom very well,” Sid told Earl.  “When we were free, we would observe our Passover every year.”


“It’s very meaningful to us also,” Earl replied, “because it’s all about Jesus.”


“How so?” Sid asked, surprised.


“When Jesus approached John the Baptist to be baptized into His ministry, John, when he saw Him come, said ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’  Jesus is the ultimate sacrificial Lamb, and He’s described that way in the Book of Revelation as well as in First Peter, where Peter describes Jesus as a Lamb without blemish.  But it’s in the Old Testament also.  Your prophet Isaiah, in that great Messianic fifty-third chapter that you tend to overlook, described Jesus as being brought as a lamb to the slaughter.”


“That may be,” Sid cut in defensively, “but being called a Lamb doesn’t necessarily relate to our Passover.”


“There’s more.  Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover at the precise time that the other Passover lambs were being slaughtered.”


“I didn’t know that,” Sid replied meekly.


“I didn’t either,” Millie said, clasping her hand over her mouth at her involuntary outburst.


“There’s yet more.  A lot more.  How about this?  David’s – your David’s –  Psalm 22 begins with the words My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? the same words that Jesus uttered on the cross.  It goes on to present a detailed description of the effects of crucifixion on the body.  The rub there is that crucifixion was unknown to the Jews until several centuries after David wrote that Psalm.  Then there’s the account in Genesis where God commands Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, which is an obvious prefigurement of God’s sorrowful sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.


“But to me,” Earl went on with feeling, “the real grabber is where Jesus was born.  Luke’s account has Joseph and Mary turned away from the Inn at Bethlehem, because it was full.  They then went to a manger where Mary gave birth to Jesus.  What Luke didn’t say was that the manger wasn’t plan B.  It was God’s plan A all along.  The manger, you see, was a special one.  There’s a hint about it in Genesis 35, that speaks of Jacob’s wife Rachel being buried near the tower Edar.  The same is spoken of in Micah 4:8, which foretells the coming of the kingdom from there.  Migdal Edar was the watchtower over a special flock, because that was the place reserved for the birthing and rearing of the Passover lambs.  It was precisely the place where God wanted Jesus to be born.”


“That’s big,” Sid said, scratching his chin reflectively.  “I’ll say so,” Jacob chimed in.


“Here’s an added touch.  To ensure that the newborn lambs didn’t injure themselves, it was customary to wrap them in swaddling clothes at their birth.”  Sid and Jacob didn’t get the connection, but Joyce noticed from her shocked expression that Millie instantly understood.  Earl explained it to them.  “Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth includes the angels telling the shepherds that they’d find their Lord wrapped in swaddling clothes.”


“That’s a pretty convincing argument,” Jacob said.  “I’d like to hear more, if you have it.”


“I do.  It comes from your prophet Daniel.  In Chapter Nine, he speaks of sixty-nine weeks from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of Messiah.”


“I know the passage,” Sid said, “but I don’t know anything about what happened about it.  Do you?”


“Yes.  The fulfillment has gotten to be pretty common knowledge among Christians.  But we learned about it only recently.  If one does the math and notes that Daniel’s ‘weeks’ are periods of seven years, and that these ‘years’ are prophetic years of 360 days each, one arrives at the number of 173,880 days between the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and the coming of Messiah.”


“What about the decree?  I suppose you’re going to say it actually happened.”


“Why not?  It did, with precision.  It’s in your own Scripture.  There was some confusion about it, because there actually were two decrees.  The first was issued by the Persian king Cyrus, who was named by Isaiah in his Chapter 44 about a hundred and fifty years before Cyrus was born.  His decree was for the rebuilding of the temple, and the account is given in the Book of Ezra.  But that’s not the decree that Daniel referred to.  The decree prophesied by Daniel was issued by the Persian king Artaxerxes Longimanus in 445 B.C., and it was for the rebuilding of Jerusalem.  The account of that decree is given in the Book of Nehemiah.  Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the ass precisely 173,880 days after the issuance of that decree.”


“To the day?  The very day?” Jacob asked in astonishment.


“Yes.”  Silence reigned again in the vehicle.  Joyce noticed the surprise on Millie’s face.  She asked if she could speak with her.  This time Millie acquiesced.   Joyce reached for Millie’s hand.  “I’m so sorry that we’re here interrupting what seems to be a wonderful lifestyle,” she began.  “We’ll do everything we can to minimize our presence here.”


“If you’re Christians, why did you barge in on us?” Millie asked sharply.  “The use of force doesn’t sound very Christian to me.”


“These are desperate times.  We all were about to be put to death.  Ordinarily, we’d have accepted the martyrdom, but it appears that God has a special mission for us.  You may have noticed that some of the people here are Jewish.  The Holy Spirit has used Earl to feed them the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They’re Christians now.  They have to get back to Israel to spread the Word.”


“Why didn’t you Christians just go with the flow instead of becoming so – so militant and cruel?  You wouldn’t be in the pickle you are if you’d been a little kinder to the gays.”


“It isn’t a matter of kindness.  It’s more the necessity to be obedient to our Lord.  And despite the label of hatred applied to us, our obedience to God requires us to love even those who are our enemies.  We don’t hate gay individuals.  What we do hate is society’s deceptive labeling of their state as normal.  It isn’t.  It’s an abomination to God.  But most of our Churches would have welcomed gays into their worship services if such would only make an effort to see it as an abnormality and attempt to abstain from practicing the perversion.”


“But you’re fugitives from the law.  The law declares you to be bad.”


“Perhaps more of you should question whether the law itself is bad.  You, too, are getting close to violating the law.”


“Oh, you can’t be serious,” Millie scoffed.


“Oh?  I won’t ask you your age, but I’m willing to bet that the RV crowd has been undergoing a demographic shift over the past couple of years.  In other words, Millie, did you have many friends older than you?”


Millie thought for a moment.  “Yes.  There were several that we used to play cards with.  I’ve lost track of most of them.”


“They aren’t around any more?”


“No.  I suppose they may have settled down in homes.  Sometimes it can be tiring to always be moving about.”


“I’ll tell you where they are.  They are – or were – in the camp along with us.  The guards liked to abuse them, just like they do with the handicapped.”


“You’re trying to tell me that my friends, who are decent . . .”


“. . .Law-abiding citizens,” Joyce supplied for her.  “Get that bias out of your mind.  Look around you.  All of us were decent, law-abiding citizens until the law turned bad and came after us.  We had a handicapped child, a little girl named Cathy.”  Joyce dropped her head.  “She’s dead now,” she said in a pinched voice.


“Why?  What has that got to do with your being fugitives?”


“I’ve been trying to tell you that you yourselves will be fugitives in the near future.  Just for being elderly.  Haven’t you noticed that there aren’t any handicapped persons around any more?  The government tried to take Cathy away from us.  We took her and ran away, but they caught us and tossed us into a concentration camp, it was just like what we heard about the German camps during World War II.  It was really a death camp.  They killed Cathy for being a cripple, and we were next.  In the meantime, they were slowly starving us.”


Millie grabbed her throat in shock.  “Here? America?  Surely you can’t mean . . .”


“Just be thankful you’re still self-sufficient.  When you start to need assistance or if you get sick with something that can’t be cured with a pill, they’ll come to you, too, and then it’ll really be checkout time for you.”






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