JACOB INSTALLMENT #23

Chapter Eleven

“Get offa me!” the injured man yelled. He hauled back his left arm and brought it forward, slapping Joyce in the face. “Can’t you see I’m hurting?”

Joyce ignored her smarting cheek and attempted once more to free the man from the debris surrounding him. This time she was more successful and examined his extremities for breaks. From the angular appearance of his right leg she knew that it was broken. “I’m so sorry for hurting you,” she told the elderly victim. “Your leg is broken below the knee. Someone will be by soon to set it. Would you like some water?”

“Yes, please,” he said in a subdued voice. She put a glass to his lips and he helped her hoist it while he gulped it down. “I gotta pee,” he said when he finished. “Real bad.” She brought out the red plastic pail she’d been carrying around just for that purpose and helped him get onto his left knee. She left him then to take it from there, and when he’d finished she took it outside the heavily damaged trailer and dumped it in an inconspicuous place. Now wasn’t the time to be trying to obey the sanitation laws. Not with a defunct and already overflowing park septic system and the probability that no attempt would be made to empty it for at least another month. That has to be up there among the worst effects of a natural disaster, she reflected as she searched for Earl. The filth of it all – the mountains of trashed human contrivances and the human waste on top of that. We’re an ugly lot when our civilizing systems break down.

She found her husband helping Doctor James set a broken ankle. It had to be the fifth one they’d come upon since they’d started their rescue effort. And in this park alone, she thought, wondering what the situation was outside. “Earl, when you’re through with this fellow, there’s another broken leg two rigs down,” she said, pointing to the trailer from which she’d just emerged. She left them and went past the trailer to the next semi-demolished vehicle, another likely candidate for a suffering inhabitant.

They repeated this process throughout the morning and early afternoon, filling up their motor home as they did with frightened, injured and dispossessed people. After having completed a circuit of the RV park with their first-aid assistance, they returned to their own rig, where Millie with Joyce’s assistance prepared a meal of sufficient size to serve the entire assembly of refugees. Before they ate, however, Earl led them in saying grace. His prayer, directed by the Holy Spirit, turned out to be significantly longer than his earlier thanksgiving. It turned out, in fact, to be a Gospel message.

This new “band of brothers” helped each other under Earl’s guidance to restore some semblance of livability to their damaged homes. With the aid of a tow truck from a nearby auto repair shop, they restored many of the vehicles to upright positions. The refugees were spread over those RVs that were minimally damaged, and they continued, through frequent visits to an RV shop located a few miles away, to make those repairs within their ability to achieve. Personnel from the RV shop made some of the more demanding repairs. Throughout the process, Earl’s unstinting help and leadership, coupled with his open, bold Christianity gained him the respect of many of his new companions, a number of whom began to express an interest in learning about this Jesus whom the government had denounced as a dangerous rabble-rouser with a dedicated terrorist following. Joyce, as she openly expressed her Christianity among the women as they worked to comfort and assist the ever-dwindling group of refugees, earned the same respect as her husband, and was establishing a growing cadre of women who wished to commit themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ despite the ever-present threats of the government against those who did so.

One of the larger rigs was the home of a ham radio operator, a dwindling breed of short-wave enthusiasts whose equipment survived the destruction about them with minimal damage. Within a week Seth had the system up and running again and was operating it at very short intervals to conserve the fuel in his generator. One evening two weeks after the destructive storm had hit, he ran over to Jimmy’s rig and pounded on the door. When Jimmy opened it he came inside without preamble. “Something terrible’s happened over in Arizona,” he told them between gasps for breath. “There was a huge earthquake in the Grand Canyon, totally unexpected. They think it was a magnitude nine, or maybe even bigger. It happened last week. There wasn’t much ado about it until the Colorado River went dry. Some of the canyon collapsed and a big lake is forming behind it. It’s way too big a deal to move the dirt, and now they’re rationing the water from Lake Mead. They’re real worried about L.A. and Phoenix.”

“Yes, but both of those cities have other sources besides the Colorado,” Jimmy said. “I studied the water situation once when Millie and I were thinking of moving. Phoenix and Tucson both get some water from the Colorado by way of the CAP canal from Lake Mead via Lake Havasu, but they also get water from other river systems and groundwater as well. Los Angeles and the California southland gets Colorado water from Lake Mead, but the canal running from the Sacramento River Delta is another major source, as well as groundwater. I’d think that with a some careful rationing there wouldn’t be a real problem. Maybe there’ll be some dry lawns and a few defunct golf courses, but by and large it shouldn’t be a huge disaster.” Jimmy’s reassurances took the air out of Seth’s sails. Millie asked him to stay for dinner, and he agreed with alacrity.

Three days later Seth again pounded on Jimmy’s door, and again he entered their domain out of breath. “There’s been another earthquake!” he announced. It hit Central California this time. A new volcano’s popped up west of Yosemite. It’s growing by the hour and, guess what, the quake’s trashed the canal bringing water south from Sacramento. Folks are really worried now about the developing water shortage in Southern California. And there’s another new factor. The authorities had kind of tolerated us hams in the past, but now they’re getting heavy-handed. One of my airwave pals told us that he’d been watching a truck with a directional antenna coming down the street and I haven’t heard from him since. Everybody’s tightening up their act and shortening their air time.”

Over the next several days Seth kept them posted on the deteriorating situation in the major southwestern cities. But as their condition continued to decline the information about them became sketchier. From what they were able to glean from the spotty news, riots of unprecedented magnitude erupted from Los Angeles to San Diego. These were met by an even harsher governmental response that was leading to massive slaughter. Apparently the entire Southland had been cordoned off and the authorities were simply allowing it to die. At first they heard of selected elites being airlifted out of the ensuing chaos, but one-by-one the major airports were being overrun and rendered inoperable by desperate mobs.

A vicious earthquake struck the Mississippi River Basin forty miles north of Memphis, Tennessee, reprising the famous New Madrid earthquake of 1811. Immense as the earlier temblor had been, this was stronger and the destruction it wrought more extensive. It completely blocked the mighty Mississippi River, creating a huge flood that extended all the way up to St. Louis. To the southward of the epicenter, the event threatened to deplete the water supply of New Orleans.

The government responded to these varied events with a siege mentality, commandeering food and water supplies and sequestering shelf goods within enclaves reserved for the elite, into which much of the government and its loyal army retreated. As an immediate consequence, there was a general lifting of the closely-maintained supervision and micromanagement of local authorities outside the areas most directly impacted. The locals began to perceive that support from their superiors was declining. This new attitude opened up a new and very welcome opportunity for Earl and his group to evangelize their area. Earl started a Church within the RV park and held open services. Borrowing from his knowledge of the Bible and his experience as a lay pastor during the Seattle riots, he was an effective preacher, particularly in driving home to his expanding congregation the relevance of Scripture to current events. The Church quickly outgrew its home and expanded into the outside community, first in an abandoned shop and then in a community hall, its membership fuelled by backlash from the recent state oppression and a general public surprise that the heavy-handed attempt to enforce political correctness at swordpoint hadn’t succeeded in stamping out all vestiges of Christianity.

“What I want to do,” he told his growing congregation one Sunday, “is first to get you to know some of the early Bible characters who fleshed out the Jesus to come. In the process, I’m hoping to lead you to an appreciation of the Bible as truthful. Along the way I’ll also address some of the issues that have led people to think of the Bible as being a mythical book and one that was written by man alone. But it wasn’t. It contains too much information that goes way beyond the capability of the human mind to put together to be a product of man.

Let’s start with the Great Flood of Noah’s day. So many would-be theologians with PhDs behind their names have asserted that Noah’s flood was local that a distressing number of pastors have come to accept the account in Genesis as mythical. And, having come to the impression that the Genesis account made a big deal out of an event that merely was local in nature, they proceeded to pass on that belief to their congregations, thereby infecting much of the Christian community with a notion that is completely unjustified. In actuality, there is far more scientific evidence that the Great Flood was of planetary scope rather than a local event. Those who insisted upon a local flood may have been cowards at heart for whom a catastrophe of worldwide proportions was way out of their comfort zones. Either that or they simply were too myopic to be able to picture something so far out of their range of experience. They couldn’t comprehend a mechanism that huge as to be so destructive. Nor did they want to.

What clinches the Flood as being of a universal nature is that it entirely changed the weather regime of earth. There are a number of hints of that in the first chapters of Genesis. Why, for example, did it not rain at the beginning? Or why was there no rainbow? The answer was right there in plain sight with the statement that the waters were divided from the waters. The obvious answer from that information is that the earth was surrounded by a globular canopy under which the temperature of the atmosphere was more uniformly distributed.” He paused to let that sink in, noting a few gasps of surprise from the congregation.   “And, by the way,” he continued, “it was an atmosphere more suitable for some ancient animals than at present, so much so that many of them died out. But the experts were too busy scoffing at the Bible to think for themselves, insisting instead that the Genesis account was written by someone so naïve and unsophisticated of mind that he wrote of physical impossibilities. They were so blinded by the myopic popular view of natural history that they couldn’t perceive a cause for the destruction of the canopy until our modern technology created a stir with the glimpses it gave us of the destructive havoc that has been wrought upon our neighboring planets. Finally someone looked skyward and said to himself, ‘Oh! It came from there.’ Soon after that the ‘string of pearls’ that in 1994 smashed into Jupiter, creating planet-sized holes in its atmosphere, shoved an actual mechanism of destruction into everyone’s face. You can’t argue with reality. But before that happened, mainstream science insisted, always with vehemence and sometimes quite viciously, that no such mechanism existed. In the mid-twentieth century, Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky put together a logical and self-consistent account of a world-wide disaster during the time of the Exodus. For piecing together that remarkable story, he was verbally torn to shreds by a cadre of scientists who set upon him like a pack of rabid dogs. While his logic prevailed over theirs, the violence of their assault upon him convinced the generally shallow and intellectually apathetic public that it was they who were right. Well did Peter speak of their mindset in 2 Peter.” He opened his Bible and began reading from the beginning of Chapter 3.

“’This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you, in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance, that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior; knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water, by which the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

 

Earl closed his Bible and looked out at his audience, noting Joyce’s smiling face. “Peter goes on with an exhortation to the reader,” he continued, “telling them that despite the scoffers, there will be an end to God’s forbearance. At that point, which, as he refers to Jesus’ commentary of the end of the age in Matthew 24, will come as a thief in the night, the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, the elements will melt with a fervent heat, and all of man’s works will be burned up. So much for the scoffers.”

When Earl came up to Joyce after the sermon, she continued to wear a smile. “What’s up?” he asked her. “I didn’t say anything that you haven’t heard before.”

“Oh,” she replied, “but, judging from the whispered comments from those around me, it’s something new to them. It’s good to know your sermon was having an affect. So how’s it feel to be back in the saddle?”

“Real good, honey. Even though I know it’s not going to last very long. The world is so closely following the script that the Bible laid out that we can’t be very far from closing time.”

“Well said. But let’s enjoy it while it lasts.”

[to be continued]

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