I am alone.
It is very dark here.
I feel so cold.
I can smell the stench of sulphur.
No. It is not sulphur that burns…
It is flesh.
There is a treason here, I feel it.
Can you not taste blood?
Yes, my friend… The moon is bleeding tonight.
The star has fallen.
We are all dead men.
There is a treason here…
I feel it.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Sparkling lights shone like jewels in the night sky, gleaming pearls on black velvet. The waters of the earth surged and flowed, energised by His power. The whole universe pulsated, fuelled by the boundless life of God. Comets whirled through the skies, showering vibrant sparks of light throughout the darkness. And in the birth of this perfect universe, God created a masterpiece. It was, in truth, the work of a master artist, full of beauty beyond description; a very reflection of God himself. This one creation was designed to serve and love God; to live with him and enjoy his presence. However, knowing fully the consequences of his actions, man chose to spurn the Love of God. He rebelled against the Creator, proclaiming himself King over the universe, taking upon his shoulders the garments of a god. By his depravity, he corrupted creation itself, turning it into a cesspit of putrefying decay; a tainted reflection of a once-perfect universe.
God, in his mercy, provided a remedy to this disease called sin. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die, taking upon himself all the corruption and evil of this fallen world. Again, in kindness, God has allowed every man and woman on earth a lifetime to choose who they will follow. There are only two options: Choose life, and follow Christ, trusting in him to save you from your sin, or choose death, and continue to live the way you are.
The day is coming when God will no longer allow us to rebel. The Bible refers to this day as the Day of Judgement, when every man, woman and child will stand before God, and give account of his life. Those who are trusting in the death and resurrection of Jesus will live, but those who have refused the Gift of God will receive the just punishment for their rebellion: death.
Jesus says: “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
There are only two ways to live.
In the darkness of a stillborn night, the moon hung crucified in a barren sky. The sea lay still and silent, as calm as a sleeping child, content. Trees swayed gently in a whispering wind, speaking to each other in hushed tones. Even the towns and cities murmured reverently, their streets deserted, lights dim. The whole earth sighed in peaceful quiescence, as if listening for some softly spoken word in the far reaches of the universe.
Far away, beyond the horizon, something glimmered. Ever growing in size and radiance, it hurtled through the universe at incredible speeds. As it plunged through the atmosphere, it ignited, sending a blazing trail of fragmented fire splintering across the sky. It glowed with resplendent light, hissing and screaming under immense heat and pressure. Finally, with a tremendous wail, it plunged into the sea. Immense waves shot high into the air, spreading in a high arc, before crashing down over the surrounding land. Entire villages were swept up and carried away on the crest of the Tidal wave. The star skidded through the water like a skipping stone, finally coming to rest in a sheltered bay. Slowly, a blood red stain extended forth across the waves, which writhed and convulsed in fury.
It was the falling of the first star.
Rachel stared out into the bay. The star lay there, embedded in the sea floor, extruding from the waves like some bizarre extra-terrestrial spacecraft. A haze of pale yellow smoke rose from the surrounding water, wafting up into the sky to mingle with the clouds. She could smell the sulphur from her vantage point, a small beach to the South of the bay itself. The impact of the star had caused havoc in the small village situated around the bay, inundating it with sickly water. However, the cliffs upon which the town were built had provided a great deal of protection, driving away much of the water. The surrounding area, however, had not been so lucky. The radio blared the news of a dozen smaller towns and villages that had been destroyed by Tidal waves. And although much of the disaster had struck elsewhere, even this sheltered alcove had not escaped the ruby stains flowing forth from the star, for here, the sand had impregnated a dull crimson, and had taken the appearance of coagulated blood. Rachel stood up, and gently brushed her blonde hair from her eyes. She was tall for her age, and slim, with deep blue eyes and a habit of talking too fast. As she walked back to the house, Rachel wondered how the star could have fallen to earth without any warning. After all, weren’t NASA supposed to keep a look out for that kind of thing? Somehow, it had managed to escape their attention.
It began as a faint rumbling sound in the hills, like distant thunder. When the earthquake hit, it took everybody by surprise. The steady rumbling grew progressively louder, until it began to shake the very foundations of the earth. The ground trembled, shaking with fear at the tremendous power disturbing the earth’s crust. The trees, quaking vigorously, began to dance, their great limbs sweeping through the air. The waves of the bay shuddered repeatedly, as shock upon shock coursed through their watery veins. In panic, they turned and flung themselves upon the shore, causing turmoil in the small villages that lay scattered around the bay. People woke to find their houses flooded, and their houses crumbling around them. They ran into the streets, frantic, searching for children, husbands, wives, loved ones…
The villages converged into one almighty tumult, a writhing, seething mass of humanity; a very sea of turmoil. And as the earthquake continued, people watched their houses collapse in heaps of dust and rubble, helpless.
The quake itself amplified, growing increasingly violent with every passing second. Soon, it became an all-consuming roar; a powerful demon, striking out and destroying everything in its path. It carved a deep chasm out of the bay, tearing up the land around the bay, and wrenching it from its place. It took hold of the mountains, wrenching them from their foundations, and throwing them into the sea. Showers of rock and debris hailed down upon the village, creating havoc. They ploughed through homes, businesses, farms and plantations… nothing was spared. And when the dust cleared, there was nothing on earth that could prepare the survivors for the what they saw.
The bodies of men, women and children protruded from the wreckage, twisted and broken, surrounded by rocks, debris, and what was left of their homes. The whole village was devastated, crushed beyond redemption. A thick, scaly encrustation of mud covered everything; nothing had escaped its grasp. Trees lay splayed about the streets, their very roots wrenched from the ground. Everything was saturated by the water heaved from the bay; it would not be long before disease became a threat. The destruction was both immense and complete. And as the realisation of their situation set in, people began to cry. They cried for all they had lost, and in their despair, they could not be silenced.
Rachel knew that she was lucky to have escaped the terror of the earthquake. Although her house had been destroyed by the termor, she had escaped unharmed. She woke early in the morning, feeling the faint rumblings of the quake vibrating in her chest, and drove to an open plain, an area of relative safety. Now, as she sifted through the remains of her village, she realised just how fortunate she had been. The number of people who had lost their lives in the cataclysm was incalculable. Everywhere she turned, there was stark evidence of sudden deaths and final agony.
Somewhere in the back of her mind, she heard a voice, screaming, pleading… but it was too far away. Distant, and withdrawn. An ethereal whisper, it faded in and out of existence. She could not understand.
Rachel’s thoughts were shattered as she heard a cry: “Somebody help me… please! There’s someone alive in here!”
Immediately, she got to her feet, and ran. The shout had come from a small man, in his mid-thirties, his face furrowed by worry and concern. He was frantically clawing at the remnants of his home, scrabbling at the stones and plaster.
“My daughter…” he began. “She is trapped… in here. Help her, please!”
Rachel knelt down, and looked over the carnage. Sticking out of the debris was a small hand, like that of a child. It was clenched tightly, veins bulging with tension. She took hold of the hand, and inquired of the father: “What is the her name?”
“Micah.” He replied, without interrupting his mad removal of the wreckage.
“Okay, Micah? Can you hear me?”
Rachel heard a muffled whimper from beneath the rubble.
“We’re going to get you out of there as soon as we can, alright? You’re going to be okay, honey.”
Micah responded with another whimper, and Rachel set to the task of freeing her. A small crowd had gathered around the pair, roused by the man’s constant screams, and were watching with interest.
“What are you doing just standing there? There is a child stuck in here, and she will die without our help!” Rachel chastised, whirling around to look at the group.
As if waking from a dream, the people sprung to life, and began to work along Rachel and the girl’s father. Within minutes, they had removed enough of the ruin to reach Micah. Rachel took her hand again, and soothed; “Micah, honey? We’re going to try to move you now. This might hurt a little bit, so you’ll have to be really brave, okay?”
A small and pitiful “Okay” came back in response.
At a nod from Rachel, two men stepped in, lifting a sheet of concrete from Micah’s trapped body. Rachel reached in, took hold of Micah round the waist, and pulled her free. Micah cried out in pain as she felt the full extent of her injuries. Rachel quickly placed her on the ground, to minimise the damage done. As she stepped back, she was shocked at what she saw. Micah had obviously been a beautiful child, but now, her face was caked in blood, her features skewed, limbs twisted and broken. Shafts of shattered bone protruded from her legs, slivers of white pearl immersed in a sea of crimson. Her left arm was a mangled, contorted mess, and hung limply at her side. Her entire body was caked with mud and dust and congealed blood. Rachel began to cry.
Micah looked up at Rachel through crystalline eyes, and in a soft voice, inquired: “What’s wrong, are you okay?”
Rachel returned the child’s intense gaze, and in that instant, she knew that Micah was going to die. Brushing a strand of bloodied hair from her face, Rachel replied: “No, honey, everything’s going to be fine, you’ll see. Does it hurt?”
“No. Where’s my Daddy?”
“He’s coming, honey. He’s just gone to get help.”
At that moment, Micah’s father returned with a man carrying a medical kit. Immediately, his face fell, as he realised the extent of her injuries. He ran to his daughter’s side, and took hold of her hand.
“It’s alright, Micah. Daddy’s here now.”
Micah’s eyelids drooped. It was clear that she was dying.
“Daddy?” she whispered. “It hurts.”
“I know it does, darling. You just hold on, okay?”
The man’s eyes began to well up with tears, as he realised his little girl was going to die. And as he and Rachel knelt there, each holding a hand, they felt her life slip away.
And Micah lay there, silent, her lucid eyes staring into heaven. She was dead.
It came again. That voice – screaming, crying… Like an eagle, it invaded her mind, and raked her thoughts with savage talons. Speak! She screamed. Tell me what is happening here!
Again, it spoke… yet this time, clearer, stronger.
“In one day, plagues will overtake you;
death, mourning, and famine.
You will be consumed by fire,
for mighty is the Lord God, who judges you.”
Filled with fear, Rachel shouted: “Who are you?”
Thunder echoed around her. Out of the thunder, a voice rumbled, “I AM.”
Rachel woke trembling, drenched with sweat. Her hair was damp and cold, her hands feverish. It was night… she could feel it. The room she had slept in was warm and dark, like a cave. Dim light filtered through the roof, which she guessed was made of straw or bark. She stood up, brushed the hair from her eyes, and made her way to the door, the faint outline of which she could see against the rear wall. She pushed it open, and stepped into the cool night air. The stench of sulphur still lingered, but it was not this that caught her attention. It was the moon. Suspended above the bay, it hung like a bleeding corpse in the sky. Deep pools of crimson blood flowed throughout the bay. Fish lay dead and rotting on the surface of the waves, bobbing up and down with the ebb and flow of the bloody tide. Rachel’s reflection shimmered in the ruby depths, a ghostly apparition.
Plagues will overtake you…
for mighty is the Lord GOD,
She blinked. How long had she been standing there? It seemed like an eternity. Maybe it was. Dawn was breaking. Diseased streaks of splintered light oozed over the horizon, like a poison spreading throughout the land. Dark clouds loomed on the horizon, glowing a dark purple. Charcoal shadows spread over the sea as the clouds rolled onward. As they approached, Rachel realised what happening. Immense chunks of hail were being flung from the clouds, plunging into the blood red waves. And as the sun rose over the horizon, the dying light of a black sun shone upon a dying world. Frightening as it was, the sight was captivating. The sun blazed with a wretched darkness, casting a deathly pallor over the earth. Then, with a flash of lightning, and an almighty roar, the sky itself began to quake, and the winds of the earth howled and moaned and whistled and screamed, tearing down heaven with their cries.
It spoke again.
In one day…
Death, destruction and famine…
you will be consumed with fire.
Rachel ran. Flying, panting, gasping for breath, she fled. High in the hills, there were caves. She would be safe there. Plunging through the forest, she fled heedlessly up the hills. Through the dense trees and thickets, she ran, blindly pushing aside the grasping hands that tried so desperately to hold her back. Sweat poured down her face, rolling through tiny cracks and crevices highlighted by the strain. And when she reached the caves, she lunged inside, as if being stalked by some fearsome attacker. Once inside, she realised that she was not alone. About ten people sat huddled at the rear of the cave, covered by thin blankets, and trembling with fear. Rachel avoided their gaze, and sat at the mouth of the cave, watching.
Outside, the hailstorm had almost reached what was left of the village. Streaks of lightning shot forth from the thunderclouds, splinters of fragmented light in a dark sky. Rachel watched intently as the clouds drew ever nearer, bringing with them the thunderous roar of hailstones striking the ground with tremendous strength. She crouched back against the cave wall, drawing her legs into her body for security and warmth. As the storm drew nearer, the wind increased, and echoed throughout the cave, wailing like a spirit searching for a place to rest. Outside, the hail began to fall. Huge chunks of ice crashed into the ground, shattering into a thousand crystal shards on impact. Soon, the whole ground was covered with the grassy slivers. Suddenly, from behind the clouds came an earth-shattering wail. Looking up, Rachel caught a glimpse of the sun falling from the sky, plunging the whole world into darkness. She knew the end was near. The hailstorm lasted only a few minutes before the clouds cleared. Rachel stepped outside the cave, crunching the crystalline shards under her feet. She looked to the sky, and saw an expanse of black velvet, flecked with pin-pricked holes of speckled light. As she watched, the stars began to move, to dance. They spiralled through the sky, whirling and dipping and diving. Captivated by this awesome display, Rachel gazed in wonder into the heavens. She was so enchanted by this starry promenade, that at first, she did not notice what was happening. The sky began to recede, and roll up like a scroll, flinging the stars toward the earth. Vibrant orbs of light came flying through the canopy of space, whirling through the universe.
The voice spoke again.
I AM the Lord,
who has made all things…
who alone stretched out the heavens.
There is none beside me.
The stars were nearer now, larger, brighter. There was nowhere to hide. Rachel knew that the earth was about to be destroyed. She fell to her knees, and looked up at the sky.
Death, mourning and fire…
judgement of the Lord…
I AM the Lord…
who stretched out the heavens.
There is none beside me.
“Mercy!” She screamed. Lord God, have mercy!
Look, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye shall see him.
Blessed is he who hears these words…
the time is near.
Something inside her broke.
God, have mercy! I never realised it was you!
Father, forgive them… they know not what they do.
Save me, or I die!
The stars grew nearer. Rachel could feel the intense heat burning on her face.
He spoke again, softly this time.
If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.
Everything went black. Consumed by the raging fires, Rachel gave herself up to the flames.
The voice echoed in her head.
Rachel blinked. Her eyes flooded with colour and light. She breathed sweet air, and felt the strength in her limbs. She was alive! More than that, she was full of life itself! She opened her eyes, and there before her stood a man clothed in white. His face was firm, yet kind, his eyes lucid and vibrant. He extended a hand, and pulled Rachel to her feet. For the first time, Rachel noticed the wings on his back. Flecked with light, they sparkled like pearl. As they walked together, she stared at him, immersed in his beauty. She wondered what kind of God had created such a creature. Surely, he was a God of amazing creativity, and blinding beauty.
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.
Rachel knelt before the throne, trembling with fear. She dared not look into his face, because he was so beautiful, and so perfect. Around the throne, Angels stood, crying “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”
When the cries faded into silence, Rachel heard the voice that she had come to know so well.
Rachel raised her head, and gazed into the eyes of an infinitely beautiful God. Those eyes, so strong and yet, so full of kindness and laughter… they sparkled like galaxies in a clear night sky. In that moment, Rachel abandoned her fear, and became enveloped in the inescapable glory before her. The man on the throne stood, and held out his arms. Taking her in his embrace, he turned to the angels, and declared:
This is one who has come out of the great tribulation;
she has washed her robes in my blood. Therefore, she stands before the throne of God.
Never again will she hunger or thirst. The sun will not beat upon her, nor any scorching heat. For I will be her shepherd, and will lead her to springs of living water. I will wipe away every tear from her eyes.
Stepping back from her embrace, he looked intently into her eyes, and whispered: “I have swept away your offences like a cloud… your sins like the morning mist. Come… for I have redeemed you.”
And as Rachel gazed once more into those translucent eyes, she realised for the first time that she was home.
Copyright 1998 By Benjemin Searle