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D-5's Billy Blog and the Amazing World of Celebrity Portraits

http://www.experienceproject.com/member_album.php?m=480204234&vp=1880847 This blog is dedicated to Billy Wirth, my idol and obsession. It's also dedicated to any poor celebrity that ends up with one of my drawings on their photo galleries. Many people tell me that I'm a talented artist, but I think I suck. Any hoo, I hope the drawing of Billy shows up on this blog. I'm having trouble on ALL of my blogs uploading images today. Hhhhmmmm...

The Nephilim


NEPHILIM

(Neph′i·lim) [Fellers; Those Who Cause [Others] to Fall Down].

This is a transliteration of the Hebrew word nephi·lim′, plural in its three occurrences in the Bible. (Ge 6:4; Nu 13:33 [twice]) It evidently stems from the causative form of the Hebrew verb na·phal′ (fall) as found, for example, in 2 Kings 3:19; 19:7.

The Bible account describing Jehovah’s displeasure with men in the days of Noah before the Flood relates that “the sons of the true God” took for themselves wives from among the attractive daughters of men. It then mentions the presence of “Nephilim,” saying: “The Nephilim proved to be in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of the true God continued to have relations with the daughters of men and they bore sons to them, they were the mighty ones [Heb., hag·gib·bo·rim′] who were of old, the men of fame.”—Ge 6:1-4.

Identity. Bible commentators, considering verse 4, have offered several suggestions as to the identity of these Nephilim. Some have thought that the derivation of the name indicates that the Nephilim had fallen from heaven, that is, that they were ‘fallen angels’ who mated with women to produce “mighty ones . . . the men of fame.” Other scholars, focusing their attention particularly on the statement “and also after that” (vs 4), have said the Nephilim were not the ‘fallen angels’ or the “mighty ones,” since the Nephilim “proved to be in the earth in those days” before the sons of God had relations with women. These latter scholars hold the opinion that the Nephilim were simply wicked men like Cain—robbers, bullies, and tyrants who roamed the earth until they were destroyed by the Flood. Still another group, taking into consideration the context of verse 4, conclude that the Nephilim were not themselves angels, but were the hybrid offspring resulting from materialized angels having intercourse with the daughters of men.

Same as “gib·bo·rim′.” Certain Bible translations adjust the location of the phrase “and also after that,” placing it near the beginning of verse 4, thus identifying the Nephilim with the “mighty ones,” the gib·bo·rim′, mentioned in the latter part of the verse. For example: “In those days, as well as afterward, there were giants [Heb., han·nephi·lim′] on the earth, who were born to the sons of the gods whenever they had intercourse with the daughters of men; these were the heroes [Heb., hag·gib·bo·rim′] who were men of note in days of old.”—Ge 6:4, AT; see also Mo, NIV, and TEV.

The Greek Septuagint also suggests that both the “Nephilim” and “mighty ones” are identical by using the same word gi′gan·tes (giants) to translate both expressions.

Reviewing the account, we see that verses 1 to 3 tell of “the sons of the true God” taking wives and of Jehovah’s statement that he was going to end his patience with men after 120 years. Verse 4 then speaks of the Nephilim proving to be in the earth “in those days,” evidently the days when Jehovah made the statement. Then it shows that this situation continued “after that, when the sons of the true God continued to have relations with the daughters of men,” and describes in more detail the results of the union of “the sons of the true God” with women.

Who were the ‘sons of God’ that fathered the Nephilim?

Who were “the sons of the true God” that were involved? Were they men who were worshipers of Jehovah (as distinguished from the general run of wicked mankind), as some claim? Evidently not. The Bible implies that their marriage to the daughters of men resulted in whipping up the badness in the earth. Noah and his three sons, along with their wives, were the only ones in God’s favor and were the only ones preserved through the Deluge.—Ge 6:9; 8:15, 16; 1Pe 3:20.

Hence, if these “sons of the true God” were merely men, the question arises, Why were their offspring “men of fame” more than those of the wicked, or of faithful Noah? Also, the question might be asked, Why mention their marriage to the daughters of men as something special? Marriage and childbearing had been taking place for more than 1,500 years.

The sons of God mentioned at Genesis 6:2, therefore, must have been angels, spirit “sons of God.” This expression is applied to angels at Job 1:6; 38:7. This view is supported by Peter, who speaks of “the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient when the patience of God was waiting in Noah’s days.” (1Pe 3:19, 20) Also Jude writes of “the angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place.” (Jude 6) Angels had the power to materialize in human form, and some angels did so to bring messages from God. (Ge 18:1, 2, 8, 20-22; 19:1-11; Jos 5:13-15) But heaven is the proper abode of spirit persons, and the angels there have positions of service under Jehovah. (Da 7:9, 10) To leave this abode to dwell on earth and to forsake their assigned service to have fleshly relations would be rebellion against God’s laws, and perversion.

The Bible states that the disobedient angels are now “spirits in prison,” having been ‘thrown into Tartarus’ and “reserved with eternal bonds under dense darkness for the judgment of the great day.” This seems to indicate that they are greatly restricted, unable again to materialize as they did prior to the Flood.—1Pe 3:19; 2Pe 2:4; Jude 6.

Increased Wickedness. “The mighty ones who were of old, the men of fame” that were produced by these marriages, were not men of fame with God, for they did not survive the Flood, as did Noah and his family. They were “Nephilim,” bullies, tyrants, who no doubt helped to make conditions worse. Their angelic fathers, knowing the construction of the human body and being able to materialize, were not creating life, but lived in these human bodies and, cohabiting with women, brought forth children. Their children, “mighty ones,” were therefore unauthorized hybrids. Apparently the Nephilim did not, in turn, have children.

In Mythology. The fame and dread of the Nephilim, it appears, gave rise to many mythologies of heathen people who, after the confusion of languages at Babel, were scattered throughout the earth. Though the historical forms of the Genesis account were greatly distorted and embellished, there was a remarkable resemblance in these ancient mythologies (those of the Greeks being only one example), in which gods and goddesses mated with humans to produce superhuman heroes and fearful demigods having god-man characteristics.—See GREECE, GREEKS (Greek Religion).

A Report Intended to Terrorize. The ten spies who brought back to the Israelites in the wilderness a false report on the land of Canaan declared: “All the people whom we saw in the midst of it are men of extraordinary size. And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who are from the Nephilim; so that we became in our own eyes like grasshoppers, and the same way we became in their eyes.” No doubt there were some large men in Canaan, as other scriptures show, but never except in this “bad report,” which was carefully couched in language designed to strike terror and cause panic among the Israelites, are they called Nephilim.—Nu 13:31-33; 14:36, 37.

 

This is for YOU, the unbelievers.


Modern Disbelief—Should the Search Continue?

“God is no longer a habitual concern for human beings. Less and less do they call him to mind as they go through their days or make their decisions. . . . God has been replaced by other values: income and productivity. He may once have been regarded as the source of meaning for all human activities, but today he has been relegated to the secret dungeons of history. . . . God has disappeared from the consciousness of human beings.”—The Sources of Modern Atheism.

IT WAS not many years ago that God was very much a part of the lives of people of the Western world. To be socially acceptable, one had to give evidence of faith in God, even if not everyone earnestly practiced what he professed to believe. Any doubts and uncertainties were discreetly kept to oneself. To express them in public would be shocking and perhaps even lay one open to censure.

2 Today, however, the tables are turned. To have any strong religious conviction is considered by many to be narrow-minded, dogmatic, even fanatic. In many lands, we see a prevailing indifference toward, or lack of interest in, God and religion. Most people no longer search for God because they either do not believe he exists or are unsure about it. In fact, some have used the term “post-Christian” to describe our era. Some questions, therefore, must be asked: How did the idea of God become so far removed from people’s life? What were the forces that gave rise to this change? Are there sound reasons for continuing the search for God?

Backlash of the Reformation

3 As we saw in Chapter 13, the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century brought about a marked change in the way people viewed authority, religious or otherwise. Self-assertion and freedom of expression took the place of conformity and submission. While most people remained within the framework of traditional religion, some moved along more radical lines, calling into question the dogmas and fundamental teachings of the established churches. Still others, noting the role religion had played in the wars, sufferings, and injustices throughout history, became skeptical of religion altogether.

4 As early as 1572, a report entitled Discourse on the Present State of England noted: “The realm is divided into three parties, the Papists, the Atheists, and the Protestants. All three are alike favoured: the first and second because, being many, we dare not displease them.” Another estimate gave the figure of 50,000 as the number of atheists in Paris in 1623, although the term was used rather loosely. In any case, it is clear that the Reformation, in its effort to throw off the domination of papal authority, had also brought into the open those who challenged the position of the established religions. As Will and Ariel Durant put it in The Story of Civilization: Part VII—The Age of Reason Begins: “The thinkers of Europe—the vanguard of the European mind—were no longer discussing the authority of the pope; they were debating the existence of God.”

The Assault by Science and Philosophy

5 In addition to the fragmenting of Christendom itself, there were other forces at work that further weakened its position. Science, philosophy, secularism, and materialism played their roles in raising doubts and fostering skepticism about God and religion.

6 The expansion of scientific knowledge called into question many of the church’s teachings that were based on erroneous interpretation of Bible passages. For example, astronomical discoveries by men like Copernicus and Galileo posed a direct challenge to the church’s geocentric doctrine, that the earth is the center of the universe. Furthermore, understanding of the natural laws that govern the operations of the physical world made it no longer necessary to attribute hitherto mysterious phenomena, such as thunder and lightning or even the appearance of certain stars and comets, to the hand of God or Providence. “Miracles” and “divine intervention” in human affairs also came under suspicion. All of a sudden, God and religion seemed outdated to many, and some of those who considered themselves up-to-date quickly turned their back on God and flocked to the worship of the sacred cow of science.

7 The severest blow to religion, no doubt, was the theory of evolution. In 1859 the English naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-82) published his Origin of Species and presented a direct challenge to the Bible’s teaching of creation by God. What was the response of the churches? At first the clergy in England and elsewhere denounced the theory. But opposition soon faded. It seemed that Darwin’s speculations were just the excuse sought by many clergymen who were entertaining doubts in secret. Thus, within Darwin’s lifetime, “most thoughtful and articulate clergy had worked their way to the conclusion that evolution was wholly compatible with an enlightened understanding of scripture,” says The Encyclopedia of Religion. Rather than come to the defense of the Bible, Christendom yielded to the pressure of scientific opinion and played along with what was popular. In so doing, it undermined faith in God.—2 Timothy 4:3, 4:ll not For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but in accord with THEIR OWN DESIRES, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; 4 and they will TURN THEIR EARS AWAY FROM THE TRUTH, whereas they will be turned aside by false stories.

8 As the 19th century wore on, critics of religion became bolder in their attack. Not content with just pointing out the failings of the churches, they began to question the very foundation of religion. They raised questions such as: What is God? Why is there a need for God? How has belief in God affected human society? Men like Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Friedrich Nietzsche offered their arguments in philosophical, psychological, and sociological terms. Theories such as ‘God is nothing more than the projection of man’s imagination,’ ‘Religion is the opium of the people,’ and ‘God is dead’ all sounded so new and exciting compared with the dull and unintelligible dogmas and traditions of the churches. It seemed that finally many people had found an articulate way of expressing the doubts and suspicions that had been lurking in the back of their minds. They quickly and willingly embraced these ideas as the new gospel truth.

The Great Compromise

9 Under assault and scrutiny by science and philosophy, what did the churches do? Instead of taking a stand for what the Bible teaches, they gave in to the pressures and compromised even on such fundamental articles of faith as creation by God and the authenticity of the Bible. The result? Christendom’s churches began to lose credibility, and many people began to lose faith. The failure of the churches to come to their own defense left the door wide open for the masses to march out. To many people, religion became no more than a sociological relic, something to mark the high points in one’s life—birth, marriage, death. Many all but gave up the search for the true God.

10 In the face of all of this, it is logical to ask: Have science and philosophy really signed the death warrant of belief in God? Does the failure of the churches mean the failure of what they claim to teach, namely, the Bible? Indeed, should the search for God continue? Let us examine these issues briefly.

Basis for Belief in God

11 It has been said that there are two books that tell us about the existence of God—the “book” of creation, or nature around us, and the Bible. They have been the basis for belief for millions of people past and present. For example, a king of the 11th century B.C.E., impressed by what he observed in the starry heavens, exclaimed poetically: “The heavens are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling.” (Psalm 19:1) In the 20th century, an astronaut, looking at the spectacular view of the earth from his spacecraft as it circled the moon, was moved to recite: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”—Genesis 1:1, KJ.

12 These two books, however, are under attack by those who claim no belief in God. They say that scientific investigation of the world around us has proved that life came into existence not by intelligent creation but by blind chance and the haphazard process of evolution. They argue, therefore, that there was no Creator and that it follows that the question of God is superfluous. Furthermore, many of them believe that the Bible is simply out-of-date and illogical, hence, not worthy of belief. Consequently, for them, there is no longer any basis for belief in the existence of God. Is all of this true? What do the facts show?

By Chance or by Design?

13 If there was no Creator, then life must have started spontaneously by chance. For life to have come about, somehow the right chemicals would have had to come together in the right quantities, under the right temperature and pressure and other controlling factors, and all would have had to be maintained for the correct length of time. Furthermore, for life to have begun and been sustained on earth, these chance events would have had to be repeated thousands of times. But how likely is it for even one such event to take place?

14 Evolutionists admit that the probability of the right atoms and molecules falling into place to form just one simple protein molecule is 1 in 10113, or 1 followed by 113 zeros. That number is larger than the estimated total number of atoms in the universe! Mathematicians dismiss as never taking place anything that has a probability of occurring of less than 1 in 1050. But far more than one simple protein molecule is needed for life. Some 2,000 different proteins are needed just for a cell to maintain its activity, and the chance that all of them will occur at random is 1 in 1040,000! “If one is not prejudiced either by social beliefs or by a scientific training into the conviction that life originated [spontaneously] on the Earth, this simple calculation wipes the idea entirely out of court,” says astronomer Fred Hoyle.

15 On the other hand, by studying the physical world, from the minute subatomic particles to the vast galaxies, scientists have discovered that all known natural phenomena appear to follow certain basic laws. In other words, they have discovered logic and order in everything that is taking place in the universe, and they have been able to express this logic and order in simple mathematical terms. “Few scientists can fail to be impressed by the almost unreasonable simplicity and elegance of these laws,” writes a professor of physics, Paul Davies, in the magazine New Scientist.

16 A most intriguing fact about these laws, however, is that in them there are certain factors whose values must be fixed precisely for the universe, as we know it, to exist. Among these fundamental constants are the unit of electric charge on the proton, the masses of certain fundamental particles, and Newton’s universal constant of gravitation, commonly denoted by the letter G. On this, Professor Davies continues: “Even minute variations in the values of some of them would drastically alter the appearance of the Universe. For example, Freeman Dyson has pointed out that if the force between nucleons (protons and neutrons) were only a few per cent stronger, the Universe would be devoid of hydrogen. Stars like the Sun, not to mention water, could not exist. Life, at least as we know it, would be impossible. Brandon Carter has shown that very much smaller changes in G would turn all stars into blue giants or red dwarfs, with equally dire consequences for life.” Thus, Davies concludes: “In this case it is conceivable that there might be only one possible Universe. If that is so, it is a remarkable thought that our own existence as conscious beings is an inescapable consequence of logic.”—Italics ours.

17 What can we deduce from all of this? First of all, if the universe is governed by laws, then there must be an intelligent lawmaker who formulated or established the laws. Furthermore, since the laws governing the operation of the universe appear to be made in anticipation of life and conditions favorable to its sustenance, purpose is clearly involved. Design and purpose—these are not characteristics of blind chance; they are precisely what an intelligent Creator would manifest. And that is just what the Bible indicates when it declares: “What may be known about God is manifest among them, for God made it manifest to them. For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.”—Romans 1:19, 20; Isaiah 45:18;For this is what Jehovah has said, the Creator of the heavens, He the true God, the Former of the earth and the Maker of it, He the One that did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited: "I am Jehovah, and there is no one else."    Jeremiah 10:12: He is the Maker of the earth by his power, the One firmly establishing the productive land by his wisdom, and the One who by his understanding stretched out the heavens.

Abundant Evidence Around Us

18 Of course, design and purpose are seen not only in the orderly workings of the universe but also in the way living creatures, simple and complex, carry on their daily activities, as well as in the way they interact with one another and with the environment. For example, almost every part of our human body—the brain, the eye, the ear, the hand—shows design so intricate that modern science cannot fully explain it. Then there are the animal and plant worlds. The annual migration of certain birds over thousands of miles of land and sea, the process of photosynthesis in plants, the development of one fertilized egg into a complex organism with millions of differentiated cells with specialized functions—just to give a few examples—are all outstanding evidence of intelligent design.

19 Some argue, however, that increased knowledge of science has provided explanations for many of these feats. True, science has explained, to a certain extent, many things that were once a mystery. But a child’s discovery of how a watch works does not prove that the watch was not designed and made by someone. Likewise, our understanding the marvelous ways in which many of the things in the physical world function does not prove that there is no intelligent designer behind them. On the contrary, the more we know about the world around us, the more evidence we have for the existence of an intelligent Creator, God. Thus, with an open mind, we can agree with the psalmist as he acknowledged: “How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions.”—Psalm 104:24.

The Bible—Can You Believe It?

20 Belief in the existence of God, however, is not enough to move people to search for him. Today there are millions of people who have not totally rejected belief in God, but that has not moved them to search for God. American pollster George Gallup, Jr., observes that “you really don’t find much difference between the churched and unchurched in terms of cheating, tax evasion, and pilferage, largely because there is a lot of social religion.” He adds that “many are just putting a religion together that is comfortable for them and titillates them and is not necessarily challenging. Somebody called it religion à la carte. That’s the central weakness of Christianity in this country [U.S.A.] today: There is not a sturdiness of belief.”

21 That “central weakness” is largely the result of lack of knowledge and faith in the Bible. But what basis is there for believing the Bible? First of all, it should be noted that down through the ages, probably no other book has been more unjustly criticized, abused, hated, and attacked than the Bible. Yet, it has survived all of that and turned out to be the most widely translated and circulated book on record. That in itself makes the Bible an outstanding book. But there is abundant proof, convincing evidence, that the Bible is a book inspired of God and worthy of our belief.—See box, pages 340-1.

22 Even though many people have more or less assumed that the Bible is unscientific, contradictory, and out-of-date, the facts show otherwise. Its unique authorship, its historical and scientific accuracy, and its unerring prophecies all point to one inevitable conclusion: The Bible is the inspired Word of God. As the apostle Paul put it: “All scripture is inspired of God and beneficial.”—2 Timothy 3:16.

Meeting the Challenge of Disbelief

23 Having considered the evidence from the book of creation and the Bible, what can we conclude? Simply, that these books are as valid today as they have always been. When we are willing to look at the matter objectively rather than be swayed by preconceived ideas, we find that any objections can be overcome in a reasonable manner. The answers are there, if only we are willing to search for them. Jesus said, (“Keep on seeking, and you will find.”—Matthew 7:7); Acts 17:11:  Now the latter were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.

24 In the final analysis, most people who have given up in the search for God have not done so because they have carefully examined the evidence for themselves and found the Bible to be untrue. Rather, many of them have been turned away by Christendom’s failure to present the true God of the Bible. As the French writer P. Valadier stated: “It was the Christian tradition that produced atheism as its fruit; it led to the murder of God in the consciences of men because it presented them with an unbelievable God.” Be that as it may, we can take comfort in the words of the apostle Paul:( “What, then, is the case? If some did not express faith, will their lack of faith perhaps make the faithfulness of God without effect? Never may that happen! But let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.” (Romans 3:3, 4) Yes, there is every reason to continue the search for the true God. In the remaining chapters of this book, we will see how the search has been taken to a successful completion and what the future holds for mankind.

 

Lucifer


The name Lucifer occurs once in the scriptures and only in some versions of the Bible. For example, the King James Version renders Isaiah 14:12: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!”

The Hebrew word translated “Lucifer” means “shining one.” The Septuagint uses the Greek word that means “bringer of dawn.” Hence, some translations render the original Hebrew “morning star” or “Daystar.” But Jerome’s Latin Vulgate uses “Lucifer” (light bearer), and this accounts for the appearance of that term in various versions of the Bible.

Who is this Lucifer? The expression “shining one,” or “Lucifer,” is found in what Isaiah prophetically commanded the Israelites to pronounce as a “proverbial saying against the king of Babylon.” Thus, it is part of a saying primarily directed at the Babylonian dynasty. That the description “shining one” is given to a man and not to a spirit creature is further seen by the statement: “Down to Sheol you will be brought.” Sheol is the common grave of mankind—not a place occupied by Satan the Devil. Moreover, those seeing Lucifer brought into this condition ask: “Is this the man that was agitating the earth?” Clearly, “Lucifer” refers to a human, not to a spirit creature.—Isaiah 14:4, 15, 16.

Why is such an eminent description given to the Babylonian dynasty? We must realize that the king of Babylon was to be called the shining one only after his fall and in a taunting way. (Isaiah 14:3) Selfish pride prompted Babylon’s kings to elevate themselves above those around them. So great was the arrogance of the dynasty that it is portrayed as bragging: “To the heavens I shall go up. Above the stars of God I shall lift up my throne, and I shall sit down upon the mountain of meeting, in the remotest parts of the north. . . . I shall make myself resemble the Most High.”—Isaiah 14:13, 14.

 

What Does The Bible REALLY Teach About God's Kingdom?


What Is God’s Kingdom?

What does the Bible tell us about the Kingdom of God?

What will God’s Kingdom do?

When will the Kingdom cause God’s will to be done on earth?

MILLIONS of people worldwide are familiar with the prayer that many call the Our Father, or the Lord’s Prayer. Both expressions refer to a famous prayer given as a model by Jesus Christ himself. It is a very meaningful prayer, and a consideration of its first three petitions will help you to learn more about what the Bible really teaches.

2 At the beginning of this model prayer, Jesus instructed his hearers: “You must pray, then, this way: ‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.’” (Matthew 6:9-13) What is the significance of these three petitions?

3 We have already learned a lot about God’s name, Jehovah. And to some extent we have discussed God’s will—what he has done and will yet do for mankind. To what, though, was Jesus referring when he told us to pray: “Let your kingdom come”? What is God’s Kingdom? How will its coming sanctify God’s name, or make it holy? And how is the coming of the Kingdom related to the doing of God’s will?

WHAT GOD’S KINGDOM IS

4 God’s Kingdom is a government established by Jehovah God with a King chosen by God. Who is the King of God’s Kingdom? Jesus Christ. Jesus as King is greater than all human rulers and is called “the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords.” (1 Timothy 6:15) He has the power to do far more good than any human ruler, even the best among them.

5 From where will God’s Kingdom rule? Well, where is Jesus? You will remember learning that he was put to death on a torture stake, and then he was resurrected. Shortly thereafter, he ascended to heaven. (Acts 2:33) Hence, that is where God’s Kingdom is—in heaven. That is why the Bible calls it a “heavenly kingdom.” (2 Timothy 4:18) Although God’s Kingdom is in heaven, it will rule over the earth.—Revelation 11:15.

6 What makes Jesus an outstanding King? For one thing, he will never die. Comparing Jesus with human kings, the Bible calls him “the one alone having immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light.” (1 Timothy 6:16) This means that all the good that Jesus does will last. And he will do great and good things.

7 Consider this Bible prophecy about Jesus: “Upon him the spirit of Jehovah must settle down, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of mightiness, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah; and there will be enjoyment by him in the fear of Jehovah. And he will not judge by any mere appearance to his eyes, nor reprove simply according to the thing heard by his ears. And with righteousness he must judge the lowly ones, and with uprightness he must give reproof in behalf of the meek ones of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:2-4) Those words show that Jesus was to be a righteous and compassionate King over people on earth. Would you want to have a ruler like that?

8 Here is another truth about God’s Kingdom: Jesus will not rule alone. He will have corulers. For example, the apostle Paul told Timothy: “If we go on enduring, we shall also rule together as kings.” (2 Timothy 2:12) Yes, Paul, Timothy, and other faithful ones who have been selected by God will rule together with Jesus in the heavenly Kingdom. How many will have that privilege?

9 As pointed out in Chapter 7 of this book, the apostle John was given a vision in which he saw “the Lamb [Jesus Christ] standing upon the Mount Zion [his royal position in heaven], and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads.” Who are those 144,000? John himself tells us: “These are the ones that keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes. These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 14:1, 4) Yes, they are faithful followers of Jesus Christ specially chosen to rule in heaven with him. After being raised out of death to heavenly life, “they are to rule as kings over the earth” along with Jesus. (Revelation 5:10) Since the days of the apostles, God has been selecting faithful Christians in order to complete the number 144,000.

10 To arrange for Jesus and the 144,000 to rule mankind is very loving. For one thing, Jesus knows what it is like to be a human and to suffer. Paul said that Jesus is “not one who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tested in all respects like ourselves, but without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15; 5:8) His corulers too have suffered and endured as humans. In addition, they have struggled with imperfection and coped with all kinds of sickness. Surely, they will understand the problems that humans face!

WHAT WILL GOD’S KINGDOM DO?

11 When Jesus said that his disciples should pray for God’s Kingdom to come, he also said that they should pray for God’s will to be done “as in heaven, also upon earth.” God is in heaven, and his will has always been done there by the faithful angels. In Chapter 3 of this book, however, we learned that a wicked angel stopped doing God’s will and caused Adam and Eve to sin. In Chapter 10, we will learn more about what the Bible teaches regarding that wicked angel, whom we know as Satan the Devil. Satan and the angelic spirit creatures who chose to follow him—called demons—were allowed to stay in heaven for a while. Hence, not all in heaven were then doing God’s will. That was to change when God’s Kingdom would begin to rule. The newly enthroned King, Jesus Christ, was to wage war on Satan.—Revelation 12:7-9.

12 The following prophetic words describe what would happen: “I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers [Satan] has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God!’” (Revelation 12:10) Did you notice two very important events described in that Bible verse? First, God’s Kingdom under Jesus Christ begins to rule. Second, Satan is cast out of heaven down to the earth.

13 What have been the results of those two events? Regarding what happened in heaven, we read: “On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them!” (Revelation 12:12) Yes, the faithful angels in heaven rejoice because, with Satan and his demons gone, everyone in heaven is faithful to Jehovah God. There is complete, unbroken peace and harmony there. God’s will is being done in heaven.

14 What, though, about the earth? The Bible says: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Revelation 12:12) Satan is angry about being cast out of heaven and having just a short time left. In his anger he causes distress, or “woe,” on earth. We will learn more about that “woe” in the next chapter. But with that in mind, we could ask, How can the Kingdom cause God’s will to be done on earth?

15 Well, remember what God’s will is for the earth. You learned about it in Chapter 3. In Eden, God showed that his will is for this earth to be a paradise filled with an undying, righteous human race. Satan caused Adam and Eve to sin, and that affected the fulfillment of God’s will for the earth but did not change it. Jehovah still purposes that “the righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” (Psalm 37:29) And God’s Kingdom will accomplish that. In what way?

16 Consider the prophecy found at Daniel 2:44. There we read: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” What does this tell us about God’s Kingdom?

17 First, it tells us that God’s Kingdom was to be established “in the days of those kings,” or while other kingdoms still existed. Second, it tells us that the Kingdom will last forever. It will not be conquered and be replaced by some other government. Third, we see that there will be war between God’s Kingdom and the kingdoms of this world. God’s Kingdom will be victorious. In the end, it will be the only government over mankind. Then humans will enjoy the best rulership they have ever known.

18 The Bible has much to say about that final war between God’s Kingdom and the governments of this world. For example, it teaches that as the end approaches, wicked spirits will spread lies to deceive “the kings of the entire inhabited earth.” For what purpose? “To gather them [the kings] together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” The kings of the earth will be gathered together to “the place that is called in Hebrew Har–Magedon.” (Revelation 16:14, 16) Because of what is said in those two verses, the final conflict between human governments and God’s Kingdom is called the battle of Har–Magedon, or Armageddon.

19 What will God’s Kingdom achieve by means of Armageddon? Think again about what God’s will is for the earth. Jehovah God purposed that the earth be filled with a righteous, perfect human race serving him in Paradise. What prevents that from happening right now? First, we are sinful, and we get sick and die. We learned in Chapter 5, however, that Jesus died for us so that we can live forever. Likely you remember the words recorded in the Gospel of John: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16.

20 Another problem is that many people do wicked things. They lie, cheat, and commit immorality. They do not want to do God’s will. People who do wicked things will be destroyed during God’s war of Armageddon. (Psalm 37:10) Yet another reason why God’s will is not being done on earth is that governments do not encourage people to do it. Many governments have been weak, cruel, or corrupt. The Bible frankly says: “Man has dominated man to his injury.”—Ecclesiastes 8:9.

21 After Armageddon, mankind will be under just one government, God’s Kingdom. That Kingdom will do God’s will and bring wonderful blessings. For example, it will remove Satan and his demons. (Revelation 20:1-3) The power of Jesus’ sacrifice will be applied so that faithful humans will no longer get sick and die. Instead, under Kingdom rule they will be able to live forever. (Revelation 22:1-3) The earth will be made into a paradise. Thus the Kingdom will cause God’s will to be done on earth and will sanctify God’s name. What does this mean? It means that eventually under God’s Kingdom everyone alive will honor Jehovah’s name.

WHEN DOES GOD’S KINGDOM ACT?

22 When Jesus told his followers to pray, “Let your kingdom come,” it was clear that the Kingdom had not come at that time. Did it come when Jesus ascended to heaven? No, because both Peter and Paul said that after Jesus was resurrected, the prophecy at Psalm 110:1 was fulfilled in him: “The utterance of Jehovah to my Lord is: ‘Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.’” (Acts 2:32-34; Hebrews 10:12, 13) There was a waiting period.

23 For how long? During the 19th century, sincere Bible students calculated that the waiting period would end in 1914. (Regarding this date, see the Appendix, pages 215-18.) World events that began in 1914 confirm that the calculation of these sincere Bible students was correct. The fulfillment of Bible prophecy shows that in 1914, Christ became King and God’s heavenly Kingdom began to rule. Hence, we are living in the “short period of time” that Satan has left. (Revelation 12:12; Psalm 110:2) We can also say with certainty that soon God’s Kingdom will act to cause God’s will to be done on earth. Do you find this to be wonderful news? Do you believe that it is true? The next chapter will help you to see that the Bible really does teach these things.

 KINGDOM OF GOD The expression and exercise of God’s universal sovereignty toward his creatures, or the means or instrumentality used by him for this purpose. (Ps 103:19) The phrase is used particularly for the expression of God’s sovereignty through a royal government headed by his Son, Christ Jesus. The word rendered “kingdom” in the Christian Greek scriptures is ba·si·lei′a, meaning “a kingdom, realm, the region or country governed by a king; kingly power, authority, dominion, reign; royal dignity, the title and honour of king.” (The Analytical Greek Lexicon, 1908, p. 67) The phrase “the kingdom of God” is used frequently by Mark and Luke, and in Matthew’s account the parallel phrase “the kingdom of the heavens” appears some 30 times.—Compare Mr 10:23 and Lu 18:24 with Mt 19:23, 24; see HEAVEN (Spiritual Heavens); KINGDOM. The government of God is, in structure and function, a pure theocracy (from Gr. the·os′, god, and kra′tos, a rule), a rule by God. The term “theocracy” is attributed to Jewish historian Josephus of the first century C.E., who evidently coined it in his writing Against Apion (II, 164, 165 [16]). Of the government established over Israel in Sinai, Josephus wrote: “Some peoples have entrusted the supreme political power to monarchies, others to oligarchies, yet others to the masses. Our lawgiver, however, was attracted by none of these forms of polity, but gave to his constitution the form of what—if a forced expression be permitted—may be termed a ‘theocracy [Gr., the·o·kra·ti′an],’ placing all sovereignty and authority in the hands of God.” To be a pure theocracy, of course, the government could not be ordained by any human legislator, such as the man Moses, but must be ordained and established by God. The scriptural record shows this was the case. Origin of the Term. The term “king” (Heb., me′lekh) evidently came into use in human language after the global Flood. The first earthly kingdom was that of Nimrod “a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.” (Ge 10:8-12) Thereafter, during the period down to Abraham’s time, city-states and nations developed and human kings multiplied. With the exception of the kingdom of Melchizedek, king-priest of Salem (who served as a prophetic type of the Messiah [Ge 14:17-20; Heb 7:1-17]), none of these earthly kingdoms represented God’s rule or were established by him. Men also made kings of the false gods they worshiped, attributing to them the ability to grant power of rulership to humans. Jehovah’s application of the title “King [Me′lekh]” to himself, as found in the post-Flood writings of the Hebrew scriptures, therefore meant God’s making use of the title men had developed and employed. God’s use of the term showed that he, and not presumptuous human rulers or man-made gods, should be looked to and obeyed as “King.”—Jer 10:10-12. Jehovah had, of course, been Sovereign Ruler long before human kingdoms developed, in fact before humans existed. As the true God and as their Creator, he was respected and obeyed by angelic sons numbering into the millions. (Job 38:4-7; 2Ch 18:18; Ps 103:20-22; Da 7:10) By whatever title, then, he was, from the beginning of creation, recognized as the One whose will was rightfully supreme. God’s Rulership in Early Human History. The first human creatures, Adam and Eve, likewise knew Jehovah as God, the Creator of heaven and earth. They recognized his authority and his right to issue commands, to call upon people to perform certain duties or to refrain from certain acts, to assign land for residence and cultivation, as well as to delegate authority over others of his creatures. (Ge 1:26-30; 2:15-17) Though Adam had the ability to coin words (Ge 2:19, 20), there is no evidence that he developed the title “king [me′lekh]” to apply it to his God and Creator, although he recognized Jehovah’s supreme authority. As revealed in the initial chapters of Genesis, God’s exercise of his sovereignty toward man in Eden was benevolent and not unduly restrictive. The relationship between God and man called for obedience such as the obedience a son renders to his father. (Compare Lu 3:38.) Man had no lengthy code of laws to fulfill (compare 1Ti 1:8-11); God’s requirements were simple and purposeful. Nor is there anything to indicate that Adam was made to feel inhibited by constant, critical supervision of his every action; rather, God’s communication with perfect man seems to have been periodic, according to need.—Ge chaps 1-3. A new expression of God’s rulership purposed. The first human pair’s open violation of God’s command, instigated by one of God’s spirit sons, was actually rebellion against divine authority. (Ge 3:17-19; see TREES [Figurative Use].) The position taken by God’s spirit Adversary (Heb., sa·tan′) constituted a challenge calling for a test, the issue being the rightfulness of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty. (See JEHOVAH [The supreme issue a moral one].) The earth, where the issue was raised, is fittingly the place where it will be settled.—Re 12:7-12. At the time of pronouncing judgment upon the first rebels, Jehovah God spoke a prophecy, couched in symbolic phrase, setting forth his purpose to use an agency, a “seed,” to effect the ultimate crushing of the rebel forces. (Ge 3:15) Thus, Jehovah’s rulership, the expression of his sovereignty, would take on a new aspect or expression in answer to the insurrection that had developed. The progressive revelation of “the sacred secrets of the kingdom” (Mt 13:11) showed that this new aspect would involve the formation of a subsidiary government, a ruling body headed by a deputy ruler. The realization of the promise of the “seed” is in the kingdom of Christ Jesus in union with his chosen associates. (Re 17:14; see JESUS CHRIST [His Vital Place in God’s Purpose].) From the time of the Edenic promise forward, the progressive development of God’s purpose to produce this Kingdom “seed” becomes a basic theme of the Bible and a key to understanding Jehovah’s actions toward his servants and toward mankind in general. God’s delegating vast authority and power to creatures (Mt 28:18; Re 2:26, 27; 3:21) in this way is noteworthy inasmuch as the question of the integrity of all God’s creatures, that is, their wholehearted devotion to him and their loyalty to his headship, formed a vital part of the issue raised by God’s Adversary. (See INTEGRITY [Involved in the supreme issue].) That God could confidently entrust any of his creatures with such remarkable authority and power would in itself be a splendid testimony to the moral strength of his rule, contributing to the vindication of Jehovah’s name and position and exposing the falsity of his adversary’s allegations. Need for divine government manifested. The conditions that developed from the time of the start of human rebellion until the time of the Flood clearly illustrated mankind’s need for divine headship. Human society soon had to contend with disunity, bodily assault, and murder. (Ge 4:2-9, 23, 24) To what extent the sinner Adam, during his 930 years of life, exercised patriarchal authority over his multiplying descendants is not revealed. But by the seventh generation shocking ungodliness evidently existed (Jude 14, 15), and by the time of Noah (born about 120 years after Adam’s death) conditions had deteriorated to the point that “the earth became filled with violence.” (Ge 6:1-13) Contributing to this condition was the unauthorized interjection of spirit creatures into human society, contrary to God’s will and purpose.—Ge 6:1-4; Jude 6; 2Pe 2:4, 5; see NEPHILIM. Though earth had become a focus of rebellion, Jehovah did not relinquish his dominion over it. The global Flood was evidence that God’s power and ability to enforce his will on earth, as in any part of the universe, continued. During the pre-Flood period he likewise demonstrated his willingness to guide and govern the actions of those individuals who sought him, such as Abel, Enoch, and Noah. Noah’s case in particular illustrates God’s exercise of rulership toward a willing earthly subject, giving him commands and direction, protecting and blessing him and his family, as well as evidencing God’s control over the other earthly creation—animals and birds. (Ge 6:9–7:16) Jehovah likewise made clear that he would not allow alienated human society to corrupt the earth endlessly; that he had not restricted himself as to executing his righteous judgment against wrongdoers when and as he saw fit. Additionally he demonstrated his sovereign ability to control earth’s various elements, including its atmosphere.—Ge 6:3, 5-7; 7:17–8:22. The early post-Flood society and its problems. Following the Flood, a patriarchal arrangement apparently was the basic structure of human society, providing a measure of stability and order. Mankind was to “fill the earth,” which called not merely for procreating but for the steady extension of the area of human habitation throughout the globe. (Ge 9:1, 7) These factors, of themselves, would reasonably have had a limiting effect on any social problems, keeping them generally within the family circle and making unlikely the friction that frequently develops where density of population or crowded conditions exist. The unauthorized project at Babel, however, called for an opposite course, for a concentrating of people, avoiding being “scattered over all the surface of the earth.” (Ge 11:1-4; see LANGUAGE.) Then, too, Nimrod departed from the patriarchal rule and set up the first “kingdom” (Heb., mam·la·khah′). A Cushite of the family line of Ham, he invaded Shemite territory, the land of Asshur (Assyria), and built cities there as part of his realm.—Ge 10:8-12. God’s confusion of human language broke up the concentration of people on the Plains of Shinar, but the pattern of rulership begun by Nimrod was generally followed in the lands to which the various families of mankind migrated. In the days of Abraham (2018-1843 B.C.E.), kingdoms were active from Asian Mesopotamia on down to Egypt, where the king was titled “Pharaoh” rather than Me′lekh. But these kingships did not bring security. Kings were soon forming military alliances, waging far-ranging campaigns of aggression, plunder, and kidnapping. (Ge 14:1-12) In some cities strangers were subject to attack by homosexuals.—Ge 19:4-9. Thus, whereas men doubtless banded together in concentrated communities in search of security (compare Ge 4:14-17), they soon found it necessary to wall their cities and eventually fortify them against armed attack. The earliest secular records known, many of them from the Mesopotamian region where Nimrod’s kingdom had originally operated, are heavy with accounts of human conflict, greed, intrigue, and bloodshed. The most ancient non-Biblical law records found, such as those of Lipit-Ishtar, Eshnunna, and Hammurabi, show that human living had become very complex, with social friction producing problems of theft, fraud, commercial difficulties, disputes about property and payment of rent, questions regarding loans and interest, marital infidelity, medical fees and failures, assault and battery cases, and many other matters. Though Hammurabi called himself “the efficient king” and “the perfect king,” his rule and legislation, like that of the other ancient political kingdoms, was incapable of solving the problems of sinful mankind. (Ancient Near Eastern Texts, edited by J. B. Pritchard, 1974, pp. 159-180; compare Pr 28:5.) In all these kingdoms religion was prominent, but not the worship of the true God. Though the priesthood collaborated closely with the ruling class and enjoyed royal favor, this brought no moral improvement to the people. The cuneiform inscriptions of the ancient religious writings are devoid of spiritual uplift or moral guidance; they betray the gods worshiped as quarrelsome, violent, lustful, not governed by righteous standards or purpose. Men needed Jehovah God’s kingdom if they were to enjoy life in peace and happiness. Toward Abraham and His Descendants. True, those individuals who looked to Jehovah God as their Head were not without their personal problems and frictions. Yet they were helped to solve these or to endure them in a way conforming to God’s righteous standards and without becoming degraded. They were afforded divine protection and strength. (Ge 13:5-11; 14:18-24; 19:15-24; 21:9-13, 22-33) Thus, after pointing out that Jehovah’s “judicial decisions are in all the earth,” the psalmist says of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: “They happened to be few in number, yes, very few, and alien residents in [Canaan]. And they kept walking about from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people. [Jehovah] did not allow any human to defraud them, but on their account he reproved kings, saying: ‘Do not you men touch my anointed ones, and to my prophets do nothing bad.’” (Ps 105:7-15; compare Ge 12:10-20; 20:1-18; 31:22-24, 36-55.) This, too, was proof that God’s sovereignty over earth was still in effect, enforceable by him in harmony with the development of his purpose. The faithful patriarchs did not attach themselves to any of the city-states or kingdoms of Canaan or other lands. Rather than seek security in some city under the political rule of a human king, they lived in tents as aliens, “strangers and temporary residents in the land,” in faith “awaiting the city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God.” They accepted God as their Ruler, waited for his future heavenly arrangement, or agency, for governing the earth, solidly founded on his sovereign authority and will, though the realization of this hope was then “afar off.” (Heb 11:8-10, 13-16) Thus, Jesus, already anointed by God to be king, could later say: “Abraham . . . rejoiced greatly in the prospect of seeing my day, and he saw it and rejoiced.”—Joh 8:56. Jehovah brought the development of his promise regarding the Kingdom “seed” (Ge 3:15) a step farther by the establishing of a covenant with Abraham. (Ge 12:1-3; 22:15-18) In connection therewith, he foretold that ‘kings would come’ from Abraham (Abram) and his wife. (Ge 17:1-6, 15, 16) Though the descendants of Abraham’s grandson Esau formed sheikdoms and kingdoms, it was to Abraham’s other grandson, Jacob, that God’s prophetic promise of kingly descendants was repeated.—Ge 35:11, 12; 36:9, 15-43. Formation of the Israelite nation. Centuries later, at the due time (Ge 15:13-16), Jehovah God acted on behalf of Jacob’s descendants, now numbering into the millions (see EXODUS [The Number Involved in the Exodus]), protecting them during a campaign of genocide by the Egyptian government (Ex 1:15-22) and finally freeing them from harsh slavery to Egypt’s regime. (Ex 2:23-25) God’s command to Pharaoh, delivered through his agents Moses and Aaron, was spurned by the Egyptian ruler as proceeding from a source with no authority over Egyptian affairs. Pharaoh’s repeated refusal to recognize Jehovah’s sovereignty brought demonstrations of divine power in the form of plagues. (Ex 7 to 12) God thereby proved that his dominion over earth’s elements and creatures was superior to that of any king in all the earth. (Ex 9:13-16) He climaxed this display of sovereign power by destroying Pharaoh’s forces in a way that none of the boastful warrior kings of the nations could ever have duplicated. (Ex 14:26-31) With real basis, Moses and the Israelites sang: “Jehovah will rule as king to time indefinite, even forever.”—Ex 15:1-19. Thereafter Jehovah gave added proof of his dominion over earth, its vital water resources, and its bird life, and he showed his ability to guard and sustain his nation even in arid and hostile surroundings. (Ex 15:22–17:15) Having done all of this, he addressed the liberated people, telling them that, by obedience to his authority and covenant, they could become his special property out of all other peoples, “because the whole earth belongs to me.” They could become “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Ex 19:3-6) When they went on record as willing subjects of his sovereignty, Jehovah acted as Kingly Legislator by giving them royal decrees in a large body of laws, accompanying this by dynamic and awe-inspiring evidence of his power and glory. (Ex 19:7–24:18) A tabernacle or tent of meeting, and particularly its ark, was to indicate the presence of the invisible heavenly Head of State. (Ex 25:8, 21, 22; 33:7-11; compare Re 21:3.) Although Moses and other appointed men judged the majority of cases, guided by God’s law, Jehovah intervened personally at times to express judgments and apply sanctions against lawbreakers. (Ex 18:13-16, 24-26; 32:25-35) The ordained priesthood acted to maintain good relations between the nation and its heavenly Ruler, helping the people in their efforts to conform to the high standards of the Law covenant. (See PRIEST.) Thus the government over Israel was a genuine theocracy.—De 33:2, 5. As God and Creator, holding the right of “eminent domain” over all the earth, as well as being “the Judge of all the earth” (Ge 18:25), Jehovah had assigned the land of Canaan to Abraham’s seed. (Ge 12:5-7; 15:17-21) As Chief Executive, he now ordered the Israelites to carry out the forcible expropriation of the territory held by the condemned Canaanites, as well as his death sentence against them.—De 9:1-5; see CANAAN, CANAANITE No. 2 (Conquest of Canaan by Israel). The period of the Judges. For three and a half centuries after Israel’s conquest of Canaan’s many kingdoms, Jehovah God was the nation’s only king. During varying periods, Judges, chosen by God, led the nation or portions thereof in battle and in peace. Judge Gideon’s defeat of Midian brought a popular request that he become the nation’s ruler, but he refused, acknowledging Jehovah as the true ruler. (Jg 8:22, 23) His ambitious son Abimelech briefly established kingship over a small segment of the nation, but this ended in personal disaster.—Jg 9:1, 6, 22, 53-56. Of this general period of the Judges, the comment is made: “In those days there was no king in Israel. As for everybody, what was right in his own eyes he was accustomed to do.” (Jg 17:6; 21:25) This does not imply that there was no judicial restraint. Every city had judges, older men, to handle legal questions and problems and to mete out justice. (De 16:18-20; see COURT, JUDICIAL.) The Levitical priesthood functioned as a superior guiding force, educating the people in God’s law, the high priest having the Urim and Thummim by which to consult God on difficult matters. (See HIGH PRIEST; PRIEST; URIM AND THUMMIM.) So, the individual who availed himself of these provisions, who gained knowledge of God’s law and applied it, had a sound guide for his conscience. His doing “what was right in his own eyes” in such case would not result in bad. Jehovah allowed the people to show a willing or unwilling attitude and course. There was no human monarch over the nation supervising the work of the city judges or commanding the citizens to engage in particular projects or marshaling them for defense of the nation. (Compare Jg 5:1-18.) The bad conditions that developed, therefore, were chargeable to the unwillingness of the majority to heed the word and law of their heavenly King and to avail themselves of his provisions.—Jg 2:11-23. A Human King Requested. Nearly 400 years from the time of the Exodus and over 800 years from the making of God’s covenant with Abraham, the Israelites requested a human king to lead them, even as the other nations had human monarchs. Their request constituted a rejection of Jehovah’s own kingship over them. (1Sa 8:4-8) True, the people properly expected a kingdom to be established by God in harmony with his promise to Abraham and to Jacob, already cited. They had further basis for such hope in Jacob’s deathbed prophecy concerning Judah (Ge 49:8-10), in Jehovah’s words to Israel after the Exodus (Ex 19:3-6), in the terms of the Law covenant (De 17:14, 15), and even in part of the message God caused the prophet Balaam to speak (Nu 24:2-7, 17). Samuel’s faithful mother Hannah expressed this hope in prayer. (1Sa 2:7-10) Nevertheless, Jehovah had not fully revealed his “sacred secret” regarding the Kingdom and had not indicated when his due time for its establishment would arrive nor what the structure and composition of that government would be—whether it would be earthly or heavenly. It was therefore presumptuous on the part of the people now to demand a human king. The menace of Philistine and Ammonite aggression evidently contributed to the Israelites’ desire for a visible royal commander-in-chief. They thus displayed a lack of faith in God’s ability to protect, guide, and provide for them, as a nation or as individuals. (1Sa 8:4-8) The people’s motive was wrong; yet Jehovah God granted their request not for their sake primarily but to accomplish his own good purpose in the progressive revelation of the “sacred secret” of his future Kingdom by the “seed.” Human kingship would bring its problems and expense for Israel, however, and Jehovah laid the facts before the people.—1Sa 8:9-22. The kings thereafter appointed by Jehovah were to serve as God’s earthly agents, not diminishing in the least Jehovah’s own sovereignty over the nation. The throne was actually Jehovah’s, and they sat thereon as deputy kings. (1Ch 29:23) Jehovah commanded the anointing of the first king, Saul (1Sa 9:15-17), at the same time exposing the lack of faith the nation had displayed.—1Sa 10:17-25. For the kingship to bring benefits, both king and nation must now respect God’s authority. If they unrealistically looked to other sources for direction and protection, they and their king would be swept away. (De 28:36; 1Sa 12:13-15, 20-25) The king was to avoid reliance on military strength, the multiplying of wives for himself, and being dominated by the lust for wealth. His kingship was to operate entirely within the framework of the Law covenant. He was under divine orders to write his own copy of that Law and read it daily, that he might keep a proper fear of the Sovereign Authority, stay humble, and hold to a righteous course. (De 17:16-20) To the extent that he did this, loving God wholeheartedly and loving his neighbor as himself, his rule would bring blessings, with no real cause for complaint due to oppression or hardship. But, as with the people, so now with their kings, Jehovah allowed the rulers to demonstrate what their hearts contained, their willingness or unwillingness to recognize God’s own authority and will. David’s Exemplary Rule. Disrespect by the Benjamite Saul for the superior authority and arrangements of “the Excellency of Israel” brought divine disfavor and cost his family line the throne. (1Sa 13:10-14; 15:17-29; 1Ch 10:13, 14) With the rule of Saul’s successor, David of Judah, Jacob’s deathbed prophecy saw further fulfillment. (Ge 49:8-10) Though David committed errors through human weakness, his rule was exemplary because of his heartfelt devotion to Jehovah God and his humble submission to divine authority. (Ps 51:1-4; 1Sa 24:10-14; compare 1Ki 11:4; 15:11, 14.) At the time of receiving contributions for the temple construction, David prayed to God before the congregated people, saying: “Yours, O Jehovah, are the greatness and the mightiness and the beauty and the excellency and the dignity; for everything in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Jehovah, the One also lifting yourself up as head over all. The riches and the glory are on account of you, and you are dominating everything; and in your hand there are power and mightiness, and in your hand is ability to make great and to give strength to all. And now, O our God, we are thanking you and praising your beauteous name.” (1Ch 29:10-13) His final counsel to his son Solomon also illustrates David’s fine viewpoint of the relationship between the earthly kingship and its divine Source.—1Ki 2:1-4. On the occasion of bringing the ark of the covenant, associated with Jehovah’s presence, to the capital, Jerusalem, David sang: “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be joyful, and let them say among the nations, ‘Jehovah himself has become king!’” (1Ch 16:1, 7, 23-31) This illustrates the fact that, though Jehovah’s rulership dates from the beginning of creation, he can make specific expressions of his rulership or establish certain agencies to represent him that allow for his being spoken of as ‘becoming king’ at a particular time or occasion. The covenant for a kingdom. Jehovah made a covenant with David for a kingdom to be established everlastingly in his family line, saying: “I shall certainly raise up your seed after you, . . . and I shall indeed firmly establish his kingdom. . . . And your house and your kingdom will certainly be steadfast to time indefinite before you; your very throne will become one firmly established to time indefinite.” (2Sa 7:12-16; 1Ch 17:11-14) This covenant in force toward the Davidic dynasty provided further evidence of the outworking of God’s Edenic promise for his Kingdom by the foretold “seed” (Ge 3:15) and supplied additional means for identifying that “seed” when he should come. (Compare Isa 9:6, 7; 1Pe 1:11.) The kings appointed by God were anointed for their office, hence the term “messiah,” meaning “anointed one,” applied to them. (1Sa 16:1; Ps 132:13, 17) Clearly, then, the earthly kingdom Jehovah established over Israel served as a type or small-scale representation of the coming Kingdom by the Messiah, Jesus Christ, “son of David.”—Mt 1:1. Decline and Fall of the Israelite Kingdoms. Because of failure to adhere to Jehovah’s righteous ways, conditions at the end of just three reigns and the start of the fourth produced strong discontent that led to revolt and a split in the nation (997 B.C.E.). A northern kingdom and a southern one resulted. Jehovah’s covenant with David nevertheless continued in force toward the kings of the southern kingdom of Judah. Over the centuries, faithful kings were rare in Judah, and were completely lacking in the northern kingdom of Israel. The northern kingdom’s history was one of idolatry, intrigue, and assassinations, kings often following one another in rapid succession. The people suffered injustice and oppression. About 250 years from its start, Jehovah allowed the king of Assyria to crush the northern kingdom (740 B.C.E.) because of its course of rebellion against God.—Ho 4:1, 2; Am 2:6-8. Though the kingdom of Judah enjoyed greater stability because of the Davidic dynasty, the southern kingdom eventually surpassed the northern kingdom in its moral corruption, despite the efforts of God-fearing kings, such as Hezekiah and Josiah, to roll back the decline toward idolatry and rejection of Jehovah’s word and authority. (Isa 1:1-4; Eze 23:1-4, 11) Social injustice, tyranny, greed, dishonesty, bribes, sexual perversion, criminal attacks, and bloodshed, as well as religious hypocrisy that converted God’s temple into a “cave of robbers”—all of these were decried by Jehovah’s prophets in their warning messages delivered to rulers and people. (Isa 1:15-17, 21-23; 3:14, 15; Jer 5:1, 2, 7, 8, 26-28, 31; 6:6, 7; 7:8-11) Neither the support of apostate priests nor any political alliance made with other nations could avoid the coming crash of that unfaithful kingdom. (Jer 6:13-15; 37:7-10) The capital city, Jerusalem, was destroyed and Judah was laid waste by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E.—2Ki 25:1-26. Jehovah’s kingly position remains unmarred. The destruction of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in no way reflected on the quality of Jehovah God’s own rulership; in no way did it indicate weakness on his part. Throughout the history of the Israelite nation, Jehovah made clear that his interest was in willing service and obedience. (De 10:12-21; 30:6, 15-20; Isa 1:18-20; Eze 18:25-32) He instructed, reproved, disciplined, warned, and punished. But he did not use his power to force either the king or the people to follow a righteous course. The bad conditions that developed, the suffering experienced, the disaster that befell them, were all of their own making, because they stubbornly hardened their hearts and insisted on following an independent course, one that was stupidly damaging to their own best interests.—La 1:8, 9; Ne 9:26-31, 34-37; Isa 1:2-7; Jer 8:5-9; Ho 7:10, 11. Jehovah exhibited his Sovereign power by holding in abeyance the aggressive, rapacious powers of Assyria and Babylon until his own due time, even maneuvering them so that they acted in fulfillment of his prophecies. (Eze 21:18-23; Isa 10:5-7) When Jehovah finally removed his defenses from around the nation, it was an expression of his righteous judgment as Sovereign Ruler. (Jer 35:17) The desolation of Israel and Judah came as no shocking surprise to God’s obedient servants who were forewarned by his prophecies. The abasing of haughty rulers exalted Jehovah’s own “splendid superiority.” (Isa 2:1, 10-17) More than all of this, however, he had demonstrated his ability to protect and preserve individuals who looked to him as their King, even when they were surrounded by conditions of famine, disease, and wholesale slaughter, as well as when they were persecuted by those hating righteousness.—Jer 34:17-21; 20:10, 11; 35:18, 19; 36:26; 37:18-21; 38:7-13; 39:11–40:5. Israel’s last king was warned of the coming removal of his crown, representing anointed kingship as Jehovah’s royal representative. That anointed Davidic kingship would no longer be exercised “until he comes who has the legal right, and I [Jehovah] must give it to him.” (Eze 21:25-27) Thus, the typical kingdom, now in ruins, ceased to function, and attention was again directed forward, toward the coming “seed,” the Messiah. Political nations, such as Assyria and Babylon, devastated the apostate kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Though God speaks of himself as ‘raising up’ or ‘bringing’ them against those condemned kingdoms (De 28:49; Jer 5:15; 25:8, 9; Eze 7:24; Am 6:14), this was evidently in a sense similar to God’s ‘hardening’ the heart of Pharaoh. (See FOREKNOWLEDGE, FOREORDINATION [Concerning individuals].) That is, God ‘brought’ these attacking forces by permitting them to carry out the desire already in their heart (Isa 10:7; La 2:16; Mic 4:11), removing his protective ‘hand’ from over the objects of their ambitious greed. (De 31:17, 18; compare Ezr 8:31 with Ezr 5:12; Ne 9:28-31; Jer 34:2.) The apostate Israelites, stubbornly refusing to subject themselves to Jehovah’s law and will, thus were given ‘liberty to the sword, pestilence, and famine.’ (Jer 34:17) But the attacking pagan nations did not thereby become approved of God, nor did they have ‘clean hands’ before him in their ruthless destruction of the northern and southern kingdoms, the capital city of Jerusalem, and its sacred temple. Hence, Jehovah, the Judge of all the earth, could rightly denounce them for ‘pillaging his inheritance’ and could doom them to suffer the same desolation they had wreaked on his covenant people.—Isa 10:12-14; 13:1, 17-22; 14:4-6, 12-14, 26, 27; 47:5-11; Jer 50:11, 14, 17-19, 23-29. Visions of Kingdom of God in Daniel’s Day. The prophecy of Daniel in its entirety emphatically stresses the theme of the Universal Sovereignty of God, further clarifying Jehovah’s purpose. Living in exile in the capital of the world power that overthrew Judah, Daniel was used by God to reveal the significance of a vision had by the Babylonian monarch, a vision that foretold the march of world powers and their eventual demolition by the everlasting Kingdom of Jehovah’s own establishment. Doubtless to the amazement of his royal court, Nebuchadnezzar, the very conqueror of Jerusalem, was now moved to prostrate himself in homage to Daniel the exile and to acknowledge Daniel’s God as “a Lord of kings.” (Da 2:36-47) Again, by Nebuchadnezzar’s dream vision of the ‘chopped-down tree,’ Jehovah forcefully made known that “the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind and that to the one whom he wants to, he gives it and he sets up over it even the lowliest one of mankind.” (Da 4; see the discussion of this vision under APPOINTED TIMES OF THE NATIONS.) Through the fulfillment of the dream as it related to him, imperial ruler Nebuchadnezzar once more was brought to recognize Daniel’s God as “the King of the heavens,” the One who “is doing according to his own will among the army of the heavens and the inhabitants of the earth. And there exists no one that can check his hand or that can say to him, ‘What have you been doing?’”—Da 4:34-37. Toward the close of Babylon’s international dominance, Daniel saw prophetic visions of successive empires, beastlike in their characteristics; he saw also Jehovah’s majestic heavenly Court in session, passing judgment on the world powers, decreeing them unworthy of rulership; and he beheld “someone like a son of man . . . [being] given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him” in his “indefinitely lasting rulership that will not pass away.” He witnessed as well the war waged against “the holy ones” by the final world power, calling for its annihilation, and the giving of “the kingdom and the rulership and the grandeur of the kingdoms under all the heavens . . . to the people who are the holy ones of the Supreme One,” Jehovah God. (Da 7, 8) Thus, it became evident that the promised “seed” would involve a governmental body with not only a kingly head, the “son of man,” but also associate rulers, “the holy ones of the Supreme One.” Toward Babylon and Medo-Persia. God’s inexorable decree against mighty Babylon was carried out suddenly and unexpectedly; her days were numbered and brought to a finish. (Da 5:17-30) During the Medo-Persian rule that followed, Jehovah made further revelation concerning the Messianic Kingdom, pointing to the time of Messiah’s appearance, foretelling his being “cut off,” as well as a second destruction of the city of Jerusalem and its holy place. (Da 9:1, 24-27; see SEVENTY WEEKS.) And, as he had done during the Babylonian rule, Jehovah God again demonstrated his ability to protect those recognizing his sovereignty in the face of official anger and the threat of death, exhibiting his power over both earthly elements and wild beasts. (Da 3:13-29; 6:12-27) He caused Babylon’s gates to swing wide open on schedule, allowing his covenant people to have the freedom to return to their own land and rebuild Jehovah’s house there. (2Ch 36:20-23) Because of his act of liberating his people, the announcement could be made to Zion, “Your God has become king!” (Isa 52:7-11) Thereafter, conspiracies against his people were thwarted and misrepresentation by subordinate officials and adverse governmental decrees were overcome, as Jehovah moved various Persian kings to cooperate with the carrying out of his own sovereign will.—Ezr 4-7; Ne 2, 4, 6; Es 3-9. Thus, for thousands of years the changeless, irresistible purpose of Jehovah God moved forward. Regardless of the turn of events on earth, he proved to be ever in command of the situation, always ahead of opposing man and devil. Nothing was allowed to interfere with the perfect outworking of his purpose, his will. The nation of Israel and its history, while serving to form prophetic types and forecasts of the future dealings of God with men, also illustrated that without wholehearted recognition and submission to divine headship there can be no lasting harmony, peace, and happiness. The Israelites enjoyed the benefits of having in common such things as ancestry, language, and country. They also faced common foes. But only as long as they loyally and faithfully worshiped and served Jehovah God did they have unity, strength, justice, and genuine enjoyment of life. When the bonds of relationship with Jehovah God weakened, the nation deteriorated rapidly. The Kingdom of God ‘Draws Near.’ Since the Messiah was to be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a member of the tribe of Judah, and a “son of David,” he had to have a human birth; he had to be, as Daniel’s prophecy declared, “a son of man.” When the “full limit of the time arrived,” Jehovah God sent forth his Son, who was born of a woman and who fulfilled all the legal requirements for the inheritance of “the throne of David his father.” (Ga 4:4; Lu 1:26-33; see GENEALOGY OF JESUS CHRIST.) Six months before his birth, John, who became the Baptizer and who was to be Jesus’ forerunner, had been born. (Lu 1:13-17, 36) The expressions of the parents of these sons showed they were living in eager anticipation of divine acts of rulership. (Lu 1:41-55, 68-79) At Jesus’ birth, the words of the angelic deputation sent to announce the meaning of the event also pointed to glorious acts by God. (Lu 2:9-14) So, too, the words of Simeon and Anna at the temple expressed hope in saving acts and liberation. (Lu 2:25-38) Both the Biblical record and secular evidence reveal that a general feeling of expectation prevailed among the Jews that the coming of the Messiah was drawing near. With many, however, interest was primarily in gaining freedom from the heavy yoke of Roman domination.—See MESSIAH. John’s commission was to ‘turn back the hearts’ of persons to Jehovah, to his covenants, to “the privilege of fearlessly rendering sacred service to him with loyalty and righteousness,” thereby getting ready for Jehovah “a prepared people.” (Lu 1:16, 17, 72-75) He told the people in no uncertain terms that they were facing a time of judgment by God, that ‘the kingdom of the heavens had drawn near,’ making urgent their turning away repentantly from their course of disobedience to God’s will and law. This again emphasized Jehovah’s standard of having only willing subjects, persons who both recognize and appreciate the rightness of his ways and laws.—Mt 3:1, 2, 7-12. The Messiah came when Jesus presented himself to John for baptism and was then anointed by God’s holy spirit. (Mt 3:13-17) He thereby became the King-Designate, the One recognized by Jehovah’s Court as having the legal right to the Davidic throne, a right that had not been exercised during the preceding six centuries. (See JESUS CHRIST [His Baptism].) But Jehovah additionally brought this approved Son into a covenant for a heavenly Kingdom, in which Jesus would be both King and Priest, as Melchizedek of ancient Salem had been. (Ps 110:1-4; Lu 22:29; Heb 5:4-6; 7:1-3; 8:1; see COVENANT.) As the promised ‘seed of Abraham,’ this heavenly King-Priest would be God’s Chief Agent for blessing persons of all nations.—Ge 22:15-18; Ga 3:14; Ac 3:15. Early in his Son’s earthly life, Jehovah had manifested his kingly power on Jesus’ behalf. God diverted the Oriental astrologers who were going to inform tyrannical King Herod of the young child’s whereabouts, and he caused Jesus’ parents to slip away into Egypt before Herod’s agents carried out the massacre of infants in Bethlehem. (Mt 2:1-16) Since the original prophecy in Eden had foretold enmity between the promised “seed” and the ‘seed of the serpent,’ this attempt on Jesus’ life could only mean that God’s Adversary, Satan the Devil, was trying, however futilely, to frustrate Jehovah’s purpose.—Ge 3:15. After some 40 days in the Judean Wilderness, the baptized Jesus was confronted by this principal opponent of Jehovah’s sovereignty. By some means, the spirit Adversary conveyed to Jesus certain subtle suggestions designed to draw him into acts violating Jehovah’s expressed will and word. Satan even offered to give to the anointed Jesus dominion over all earthly kingdoms without a struggle and without any need for suffering on Jesus’ part—in exchange for one act of worship toward himself. When Jesus refused, acknowledging Jehovah as the one true Sovereign from whom authority rightly proceeds and to whom worship goes, God’s Adversary began drawing up other plans of war strategy against Jehovah’s Representative, resorting to the use of human agents in various ways, as he had done long before in the case of Job.—Job 1:8-18; Mt 4:1-11; Lu 4:1-13; compare Re 13:1, 2. In what way was God’s Kingdom ‘in the midst’ of those to whom Jesus preached? Trusting in Jehovah’s power to protect him and grant him success, Jesus entered his public ministry, announcing to Jehovah’s covenant people that “the appointed time has been fulfilled,” resulting in the approach of the Kingdom of God. (Mr 1:14, 15) In determining in what sense the Kingdom was “near,” his words to certain Pharisees may be noted, namely, that “the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Lu 17:21) Commenting on this text, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible observes: “Although frequently cited as an example of Jesus’ ‘mysticism’ or ‘inwardness,’ this interpretation rests chiefly upon the old translation, ‘within you,’ [KJ, Dy] understood in the unfortunate modern sense of ‘you’ as singular; the ‘you’ ([hy·mon′]) is plural (Jesus is addressing the Pharisees—vs. 20) . . . The theory that the kingdom of God is an inner state of mind, or of personal salvation, runs counter to the context of this verse, and also to the whole NT presentation of the idea.” (Edited by G. A. Buttrick, 1962, Vol. 2, p. 883) Since “kingdom [ba·si·lei′a]” can refer to the “royal dignity,” it is evident that Jesus meant that he, God’s royal representative, the one anointed by God for the kingship, was in their midst. Not only was he present in this capacity but he also had authority to perform works manifesting God’s kingly power and to prepare candidates for positions within his coming Kingdom rule. Hence the ‘nearness’ of the Kingdom; it was a time of tremendous opportunity. Government with power and authority. Jesus’ disciples understood the Kingdom to be an actual government of God, though they did not comprehend the reach of its domain. Nathanael said to Jesus: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are King of Israel.” (Joh 1:49) They knew the things foretold about “the holy ones” in the prophecy of Daniel. (Da 7:18, 27) Jesus directly promised his apostolic followers that they would occupy “thrones.” (Mt 19:28) James and John sought certain privileged positions in the Messianic government, and Jesus acknowledged that there would be such privileged positions, but he stated that the assigning of these rested with his Father, the Sovereign Ruler. (Mt 20:20-23; Mr 10:35-40) So, whereas his disciples mistakenly limited Messiah’s kingly rule to earth and specifically to fleshly Israel, even doing so on the day of the resurrected Jesus’ ascension (Ac 1:6), they correctly understood that it referred to a governmental arrangement.—Compare Mt 21:5; Mr 11:7-10. Jehovah’s kingly power toward his earthly creation was visibly demonstrated in many ways by his royal Representative. By God’s spirit, or active force, his Son exercised control over wind and sea, vegetation, fish, and even over the organic elements in food, causing the food to be multiplied. These powerful works caused his disciples to develop deep respect for the authority that he had. (Mt 14:23-33; Mr 4:36-41; 11:12-14, 20-23; Lu 5:4-11; Joh 6:5-15) Even more profoundly impressive was his exercise of God’s power over human bodies, healing afflictions ranging from blindness to leprosy, and restoring the dead to life. (Mt 9:35; 20:30-34; Lu 5:12, 13; 7:11-17; Joh 11:39-47) Healed lepers he sent to report to the divinely authorized, but generally unbelieving, priesthood, as “a witness to them.” (Lu 5:14; 17:14) Finally, he showed God’s power over superhuman spirits. The demons recognized the authority invested in Jesus and, rather than risk a decisive test of the power backing him up, they acceded to his orders to release persons possessed by them. (Mt 8:28-32; 9:32, 33; compare Jas 2:19.) Since this powerful expulsion of demons was by God’s spirit, this meant that the Kingdom of God had really “overtaken” his listeners.—Mt 12:25-29; compare Lu 9:42, 43. All of this was solid proof that Jesus had kingly authority and that this authority came from no earthly, human, political source. (Compare Joh 18:36; Isa 9:6, 7.) Messengers from the imprisoned John the Baptizer, as witnesses of these powerful works, were instructed by Jesus to go back to John and tell him what they had seen and heard as confirmation that Jesus was indeed “the Coming One.” (Mt 11:2-6; Lu 7:18-23; compare Joh 5:36.) Jesus’ disciples were seeing and hearing the evidence of Kingdom authority that the prophets had longed to witness. (Mt 13:16, 17) Moreover, Jesus was able to delegate authority to his disciples so that they could exercise similar powers as his appointed deputies, thereby giving force and weight to their proclamation, “The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.”—Mt 10:1, 7, 8; Lu 4:36; 10:8-12, 17. Entrance Into the Kingdom. Jesus emphasized the special period of opportunity that had thus arrived. Of his forerunner John the Baptizer, Jesus said: “Among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is. But from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of the heavens is the goal toward which men press [bi·a′ze·tai], and those pressing forward [bi·a·stai′] are seizing it. [Compare AT; also the Zürcher Bibel (German).] For all, the Prophets and the Law, prophesied until John.” (Mt 11:10-13) Thus, the days of John’s ministry, which were soon to end with his execution, marked the close of one period, the start of another. Of the Greek verb bi·a′zo·mai used in this text, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says, “The verb suggests forceful endeavour.” (1981, Vol. 3, p. 208) Regarding Matthew 11:12, German scholar Heinrich Meyer states: “In this way is described that eager, irresistible striving and struggling after the approaching Messianic kingdom . . . So eager and energetic (no longer calm and expectant) is the interest in regard to the kingdom. The [bi·a·stai′] are, accordingly, believers [not enemy attackers] struggling hard for its possession.”—Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Hand-Book to the Gospel of Matthew, 1884, p. 225. Membership in the Kingdom of God, therefore, would not be easy to gain, not like approaching an open city with little or nothing to make entrance difficult. Rather, the Sovereign, Jehovah God, had placed barriers to shut out any not worthy. (Compare Joh 6:44; 1Co 6:9-11; Ga 5:19-21; Eph 5:5.) Those who would enter must traverse a narrow road, find the narrow gate, keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking, and the way would be opened. They would find the way to be “narrow” in that it restricts those who follow it from doing things that would result in injury to themselves or others. (Mt 7:7, 8, 13, 14; compare 2Pe 1:10, 11.) They might figuratively have to lose an eye or a hand to gain entrance. (Mr 9:43-47) The Kingdom would be no plutocracy in which one could buy the King’s favor; it would be a difficult thing for a rich man (Gr., plou′si·os) to enter. (Lu 18:24, 25) It would be no worldly aristocracy; prominent position among men would not count. (Mt 23:1, 2, 6-12, 33; Lu 16:14-16) Those apparently “first,” having an impressive religious background and record, would be “last,” and the ‘last would be first’ to receive the favored privileges connected with that Kingdom. (Mt 19:30–20:16) The prominent but hypocritical Pharisees, confident of their advantageous position, would see reformed harlots and tax collectors enter the Kingdom before them. (Mt 21:31, 32; 23:13) Though calling Jesus “Lord, Lord,” all hypocritical persons disrespecting the word and will of God as revealed through Jesus would be turned away with the words: “I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.”—Mt 7:15-23. Those gaining entrance would be those putting material interests secondary and seeking first the Kingdom and God’s righteousness. (Mt 6:31-34) Like God’s anointed King, Christ Jesus, they would love righteousness and hate wickedness. (Heb 1:8, 9) Spiritually minded, merciful, purehearted, peaceable persons, though the objects of reproach and persecution by men, would become prospective members of the Kingdom. (Mt 5:3-10; Lu 6:23) The “yoke” Jesus invited such ones to take upon themselves meant submission to his kingly authority. It was a kindly yoke, however, with a light load for those who were “mild-tempered and lowly in heart” as was the King. (Mt 11:28-30; compare 1Ki 12:12-14; Jer 27:1-7.) This should have had a heartwarming effect on his listeners, assuring them that his rule would have none of the undesirable qualities of many earlier rulers, both Israelite and non-Israelite. It gave them reason to believe that his rule would bring no burdensome taxation, forced servitude, or forms of exploitation. (Compare 1Sa 8:10-18; De 17:15-17, 20; Eph 5:5.) As Jesus’ later words showed, not only would the Head of the coming Kingdom government prove his unselfishness to the point of giving his life for his people but all those associated with him in that government would also be persons who sought to serve rather than be served.—Mt 20:25-28; see JESUS CHRIST (His Works and Personal Qualities). Willing submission vital. Jesus himself had the deepest respect for the Sovereign will and authority of his Father. (Joh 5:30; 6:38; Mt 26:39) As long as the Law covenant was in effect, his Jewish followers were to practice and advocate obedience to it; any taking an opposite course would be rejected as regards his Kingdom. This respect and obedience, however, must be from the heart, not a mere formal or one-sided observing of the Law with emphasis on specific acts required, but the observing of basic principles inherent therein involving justice, mercy, and faithfulness. (Mt 5:17-20; 23:23, 24) To the scribe who acknowledged Jehovah’s unique position and who recognized that “loving him with one’s whole heart and with one’s whole understanding and with one’s whole strength and this loving one’s neighbor as oneself is worth far more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices,” Jesus said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mr 12:28-34) Thus, in all respects Jesus made clear that Jehovah God seeks only willing subjects, those who prefer his righteous ways and desire fervently to live under his Sovereign authority. Covenant relationship. On his last night with his disciples, Jesus spoke to them of a “new covenant” to become operative toward his followers as a result of his ransom sacrifice (Lu 22:19, 20; compare 12:32); he himself would serve as the Mediator of that covenant between Jehovah the Sovereign and Jesus’ followers. (1Ti 2:5; Heb 12:24) Additionally, Jesus made a personal covenant with his followers “for a kingdom,” that they might join him in his royal privileges.—Lu 22:28-30; see COVENANT. Conquest of the world. Although Jesus’ subsequent arrest, trials, and execution made his kingly position appear weak, in reality it marked a powerful fulfillment of God’s prophecies and was allowed by God for that reason. (Joh 19:10, 11; Lu 24:19-27, 44) By his loyalty and integrity until death, Jesus proved that “the ruler of the world,” God’s Adversary, Satan, had “no hold” on him and that Jesus had indeed “conquered the world.” (Joh 14:29-31; 16:33) Additionally, even while his Son was impaled on the stake, Jehovah gave evidence of his superior power: The light of the sun was blacked out for a time; there was also a strong earthquake and the ripping in two of the large curtain in the temple. (Mt 27:51-54; Lu

Syria, Damascus and Bible Prophecy. Is it time?

Some Christians believe Old Testament references to a destroyed Damascus and the Second Coming may very well come true as the United States prepares for a possible attack on Syria.

In The Holy Bible, the prophet Isaiah warns of a prophecy: “‘Behold, Damascus is about to be removed from being a city and will become a fallen ruin,” the passage Isaiah 17:1-3 reads.

The capital of Syria, destroyed and uninhabitable, the Bible says.

In light of Syria’s escalating civil war - including allegations that the government unleashed a chemical attack on civilians and the United States contemplating an air strike in return - several Christian blogs have linked the events there to the end of the world. In one, the author recommends to “keep watching the Middle East as we head towards the end of the age.”

“We don’t know the timing of those verses and passages, but Isaiah 17, it could be tomorrow, it could be in 10 years, in 100 years,” said Jan Markell, founder and program host at Olive Tree Ministries. “To say what’s happening now [in Syria] is going to lead to that would be pretty reckless but I think it’s safe to say what’s happening could lead to that.”

Markell, whose radio show discusses current events and their link to end of world Bible prophecies, believes a chemical weapon could level Damascus for the first time in its history, and could refer to the Bible’s reference of the city being uninhabitable.

Markell also believes the destruction of Damascus in the Bible is linked to Jesus’ Second Coming: “Yes, it [Damascus] is all [connected to] an end of time scenario.”

Others believe the ancient text has nothing to do with current times. It was written thousands of years ago and concentrates on ancient cities that in some way threatened Jerusalem.

But some local Bible scholars say Isaiah’s prophecy has already happened. Damascus was captured in 732 BC — and is unrelated to the Muslim-majority Syria’s current struggles, according to Dr. Daniel Block, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College.

“There are certain oracles against Damascus, but they are all BCE [Before Christ Era] oracles, and I’m not sure that they have anything to do with what’s going on there now,” Block said, adding, “just because events are parallel doesn’t mean there are any connections. Parallel lines don’t meet.”

Dr. Charlie Dyer, a Bible professor at Moody Bible Institute, said Damascus was destroyed in the 7th and 8th centuries: “Isaiah 17 predicted the destruction of the city, along with the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel…Damascus was captured by Assyrians in 732 BC and the northern kingdom of Israel fell when the capital city of Samarai was captured by the Assyrians in 722 BC.”

And 100 years later, he says, the prophet Jeremiah also predicted the fall of Damascus, which had been rebuilt.

“His message was fulfilled when the city was captured by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon,” Dyer said.

Dyer questioned those who are awaiting Damascus’ destruction, as described in the Bible: “God has the ability to predict future events, and a number of events predicted in the Bible still need to be fulfilled in the future. Perhaps the most significant is Jesus’ promise to return. But those prophecies that were completely fulfilled in the past don’t need to be fulfilled a second time.”

Email: tsfondeles@suntimes.comBible Prophecy

 

Damascus (Syria)

Will Be Destroyed

 

 

Damascus will one day be completely destroyed and left uninhabitable . . .

 

Syria is almost a 'city-state' with much of its population living in and around the city of Damascus.  Some historians and archaeologists believe Damascus may be the oldest continually inhabited city in the world and there is no record in ancient history of it ever being fully destroyed.  Syria is also the home of many Islamic terrorist groups and its army invaded and has occupied Lebanon for almost 30 years.  Currently, Syria (with Iran) is supporting the Hizbullah in southern Lebanon against Israel.  Syria, like the rest of Israel's Islamic neighbors hate Israel, have invaded and attacked Israel on several occasions, and have publicly called for the destruction of Israel.  It is interesting to note that a number of years ago an Israeli general, on commenting on the growing threat of Syria, said the easiest thing to do to protect Israel from Syria would be to drop a nuclear bomb on Damascus . . .

 

 

Damascus, Syria will someday be completely destroyed and become a "ruinous heap" . . .

 

   "The burden of Damascus.

     BEHOLD,

     Damascus is taken away from being a city,

     and it shall be a ruinous heap"   (This prophecy has not yet been fulfilled ... but it will be fulfilled)
     (Isaiah 17:1)

 

 

The Bible warns it will also be a time of trouble for Israel . . .


   "And in that day   (usually refers to the coming 'Apocalypse')

     it shall come to pass,  (when God's Word says "it shall come to pass" it always happens.)

     the glory of Jacob (Israel) shall be made thin,

     and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean."

     (Isaiah 17:4)      (Prophecies:  ISRAEL and JERUSALEM)

 

There will be a coming time of trouble unlike anything in the history of the nation coming to the land of Israel ... Jeremiah calls it 'the Time of Jacob's (Israel's) Trouble ... and it is hard to tell if this happensafter Damascus is destroyed, or at the same time.  We do know from Bible prophecies there will be a coming 3 1/2 year period of false peace in Israel brought in by a strong, powerful, and very popular world leader (also called the "Antichrist") who will someday enforce a 'peace plan' upon nation Israel just before the coming 'Apocalypse' and Armageddon ...

 

We are told here (and in other prophetic passages) that a faithful few in Israel will turn back to God and His Word ... and may discover, from scripture, that  Jesus (Yeshua), IS the Eternal One (see Micah 5:2) and Holy One of Israel . . .

 

   "At that day shall a man look to his Maker,

     and his eyes shall have respect

     to the Holy One (Messiah) of Israel."  

     (Isaiah 17:7)        (Prophecies of MESSIAH ...)       (The GENEALOGY of Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha'Mashiach in Hebrew)

 

 

God tells us WHY Jacob's (Israel's) "Trouble" will come  . . .


   "Because thou hast forgotten

     the God of thy Salvation,

     and hast not been mindful

     of the Rock of thy strength  (the "Rock" is Messiah)       (Prophecies:  MESSIAH'S RETURN)

     (Isaiah 17:10)       (Remarkable MATHEMATICAL Prophecy of Messiah ... WHEN Messiah would be "revealed")       (The TWO Jewish Rabbis who DIVIDED the children of Israel 2000 Years Ago ... Rabbi Jochanan ben Zakkai and Rabbi Shaul)

 

 

 

God says none of His prophecies shall fail . . .

 

   "For I am God, and there is no other.
     for I am God, and there is none like me . . . 

     Declaring the end from the beginning,
     and from ancient times
     things that are not yet done."

     (Isaiah 46:9-10)

 

 

   "Search from the book of the LORD, and read:

     not one of these (prophecies) shall fail;

     not one shall lack her mate.

     For My mouth has commanded it,

     and His Spirit has gathered them."

     (Isaiah 34:16)

 

 

   "Indeed I (God) have spoken it;

     I will also bring it to pass.

     I have purposed it;

     I will also do it.

     Listen to Me, you stubborn-hearted,

     who are far from righteousness . . ."

     (Isaiah 46:11-12)

 

 

   "Before the decree is issued, before day passes like chaff,

     before the LORD'S fierce anger comes upon you,

     before the day of the LORD'S anger comes upon you!

     Seek the LORD,

     all you meek of the Earth, who have upheld His justice.

     Seek righteousness, seek humility.

     It may be that you will be hidden

     in the day of the LORD'S anger."

     (Zephaniah 2:2-3)

 

 

Have a hard time believing in God?  Just watch the news.   We are living in dangerous times.  The above verses are clear. 

 

Why?   God is warning us.   God says He is doing these things both as a warning sign to the world andas verifiable evidence the Bible is true . . .

 

 

Please remember . . .

 

The Kingdom of Heaven is available to every man, woman, boy, and girl in this world, no matter who they are, where they live, or what they have done.  It is freely offered to any and all who will receive it.  Simply learn of Jesus (Yeshua), the promised Messiah, invite Him into your life as Lord, believe He died on the Cross for all of your sins and rose from the grave (proving there is a Kingdom of Heaven ... and a Hell).  Learn of Him and believe in Him . . . for He was the only one who has ever loved you enough to substitute Himself for you on the Cross.  He shed His blood, suffered, and died on the Cross to save you from your sins and from the utter darkness and torment of Hell, if you will accept it, believe it, and trust in it.  That is why Jesus is called Savior.  He now lovingly and graciously offers you life in Heaven (and we are warned it is a "take it or leave it" proposition.)  We have to consciously receive it and accept it in faith.  If you sincerely admit you have sinned (which means you will need a Savior to get into Heaven) and ask Jesus to come into your life and honestly try to stop doing (and saying) those things God says are wrong, you will go to Heaven ... and with open arms and tears of joy He will receive all who will come to Him in faith and in love ... It's God's Promise!!!

 

The only unpardonable sin is to reject or ignore or treat as a common thing God's love and His free offer of life in the Kingdom of Heaven by rejecting Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha'Mashiach in Hebrew) who stepped forth from Eternity ("from of old, from everlasting"... see Micah 5:2) ... not to condemn the sinner, but to save the sinner (from the torment of Hell) and who willingly and lovingly shed His blood on the Cross so we can be washed clean of all our sins.  The Bible warns there will be no peace in our lives until we make peace with God through His Son, Jesus (Yeshua), the promised Messiah.  The Bible also says there will be no peace in Israel or on Earth until Jesus (Yeshua), the Messiah returns ...

 Jehovah God always does what he says he will do. Is this the beginning of the end?

WND EXCLUSIVE BIBLICAL DOOM OF DAMASCUS 'RIGHT BEFORE OUR EYES' Students of prophecy warn nations aligning to fulfill Isaiah 17 Published: 11 hours ago  DREW ZAHN About | Email Archive   Subscribe to feed
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With U.S. warships looming offshore, reports of chemical weapons and saber-rattling from Iran about the coming of Armageddon, the nation of Syria and its capital, Damascus, are at the epicenter of what some suggest may become a prophesied battle of biblical proportions.

“Many students of the Word of God see a major alignment of ancient prophecies regarding the end times being fulfilled right before our eyes,” asserts Carl Gallups, pastor, radio host and author of “The Magic Man in the Sky: Effectively Defending the Christian Faith.” “More importantly, we are the first generation in history to see such dramatic and striking alignments.”

Gallups points to the biblical passage of Psalm 83 – which tells of the nations surrounding Israel conspiring against it – and especially to Isaiah 17, which tells of a day when Damascus, often cited as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, will be utterly destroyed.

“Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap,” states the ancient prophet Isaiah. “The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the LORD of hosts.”

“I also want to note,” adds author of “The 9/11 Prophecy,” James F. Fitzgerald, “that the prophecy of the destruction of Damascus in Isaiah 17 is directly connected in its context to the fall of Ephraim and the Northern Kingdom of Israel as Isaiah previously warned in chapter 9:10. That is the same prophecy messianic rabbi Jonathan Cahn has written about in ‘The Harbinger’ and in ‘The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment’ documentary, where he’s applied the specific pattern of judgment there to the remarkable events that have transpired here in America after 9/11.”

Get “The Harbinger” and “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment” DVD now together at one incredible, low price!

Certainly, Damascus has become the center of international attention and fears of war.

As WND has reported, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has publicly made the case for an American strike on Syria over the nation’s alleged use of chemical weapons on rebel forces among its own people, even as U.S. warships loom offshore.

Meanwhile, Syria ally Iran has threatened to launch “thousands of missiles” on Israel if President Obama follows through on the proposed attack, and Iran’s politicians have claimed the conflict could prompt “the end of times and the coming of the last Islamic messiah,” including an Armageddon-like battle for worldwide Islamic governance.

The result is an international powder keg that could easily explode beyond Syria’s borders, and President Obama is holding the match.

“The ancient Hebrew prophecy contained in Isaiah 17 is presently poised to find final fulfillment, and it could easily be provoked by a poorly calculated political move by America,” claims Bill Salus, author of “Psalm 83: The Missing Prophecy Revealed.” “Current contemplations of the Obama administration to strategically strike Syria to punish the Assad regime for using chemical weapons on his Syrian countrymen could be the spark that sets the entire Mideast ablaze. President Assad has threatened to attack Tel Aviv on several occasions during the Syrian revolution, and his latest threats have prompted Israelis to scramble for gas masks.

“In tandem a prophecy in Psalm 83 predicts that a climactic concluding Arab-Israeli war is coming, and Syria and Israel are listed among the participants,” Salus told WND. “It is reasonable to presume that we are living in the days of Isaiah 17 and Psalm 83, and that a single U.S. missile landing anywhere in Syria could provoke the ‘Mother of All Mideast Wars’ that is predicted in the scriptures!”

Watch the prophecies explained and unfold in “Psalm 83: The Missing Prophecy Revealed” on DVD from the WND Superstore!

Fitzgerald explains there may indeed be something greater than politics pushing Obama’s current actions.

“We have no vital national interest to be served in Syria by involving ourselves in their civil war,” Fitzgerald told WND, “except to see that Syria doesn’t fall into the hands of al-Qaida and the radical Islamists. Yet it seems the Obama administration is now planning to take sides in this internal struggle with the rebels that include terrorists like al-Qaida, and they’re doing so even with the help of Republicans like John McCain and Lindsay Graham.

“But if we’re being pulled into this war, against our own vital national interests, it’s because we have a ‘hook in our mouth’ that is drawing us to further national judgment,” he continued. “As I spell out in my book with lots of evidence, post-9/11 America is a nation under judgment. In that regard, I show exactly how the next major end-time prophecy to do with our nation is the imminent coming of World War III. That war will reduce us once and for all from our superpower status – as we know must happen from the book of Revelation. That’s why there is no doubt in my mind that getting involved in Syria’s civil war – even in the face of Russia’s strong warnings – is going to contribute to the future coming of a world war with Russia and Iran.”

Evidence revealed

But could these events really be the foretold culmination of biblical prophecy?

It appears the jury is still out on definitively saying yes.

“With all of the chaos in Syria continually growing more and more unstable, it is certainly understandable that many students of scripture are looking to Isaiah 17 and asking if its fulfillment could be imminent,” states Joel Richardson, author of “Mideast Beast” and “The Islamic Antichrist”, in a WND commentary.

But Richardson warns some are trying too hard to make the events line up, like predicting Israel will use a nuclear bomb to fulfill Isaiah 17′s destruction of Damascus.

“For those sensationalists who are predisposed to believe that Israel is about to hit Damascus with a nuclear bomb,” Richardson writes, “the question must be asked: How wise would it be to drop a nuclear bomb on a city that lies less than 50 miles from your own border?”

Richardson asserts the context of scripture points instead to the destruction of Damascus only in the end times.

“If one examines this larger portion of Isaiah’s prophecy in its proper context, rather pulling out a single verse here or there, then it is clear that its ultimate context is the Day of the LORD, the judgment against the nations and the return of Jesus,” Richardson asserts. “On this point, I find myself in full agreement with Dr. Tommy Ice: ‘It appears to be an event that will occur at the end of the seven-year tribulation as the Lord not only judges and destroy Damascus, but all of Israel’s historic enemies that surround her. If one examines the broader context of Isaiah 17 and takes account of the section where it is located, it becomes clear that it is a section in which the Lord prophesizes (sic) judgment upon all the Gentile nations that have opposed Israel. This will all happen at the end of the tribulation in conjunction with the second coming of Christ to the earth.’”

Yet even Richardson admits the belief that the events of Isaiah 17, Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38 and 39 could be happening right here, right now, is becoming an “emerging popular view.”

Gallups explains, “Respected teachers of end-time prophecies have devised several scenarios of interpretation regarding these prophetic alignments. Some prophecy experts are quite adamant that they have discovered the correct and exact layout and timeline. I will not be so bold as to declare an exact timeline, but understanding that prophetic scripture almost always has an historical context and fulfillment in the day in which it was written as well as a message for the future, let me make a few biblically sound observations.

“Isaiah 17 is one important part of the larger prophecy that Isaiah sets forth in Chapters 13-23, which tell of judgments not only against Israel, but against all of the surrounding Gentile (mostly Muslim) nations,” he continues. “Isaiah 17 tells us Damascus will be leveled and in ruin, Aram will fade away as well (the southern region of Syria), Aroer (the northern region of Jordan) will be greatly affected, entire regions of northern Israel will become virtually desolate, the entire nation of Israel will be greatly and adversely affected for a long period of time. Given the massive and devastating armament capabilities of Israel and the chemical weapons cache of Syria, one can easily see how today’s escalating conflict can fulfill these prophecies.

“In Psalm 83, the Arab (Muslim) nations surrounding Israel will attack her in her perceived weakness, yet Israel will prevail,” Gallups continues, “and in Ezekiel 38-39, another alliance of more outlying nations (mostly Muslim) attacks Israel, again perceiving vulnerability on Israel’s part. God intervenes supernaturally, and Israel is spared.”

Walid Shoebat, who co-authored “God’s War on Terror: Islam, Prophecy and the Bible” with Richardson, has also found what he believes may already be fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

“We can sense the beginning signs for the fulfillment of Isaiah 17′s destruction of Damascus when we witness the influx of refugees from Syria to Jordan as predicted by the prophet Amos: ‘I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the LORD’ (Amos 1:5),” Shoebat told WND. “It is here that we find the amazing precision of Bible prophecy: Aven is Damascus today, and Damascus is also literally mentioned here by name. Syrians are leaving by the droves into Jordan and precisely ‘unto Kir,’ which is Kir-Moab (Isaiah 15:1). Today that region is called Kerak. When we review both the ancient map and the statistics of the recent influx of Syrian refugees into Jordan, we find that over a half million Syrians already fled to ‘the borders of the land of Moab now called Kerrek [Kerak].”

Whether these things are all happening now or are set to happen in the future, however, there’s one point at which the prophecy students agree: “The apparent context of all these passages,” states Gallups, “is that their fulfillment is found in the very last days – shortly before the biblical Day of the LORD, and the return of Jesus.”

Gallups concludes, “Given the headlines of today’s news and the current Middle East upheaval, as well as Syria being at the epicenter of a major war in the region, I fail to see how any serious student of the Word could not see that these, indeed, are very prophetic times in which we are living.”

Want to dig deeper into the end of times and biblical prophecy? Explore “End Times Today with Walid Shoebat” on DVD!

 

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Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/08/biblical-doom-of-damascus-right-before-our-eyes/#MSUbqm3qd4rMmGff.99 

"Devil's Breath"


"Devil's Breath" 

“Devil’s Breath” A Fantasy/Horror Novel By Lisa Vetrone Prologue The Scientist Frederick Cannon eyes the homeless man that lays on the bench covered in newspapers. Frederick glances around to see what his options are. The wind is rustling the trees and the leaves are becoming terrestrial as they silently drift to the ground. The Park will close in 20 minutes. There are a few people walking their dogs and a few joggers that pay the two men no mind. When Frederick is sure that they are alone he reaches down and taps the destitute man on the chest. The man stirs but doesn’t awaken. “Sir. Please wake up.” Frederick says and steps back under the overwhelming stench of body odor and alcohol that has reached his nostrils as the wind changes direction. The homeless man sits up, eyes bleary with drink, startled now as the papers fly off and skitter away at the wind’s insistence. He looks all around and doesn’t stop until they locate the tall man in the expensive suit that is looking at him. “Wha....what do ya want?” The indigent says and he is afraid. This could be a cop or worse. “How would you like to make some money? Have a warm bed and something to eat?” Frederick says in the voice of a man that can be trusted. The homeless man is immediately suspicious and shakes his head. “Go away, Mister.” He says and looks down woefully at his ragged clothes. He stands up and shakily tries to compose himself. He is still drunk from his dinner of cheap wine and all he wants to do is escape this intrusion. He begins to stagger off towards the entrance of Central Park at 79th Street, when suddenly the tall man grabs his arm roughly. The homeless man struggled, but he has no strength from lack of food and the wine has made him weak. “Leggo!” The indigent mutters, but the tall man is strong, his grip steely and he begins to force him to walk/stagger from the Park. At 79th Street yellow cabs wait, where they idle even at one in the morning. The trees that stand above the stone wall that seperate them from the street moan and sway, as though singing a funeral dirge as the tall man loads the homeless man into the back of one of them. A discussion is had and for the right price, the cabbie agrees to take the men to Brooklyn, a knowing smirk on his Bosnian face. All three of the men sit silently as the cab rolls out and heads for Centre Street and then further to the entrance of the grand Bridge. The homeless man is falling in and out of consciousness while the tall man stares out the window. The meter ticks away and is the only sound save for the labored breathing of the homeless man. The tall man stares up at historic buildings and smiles at their aesthetic beauty. How he loves them. The Woolworth Building. The Potter Building. And then the Temple Court Building and it’s annex. Architectural wonders from men who were brilliant. Not like the ugly steel and glass monstrosities that are going up all over the five boroughs. The tall man shakes his head in disgust. Something had to be done. As the cab approaches the Bridge, Frederick feels the almost spiritual reverence of the structure that another might feel for God. A light mist seems to give the bridge the appearance that it is floating above the East River suspended on nothing. The sturdy stone towers of the Gothic arches could be that of an ancient castle where magic is used and damsels in distress cry out from stone towers. Frederick smiles as his imagination runs wild as he stares up at the the spider web of cables and guy lines that crisscross perfectly from the towers. The cab is buffeted by the wind, it is very strong up here, but Frederick doesn’t mind. He is thinking ahead now to the homeless man and the experiment that he plans. A human lab rat. Then, his facial expression turns ugly. I will show them all that I am not a nut. That my findings are legitimate. The lights that line the bridge are a beautiful shade of blue and the mad scientist thinks of magical spells and fairies that hold the bridge in their hands. This great construction in the sky that is suspended on nothing but a promise. Lisa Vetrone. Chapter 1. Coming up.

Devil's Breath Chap. 1, Part 1 

Devil’s Breath Horror/Fantasy Lisa Vetrone Chapter 1: Two Days Earlier, Washington Heights: Upper Manhattan Washington Heights is on a high ridge in Upper Manhattan. It rises steeply north of the narrow valley that carries 125th Street to the former ferry landing on the Hudson River. Bennett Park, which lies ten blocks from the northern end of the Heights is Manhattan’s highest natural elevation at 265 feet above sea level. If one enters the park, there is a plaque that announces this fact. Once, long ago, Fort Washington had stood at this very place in the form of the revolutionary war camp of General George Washington and his troops where they were chased out by the British. There is much history here and much diversity. Frederick Cannon hasn’t visited the Heights since his days at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Before everything had gone wrong. Before his budding career had been so callously ruined by the medical staff. He stands just south of the hospital and the sidewalks are an urban collage of activity. The many ethnicities of the Heights merge and blend, the buzz of voices and traffic are bold and constant. The pulse of the city here is electric and Frederick is somewhat intimidated. Even though, when he had attended his internship as a med student, the neighborhood had been predominantly Dominican. Now, many different cultures were milling the streets. Spanish and Chinese and English were blending in his ears and to him it sounded like white noise. How he wished that he were visiting the more historic parts of the Heights. The quiet Cloisters near Fort Washington Avenue, that extention of the Metropolitan Museum of Art came to mind. But that is not why Frederick has ventured so far from his neighborhood of safe Brooklyn Heights. “Excuse me, Father, por favor.” A woman’s voice says and when Frederick gazes her way, he sees a small group of Latino women that are trying to pass him and to enter the entrance of the 168th Street Subway station. He moves to the side and watches them head into the bowels of the earth to it’s circulatory system. He clutches a Bible with lovely golden-gilded pages even tighter and the Rosary that is wrapped around his hand. People flow in every direction, a steady flow around the tall “priest”. He feels some sort of strange power as they part like the Red Sea in his presence. He had certainly chosen the right disguise. Apparently, spirituality was still alive and well in this part of the city. The “priest” looks down at his watch and sees that he still has an hour before he is to meet a certain drug dealer down below. At Frederick’s insistence, the deal will go down deep into an architectural marvel right below his feet that is the 168th Street Subway Station. The entrance is typical of many throughout the system, unlike the entrance to it’s sister station at the 181st Street Station a few blocks away. He descends the step leading down as the hunter green railings that surround the staircase disappear above him. He can hear many voices, many languages as they become louder the farther he goes. When Frederick nears the bottom of the staircase, his olfactory senses are assailed by the heady ammonia of fresh urine. Of course, it’s the stench coming from the prone figure of a homeless woman. A bottle of wine lays on it’s side where the last few drops ooze slowly onto the floor next to her where a metal mesh trash can is her headboard. Wrinkling his nose in disgust, he stifles the urge to give the loathsome creature a well-placed kick where she murmurs mindlessly in her stupor. Drool pools unceremoniously from her slack opened mouth as Frederick shudders. But he passes her quickly in the short hallway where commuters enter and disembark into and out of the bank of elevators that await them. Frederick is pleased to note that the elevators that he remembers have been replaced. These are fairly new having been installed in 1997 and are the modern silver door type. Three of them are unmanned, while one has an operator. He chooses one of the unmanned ones and waits patiently for the crowd to disperse emptying out one of the metal boxes. He remembers the stifling heat inside them from days gone by and is happy that these elevators are ventilated. There had been many a time when the elevators of old would constantly break down, trapping it’s riders inside. He steps in and immediately is engulfed in tropical scents of mango and banana, exotic perfumes from the Caribbean, that exude from the Latino women that stand closest to him as the elevator makes it’s way down the shaft. He counts the seconds as it goes down and hopes that this elevator will not break down. The smell is cloying in this close confine. Finally, it comes to rest and the people all file out. A sign says “(1) (9) Trains” and he is confronted by a looped corridor. He can turn either way to reach one of the two bridges that span the track beds. Like the 181st Street Subway Station that has only one of these pedestrian bridges, these two stations are the only ones in the system that possess these features. Frederick is instantly transported back in time when he reaches the bridge and the high vaulted ceiling of the station comes into view. He thinks back on the photos of the station when it had been in it’s early use. It had been grand and constructed with love and care, the product of great architectural minds. Now, it was destitute and decaying. The city has promised to return it to it’s natural splendor in 2014 as it had been registered in the historical societies list of places to save. The vaulted ceiling serves to bolster the extra tons of earth above it. But Frederick doesn’t care about that as he stares upward at the tan bricks, now stained dark with soot and the large terra cotta medallions with their empty light fixtures that are set in it. Once these medallions had held gorgeous chandeliers, but they had become victims to water damage and removed. Now the medallions are like black holes in the ceiling with their thick coating of soot from years of the trains running the tracks. Frederick just knew that the architects, Heins and LaFarge were probably spinning in their graves at the rampant neglect this station had suffered. These men were famous for the special details that they had given to many of the stations. And this included the brightly colored mosaic tile signs announcing “168th Street.” Heins and LaFarge had subscribed to the designs of the Beaux-Arts French school of architecture and in this station it really showed when one looked beneath the filth and decay. Frederick wished that he could see the multi-colored bead and reel guilloche patterns on the medallions, but that was impossible. A train pulled up and it’s squealing, tortured cry echoed through the cavernous space. Frederick looked below and saw various commuters enter and exit the metal beast and marveled at the fact that not one of them stopped to appreciate the beauty here. It angered him to no end. Couldn’t they see the hard work and love that had gone into building this gem? Or was it that this too, was so far above these people, that even if the station were to suddenly show itself sparkling and clean, they would still mindlessly toss their garbage on the platform and mark it’s walls with their ugly graffiti in childlike scrawls? Indeed, something had to be done to preserve this station’s history and dignity. Frederick admired the prominent glass globe lamps, which despite their antique appearance, aren’t native to the station’s design. In 1991, a minor station renovation had landed them here. But to Frederick, they belonged with the station and fit in perfectly. Once, the station had been adorned with luminescent glass tile, but since had been replaced with a more standard ceramic material. This saddened Frederick. Why was everything always lost to decay in this wretched city? Why was nothing appreciated? Sighing deeply, Frederick continues across the old pedestrian crossing and past the globe lamp that sits upon it’s black iron stanchion, one of two on the bridge. It is grimy with filth, and Frederick, in spite of the modern day in which he finds himself, imagines fancy ladies in their high buttoned dresses carrying lace parasols and gentlemen in derbies escorting them to their carriage. It’s so much better than the reality that awaits him on the other side. He makes his way down the cracked and heavily trod stairway to the vast platform below. Checking his watch carefully, he sees that time is passing quickly and to his delight, there are not many people here. This is surprising, however, as this is one of the most busiest stations in the system. There are transit cops here, walking the platform. Something that the drug dealer is extremely concerned about, but the hint of extra cash has persuaded him to meet the good “doctor” here. Frederick’s plan is golden. And if all works out as he has planned, he knows that it will go without a hitch. The platform is large and here, there are no columns, as in most of the other stations. It’s open and this, coupled with the high, vaulted ceiling, gives the station depth such as cannot be felt in the more uniformly boring stations in the city. Frederick sits down on one of the benches and gives the impression, that he too, awaits a train. The transport cops walk by and smile at the priest and hope that he is having a good evening. Frederick nods and smiles back. He hopes that it is with the beatific and pious humility that he has seen on the faces of priests in the past and wills the officers to keep walking. They do and Frederick breathes a sigh of relief. He clutches the Bible that he carries even tighter as people of low class and questionable intent walk by and stand in various states of modern dress on the platform awaiting the train that will take them to the Bronx. A young man reaches into his pocket and pulls out a candy bar. He unwraps it, balls up the wrapper and tosses it onto the stained and scarred platform. Frederick flinches and anger rises up anew. He is filled with the urge to bodily toss the boy on the tracks in front of the next train, but stifles also this hatred. If it were up to him, none of these people would be allowed to roam the streets. They were lawless, disrespectful and needed to be deported back to wherever they had come from. They were ruining Washington Heights. Turning it into a ghetto. Bringing the city to it’s knees here. The train comes and screams it arrival, tortured where metal meets brake shoe on the track. The boy and a few others enter the train, their laughter and staccato Spanish echoing from the intricate brickwork of the rounded walls of the station. A load of people step out of the train and hurry up the stairway and across the bridge toward the looped corridor, the elevators and to the freedom of the street. Frederick sits back on the bench and pretends to be praying, not once opening the Bible. Because if he did, what one would see is the hollowed out hole in the pages that are replaced by a wad of crisp one hundred dollar bills. (Part 2. Chapter 1, coming up.) L.V.

 

"Ghosts In The Snow" By L. Vetrone


Ghosts in the Snow 

Untitled. Lisa Vetrone Carlos Alvarez huddled in the shadowy entrance of an abandoned bodega. He took a shaky drag of a butt he had found on the sidewalk, and pretended to admire the graffiti that decorated the seedy buildings that surrounded him; their darkened windows like the infinite black of demon’s eyes watching him. He was jumpy, paranoid even. Traffic had thinned here and he began to feel the loneliness that held him captive most days move over him. How he wished that things could have been different. That he had not traveled down this path that he found himself on. Carlos shuddered, but not from the plummeting temperatures or the sudden icy exhalation of winter’s frigid breath. The arctic wind blew, without mercy down the avenue; it scoured away the trash that lined the curbs and it reached frozen fingers through Carlos’ threadbare coat to caress his sallow skin. He tossed the butt to the ground and sunk deeper into the doorway of the shuttered bodega. A car came slowly down the street and Carlos did his best to stay hidden. He didn’t need the cops discovering him tonight. But it was only a yellow cab and when it passed, Carlos relaxed. “Muerde!” He hissed, pulling the useless garment tighter around his thin body. The familiar, debilitating nausea of withdrawal began creeping through his intestines; His dealer, Manuel, was late again. Puto! Carlos thought desperately. The wind assailed him and whistled eerily through the old buildings and Carlos thought of ghosts and spirits of the night. It seemed as though they were speaking to him through the gusts. He shook his head like a dog after it’s bath, trying to clear his mind. He felt like he would be sick, yet he had not eaten today. It was then that winter opened its arctic maw spewing fat, wet snowflakes the size of quarters. Somewhere a metallic riot-gate clattered to the sidewalk-closing time-causing Carlos to jump. He was familiar with the sound, having been raised here on the streets of New York City, and he chastised himself for his paranoia. Manuel would come and all would be right again. The restless wind wind slapped at the poor man and he turned his back to it and faced the sheet metal covered door of the abandoned building. Suddenly, he could hear an eerie whispering voice in his ear, “Boo!” Carlos jumped and spun around, wild eyed with fear. There stood Manuel, with that cruel smirk of his, that “I dare you to cross me” look in his hateful eyes. Manuel laughed out loud and jumped back in mock fear, “Cheel out, muchacho! You’re savior is here.” How Carlos hated him. Manuel was not a junkie, he smoked a little weed now and then. His motto: “Never use your own product.” Carlos often referred to him as “El Diablo,” behind Manuel’s back. But only to a select few. Manuel took no disrespect from anyone and once had demonstrated this fact to Carlos when two of his posse had beaten Carlos senseless one night for mouthing off. Carlos glared at the younger and much more healthy man. “Give it to me!” He demanded-the desperation clear in his voice. His eyes were bugging out above his sunken cheeks, the sickness now raging through him. Manuel’s smile disappeared. Carlos found himself being dragged forward by the other man’s muscular hands until their noses were touching. The large gold cross the dealer wore was digging into Carlos’ chest and he smelled the rancid scent of chili sauce. “You disrespecting me, pendejo, Me?” Manuel growled, the threat of bodily harm eminent in his voice. Carlos realized his mistake and softened his facial expression. He slumped in Manuel’s firm grip. “No, man. You scared me, that’s all. Please Homme, I need a fix,” he pleaded. Manuel stared at him for a few seconds as the wind howled down the street. It was causing Manuel’s long thick hair to fly about his face. For a moment, Carlos imagined that he was staring into the eyes of a demon. Black eyes. He trembled in Manuel’s grasp and shut his eyes. Manuel smiled again, the top dog of this area. “That’s better, “homme”, he sneered and pushed Carlos away from him roughly causing him to stumble back hard into the sheet metal blocking the door of the building. The freezing wind was eerily singing its approval as it rushed through cracks and crevices of the urban blight. As it did, the fluffy snowflakes, falling faster and thicker now became stinging BBs of ice lashing at the two men’s faces. Manuel withdrew the familiar baggy, which contained smaller ones with carefully measured out clumps of heroin in them and handed one to Carlos. Carlos reached out to grab it desperately, like a starving dog does with a bone. But Manuel was playing comedien tonight. He pulled his hand back quickly. “Money first, puto.” Carlos became angry, but dared not show it. He dug into the inside pocket of the jacket and handed over to the waiting dealer. Manuel smiled big and for once, it was genuine. He dropped the small baggy into Carlos shaking hand. “Be here, tomorrow, homme. I will sell you what you need. eh?” He said and then turned on his heel. He walked briskly back up the avenue, the snow falling in earnest and disappeared into the while swirl and blowing wind. Carlos stuffed the baggy into the pocket that had been emptied of its stash of cash and walked hurriedly up the street in the opposite direction. “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ “ Later, in the dark of a stairwell in yet another abandoned building, Carlos readied his rig. Tying the rubber tubing around his arm, he gingerly stopped his preparation to gingerly touch the lump under his eye where another desperate junkie had hit him, trying to steal his precious haul. This time, however, Carlos had won by laying the dirty man out, right there on the snowy street. Not blinking an eye and feeling no remorse, Carlos had left him there to freeze. Manuel’s sneering face had flashed into Carlos’ tortured mind like a demon. How Carlos hated him! Puto! Someday he would kill him. Someday he would go straight. The empty building groaned under the winds’ assault and creaked with age. Outside, the snow fell and the wind howled to be let in. Carlos paid it no mind however as he cooked the heroin in the dirty spoon, not even noticing that his fingers were being burned. When this was accomplished he readied the rig, found a vein that hadn’t collapsed and stuck the needle in. He pushed in the plunger after making certain that no killing air bubbles hid there. The familiar rush left him dazed and he laid back against the cold stairs that led upward to the lonely, vacant apartments. A train rumbled past on the elevated tracks of the station for the Smith Street subway. It rocked the building and caused it to protest under its assault. But Carlos was trapped in the drug induced Nirvana and couldn’t even feel it or worry if the building fell in on him. He slumped on the steps for what seemed like eternity. Later, when he was more lucid and could move, he got up. Carlos found himself five flights up, staring out the dirty, ice coated window at the white of the street below. This apartment must have suffered during a fire. Carlos could smell the scent of charred wood permeating the freezing blasts of air that were entering through the broken windows of the room. He could see Christmas lights blinking cheerfully through the blizzard that raged outside. They were like rainbow colored beacons of hope dispersed throughout the seedy neighborhood like the feeling of love which flew through the air. This hope, this love, was not within Carlos’ grasp. Hope escaped through the cracks in the window in search of more deserving ones. Despair hit the shaking and very cold man as memories of family intruded into his euphoric high and his heroin riddled mind to slice at his heart and to pronounce him dead once more. If only! “Dios Mio! What have I done?” He cired aloud, his voice ricocheting through the abandoned rooms and hallways. The voices of the damned. Visions of his mother- white faced and clutching her chest filled the vid-screen of his tortured mind. He watched the memory as she had fallen to the floor, taking the beautifully decorated Christmas tree down with her. He remembered that Bing Crosby had been dreaming of a White Christmas on the old record player and sirens had screamed over the Brooklyn Bridge. His mother had died and it was all his fault. Tears began to trickle down Carlos’ cheeks as the memories assailed him. The police had been dragging him out the door, his sister and brothers screaming, “Call 911, for God’s sake!” While his mother breathed her last, her life taken by yet another heart attack, that Christmas day so long ago. Carlos had sat in a jail cell, sobbing from shame and grief, the depth of the latter sending him into suicidal thoughts, but there was nothing to take his own life with. The punishment was horrible, debilitating. Death would have been sweeter. He had been disowned that night and his family had not spoken to him since. Neither was he allowed to attend his beloved mother’s funeral. The tears streamed from the man’s eyes unabated. Carlos stood there until his grief softened and the more immediate actions took over. he was freezing. The window sills now had four inches of snow on them and still, it came down. No sign of it letting up any time soon. He pulled himself together and went in search of something, anything to cover himself with. Finally, on the third floor, he found the remnants of someone’s makeshift bad. Several old pieces of moldy smelling cardboard piled in the corner of an apartment with a gaping metal door. The door was stuck fast in position as it jutted out into the filthy hallway. He needed somewhere to go to stay hidden from others like himself. The aroma of old piss soaked carpet found it’s way into his nostrils. (I am adding more to this story. Much more, soon. Lisa Vetrone The Title is "Ghosts in the Snow"

 

 

Ghosts in the Snow 

Continuance of my short story: "Ghosts In The Snow" Anna Gonzalez cursed the weatherman. Fat, white flakes of snow fell unabated, the frigid blasts of icy, cold air was whipping about messing up two hours of maintenance spent in front of the dirty, cracked hallway mirror. What she endured to make a living, didn't much seem like it was worth the couple of hundred bucks that she would make tonight. Not in this weather. West Twelfth Street was frosted over with snow as Anna walked to the subway station entrance. There was a set of icy steps leading down into the warm cave where she would catch the next train. Anna was having a difficult time in her high heels and the wind kept reaching up her short skirt with frozen fingers. "Shit!" She exclaimed and she carefully and slowly made her way down the slippery, cracked stairs to the platform. She flashed her Metro Card and went through the turnstile. She then carefully made her way to the platform and into the opened doors of a waiting uptown train. A few passengers shuffled out and headed for the stairs. The train doors shut with a pneumatic hiss as Anna chose a seat. As the train began to move, Anna glanced at her watch-11:30 p.m., and then reached into her evening bag and pulled out her compact to survey the damage to her make up. She religiously avoided peering out the sooty windows of the car. Tunnels terrified her, Graffiti and water damaged tunnel walls flashed by, but she paid them no mind. She couldn't afford a panic attack right now. She had bills to pay. She was surprisingly only one of two passengers on the train. The other, a nun, sat up at the front, with her head bowed as though sleeping. The train was loud, the racket deafening, as it sped towards the Fiftieth Street subway stop as Anna applied more lipstick. She then reached deeper into her bag and checked the safety on her .38 Special-a hooker's best friend and discovered that all was well there too. The train slowed and came to a stop at the Fiftieth Street platform, squealing metal and sparks. A great metal beast coming to rest. When the doors hissed open, a few passengers entered, but a Anna ignored them. At least, until a male voice asked-"Is this seat taken?" It was slurry from booze consumption and when Anna looked up at the owner of the voice, she looked into the red and very drunk eyes of an unkempt man. "Yeah, assclown, it is, by me." Anna said tartly, the disrespect and angst clear in her voice, "get lost." She added, showing no fear whatsoever. "Bitch." The man said as he muttered to himself and almost fell as the train lurched forward. Grabbing the metal pole to steady himself, the drunk flopped down into the seat opposite Anna-just to annoy her until her stop, asshole. She thought. There was a copy of the Post on the seat next to her, and when she picked it up she could feel the eyes of the creep on her and boring holes through her. The only other passengers were a very old man and the ancient nun who was clutching a rosary, her mouth moving in silent prayer, obviously in her own little world. The train picked up speed as Anna opened the Post and pretended to read, but it was then that the train separated from the third rail for a moment and the lights in the car winked out leaving it in total darkness, going black and then flickering back on as the train thundered through the tunnel....The creep decided to speak then. "You a hooker?" He sneered, and the car chose that moment to go completely dark, being underground at that time didn't help. Before the lights could come back on, Anna felt, rather than saw the creep brush up against her-his boozy, disgusting breath in her face as he whispered: "Suck my dick, bitch." The old nun now prayed out loud at the change in the atmosphere caused by the foolish forward motion of the drunk. Suddenly, the man jumped back as though jerked by an unseen presence and at the exact same moment reconnection of wire and train occurred sending power surging through the car and the lights popped on. Anna's .38 snub nose was pressed firmly and snugly against the creeps testicles. He had thrown his hands in the air, a look of fear in his booze-glazed eyes. The explosive noise of the train as it barreled down the track shutting out his anxious cries of retreat. "Ok. Ok, Lady, you win." he mouthed, staring down at the calm face of the pretty Hispanic girl. The look in her dewy, brown eyes told him clearly, "I will blow your cojones clean off." Anna smiled, "That's better. Now, go sit down before you get hurt, Mister." At the front of the car, the old nun prayed. In another part of the city, it was clear that every surface, the falling snow would soon cover everything. Christmas lights blinked happily, the reflections on the snow covered streets was beautiful. They had a fairy tale quality to them. It was surreal, almost like a dream. Several shop and bar windows were decorated and flashing colored Christmas lights lit the streets well. There were no shadows here to worry about. It would have been idyllic had it not been for the arctic winds blasts and heavy snow that had laid siege to the great city. It blew through the cracks and the fissures that were in great number here, where the buildings were older and the neighborhoods poorer. The traffic had come to be slow moving and thinning out as it did in weather like this. The sidewalks and streets were beginning to freeze over. New Yorkers were smart enough to leave their vehicles where they were in snow storms. Some walked about on snow shoes and still went about their business. Zack McClaren trudged up Canal Street near Chinatown towards a dive on the corner. Rock music blasted while Christmas lights flashed to the beat as though dancing to the jams. McClaren hated the holidays, couldn't see the point. But he loved whiskey and hard rock, especially on cold, and snowy winter nights. Some old Rob Zombie came through the door and he recognized the raucous rift-"Living Dead Girl" as a man came stumbling out of the establishment called "Gray's". A real dive, but the only place to stay open in the immediate area. (To be continued. More to come.)

 

Ghosts in the Snow Chap.1 Part3 

“Ghosts in the Snow” Horror/Fantasy Lisa Vetrone Chapter 1. Part 3 McClaren tried to help the old man who had reeled unsteadily from the bar’s frosted entranceway, but the old guy batted his hand away and angrily muttered to himself as he staggered through the deepening snow and down the street. The wind and the snow were cruel masters and McClaren thought back to 2010 and the freak megastorm that had paralyzed the city, had taken his wife from him. He promised himself that he wouldn’t think of her. But it always came back to Kiko. Christmas in 2010 in McClaren’s memories were filled with bloodstained snow and the utter white of his beautiful Japanese wife’s dead face as her dark eyes stared sightlessly up toward the heavens. McClaren remembered the gruesome sight all too well. Christmas lights had twinkled merrily over the corpse, red, green, and blue turning the bloodstained snow that cushioned Kiko’s ravaged body from red to black, black to red. The snow-covered street had become an ominous landscape where Homicide Dicks had stared at him suspiciously and crime scene techs left dirty footprints around the too still form of his wife. Where his tears had frozen to his face beneath large dark eyes that were suffering from shock and where the air was filled with the sounds of “Jingle Bells”. Then EMS guys had stomped through the deepening snow and had moved his dead wife, into a black plastic body bag. Right before they had trapped her inside beneath the long zipper, McClaren saw the jagged stab wounds on her neck and chest and fell to his knees in horror. A crowd had gathered and were staring in horror, mostly Chinese people since this was their neighborhood. His immediate neighbors, Lee and May Chen were suddenly standing next to him and helping him up and trying to lead him inside. McClaren had tried to fight them off, but he remembered the grief and shock had crushed him, a solid block of ice and he remembered hearing the voices that whispered appropriate epitaphs as NYPD officers attempted to shoo the onlookers back into their homes and the crime scene tape that blew hopelessly in the wind as snow fell and the cold kept a stranglehold on the city. Now, here the wind and snow were back and more hateful and vengeful than ever before. McClaren entered the bar and was greeted by loud jams and a few patrons that he didn’t recognize. A small Christmas tree sat in the corner of the bar next to the frosted windows and was covered in twinkling blue lights that gave it a haunted look. It instantly reminded him of Kiko in the satin blue kimono as she had danced toward him holding the embossed black music box where a delicate Geisha had spun in slow circles. Kiko haunted him, but never more so than in the winter. The blue lights of the tree taunted him as he tried to force the image back, but she refused to go. “Hey man. What’s up?” The bartender greeted him warmly, and then asked, “You want you’re usual?” “Yeah.Straight up.” McClaren said and then turned to stare past the blue twinkling conifer at the blowing snow while Robert Plant belted out high notes to die for. A large rumbling salt truck made it’s way slowly up the street where it would pile a snow wall on either side trapping the parked cars in a prison of white. The bartender set McClaren’s whiskey in front of him and he drank the inviting amber liquid in one gulp, closing his eyes as the warmth spread through his chilled body. “Rough day?” The bartender asked and McClaren was happy to see that at least this guy, didn’t seem to think that he was some sort of shrink, like a lot of them did in the city. McClaren’s answer was to push the empty glass across the bar, which indicated that the bartender should refill it and refill it now. No talk, more action. Understanding filled the guy’s eyes as he retrieved the empty glass and poured the guy another stiff one. McClaren looked around the bar and there were only three other people in the establishment, that like him, were foolish enough to be out on a night like this where life and death was intricately more pronounced right outside the door. Snow was battering against the windows and frost grew in delicate cracks and designs on the edge of the glass, the twinkling blue of the lights reflected back through and McClaren had another vision of Kiko two days before she had been ravaged and murdered. That day, the two had dragged a scraggly fir tree down the street under a sullen sky and Kiko had been like a child in her excitement of the upcoming holiday. McClaren had never loved her more than at that moment After they had succeeded in getting the tree into the vestibule and up the stairs to their apartment, they had been laughing uncontrollably. Mr. Lee, an older Chinese man had his apartment door open, where the distinct smells of fried rice and egg fu yung had wafted out. The best part? He was in his boxer shorts. This is how they lived their lives and the whole thing had struck them as hilarious, when otherwise it would have irritated them. But hell, it was Christmas and they decided to have peace to all men. Even Mr. Lee. Kiko had been so happy. So innocent. And then a monster had found her just steps from the safety of the vestibule and home two days later in a raging snowstorm in the dead of night. McClaren remembered back to the long days and nights that followed. The endless interrogation from the Homicide Dicks and finally, their profuse apologies and excuses for keeping him at the station. You know how it is, they had said. The spouse is the first to suspect, while Kiko’s killer ran free and disappeared into the glaring white, just another ghost in the snow. He remembered the grief when it had turned to a murderous rage and his friend Hector Rodriguez sitting with him and listening to him rant in a drunken rage for hours. He remembered that after the snow had stopped and the city struggled to it’s feet amid promises from the Dicks that, yes, indeed they were looking for his wife’s killer, not to give up hope, when hope had fled McClaren’s life along with love and all of the good things that he had held dear and then the random sightings of her on every street corner and shop entrances and subway stations. The many times he had run through a crowd and touched the shoulder of a young Asian woman with long, sleek and shiny black hair with a trim petite figure, calling her name, only to have the woman turn around in shock and terror at being accosted by this tall, dark haired, crazy man whose eyes were haunted and set in bags below them from sleepless nights. McClaren told himself to stop. He took another long pull from the drink in his hand, as his eyes welled up. STOP! He screamed inside his mind and wiped at them furiously. He hated snow, he hated Christmas and now he always would. There was a whole month to go and the damn snow just kept coming and the wind howled out her name where the neighbors placed flowers every December on the sidewalk where Kiko had died, X marks the spot. But McClaren didn’t have the heart to tell them to stop, although it killed him inside every time he walked to his apartment and past the building to the entrance, her shimmering ghost never far away. So he drank. And drank. It helped, but only in that which it left him numb and almost mindless. “One more.” McClaren said and the bartender obliged him, saying nothing, the understanding clear in his bright blue eyes. This man was plagued by demons. It was best not to try and engage him in conversation. McClaren belted back the whiskey and let it do it’s thing and then he stood up while Pat Benatar screamed “Hell is for children!” and fished out two twenties and stuck them under the empty glass. The bartender smiled. “Thanks man.” He said, and before McClaren could get his bomber jacket zipped up, the money and the glass disappeared and the wooden and scarred bartop looked as though no one had been there at all. How easily it is to erase all evidence of a person’s existence, just like his dead wife. Her body whisked away and her life’s blood trickling into the sewers with the melting snow leaving no evidence of her violent passing. Shuddering, McClaren nodded to the bartender in silent thanks and then made for the door with it’s frosted glass and the twinkling blue reflections and the howling blizzard that waited for him outside. (Chapter 1, Part 4, coming up.

Ghosts in the Snow Chap.1 Part 4 

Ghosts in the Snow Chapter 1, Part 4 Carlos Alvarez lay shivering under the flattened cardboard listening to the furious winter wind. It whistled and howled angrily joined by the clattering of ice pellets against the cracked and dirty windows of the empty apartment in the abandoned building. At one point he had heard the rumble of a snow plow as it had lumbered down the street and back again, it’s plow scraping against asphalt when it had sliced through the rising snow. In the frosty panes of window glass he could see the colorful smattering of lights reflecting into the dark and dismal room. Beyond that, there was only snow. Carlos knew from experience that everything, meaning buses, trains and planes had been shut down due to the abundance of snowfall and now wondered how he would eat today or score another fix. He thought of his uncle Hector. Maybe he could ask him for help. The heroin had run it’s course and soon the sickness would begin again. It was still dark out, and he had no clue as to what time it was now. All he knew was that he was freezing. The brittle wind had found him as it had entered through the cracks and crevices in the old building and Carlos imagined someone finding his frozen body here someday in his filthy clothing and track marked, scabbed arms. Shame filled his thin emaciated body.. He tried to burrow deeper into the old card board pieces and tried to hide his eyes from the seeming joy brought by the dancing Christmas lights that had invaded the city. They only brought unwanted memories of a family lost and happier holidays now long gone. Carlos then, thought that he had heard something. A rustling perhaps somewhere close by. He lay very still and listened closely. There! It had happened again and he could swear that it was coming from this very room. His first thought was rats. They were everywhere and like him, they were merely seeking shelter from the merciless fiend that raged outside. He slowly sat up, then removed himself from his cardboard bed and stood shakily. He was so weak from his drug abuse, hunger and biting cold. He looked toward the doorway of the apartment where the metal door still slanted outward stuck fast to the old neglected floor of the dismal and narrow hallway. The rustling was loudest there and he peered at the opening where the rectangular portal seemed to fade to black where the light from the bright snow and the twinkling Christmas lights beyond that couldn’t reach. Shivering out of control, he snatched the sides of his useless coat and wrapped himself deeper inside, but the wind didn’t care. It sent tendrils of ice cold arms around the thin man as he carefully and slowly walked to the dark doorway and peered out into it’s eerie depths. The urine smell here was strong, even though, the hallway was as refrigerated as the rest of the building. It was then that Carlos saw something move by the decrepit stairway. A shadow. The man shook his head and rubbed at his eyes. He was hallucinating, had to be. He took a chance and tried to call out, but fear was like strong hands around his throat and all he could do was emit a small croak like a Spring Peeper. “He-llo?” He managed, but it was little more than a whisper, a stranger’s voice. He stepped further into the tight space and kept his eyes on the stairs where through a window from the hallway, the flashing radiance from the Christmas lights outside cast faint intermittent spots of color. There on the wood of the rickety wooden bannister and on the dirty wall the shadow moved slowly and Carlos then became afraid. As it moved, the faint flashing colors were like fireflies on the moving black and Carlos froze where he stood. He said nothing, and made sure to hide the sound of his breathing. And then, unbelievably, a faint misty haze began to form, and a shape to become evident. “Dios Mio!” Carlos hissed in terror and backed up fast along the floor of the hallway until he bumped into the far wall and the broken railing of the other staircase that led down to the foyer and escape. He didn’t even notice the broken crack pipes, empty alcohol bottles and cans that he was tripping over as he went. Graffiti screamed from the wall, hatred and sorrow, as Carlos ran past. The misty shape was moving towards him now, but it was taking it’s time. more of a ball of fog really. This fact didn’t matter to the horrified junkie as he leapt down the forgotten stairway taking the stairs two at a time and then reached the door with it’s broken panes of glass. He grabbed the old rusted and dented doorknob and yanked, but the door was stuck. Carlos glanced up at the top of the staircase and what he saw seemed to give him a newfound strength. He gave the door a powerful pull and the door creak open and out Carlos went into the gaping jaws of the howling wind whose teeth were made of snow and ice. He slipped and fell and the snow found it’s way inside his Salvation Army shirt and pants. he stood up and began shaking the cold horrid stuff out of his clothing while the wind laughed and whistled at him. The snow was at the very least, two inches deeper than it had been when he had entered the dilapidated building and still it came down. A salt truck was making it’s way down the street and when it reached the pathetic man, it slowed and the kind face of a stranger came into view as the driver’s side window slid down. “Hey, buddy? You ok?” The soft and gentle voice of an older white man asked. All Carlos could do was shiver and give furtive glances to the horror show behind him. Fat tears began to course down Carlo’s gaunt cheeks from his haunted eyes. Compassion for this poor indigent filled the driver and he left the idling truck to help the poor man up into the passenger seat. “I’m not allowed to do this on the job. I figure that you could use a break. Is there somewhere that I can take you? Someone that you can call that you can stay with?” The kind old man asked. All Carlos could do was sob. “It will be ok, buddy.” The man said comfortingly, but inside he had his doubts. The poor guy looked as close to death as a person could get. His cheeks were sunken and his skin was an unhealthy yellow. The color skin turns when it’s owner is jaundiced. To hell with the City See and it’s rules, he was taking this man to the hospital. After all, it was the season of giving. Carlos cried as the warmth from the big truck’s heat began to thaw out his frozen tortured bones. He cried at the unexpected kindness of this stranger that appeared in the swirling white of the storm and the twinkling of the Christmas lights, where neon signs blinked mindlessly and street lamps shook in the icy breath of the wind. He cried at the certainty that for him it was too late and for the fact that what was left of his mind had been left in the crouching hulk of the decaying abandoned building where things made of mist roamed it’s halls. This must be what death is like and perhaps soon he would join his mother in the grave. (Chap.1. Part5 Coming up)

 

I Miss The Old EP So Much

I miss all of my friends, some of which are gone. Last year it was such a hoot to come here and interact with them all.  Most of them have lives, or at least found a better way.  I salute you Cat, Ok Country Boy, Resident Pessimist, Brooza, and many more. If you ever come back here, I so hope that you'll look me up. I miss you guys a lot and hope that you're happy wherever you are.

I LOVE Van Halen


I Love Metallica


I LOVE Linkin Park


Rob Zombie IS the MAN.


I Love Rammstein


The New Story That I'm Working On

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The Beginning to One of My Stories.

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1-14 of 14 Blogs   

Previous Posts
D-5's Billy Blog and the Amazing World of Celebrity Portraits, posted December 29th, 2013
The Nephilim, posted September 24th, 2013
This is for YOU, the unbelievers., posted September 21st, 2013, 2 comments
Lucifer, posted September 20th, 2013
What Does The Bible REALLY Teach About God's Kingdom?, posted September 7th, 2013
Syria, Damascus and Bible Prophecy. Is it time?, posted September 1st, 2013
"Devil's Breath", posted July 12th, 2013, 3 comments
"Ghosts In The Snow" By L. Vetrone, posted July 12th, 2013, 2 comments
I Miss The Old EP So Much, posted July 11th, 2013
I LOVE Van Halen, posted July 10th, 2013
I Love Metallica, posted July 10th, 2013
I LOVE Linkin Park, posted July 10th, 2013
Rob Zombie IS the MAN., posted July 10th, 2013
I Love Rammstein, posted July 10th, 2013
The New Story That I'm Working On, posted July 7th, 2013
The Beginning to One of My Stories., posted July 7th, 2013

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