Kingdom come the final v.., p.9
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       Kingdom Come: The Final Victory, p.9
 

         Part #13 of Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye

  At COT later in the morning, Chloe told Cameron what her mother had told her of the royal invitation. Cameron sought out his mother-in-law.

  “So I guess there is sin in the kingdom,” he said, “even among us glorified ones. I have to confess, I’m feeling left out. Jealousy? Almost. I mean, I’m thrilled for Rayford and the others, especially Chaim and Tsion. But I’d give anything to be there.”

  “Now I need to confess,” Irene said. “I just realized why the priest told Rayford not to tell anyone else. Clearly that had to go for me, too. But listen, Cam, this has to have something to do with the Lord putting some mission on your father-in-law’s heart the last several days. And you already have your calling. You’re not losing your enthusiasm for COT, are you?”

  “Never. But one of these days I’m going to take a day off and talk to some of my Old Testament heroes.”

  Rayford was so excited he could barely contain himself. When he and Bruce and Mac met Chaim and Tsion on the Highway of Holiness, they chattered like classmates at a milestone reunion. And yet Rayford kept finding himself striding far ahead of his comrades.

  Presently Yerik appeared and walked with them. “Foreigner,” the priest said, “I beg you to match my pace, and we will arrive at the appointed hour.”

  “Foreigner!” Mac said, laughing, making Chaim and Tsion smile.

  “Indeed,” Tsion said. “And yet it is this Gentile’s coattails we ride merely to sit in on the conversation.”

  The majestic towers on three sides of the foursquare Temple Mount loomed on the horizon, and soon the outside walls came into view. Yerik held up a hand and stopped just before the fifty cubits of open space between the causeway and the northern gateway to the outer court. “I know you have been here before,” he said, “but indulge me as I rehearse the requirements for entrance. I have brought you to the northern gate because, as the Scriptures tell us, ‘the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east . . . and the earth shone with His glory.’ The eastern gate ‘shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it. As for the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord,’ but even then ‘he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go out the same way.’

  “Now, whoever enters by way of this north gate shall go out by way of the south gate, just as whoever enters by way of the south gate shall go out by way of the north gate. No one shall return by way of the gate through which he came. ‘Thus says the Lord God: “No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart or uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter My sanctuary, including any foreigner who is among the children of Israel.”’ You brethren, of course, are either children of Israel or circumcised in heart.

  “The prince himself, whom today you shall visit, has said, ‘Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.’ I would urge you to take a moment and humble yourselves before God to make certain you are worthy.”

  Rayford immediately fell on his face and heard his friends do the same. “O Lord, search me and cleanse me of any wicked way.”

  As the men rose, Yerik quoted Revelation 20:6: “ ‘Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.’ So you see, even if you are a foreigner, you also are a priest who reigns with Christ.”

  Yerik led them to the gate, pausing again. “Hear now the words of the Lord: ‘They shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.’ And now if you would silently follow me.”

  Yerik led them through the great gate and past a three-storied gallery he pointed out as the quarters he shared with several other priests. Soon they reached the inner northern gateway, where eight tables stood in the sun. Rayford recalled that these had been described by the Lord Himself as where the burnt offerings would be slain.

  Rayford and the others followed Yerik up seven steps and past the tables to the portico outside the inner entrance. There Yerik instructed them to sit and wait. Rayford was glad for relief from the sun.

  Kenny Bruce Williams found himself distracted as he worked at COT that day. He was intrigued to see that Qasim and Raymie and Zaki had arrived a little late, soon going their separate ways and finding their stations to help the rest of the staff with yet another record turnout. Kenny wondered whether COT had a capacity limit. Even now as additional buildings were being finished, more were in the works.

  This day Kenny and six subordinates had charge of just under two hundred kids. They would play games, then hear a story, then sing before napping. He was making assignments and trying to keep the children corralled when an aide nudged him and pointed.

  It always warmed Kenny’s heart to see his mother approach. Though in this new world both had lived so long that the difference in their ages was hardly significant anymore, he would always see her as his elder. And despite that he was nearing one hundred years old, she still seemed to look upon him as her child.

  Now she had in tow a black-haired, dark-eyed, olive-skinned young woman whose white robe made her seem to radiate. She would not meet his eye at first but shyly shook his hand. “Ekaterina Risto,” she said quietly. “From Greece.”

  “Ekaterina is an applicant, sweetheart.”

  “Mom!”

  “Sorry. Kenneth.”

  This made Ekaterina smile and wink at Kenny, and for the first time in his life, something fluttered inside. Perhaps it was that he had never been winked at by anyone but his parents. And he had to face it: like most young people, he hadn’t yet become interested in the opposite sex. Well, this one seemed interesting, and he didn’t know the first thing about her.

  “Just let her observe until you have time to interview her . . . Kenneth. Your father . . . uh, Mr. Williams . . . has already screened her, as I have. We’ll look forward to your evaluation.”

  “Will do. Thanks, Mrs. Williams.”

  And Ekaterina laughed again.

  “Well, come along, plebe. If all these kids don’t scare you off first, at nap time we’ll get a chance to talk.”

  NINE

  RAYFORD, TSION, Chaim, Mac, and Bruce were sitting at the top of the steps when Yerik appeared below and discreetly signaled them to rise. Passing the priest from behind and taking the steps two at a time was the Lord’s prince, King David of Israel. Rayford felt awkward, struggling to his feet, and he sensed the others did too. He wondered if he would find his voice as David began greeting each of the men by name, embracing and kissing them on both cheeks.

  “Tsion, the celebrated scholar whose courage sacrificed his own family . . .

  “Chaim, also known as Micah, leader of the remnant. Welcome.

  “Montgomery Cleburn, also known as Mac, a loyal friend . . .

  “Bruce, one of the first to wear a blood-washed robe. Welcome, welcome.”

  Rayford had seen David only from afar but was struck again by how human and normal he seemed. After having admired the man and his exploits for so long, he wouldn’t have been surprised to discover him the size of Goliath. David too had apparently been restored to his ideal age, appearing perhaps in his late twenties with sinewy arm and leg muscles, large hands, bronzed skin, and a trim dark beard that set off prominent features. He wore a purple robe with gold fringe, but a simple gold crown with a small silver frontispiece bearing a diamond was pushed back on his head, almost as an afterthought.

  “Rayford Steele,” David said, reaching for him, “he of the changed min
d and heart.”

  Rayford, nearly overcome, took a step back after the embrace and bowed. “Your Majesty.”

  “Oh, we don’t concern ourselves with such formalities here,” David said. “Unless we’re dealing with some reprobate subject, which you plainly are not. We all know who the real Sovereign is. Sit, sit, please.”

  As the men sat again, Yerik disappeared and David settled a few steps below them. Rayford had the feeling they should switch places, especially after having assumed they would meet somewhere below David’s throne.

  “Forgive me, sir, but it doesn’t seem right to be looking down on you.”

  “Well,” David said with a laugh, “it’s all right with me, provided your view of me is only physical.”

  “I assure you it is.”

  “I know. Your faithfulness to the Lord is well established, all of you.”

  Rayford was amused that the others were still obeying the priest’s admonition of silence. They did not acknowledge even this compliment.

  David spoke with an earnest passion and direct gaze. “Presiding over Israel has been simple during this era,” he said. “The counselors, judges, and I have adjudicated minor disputes, mostly over land or possessions. The Lord has given us His wisdom so that the opponents leave happy and usually friends. This is the result when the Lord is the King. Another benefit is that most nations have had the foresight to keep children out of places of authority. Unfortunately, Egypt failed to see the wisdom in that, and she elevated two to her elder council who had not even yet reached a majority. I imagine you have heard the result.”

  Rayford nodded. “Tongues are wagging all over Israel regarding Egypt’s failure to attend the Feast of Tabernacles.”

  “It should be no surprise that this has kindled the wrath of the Lord,” David said. “One of the reasons He decreed mandatory involvement in these observances was that these nations had reviled His chosen people in generations past. The Feast of Tabernacles allows all nations to pay homage to the Lord, in His house, for the annual harvest and provisions. The Lord has been faithful. Egypt has proven unfaithful. Thus says the Lord God: ‘My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in a perfect way, he shall serve me. He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not continue in my presence. Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land, that I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord.’

  “That, gentlemen, is why it behooves all kings to be wise and be instructed. They should serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and they perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. They shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.’

  “Sir, I summoned you and your associates today because I need your help. I am but king of Israel, prince to Jehovah. Egypt is beyond my jurisdiction. He will deal with her as has been prophesied in His Word. However, the Lord has assigned me to see to the healing of that land after the accursed are slain and the land has suffered drought.”

  “Slain?”

  “Do you marvel that the Lord keeps His word?”

  “No, but—”

  “You assumed that those responsible for leading astray the rest of Egypt’s leaders would not be judged until they reached their hundredth years.”

  “I suppose I did.”

  “By their actions they have cursed themselves. Still viewed as children because of their youth, they have become an affront to the Almighty, and they shall surely die. The Lord shall mete out justice, but He also seeks to heal their land. Egypt will require rebuilding and growth and development. You and your men are His choices to carry that out. With your labor shall come the responsibility and the privilege of telling the good news of His salvation to the remainder of Egypt’s young unregenerate.”

  Rayford fell prone and his friends with him. “We are at the Lord’s service. May we be found worthy.”

  And Rayford’s next century of effort was fixed.

  “We traveled from Greece for the Feast of Tabernacles, as we do every year,” Ekaterina Risto told Kenny as they sat at a table fifty feet from hundreds of napping children. “And now we want to stay where the Lord Himself sits on the throne, although we will miss our homeland.”

  “Tell me of your life there.”

  “My parents met in an underground church that was once ministered to by your grandfather and your parents, as I understand it. The congregation feared for their lives every day, hiding from Global Community Peacekeeping Forces. My mother was pregnant with me when Jesus returned at the Glorious Appearing.”

  “So, like me, you are in your nineties.”

  “A child,” she said, smiling. “Of course, this is all I have known, but I have seen pictures of my mother when she looked much as I do now. She tells me she had just turned sixteen.”

  Kenny nodded. “This time is as the days of Noah, when people lived for centuries.”

  “I only wish I could stop aging at a youthful year, as your mother and grandmother have.”

  “I didn’t know my grandmother before the Glorious Appearing,” Kenny said. “But pictures of her from before the Rapture show her older than she looks now.”

  Kenny found Ekaterina easy to talk to, and he felt more comfortable with her than he had almost anyone else he had ever encountered.

  “How did you become a believer?” she said.

  He smiled. “That’s what I’m supposed to be asking you.”

  “Oh, my story is not so dramatic. You first.”

  “Mine is less,” he said. “For as long as I can remember, our house has been filled with stories of the Rapture, the Tribulation, the Glorious Appearing, the millennial kingdom. I grew up in it, and I was the first child in COT.”

  “Indeed?”

  “They tell me I am the reason for this ministry, that because my mother was martyred first and my father was killed on the last day of the Tribulation, God promised to repay them a hundredfold for losing me. Only they didn’t really lose me. My grandfather took care of me until they returned from heaven. Regardless, God keeps His promises, and look at what their hundredfold has become. And it was my mother who led me to Christ, just as is true of my uncle, who also works here.”

  “Raymie Steele? His mother is Irene?”

  “Exactly.”

  She shook her head. “What a heritage. As I said, my story is not so colorful. Sad to say, however, I was eighty before I became a believer.”

  “Really? You were actually an unbeliever that long, with the background you had?”

  She nodded. “It might be more precise to say I was undecided. I could not doubt that Jesus was the Lord and the Son of God and God. I just didn’t know what I wanted do about it.”

  “Surely your parents raised you to understand the faith.”

  “And my need, yes. I felt terrible about my indecision. But there was a stubborn, selfish, prideful side of me that would not give in.”

  “Did you fake it, or did your parents know?”

  “They knew. I never hid my feelings. I had a huge problem with my free will. I didn’t want to not have a choice, and so I vowed I would choose on my own in my own timing.”

  “Did you know you had only until you turned one hundred?”

  “Of course. That was my parents’ biggest fear—that I would remain resolute too long.”

  “What changed your mind?”

  “Friends. A few felt the same way I did, or at least I thought they did. They took their resolve further than I did. I was sincere in wanting to deci
de for myself, to not just inherit my parents’ faith. I was not a scoffer. I didn’t criticize or turn against Jesus. I just wanted my own way, to live for myself. And I thought I understood the consequences. How this terrified my parents. They tried everything, reminding me that it had been their hard hearts that had caused them to miss the Rapture and have to endure the Tribulation. It was only by the grace of God that they survived till the Glorious Appearing.”

  “But your friends . . .”

  “They were hostile. They didn’t study or investigate or even think about it after a while. They made fun of the devout, and they refused to acknowledge Jesus at all. Have you heard of the Other Light?”

  “Oh yes.”

  “Some of them moved to other parts of Europe so they could join that. They not only chose against Christ, but they also chose for Lucifer. It was as if he became their hero, like a martyr who wasn’t dead but only temporarily bound.”

  “But don’t they know his destiny?”

  Ekaterina stood and paced. “That’s just it, Mr. Williams.”

  “Kenny.”

  “Oh, I don’t know about that. If I’m going to work for you . . . I mean, not that I’m saying I know I’ll get the job . . .”

  “It’s all right. Call me what you wish.”

  “I’ll tell you what: if you call me Kat, I’ll call you whatever you wish.”

  “You’re on, Kat.”

  “Anyway, that’s just it. They have delusions of grandeur. They actually believe they can become so organized and widespread and strong that they can change the course of history.”

  “Even if they die hundreds of years before the final conflict.”

  “Imagine that,” she said. “But again, this is where they’ve become so idealistic. They want to be martyrs to their cause. They find that glamorous. One told me she believed that if they did their jobs and passed down through the generations their doctrines and their war plans, Satan would actually win and have the power to resurrect them so they could rule with him.”

 
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