Old man seated asleep on his cane. Nowhere in particular yet anywhere in general. Voice from elsewhere speaks.
Voice- Firmly at first, always with love but with progressing tenderness, "Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead and Christ shall shine upon you." [Eph. 5:14] "Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs and the earth shall cast forth the dead." [Isa.26:19]
Just Resurrected One- Wakes, straightens up just a little in his chair still leaning on his cane. Plaintively, "Aaaangh!.... Sing?... I can just barely sit up!"
Voice- "Arise and shine for thy light is come and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee." [Isa. 60:1]
Just- Continues to lean heavily on the cane, Irritably, "OK already, I'm up, but I must still be dreaming because this surely isn't the place where I went to sleep. How did I get here anyway?"
Voice- "Have you not read that which was spoken unto you by God, as to the resurrection of the dead? I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. God is not of the dead but of the living." [Mat. 22:31]
Just- Somewhat irritably, "Yes, that does sound familiar, but what does that have to do with me."
Voice- "So then as through one trespass unto all men came condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness unto all men came justification of life." [Rom. 5:18]
Just- With a hint of derision, "Nice, however you cant mean ALL people can you? I know I'm quite a ways down the list... but, really... EVERYBODY?"
Voice- "Marvel not at this: For the hour cometh in which ALL that are in the tombs shall hear His Voice- and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of judgment." [John 5:28]
Just- Resignedly, "Oh yeah, I remember the judgment part. That must be for me...
Hope dawns, but just barely, "Hmmmm ....This doesn't look like a courtroom and I don't see a judge.... What is this judgment thing anyway?"
Voice- "Jehovah sitteth forever. He has prepared His throne for judgment; and He will judge the world in righteousness, He will minister judgment to the people in uprightness. Jehovah will also be a high tower for the oppressed, a high tower in times of trouble; and they that know his name will put their trust in Him; for Jehovah has not forsaken them that seek Him. [Ps. 9:7] Good and upright is Jehovah: Therefore He will instruct sinners in the way. The meek will He guide in judgment and the meek will he teach His way. All the paths of Jehovah are loving kindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies." [Ps. 25:8]
Just- Brightens some, "Instruct sinners...... and guide the meek.... That doesn't sound so bad. Tell me more."
Voice- "Thus saith God Jehovah, He that created the heavens and stretched them forth; He that spread abroad the earth and that which cometh out of it; He that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I, Jehovah, have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thy hand and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house." [Isa. 42:5]
Just- With some derision, "Wonderful, but how long does it last?"
Voice- "Verily, verily, I say unto you , he that heareth my word and believeth him that sent me hath eternal life and cometh not into condemnation, but passes out of death into life." [John 5:24]
Just- With some derision, say "Passes out of death unto eternal life? That sounds very nice but what about sin and the fall and the curse and all that?"
Voice- "Come now, let us reason together, saith Jehovah: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:" ... [Isa. 1:18]
Just- With signs of real curiosity, "Sins! yes! I have plenty of them. Tell me, though, how can they possibly be made as white as snow?"
Voice- "Behold the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of judah: I will put my law in their inward parts and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God and they will be my people. And they will teach no more, every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, know Jehovah, for they shall all know me from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity and their sin will I remember no more." [Jer. 31:31]
Just- "I feel better already. Hmmmmm... Is it OK if I am not a Jew?..."
Voice- "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our saviour; who would have ALL men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all men." [1 Tim. 2:3]
Just- Beginning to relax, "Jesus Christ the great mediator between God and man... That is a new idea to me. How did it begin that one in such a high position as THE WORD, I believe that was his name in Heaven, came to be the mediator for all mankind?"
Voice- "God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, so that whosoever may believe on him should not perish, but have eternal life. God sent not the Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world should be saved through him."[John 3:16]
Just- Curiously, "The WORD, the son of God, became a baby human?"
Voice- "The WORD became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten of the father, full of grace and truth." [John 1:14]
Just- With some hope but not much, "I see. He became flesh like me. Doesn't seem, though, that becoming a man would do a whole lot of good."
Voice- "Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive." [1 Cor. 15:21]
Just- Prankishly, "Pretty good trick for a dead man, don't you think? He did die didn't he?"
Voice- "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew, hanging him on a tree. Him did God exalt with His right hand to be a prince and saviour, to give reformation to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." [Acts 5:30]
Just- Prankishly, "Raised him up to be a "prince and savior" for what?"
Voice- "The government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace, there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever." [Is. 9: 6-7].
Just- Brightens with understanding and concern, "This plan is all well and good on the face of it, but how are you ever going to get it past city hall? Or those hard headed fellows that run the nation, how are you going to get them out of the way?"
Voice- "Behold, Jehovah, like a strong man, will hurl thee away violently; yea, he will wrap thee up closely. He will surely wind thee round and round, and toss thee like a ball into a large country; there shalt thou die, and there shall be the chariots of thy glory, thou shame of thy Lord's house. And I will thrust thee from thine office; and from thy station shalt thou be pulled down." [Is. 22: 17-19]
Just- Curiously thoughtful, "Hmmmmm... Out of office... Without a station.... Pulled down like an old barn ... Sounds rather chaotic."
Voice- "Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people; and there shall be heard in her no more the Voice- of weeping and the Voice- of crying. ... And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat: for as the days of a tree shall be the days of my people, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for calamity; for they are the seed of the blessed Jehovah, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass that, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith Jehovah. Thus saith Jehovah, heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool." [Is 65:17-66:1].
Just- With growing interest and true concern, "I heard about that lion and lamb part before I died and I wondered a lot how law and order would be kept in all that peacefulness."
Voice- ... "he that overcometh, and he that keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give authority over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron," ... [Rev. 2: 26-27].
Just- With growing interest and true concern, "If I could see into heaven, could I see these that overcome and are given authority?"
Voice- "Behold, the Lamb standing on the mount Zion and with him a hundred and forty and four thousand ... they that had been purchased out of the earth. ... These are they that follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were purchased from among men to be the first fruits unto God and unto the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no lie: they are without blemish." [Rev. 14:1]
Just- With growing self-confidence, "Let me get this straight. We now have a new stable and loving government, truth and goodness are the order of the day, the rulers are working in the best interest of all, peace reigns... Only one thing you seem to have overlooked. I heard of some pretty unsavory things going on in the church before I died. The one true and apostolic church they called it. Seems like they could put quite a cramp in all this goodness. What will you say to the church, being God's people and all."
Voice- "Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon; sit on the ground without a throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate... Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man... Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans; for thou shalt no more be called The mistress of kingdoms." [Is. 47:1-5]
Just- "But the organization could still make a grab for power. What of the organization?"
Voice- "How much soever she glorified herself, and waxed wanton, so much give her of torment and mourning: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall in no wise see mourning. Therefore in one day shall her plagues come, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord god who judged her." [Rev. 18:7-8].
Just- "Oooo! Sounds final, but go on."
Voice- "And a strong angel took up a stone, as it were a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with a mighty fall shall Babylon, the great city, be cast down, and shall be found no more at all." [Rev. 18:21].
Just- Brightly with the feeling that this just might work, "The situation is looking great... but just one last thing. What about the wily old devil himself?"
Voice- ... "I saw an angel coming down out of heaven having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and cast him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years should be finished:".. [Rev. 20:1]
Just- Eagerly, "Yes.... Go on."
Voice- "And when the thousand years are finished, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison and shall come forth to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And when they went up over the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about and the beloved city: and fire came down out of heaven and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet." ... [Rev. 20:7]
Just- Brightly. Leaning on the cane less and less and by this time using it to gesture and demonstrate, "That's quite final and permanent! Lake of fire.... Hmmmmm I'd like to know more about that but just now I'd like to ask some other questions. Is that OK?"
Voice- "Ask and it shall be given (to) you." [Mat. 7:7]
Just- With the gathering strength of long lost hopes well fulfilled, "I have to admit that when I found myself in this chair for the first time I was a bit miffed. First that I had missed out on heaven, second, that I had been lied to about hell, and third, that I was right back on earth with the same old decrepit body. What you have been telling me for these few minutes have been the best news I have ever heard. With those bright peaceful days ahead I don't feel half so old as when I first woke up. This new situation suits me very well and I'm beginning to like you, (tenderly) whoever you are, very much. So tell me ... how did it all begin?"
Voice- "In a beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a God. The same was in a beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that was made." [John 1:1-3].
Just- "Yes, I've wondered about the beginning of the WORD. Tell me though, when did the Earth begin?"
Voice- "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And the evening and morning were the first day." [Gen. 1:1-5]
Just- Now more alive and animated, "This is all very very beautiful and I feel blessed beyond my dreams; but what do you want from me? What should I do?"
Voice- "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second, like unto it, is this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets." [Mat. 22:37]
Just- Sincerely with great joy , stands with the strength and stature born of great humility, conviction and promise, "Thank you so much for a real chance to do my best, though its not altogether easy," ..... With a touch of jest, "Is there any other way?"
Voice- "I am the way, and the truth, and the life: No one comes to the father, but by me." [John 14:6]
Just- Very pleased with the promise of things to come, ponders the cane for its past help and its retirement as a crutch, hangs the cane carefully on the back of the chair and strides purposefully off stage, smiling in God's love.
© 1988 John M. Kirkwood, Permission granted to reproduce for publication or production unaltered.
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