Part Four: The smoke clears and the way becomes known
After eating we slept, lightly, which was the only way to sleep when the ground heaves with heat and the building pressure causes the smoke to roll over your head, sometimes at speeds so fast it whistles and whines almost to a roar; so, waking before my brothers, I read the scroll of Isaiah aloud to drown out the noise, but not to disturb their slumber, for it had been days since we had slept. Now, because I carried the scrolls that the temple would allow me to take, I had 50 of the 66 books of the Holy Bible and because I knew that the scrolls would be a very good defense against the dark principalities, which I knew awaited us on every step of our journey, I was tempted to take the other 16 books into my bag with me and keep it a secret. But the priests forbid me to take more than my weight would allow, but I felt I could bare the weight no matter the consequence.
I didnít take the Bible this just because of my fear of the unknown; more than any other reason, I wanted to take the scrolls in case we were to come across any wandering or lost soul in this place that might need the good word of God shown to them; and then, if a person was here and we werenít the only people traveling in these caves, I could bring hope to him as well as to my brothers and myself; and in case they, or I for that matter, grew frightened or, for any other reason, wanted to turn back and tempt to climb back to the surface to the world we had left.
I was slowly making my way through the 53rd chapter when my eldest brother woke from his light sleep and smiled to me; removing his tunic from his mouth, he urged me to continue by raising his hand signaling for me to raise my voice, which I did, delighting in the scripture very much. When my younger brother woke, it wasnít because of my voice, be instead because of a sudden change in the terrible rumble of the ground. With a start, he jumped directly to his feet and pulled his dagger. He was looking at the hole, which we had been discussing entering, when suddenly, as fas as he had awakened, the pressure and constant shaking of this place cracked the hole wider and sent shards of rock flying into the air and then falling onto us.
A series of rocks, some in the range of boulders and others like peddles, came down on us and forced us from our place of safety.
Immediately, the entire pit and cave became filled with the smoke that was pouring from the hole, causing sulfur and who knows what other poisons to fill the room. The air was stinging our eyes and nose, which forced us to cover our faces with our tunics. And, just like that, we were again blind and lost for breath. I stopped reading the scriptures, but my eldest quickly urged me to continue, by patting me on the back and saying encouraging words in my ear. It was a few moments before I could begin again with Godís Words because I wasnít reading from the scroll anymore, for it was too dark. I was forced to do it from memory; but, once I began, they all joined in with me, reciting the 53rd chapter of Isaiah.
I have to remark that from all the moments in our journey and from all the wayward points I am to write about, this was a time that I remembered for a long time and could recall without pause late in my life. Even when everything else was gloomy and faded, for I lived to be a ripe age and many adventures were held by me, I could recall this moment with ease. One particular thing about this time was that we were together, all three of us close and completely helpless, we were holding hands and quoting scripture; which I must stay, being together and unharmed constituted for a miracle, for we did not know when the luxury of having each other for company would end and the task of burying one another in this place would become necessary.
I must also say, a person in our position could not help but to appreciate the words of Isaiah 53, for it tells of Jesusí love for us and His position and the concerns He was to face during his life on earth; and because of this, and because of Jesus, I truly believe we are all sent to the earth for an individual reason and that the reason is known to us and it, without a doubt, written upon our hearts; as to the completion of our purpose or to the finishing of our task which God has set for us, no matter what the situation, is completely left up to our own desires and to our own personal will; in other words, it is up to us if we decide to finished or fail what God has sent us to do; not to say that man is automatically destined to attain their goal, for all fall short of Godís glory and all, except Jesus, have failed. And having failed from the beginning, we are nothing without Jesusí atoning life; that is, what we are accounts for nothing, without Jesus.
I canít say I got all of this out of reading the fifty-third; but my brothers and sisters, do believe me when I say, our salvation is why Jesus was sent to the earth, to live and die for us and to complete our sacrifice, for we can not die and live at the same time; but Jesus, because He is perfect and always faithful to God, lived and died and lived again for all to see.
Just hearing about Jesusí life and about His punishments from Isaiah 53, calmed me so much that I was able to recite the chapter again and my brothers joined with me and through the choking smoke we took on our own note and formed a tri-chord, which would have soothed any cathedral. in many ways, this recital showed us that even though we were lost, except for knowing we were in Godís mighty hands, we would not always be lost nor would we always be wandering in a wayward fashion because Jesus had lived on this earth and after his death he walked again on this earth; He did this, so we would know that we will also live after death. I think this chapter will live on in our hearts forever; and, for us, at that precise moment, it pushed us forward and showed us that God was faithful even from the beginning; and even in the darkness, no matter how pitch or dank, death was not eternal; and even though we were surrounded by the unknown and lost amongst the vilest evil we would ever know, we knew that the light was not far away, for it lived in our hearts and filled our spirit and when we needed it, no matter when or where, all we had to do was call out to God and Jesus would make sure our call was answered.
And then, as we were reciting the fifty-third in tri-chord, the last rock fell from the ceiling and landed very close to the hole that we were to enter, but it was not close enough to be on or in the hole which would have sealed our fate. The choking smoke that was coming from the hole stopped at once; and, as if it had never been dark, the only light we had seen in this place came forth our of that hole and seared into the cave. It was the only light we had see since our descent into this abyss, except for our torches and the fires that raged, and the red stones that glowed because of the intolerable heat. This light filled the room as if it was coming from heaven; but I knew it wasnít from heaven, for it came from below, spewing forth and blinded us for moments to come.
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