Chapter Four (continued)




“I have another point to make about Genesis as Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Earl said as his audience pondered over this new insight, “and that is about the Six Days of Creation. Your Psalm 90 equates a thousand years of the Lord to a day. Peter, in his second letter, repeats this equation and expands upon it by making the equivalence bidirectional. It’s not a trivial relationship; it’s a key to the interpretation of several important passages in Scripture, starting at the very beginning, at Genesis One. The creation story involves seven days, as you know. God intended us to perceive the Biblical story as playing out over seven millennia, or seven days according to Psalm 90. In that context, each year of Abraham’s one hundred seventy five-year lifetime, when multiplied by the thirty-three point six-year lifetime of Jesus, results in a total period of five thousand, eight hundred eighty years. That time period involves one hundred twenty 49-year intervals. In each such 49-year period, there is an additional parallel Jubilee year that must be added into the total. Adding in those one hundred twenty Jubilees brings the total to six thousand years. That’s six thousand years of mankind that culminates, according to Revelation, in a thousand-year Millennium when Jesus returns with His Church to reign on earth. The grand total, then, of the number of years that God wishes us to view as belonging to human history is seven thousand years.”


“Hold on,” Sid said, writing furiously in the notebook. “I have to catch up.” He looked up to Earl again after several moments. “Okay,” he said. “I’m ready for more.”


“Jesus came on the fourth day of the Lord, or the fourth millennium,” Earl continued. “In Chapter eleven of John’s Gospel is the account where Jesus resurrected Lazarus from the dead. The account notes that Jesus could have acted on the news of Lazarus’ death sooner, but that He waited until the fourth day to bring him back to life. In doing so, Jesus was prophesying His own resurrection, again, on the fourth day of the Lord.”


“Wow.” Other than that exclamation, Sid was at a loss for words. Dropping all pretense, Millie stared at Earl. He could see Jimmy’s eyeballs in the rear-view mirror.


“I’m not done yet. In several Gospel passages, Luke 9:22, for instance, Jesus said that He must be slain and be raised on the third day.”


“Well, even I know that that’s already happened,” Sid said. “According to your New Testament, He did rise again on the third day.”


“Sure, but remember that we’re talking about days representing thousand-year periods. Prophecies often have short-term and long-term fulfillments. The long-term fulfillment of that particular prophecy is yet to happen. But it’s very, very close. In the long-term fulfillment, Jesus will come again in the third millennium after His resurrection, or on the seventh millennium of the Lord, just as foretold in Revelation. I could say more about millennia, such as the notion that each of the seven twenty-five-year intervals in Abraham’s life represented a major prophetic event, but to tell you the truth, I just can’t remember those events. Sorry.”


“You’ve given me – us – more than enough to digest. It’s very much appreciated.”


“Don’t thank me. Thank the Holy Spirit.”


Sid rose up, apparently to go talk with Irving, but before he started away, Millie spoke. “About the Passover, Earl. Can you tell us any more about the connection with Jesus as the Lamb of God?”


“Yeah,” Jimmy said. “That bit about the manger in Bethlehem was a humdinger.” Jimmy’s expression darkened after he said this. He became lost in thought.


“Well, sure, okay.” Sid quickly sat back down.


“Remember, in Exodus twelve, a yearling lamb is to be selected on the tenth day of Nisan, kept in the home for four days, and then be killed on the fourteenth. Jesus was crucified on the fourteenth of Nisan. But in Chapter Twelve of John’s Gospel, John relates how, six days before the Passover, or five days before the fourteenth, Jesus came to Bethany. Remember that by Jewish reckoning the days begin at evening. So that night, which would be Nisan Ten, Jesus ate with Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Martha served dinner, but Mary did something else. She took a pound of spikenard, a very expensive embalming ointment, and anointed Jesus’ feet with it. Then she wiped His feet with her hair. When Judas Iscariot complained about the cost, Jesus told him to let her alone. He and Mary alone knew what she was doing, which was fulfilling the Passover Scripture by selecting Jesus as her Passover Lamb.”


Silence again pervaded the vehicle. Joyce, looking over from the table, was surprised to see a tear leak down Millie’s cheek. “Can you tell us more?” she asked in a small voice.


“Gladly, Millie. We’ll go to Exodus Chapter 40, where Moses is setting up the Tabernacle in the wilderness. When the Tabernacle was prepared for worship, the Scripture says that a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the Glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Many Bible commentaries refer to this Glory as the Shekinah, a Hebrew term. As long as the Glory remained, the Israelites would stay put; when the Glory lifted, the Israelites would continue their journey. This same Glory filled Solomon’s Temple when it was completed. The account’s in First Kings Chapter Eight. The prophet Isaiah referred to this same Glory in Chapter 51. So did Paul, indirectly. What Paul said in First Corinthians Chapter 3 was that we ourselves are human temples of God. Jesus promised in John 14 that we Christians, as temples of God, would be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, which, of course, began at the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection. Since then, all Christians understand that they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This indwelling was prefigured by the Glory of God, which indwelt the Tabernacle in the wilderness and later, Solomon’s Temple. This prefigurement leads one to make a natural association of the Glory with the Holy Spirit. I certainly do.”


“So do I,” Joyce said enthusiastically. She was followed by Sid and, surprisingly, Millie.


Earl laughed. “Well, here’s the kicker. If you look up the word ‘Shekinah’ on the Intenet, say Wikipedia for example, you’ll find that the word has an associated gender. The gender is feminine.”


“That doesn’t surprise me as much as you seem to think it would,” Sid said. “I don’t know that much about Christianity yet. Now that I am one, I intend to learn more as quickly as I can. But back in the camp guys would talk about it. One of their main hang-ups about Christianity was their perception that Christians think of the Holy Spirit as being either male or genderless. Most of us Jews always thought of the Holy Spirit in feminine terms anyway. Solomon’s Proverbs contributes to that view, as does his Song of Songs. The most telling is the Shekinah you spoke of, the cloud of Glory who, as you said, indwelt our centers of worship. But doesn’t the New Testament refer to the Holy Spirit as a ‘he’?”


“Yes, but that can easily be reconciled with a functionally female Holy Spirit. Too bad the Church never bothered to do so.” Anyway . . .”


“No way!” Jacob shouted, breaking his prolonged silence. “That explains everything!”


The raising of Jacob’s voice visibly distressed Jimmy. “Keep it down, Jacob,” Earl said, pointing to the frowning driver. “Explains what?”


“I had a vision,” Jacob began. “In the night after I accepted Jesus as our – my – Messiah. It was frigid in the vision, snowing, bitterly cold. There was a cave in the face of a cliff. Inside the cave was a she-wolf, her eyes smarting with discomfort. But she patiently remained in her uncomfortable position, because she was feeding a bunch of hungry cubs. They were warm and comfortable nestling against her body, and they had no idea of the cold outside, or of the pain that their mother was enduring for their sakes.”


“Hoo boy,” Jimmy scoffed. So that’s your God? A wolf?”


“I instantly recognized the cubs as us, almost completely oblivious to the cold, dark vastness of the universe surrounding us, or the epic, painful at times, of God fashioning a habitable world out of that stark blackness for our comfort and pleasure. I also recognized – instantly, too – that the wolf in that vision represented the Holy Spirit. And I said ‘represented’, not ‘was’. I wept at the imagery. Knowing that the New Testament referred to the Holy Spirit as a ‘he’, I put this vision in the back of my mind as a confusing issue that I’d deal with later. Now you make it all come back and now, with the Son front and center, where a female Holy Spirit as the spiritual Mother of Jesus makes a lot more sense than a genderless union or one in which gender exists only as a personality characteristic. Where’s the glue in that kind of arrangement? It’s hard to picture the unity that it might produce, or the Divine Son that such sterility might bear. Actually, I think that the female persona of the Holy Spirit is as important as the pattern of the cross in Jesus’ feeding episodes.”


“I’m glad you said that, Jacob. The issue is important, because a functionally female Holy Spirit changes our awareness of the Trinitarian Godhead to a perception of a Divine Family. I’m probably taking the words out of your mouth, but what you’re about to say is that it’s very easy to picture the Godhead as the ultimate Family, and, of course, it would have been in this Family context that Moses was able to speak of God as One. Which, of course, is a very natural and loving way to view God. Not only that, but the New Testament itself, in Chapter 3 of John’s Gospel, associates the Holy Spirit with spiritual birth, birth being an eminently female function regardless of whether it’s in the spiritual realm or our own. But I’m afraid that I’m all talked out, and to do it justice would take a lot of time. . .”


“Let me, Earl,” Joyce broke in. She made a concise review of all the issues associated with a female Holy Spirit that Earl had struggled with in his dialogue with Pastor Wilson so very long ago. When she had finished, Sid had filled several pages of his notebook and Millie had rather timidly asked Joyce to come near. “Joyce,” she said, holding her hand, “can you show me how I can come to Christ?”  


“Not so fast!” Jimmy yelled. “And get away from my wife!” he shouted to Joyce.


“Why, Jimmy, what’s wrong with you?” Millie said, shocked at his outburst.


“I’ll tell you what’s wrong with me. These guys come in, highjack our home, kidnap us, and now you want them to convert you? You know what these Christians are like. They’re misfits. Unhappy malcontents. Throwbacks from the Middle Ages. Don’t you remember how we were told about them? Society’s finally ridding itself of them, and now you want to join them? Where’s your brains, Millie?”


“Weren’t you listening?” Millie shot back. Obviously, she wasn’t intimidated by her husband. “Explain to me yourself how Jesus’ coming could have been predicted to the very day if it wasn’t God who provided that information. Just maybe it’s been us who’ve been brainwashed, not them.”


Jimmy clamped his lips together. He was through trying to reason with her. Hearing the exchange, Jacob walked back to the bedroom, where he conferred with his companions. Presently he came back out and motioned to Earl. When the two had moved out of earshot of their driver, Jacob spoke. “We have to do something about all of us here. I think there’s just too many of us for Jimmy to handle. It’s too threatening. Some of the guys in the back have agreed to offload themselves when we get to the next town. At best, there’ll be a bus station there. At worst, they’ll have to steal a car. You can go too, you and Joyce, but I’d rather keep you with Sid and Irving and me.


“That’s a good idea. I think Millie would like a little privacy, too. And then we wouldn’t be putting all our eggs in one basket either. Of course we’ll stay with you. I think Joyce is beginning to bond with Millie. Who knows what God has in mind in that direction?”


They sat back down. Despite Jimmy’s rant and his ugly looks in her direction, Millie got up from the passenger seat sat beside Joyce at the table, where Joyce quietly led her into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. They crested a rise and the city of Fort Stockton came into view, appearing as a tiny enclave of civilization in the middle of a vast wasteland. Jacob came over and stood beside Jimmy. “Take that next off-ramp, please,” he told Jimmy, pointing to the I-10 business route. Beneath the polite request, the command was unmistakeable. Jimmy struggled with a desire to refuse to comply, but then thought better of it and pulled off onto Dickinson Street. “Turn into that Walmart lot,” he commanded. When Jimmy did so and parked the vehicle, the group hiding in the bedroom trooped out and headed for the store.


                                      [to be continued]



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