Chapter Twenty Four

They came at night, stealthy. Earlier that evening Earl heard the sound of several helicopters. They seemed to come near enough to touch. He thought he heard them descend and idle for a while. Then the noise increased briefly and waned into the distance. After a prolonged silence he put his mind off its alert and joined the conversation the other three were having with Ron and two of his men about the prophetic Word of God and its extreme relevance to the situation they were now in. Ron and Carl seemed to accept this information, but Jack blew them off, rising up and heading for the door. “Hold on,” Ron said. “I’ve got a bad feeling about those choppers. Gives me the willies, truth be told. If you’re going out, have some protection at least.”   He extracted a knife from his pocket and handed it to Jack, who took it with a brief nod and exited the motor home.

He got a few hundred feet away when he saw the first trooper emerge from between two buildings. He was clothed in black and wearing SWAT gear. Spotting Jack, he raised his rifle. Jack stopped abruptly, noting with terror the red dot of the trooper’s laser sight dance around his chest. The black-clad soldier spoke first. “Hey, buddy,” he called. “You with the group? Or are you a Christian?”

Before Jack could answer, he saw an unruly throng of civilians heading his way. They were armed with clubs and knives, and they looked ready to kill. As they approached, they appeared to accept the presence of the armed trooper. The situation was suddenly clear. “Hey, it’s all right, man,” Jack told the soldier. I’m with them.” He walked toward the mob with a smile plastered on his face. The soldier acknowledged his action and went over to the apparent leader. Jack overheard them discussing the most likely target for holdouts in the immediate area.

“Hey, I can help,” Jack told the leader, moving alongside them. “See that trailer park over there?” he asked, pointing toward the RV park where Earl and Joyce resided along with their fellow believers. “Place is full of Christians. Every one in there is one of them.” He spat in disgust. “Let’s drag ‘em out and give ‘em what for.”

The leader nodded his assent, his bulbous eyes displaying a lust for blood. He turned around toward his followers, motioning for them to be quiet. “Let’s make this a real surprise, people,” he told the crowd. Surround them first and then give them a taste of shock and awe. The trooper took charge and led the silent crowd slowly past the entrance to the RV park and, with hand motions, dispersed the crowd among the trailers in a cordon from which the dwellers could not possibly escape.

Eventually Ron and Carl left and the two couples turned in, unaware that the two men had gotten no further than two steps away from the door before their throats were slit and they were left on the ground to bleed out in silence. Jack wiped his knife on his pants, smiling at the men who surrounded him, reassuring himself that by his quick action there were no doubts among the others about which side he was on. Earl and Joyce, along with the two others, were asleep when a propane tank was hurled into the windshield to land hissing on the floor inside the motor home. Earl awoke with a start, sensing imminent danger. He rushed over to where the tank lay and tossed it back out the broken windshield just before a flaming jar of gasoline came out of the dark toward him. The jar collided with the propane tank and set it aflame as it went rolling back toward the crowd of thugs. This angered the mob into more direct action. One man rushed over to the door and shot out the lock with the massive .44 revolver in his hand. He rushed inside and grabbed Earl by the neck as Joyce, screaming, reached for his hair. The man backhanded her and sent her to the floor as he yanked Earl outside. In an absurd mockery of justice, he threw Earl to the pavement and, with his foot on his neck, began to interrogate him.

“Hey, dude, tell me straight. You a Christian?”

Earl gagged, attempting to speak. “Yes,” he croaked when the man partially released him. “I am a Christian.”

“You hear that?” the thug said to the mob behind him. “Says he’s a Christian. What do we do with Christians?”

“Stomp them!” the crowd shouted in unison. The man responded by stepping down hard on Earl’s neck. Joyce flew out of the trailer as if she was running on natural legs and shoved at the man, who simply smacked her on the nose and cut her down with a vicious chop on her neck. He returned his attention to Earl and smashed down on his neck with his foot, crushing his windpipe. As Earl struggled to breathe, he was forced to watch as the man, seeing the prosthetics on Joyce’s legs, removed them and made her stand on her stumps. “You, too, darlin’,” the man said to her. “You a Christian?”

She stood up as straight as she could, head held high and blood running out of her broken nose. She looked at her dying husband with compassion. “Yes, I am a Christian,” she said, steeling herself for the inevitable blows upon her head from her right prosthetic leg. She saw Jack in the crowd, his eyes gleaming with fascination. Her surprise was cut short by a vicious blow on her head from behind. Milliseconds later, a boot connected with Earl’s bloody head. The attackers lost interest in the inert forms and left them on the ground, moving on to more lively prey whose sufferings would be more visible.

Wisdom looked on, weeping at the carnage and the fallen condition of the human race that caused it. After Her lament was complete, Her mouth turned upward in a smile as She called for an angel, who came over to escort the souls within the mounting pile of bodies to a new and beautiful future. As the angel approached Earl and Joyce, She waved him off. No, She reflected within. Those two are My special ones. I’ll handle them Myself.

She stared down at the inert forms of Earl and Joyce, speculating. But as to how I’ll handle them, She continued to reflect, they really don’t need to be healed.   They do deserve to head up to heaven where they belong. No question. But yet – – -.

Chapter Twenty Five



Within four more days, Jesse’s dire prediction was visibly, appallingly fulfilled. It was signaled by two simultaneously-appearing dust clouds, one from the distant northeast and the other from the east of where they watched in growing fear. The vast distances gave the scene an unreal, toylike appearance. The incongruity of that with what they knew to be the real situation only increased their unease.

“I’ll never laugh again about Gideon’s thing with the fleece,” Jacob said to Moira, referring to Gideon’s response to the angel about leading the people into battle against the Midianites.

“Tell me about that,” Moira said, as much to get her mind off her growing terror as her interest in the story. “I’m sure that I’ve read about it sometime because I vaguely remember the battle and the outcome but I can’t recall much about the details.”

“It’s in the sixth chapter of Judges. The Midianites had occupied the land of Israel with a huge, overwhelming force and they were bullying, mistreating and starving the Israelites. An angel shows up under a tree and hails Gideon, a fearful nobody, as a mighty man of valor and tells him that he’ll lead the Israelites into battle against their enemy and kick them out of the land. After some preliminaries, the time comes for Gideon to gird up his loins and do the Lord’s bidding. But then he stalls off and attempts to negotiate with God to make certain that the God who is calling him to action is actually God. So he bargains with a tuft of wool, a fleece. This is where I used to laugh, considering Gideon to have been displaying a shocking lack of faith. Now that we seem to be in his shoes, I’m kind of backing off from that attitude.”

“Didn’t he ask God to keep the wool wet with dew and the floor on which it lay stay dry?”

“The first time. But that wasn’t enough. The next night he asked God to do the opposite: keep the wool dry and make the floor wet. After that, Gideon believed enough to assemble an army of thirty-two thousand men. But that was too many for God, who wanted to demonstrate to the Israelites that their salvation from the Midianites would come from Him alone. God told Gideon to release from duty all those who were afraid, of which twenty-two thousand left. Then of the remaining ten thousand, God told Gideon to separate them further by the way they drank from the brook. That really took its toll, for there were only three hundred men left to fight. With those three hundred, God routed the Midianites, who fled the country. What really happened is that God surrounded the Midianites with an army of angels. The same thing happened with Elisha. It’s in Second Kings chapter 6.”

“Let’s just hope there’s a prophetic message in that,” Moira said with feeling. “We could use a few of those angels about now.”

“There is. If this is the war I think it is, the outcome’s in Ezekiel 39. Only a sixth part of the Russians survive, and they high-tail it back north. It takes Israel seven years to clean up the mess they leave behind. I have the feeling that my knowledge of the feedings, what I received from Earl back in the States, is only a small part of the events that bring Israel to a recognition of Jesus as their Savior. This war, I think, will force us as a people to appreciate God’s hand in our affairs and bring God back into our lives as an everyday reality.”

“That’s extremely encouraging, Jacob. Whether or not we make it out of this alive, it’s good to know that God is with us. But now that it’s actually happening, I can identify with Gideon. Intimately.”

They couldn’t sleep that night. The darkness emphasized the noise of monster engines of war, the boom of distant guns and the crack of closer impacts. The ground shook periodically, increasing their alienation from stability. They wished for morning, but with the first pre-dawn light they began to wish for night to return as the view before them came into focus.

The twin clouds increased as off to the southeast a third cloud appeared. Over the course of the day the scene changed in apparent slow motion as the clouds increased in size and came ever closer to them. Off to their left, toward Haifa and the Mediterranean, they heard the booms of distant guns, but their view in that direction was blocked by the intervening terrain.

“Sounds like it’s coming from Jezreel,” Jacob said to Moira, referring to the large Jezreel valley extending southeastward from Haifa. Their limited vision in that direction was a mercy, he reckoned. Indeed it was, for surrounding the port city but hidden from their view the sea was black with the largest assembly of war ships since the allied landing at Normandy during the Second World War. While destroyers and cruisers shelled and hammered with missiles the city and surrounding enclaves of suspected Israeli soldiers, the nearer ships began a massive debarkation of troops, opening another front in the war. Farther south, an enormous movement of armor emerged out of the Sinai desert, headed for Tel Aviv and opening yet another front. The combined assault was overwhelming in size and firepower. For the first time in the battle, tactical nukes were deployed.

The inexorable movement of the armament in their direction failed to show the terrified Israeli observers the end of the massive columns. Partially obscured at times by the dust of its movement, the ponderous multi-limbed machine’s forward progress simply permitted more troops and arms to march into view. Jacob and Moira ventured periodically to peek out from the sheltering rocks at the landscape below. Whenever they did this the scene evoked the same heart-stopping helplessness as a monster tidal wave coming to engulf them.

An unidentifiable hum had pervaded the air, an angry buzzing which increased in intensity as the day wore on and the armies drew closer. Eventually individual noises could be discerned out of the general clamor, that of creaking tank treads and loud, unmuffled engines. Flashes could now be seen from the nearest guns, followed by explosive impacts nearer at hand. The deep booms of the guns competed with ear-splitting cracks of explosive ordnance impacting the ground. The earth beneath them shook and trembled.

Then the warplanes came out of the horizon, swift arrows of destruction that went from black dots to enormous monsters in the blink of an eye. Other planes, Israeli fighters, shot from the left to merge with them in a frenzied battle. Some of the enemy came through and screamed overhead. Gouts of blazing napalm pocked nearby rock formations. Moira turned her head to follow their progress. “Oh, no!” she wailed. Jacob followed her eyes to see a giant fireball emerge from their kibbutz.

We’re toast, Jacob breathed, holding protectively to Moira. A platoon of tanks emerged from a nearby crest to command the foreground. A turret swung in their direction.

No, a silent but familiar voice said inside his head. Watch this. Jacob looked around but saw nothing to shake his feeling of imminent doom. Look up, the voice said. He responded by lifting his eyes to the sky, and was startled to see a pinpoint of light expand rapidly until it was too brilliant to watch. An instant later a white light revealed the bones in his hands as they covered his eyes. The ground beneath them gave a mighty heave, knocking them to the earth. Jacob reached out toward Moira and resumed his hold on her body as they lay there dazed. For a brief moment an ominous silence prevailed, and then a deep moan reached their ears. It rose in pitch and volume and gathered the strength to scrape sand off the ground, then pebbles, and after that rocks. Their clothes began to flap violently and they crawled back into the cave behind them for protection against the increasing wind. The wind rose to an eerie screech that remained for several minutes and then began to diminish.

After several more minutes, Jacob ventured a peek outside the cave, seeing an enormous mushroom cloud that emerged from the valley below off to the northeast of their position in the direction of Damascus. Beyond the vertical cloud, dark, low-hanging clouds enveloped the troops in the valley and in the surrounding areas. A sympathetic earthquake shook the ground and they ran out of the cave into the open, where they saw the apron of level ground split open and swallow the tanks that had stood there.

Jacob’s gaze returned to the mushroom cloud. It is Damascus! he said to himself. “Moira, look! That’s Damascus that just went up! The world’s oldest city, and now it’s no more.”

“That’s unbelievable,” she breathed. “I’ve read Ezekiel. He didn’t say anything about that.”

“No, but Isaiah did. It’s in Isaiah seventeen. He said something like there’d be trouble in the evening, and before the morning, it’s gone.”

“Was that an atomic bomb that went off?” Moira asked him.

“No, I don’t think so. The way it came down from the sky, I think it might have been an asteroid. No, I’m sure that’s what it was, because it came directly from God.”

“How do you know that?” Moira began, but then stopped short. “Oh. You had a conversation about it, did you?”

“Yeah,” he said, laughing. “Just a short word or two, but yes. Knowing that, maybe we should stop being afraid and just watch the show.”

“Do what you want,” she replied, sitting down and resting her back against a boulder. “I’m going to hit the sack. Wake me when it’s over.” She was asleep within seconds. Jacob decided to join her. Whatever happened next, they both were content in the knowledge that they were in good Hands.



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