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He stormed from the temple, his nostrils flaring.
“Lucifer, wait!” came a voice behind him.
“For what, Michael? Another chance to be passed over like I didn’t exist? How dare He give His authority to His ‘Anointed One’ and not to me?”
“What are you going to do, tell Him He can’t?"
“Exactly,” Lucifer seethed. “Only I’ll show Him. Take what’s rightfully mine. He won’t get away with this. ‘Anointed One’. Ha! It’s Him, anyway. ‘God in three persons,’ He claims. Figure that one out.”
“I can’t,” Michael admitted. “It’s beyond our understanding.”
“So join me. He’s obviously not fit to rule as King, and I’m just as intelligent and powerful as He is. And I don’t have multiple personalities.”
“No, just one really bad one. Look, come on back. If you drop this whole ‘authority’ thing, we’ll forget this ever happened.”
“Not this time, old friend,” he sneered. “He’s pushed me too far. My mind’s made up.”
“Then I have no choice but to bring you in before your Almighty Judge.”
“Good luck,” he replied, vanishing into thin air. As Michael made his way back to the temple, Lucifer’s laughs echoed in his ears.
“Let there be light!” He commanded. Suddenly, the dark nothingness that had sat idle for so long burst forth with amazing energy. It seemed to reach within the deep recesses of its own void to obey the voice of the Almighty, bringing forth a dazzling display of radiant brilliance that satisfied the request, then paused to listen for its next order.
Pleased by this, the Anointed One gave names to both light and darkness and caused both to exist in rotation. He then commanded the waters of Heaven to separate, and obediently a forceful gust drove through the mighty streams, carrying with it a good part of them, reforming them some distance below. The waters now divided, the air between them, He was again pleased and waited for daylight to continue.
When the next day arrived, the Almighty spoke to the waters below, and compliantly they formed landmasses, the land in turn growing plant life in obedience.
The fourth day He commanded the sky to produce various lights, such as stars, the sun and the moon. The sun was ordered to light the land during the day, while the moon ruled the night as a reflection of the sun. On day five, the Anointed One ordered the creation of water and air life, the great seas and skies dutifully fulfilling their Master’s request and producing various birds and fish. The next day, the land was commanded to do the same, bringing forth a multitude of animals. The Almighty then paused, pleased with everything He had just accomplished.
Just one more task, He thought.
Lucifer looked smug. Since walking away from Michael, he had already convinced about one-third of God’s entire angel population to join him in his quest. Most notably was Raphael, the energetic, brazen one who had jumped at the idea. Lucifer had almost immediately named him as second-in-command. Now here he was organizing over a thousand rebels into an army that would go up against Michael and then storm the Holy Temple.
After everyone had been gathered together, Raphael returned to the front, waiting expectantly.
“My friends,” Lucifer began, “today is the start of a new way of life for us. No longer will we be burdened by the obligation to worship God. I, in fact, am merely your leader and do not require worship. Should you decide that this isn’t what you want, you may return to the temple without incident. However, I do remind you that I will not be so tolerant when I assume command of the throne.
“That having been said, I would like to go over the tactical strategies in the war against Michael and his army. Raphael should have provided you with the basic constructs and maneuvers involved in the fight. We will have a brief training session, then proceed to engage the enemy, effective immediately. Any questions?” Seeing no hands, he continued.
“Men, we are about to do battle not only for the crown of Heaven, but for freedom in our lives, and we will be victorious. Dismissed.”
As the crowd dispersed into training teams, Lucifer began to think of all the glory he would receive as ruler of the universe.
He scooped up a handful of land and mixed some of the waters into it, molding it, shaping it, turning it in His hands. He deftly formed bone, muscle, blood, veins, organs, tissue, all the while taking His time, using special care in creating this being. This would be His most loved possession, the only one to whom He would give the ability and, thusly, the opportunity to love Him in return. While all the rest of the things He had made had pleased Him, He wanted to create this one personally, adding an extra touch to it. He took a good deal of comfort from this, a bit of relief from the foreboding that plagued Him. It was this being – man – that would be His greatest treasure.
Having carefully formed the man, the Anointed One breathed into His nostrils His own breath, giving him life. His creation now complete, He rested from all that He had accomplished, but His despair suddenly returned, and He found no escape from the weary weight of frustration that wracked His mind. He decided to focus on other things, however, and ordained this time of rest as a holy day of God, blessing it and setting it apart from the other six days in which He worked – worked so hard and so diligently for something that was about to be compromised.
“My lord!” Raphael cried, running up to his master. “My lord, I have urgent news!”
Lucifer grimaced. He had been painstakingly going over battle tactics and strategies with his army, but it was all to no avail. Everywhere they attacked, it seemed, God had angels stationed, ready to defeat them. He certainly didn’t want to hear the latest reports from his young officer.
“Sire,” he continued. “The Anointed One has been creating things outside of Heaven.”
“Let me get this straight,” Lucifer seethed. “You rushed over here and interrupted my strategic concentration to tell me about some inferior creatures that have nothing to do with us? I’ll be sure to file your report in the proper altar.”
“But nothing, Raphael! You need to get your focus back. This war is for the crown of Heaven, not some lowly animal life.”
“We can’t take Heaven!” Raphael blurted, and then quickly apologized. “Sir, Michael has won every battle since this war began. But I think I may have an alternative solution.”
“Well,” Raphael began, “not all of the creatures are inferior. One of them, in fact, was created equal to us. It was given a mind of its own and the ability to choose what it wants.”
“I’m not sure I follow.”
“Well, perhaps we can influence it in some way.”
“Of course!” Lucifer exclaimed. “If we can convince this creature to choose our side, we’ll have won a battle and gained a tactical advantage. I’ll be able to claim His creation as my own kingdom, a perfect vantage point to continue my rise to the throne.”
The creature awoke in the midst of lush vegetation. He was brought all of the animals that were created and named them. He enjoyed fellowship with God and had free reign over the entire world he lived in. Life was good. This garden was his home, and there was only one thing he wasn’t supposed to do – eat from the tree in the middle of the garden, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Anointed One knew that if the man ate of it, he would know both good and evil, and that along with the knowledge of evil came terrible heartache and misery. He wanted so desperately to spare him all of that.
Yet He also wanted His creation to make a choice to love Him, and not to obey out of necessity. So He had placed a test before him to allow him to choose love for God.
As time wore on, the man began to be lonely, yearning for the companionship of someone of his own kind. The Almighty put him into a deep sleep, extracting a piece of flesh from his side and forming a mate for him, one suited to his needs, able to both love him and bring forth more of his kind. This one He called woman, and together she and the man shared in the goodness of God’s blessings.
But He was still uneasy. He knew what was about to occur, and He was almost dreading it. He didn’t want to see this happen to His beautiful work, yet He knew there was no alternate course. It would happen as it was supposed to happen, and He would be the one to repair it. But He would deal with that later. For now, He would attend to the task of ending Lucifer’s revolt.
God’s angels had him in a corner. There was no way out. As he stared down the blades of hundreds of fierce-looking, two-edged swords, Lucifer called surrender. His only request was that he be taken to the Temple before the throne of God. This was granted to him, and he was led away in chains to face the Holy One alone. His plan was starting to take shape.
Upon entering God’s palace, he knelt in mock humility and began to speak with false sincerity.
“Omnipotent, all-knowing God,” he said coyly. “You are worthy to be praised above all else. I know that I have disobeyed You, but I pray that You would spare me the humiliation of leaving Your wonderful presence. But if not, I will accept any decision You make.” He paused with a fake sigh. “Even if it’s to exile me to Your new world, forever relegating me to be limited by time and space.”
God replied, “You are no longer worthy to enjoy the comforts of Heaven with me and the Anointed One.” A surge of resentment shot through Lucifer.
“I cannot,” the Almighty continued, “and will not tolerate infidels in my Holy Temple. Therefore it shall be as you say. From henceforth you shall be banished to Earth, never again being allowed to see the inside of these hallowed walls.”
In the moment before the fall, he gave the Anointed One a pleased look. Pleased that he had so cleverly gotten his way. He had outwitted the mind of God. Yet he was careful to remind himself of the fact that this was only the first stage of his great plan. It was now time for the next step, and this would be a bit trickier. After sending the others off to set up a base of operations, he got to work immediately.
He had been watching Creation closely ever since Raphael’s report, and he knew that God had told this couple not to eat from a certain tree, the one in the middle. It was this tree that became his obsession, and he would use it to his advantage in order to exact his revenge upon God, ruining His favorite creature.
She looked around her in the garden. Everything was absolutely perfect. The animals, the streams, the trees. There were figs, pomegranates, apples and pears. All ripe for the taking. Of course, she happened to be wandering near the middle, but none of the fruit looked any different from the other. Definitely not harmful. Whatever the reason, she decided, she would just grab a peach and head back out.
“Did God really say not to eat from this tree?” she heard behind her. The sound came from the trees. More precisely, the wrong one.
“Yeah, He did,” she replied, moving closer. “He said that if we ate anything from it, we’d die.”
“He was obviously lying to you,” the voice answered. “You’re not going to die. He was just telling you that so you wouldn’t find out the secret.”
“What secret?” the woman asked. This creature had her curious. Certainly if there was more information than she had previously been aware of, she wanted to know it.
“Well, I really shouldn’t be telling you this, but” he paused for effect, “God knows that if you eat from this tree, you’ll be like Him. You’ll know everything. That’s why it’s called the Tree of Knowledge.” He was careful to omit the rest of the name.
The woman was still a bit unsure. She did think that the fruit on the tree looked good, but she didn’t know whether to believe the creature about knowledge. She finally decided that there was only one way to find out, so she took a piece and bit into it.
Suddenly, strange sensations enveloped her mind and body. All at once, she felt alive, more alive than she’d ever been. But more than that, she knew what being alive was all about. She was glad to have had the experience, and Lucifer was glad to have been a part of it.
Quickly, the woman ran to get the man. She told him about the delicious fruit that she had tasted and how it had made her feel. When asked about which tree, she admitted that it had been the Tree of Knowledge, and then repeated all of what Lucifer had told her.
The man turned in his mind the information his mate had just given him. He coupled this with what God had said on this subject and, in the end, his willingness to please God was overruled by his desire for his mate and he bit into the fruit she had just given him.
He heaved a great sigh of grief. Foreknowledge couldn’t possibly have fully prepared Him for this. His precious creation had rebelled against Him, choosing to live in the pleasures of sin rather than love Him unconditionally. He knew the heavy price that disobedience toward God would cost, and He began to steel Himself for what He would have to do. There was no way that He would let mankind suffer the same fate prepared for Lucifer.
Lucifer. The very thought of his name made Him cringe. He couldn’t hate those He had created. That was simply impossible. But Lucifer He could hold a grudge against forever. He had already designed a place for him in the end, where forever he would be punished for his deeds in Heaven.
He also knew, though, that if nothing changed, His man and woman would be forced to suffer along with him, and He couldn’t bear the thought of that. He had to act. He went to talk to the man.
Horror and shame were etched upon his face. How could he have done that? It was incredibly stupid to listen to his wife in the first place, let alone trusting some second-hand rumor. But he had believed her, and now he was in a very scary predicament.
Noticing that they were naked, he and she both had taken fig leaves and put them over their skin as best as they could, but with no luck. Now they were hiding behind bushes. They just couldn’t let God see them like this. There was no telling how He would react. Yet they would both soon find out.
“Adam, where are you?” God called. He already knew, of course, that the man was in the bushes. He just wanted Adam to know he was in the bushes, reinforcing his guilt.
“Well,” Adam managed, “we heard You coming, and we didn’t want You to have to see us naked, so we hid in the bushes.”
“Of course you’re naked. That’s the way you were made. What I want to know is, who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree I told you not to?” Again, He knew of their sin, but He intended to get a confession.
“Yes, we did,” Adam replied, “but You have to understand, it wasn’t my fault. This woman ate of it first, and she seduced me with it. I saw how much she liked it.”
God turned to the woman. “Is this true, Eve?”
“Yes, God,” she said. “I need to explain, though. This creature here in the garden set me up. He lied to me.”
Lucifer was heated. “I did no such thing! I told you that you wouldn’t die. Are you dead?”
“Quiet!” God yelled. Immediately all in the garden was silent, including the animals and streams. He had had enough of this blaming and bickering. He addressed the creature, though He knew it was Lucifer.
“From now on, you will be known as the vilest of all creatures of the field. You will lose your four limbs and be forced to slither for the rest of your kind’s days on this Earth. Your food will be its dirt, and I will forever set a division between you and mankind. You may strike His heel, but He will crush your head.
“Now as for you two,” He said, turning to the naked couple. “Eve, your punishment will be as follows. You will be able to produce more of your kind, but not without a tremendous amount of pain. You shall always cling to your mate, and he will rule over you.
“Adam, this will be your punishment. You have never wanted anything in this garden, but now you’ll know what work is. The ground will be cursed and unyielding. Forever you and your kind will eat from it with great sorrow. It will produce thorns and thistles, and you will only live off of it by the sweat of your brow. Finally, both of you will die. Your bodies will not last forever. You were taken from the dirt, and back to the dirt you will go.”
As He pondered on it for a bit, God decided that it would also be best if the two were evicted out of His garden, so that they wouldn’t eat from the Tree of Life and live forever.
“Furthermore,” He told them, “you must leave this place and fend for yourselves in the wilderness. You can no longer stay in this garden.” As they left, God ordered an angel to guard the entrance by waving a flaming sword.
“Now,” He said to the couple, “this is your punishment, but I still love you. I have provided a way in which you can find forgiveness for your disobedience and enjoy restored fellowship with me.”
God took a goat and slaughtered it in front of them. “This blood,” He began, “has now atoned for the sins which you have just committed. I have decreed that innocent blood must be shed for those who are guilty in order to come to me.” He then made clothes for both of them out of the goatskin, covering the shame of their nakedness.
“As long as you and your kind continue in the shedding of innocent animal blood, I will continue to forgive your sin. For there will come a day, when all men everywhere will be able to stand under one sacrifice in fellowship with me.”
This was the promise He made, and He would always be one to keep His promises.
After much preparation, the day arrived. Mankind had been doing wonderfully in the making of sacrifices, but grew further away as far as the fellowship was concerned. He had long ago set it in His mind that He would go through with this mission, no matter what it would take.
The biggest thing it took, He knew, was the setting aside of His place in Heaven and becoming one of mankind Himself. The Creator would become the creation, and according to the way He had planned it, He would go from the riches of the universe to a poverty-stricken Jewish community in a remote part of Israel. Here He had everything. There He would have nothing. In Heaven angels bowed before Him as the Anointed One. On Earth, men would despise Him as a traitor and rebel. So for Him there was only one choice. He was going to Earth.
True, He could simply wipe the slate clean now, forget about them, consider them outcasts, and still be holy and just. But that wasn’t His style. He had to help them, give them hope, set them free.
Besides, He thought, there’s someone in particular down there that needs my undivided attention.
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The imagery flows as well as the writing; the tempo of the story is constant which makes it even better; it's hard to really "see" the picture the author is painting on the canvas of your mind if the pace, the tempo of the story is wanting. Well, done, I'd say. With one exception and this has to do with content; the portrayal of the Father needs lots of thoughtful work and this will be a tremendous challenge, but as it is now the story makes Him appear to be little more than we are in His emotions over the fall of man, the revolt of legions, the cost of the sacrifice; simply put, He appears in your story as unsure of Himself and how to handle a situation. If I had written this, this is just my opinion, I would have chosen a different name than "Raphael", it,needs to sound more netherworld, this minion sounds like he waits tables part time at Applebees! But the upside is that at least you didn't name him "Ed".