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Nocturne’s Reaping® : Dirge

Chapter 23

“Pray with me.” Nora whispered to Jack.

Nora and Jack prayed as they slowly approached what she believed to be the spot where they were supposed to ascend, even though it was still a ways away. By the look of it, it seemed the recruits were to cross the force field through a temporarily weakened section. Nora also noticed there were fighter jets within the area. Were they there to repel any nebula reapers that breached the vulnerability? Were the nebula reapers right there — perhaps just passing in the distance? Could that be why the recruits had been told to keep in a holding pattern for the time being? At the very least, it would seem that the opportunity to exit into space couldn’t be guaranteed at any given moment. Certainly, the recruits weren’t all going to be sent out just to be ambushed. The fact that the Administration delayed their ascent suggested that wasn’t true. Yet, Nora’s mind couldn’t help but run through all the possibilities she could conceive of. And the fact was that in this situation almost anything was possible.

Then, Nora got to thinking about the purpose of the fighter jets. Perhaps, they weren’t there just for the nebula reapers. Maybe they were there to shoot down any of the recruits who strayed off course. Even if that wasn’t their real purpose, it had the same effect — it made you think twice before trying to escape.

Finally, they were given the signal to ascend. Jack and Nora filed in behind the other recruits; a couple more filed in behind them. They lined up in the order they had left the Institute. One by one they disappeared into the hole in the force field like a person sinking underneath a pool of water. Nora thought of Group A and their final moments. Were they given a chance to come back through the force field? How long had they been kept out there? Had they realized at some point they weren’t going to be able to defeat the reapers? Had they tried to return? Had the fleeing planes crashed into the force field, and that was how they fell to the ground the way they had? Was that the reason the planes were now even smaller than the ones she had seen Group A use during their test flight? Had even the small planes from before resulted in too much debris? On the one hand, Nora was in a unique position to understand the horror of that. On the other hand, her brain wouldn’t allow her to go there.

As it turned out, it was pointless to wonder. Nora hadn’t actually seen the planes Group A had used on their final mission. The ones Elsie saw may have been set aside for either Group A or Group B. Actually, Nora didn’t know at the time to ask Elsie whether the planes she saw being moved on to the grounds before the members of Group A were sent out that last time were the same as those used during the test flight. In the end, what Nora really wanted to know now was whether the plane she and Jack were in was the same type that had been used in that disastrous mission. And were they, therefore, doomed to have the same kind of failure now? Would the Administration have even had the time to improve the planes this fast? It could be the Administration anticipated the need for smaller planes yet sent Group A out in the less effective ones anyway. Either way, it seemed impossible to know at this point whether Group B stood a better chance than Group A had.

Nora did decide that, no matter whether those in Group A had lost their lives as a direct result of the nebula reapers or while trying to flee from them, it was likely the force field had been closed off behind them. Chances were good that that was what was about to happen to her and the others in Group B, too. Nora’s stomach dropped when she realized that the force field would probably not be opened again until Group C was ready to be sent out. Then, it suddenly dawned on Nora that the planes she saw earlier, the small ones she assumed were for Group B, may be intended for Group C instead. If Group A flew out that final time in their test planes, it would mean that the plane Nora was now using was one of the ones Elsie saw being brought in to the complex, and that Nora instead saw the vehicles meant for Group C’s demise. It was like it had been with Group A — Group B had already died in the mind of the Administration. Panic began to set in once more.

“Why are we doing this again?” Nora questioned. “Wouldn’t we have a better chance against those fighter jets?”

Jack hesitated. He didn’t want to talk about the fact that the colony was on borrowed time. It would automatically call to Nora’s mind her parents and her brother. Though Jack talked with Nora’s mother, he wasn’t sure her family would be able to leave in time.

“I’ve been thinking we might get trapped out there …” Nora noted.

“I talked with your mother. I told her everything. There may be a way for them to leave.” Jack decided to say after all.

Nora partially turned. She was silent for a moment as she considered.

“I told them I’d take care of you.” he added.

“But it’s such a risk for them to try. Is it because of me? Because of this?”

“Yes and no. If I hadn’t promised to try to get you out, they might not have considered leaving. But still … there isn’t much of a choice. The truth is we’re not going to stop the nebula reapers. Eventually, the force field is going to fail. Our goal is to delay them long enough for some others to escape in a passenger plane.”

Nora fully turned around to look at Jack. She forgot she couldn’t see his face behind his helmet.

“How can they fit a plane that size through those small force field gaps?” Nora wondered.

“My guess is that with the distraction they can open a hole big enough for a larger vessel. It’s a risk, but it worked with Group A.”

Nora swallowed. Moments later, she bit her lip.

“Then, they’ve already given up on the colony … There’s no hope down there.” she said as she turned back forward. Nora lightly touched the controls. “And yet, most everything in me is screaming that we should turn back … unless, unless I can help my parents … my brother … you and I … It could just be fear, I guess. Something tells me it could just be fear I’m feeling …”

“There’s no time left for you to go with them tonight. And if they are going in the third group, it might ruin their chances if you tried to join up with them now — assuming that’s even an option. Still, I’m planning on escaping with you right now if we can. This is our only chance to have a plane. Are you up for it?”

Nora breathed.

“I guess I’ll have to be … It’s time.”

The computer monitor showed that they had reached the point in space where they were to ascend. In fact, the controls lit up to show that they needed to be adjusted. Once Nora put her hands on the controls, the screen showed instructions on what should be done next. She did what the instructions spelled out. As she did, the plane started the steep climb towards the exit into space. Nora breathed shallowly and swiftly as the plane ascended. Eventually, she realized she was near hyperventilation. She thought about closing her eyes but decided against it. She needed to be able to see. That was when she felt Jack’s hand grasp her shoulder reassuringly. Nora managed to calm down … but just a little.

Then, suddenly, a thought flashed into her mind. She remembered how the lecturer had told them how lucky they were compared with the others who were to remain on the colony. It was a lie that the recruits were lucky, but what about the others? Was he thinking about what was going to happen when the force field failed? Maybe he felt he’d rather be in a plane like the recruits than be one of the people on the ground. Would he be one of those helpless people, or would he be one of the ones who were set to escape all of this?

And could she really judge the people behind the escape plan now that her parents and brother might be among the escapees? No, it wasn’t their escaping that was wrong; it was the way those behind it were going about it. Nora did worry that her parents wouldn’t escape. Yet, if they could it would be a relief. One thing Nora felt sure about was that Jack wouldn’t lie about the possibility that her family might escape, not even to make her feel better. No, she had to believe it was possible.

“Nora, heads up.” Jack said. “We’re going through.”

There was an eerie silence when they emerged on the other side. At first, she could only hear the low roar of the thrusters. Then, Jack switched on the radio. Jack could reach some of the buttons that Nora couldn’t easily reach under the circumstances. On the radio, they could hear the others breathing. Nora then realized she could also hear her own breath rather loudly from within her mask. She concluded that her nerves were getting to her. There was one question that needed to be answered to reassure Nora: what were they supposed to do now?

“Should we turn the lights on?” Nora wondered aloud.

“No.” Jack returned.

“But I can’t see anything.” she persisted.

“I’m more worried about their seeing us at this point.” Jack noted.

He was leaning to the side and seemed to be straining to see what was going on outside the window.

“Wait! What’s that!” a voice came over the intercom suddenly. “Turn us around!”

Nora held her breath as the screaming began.

Because of the light from the other planes’ thrusters, Nora could see that the planes were scattering. The lights would spark on and off at varying times. Nora couldn’t tell whether the nebula reapers had actually come upon the recruits or whether the recruits had just lost their nerve. Nora thought about calling out to them, but she doubted they could hear her over the shouts and screams, which abounded. While everyone else seemed to be in some state of movement, Nora was frozen. Though the planes came equipped with weapons — and they had now been activated — she couldn’t see anything to fire the weapons at.

But when the firing began from elsewhere, she was able to finally see the massive forms of the nebula reapers streaking around. Only they seemed much larger, much closer than ever before. And one was coming almost directly at her and Jack’s plane! Nora shrieked as the light gray apparition slid against their vehicle with such force that it caused Nora and Jack to careen off course.

But the creature didn’t go for them; it was hot on the trail of another plane. Nora swallowed and wrung her hands.

“Maybe it thinks we’re dead.” Nora put forth.

“Those weapons don’t seem to be doing anything.” Jack observed calmly.

Nora screamed as the pursued plane and all those in it were consumed.

“No!! Jack!” Nora screamed.

She attempted to turn around toward him, but she did it so quickly that she forgot to compensate for her safety belt. Yet, she could see that his mask was facing her.

“I’m trying to figure out what to do.” he stated. “The problem is we can’t just stay here forever.”

Nora was confused by Jack’s demeanor. Should she be comforted or concerned by his seeming stoicism? It all depended on what it meant. Was he formulating some sort of plan? Or, was he like her — in a state of shock — incapable of deciding on a course of action. Then, another reaper bumped into them then another. Nora shook violently.

“What should I do, Jack?! Should I fire at them?!” Nora demanded, her voice shrill.

“No. Even direct hits don’t do any good.”

Nora breathed unsteadily.

“You were right! We’re just a distraction! There’s nothing we can do!!” she sobbed.

Nora could suddenly hear someone over the intercom start to cry, and she realized her mistake. She had been talking over the radio.

“I’m — I’m sorry …” Nora stammered. “Maybe you should all try stopping as we have. I mean, it’s not a complete answer, but …”

“We’re being pursued, you idiot! We can’t stop …” one yelled back at her.

“The firing may draw attention …” Nora offered.

“What?! Are you crazy? We have to defend ourselves!” another screamed.

“It doesn’t do any good!” Nora argued.

“Don’t listen to her! I’ve seen it repel them,” a man yelled out. “Just keep moving and firing. She probably just wants everyone to be a sitting duck like she is.”

“No, I …”

“Don’t bother.” Jack said. “You tried.”

Jack switched the radio off.

“I hate to say this, but we can use all that’s going on to get away … Nora … Nora.”

“Yes.” Nora uttered.

“I’m switching us on to impulse power.” Jack informed her. “I’m hoping that will keep our movement so slow and emit so little light that it won’t draw attention to us. You need to steer us toward the right.”

Nora managed to move her eyes toward the controls. She slowly reached out her shaking hands to the controls and tipped them ever so slightly to the right. She breathed and realized that she had been holding her breath. Her muscles were also so tense that she felt they might start cramping. She started rubbing one leg with a hand she freed up just to have something else to do. Unfortunately, she couldn’t help but look up again. The scene she saw in front of her looked almost identical to the one she had seen before she looked down.

“Are we even moving?” Nora asked after a moment had passed.

“Yes, we’re moving — just slowly.”

Nora leaned back into Jack.

“Then … we just wait …” Nora murmured.

“Yes.”

“We’re using the same strategy as the passenger transport — wherever it is — just trying to lie low …” she whispered. “I wonder whether my parents are out there somewhere trying to get away.”

Nora looked off to the side at the edge where the windshield met the metal sides of the plane. From that position, she was able to witness certain events unfolding. In the distance, she could see lights erupt in patches against the force field surrounding Colony 52. At first, Nora thought it was just the debris from the planes, which had either succumbed to or were trying to flee from the nebula reapers, and it was. But it was also the nebula reapers bearing down on the force field, weakening it. And it was weakening. Almost imperceptibly, the light grew dimmer and dimmer. And when the weakening occurred, the small planes would disappear from view as they delved into the atmosphere — though by then they were no longer in one piece. It must have been the same for Group A, Nora decided. Only because the force field had become weaker since then, it was happening faster for Group B. For now, most of the reapers were too large to make it through the force field and reach Colony 52. And yet, Nora somehow knew that soon that wouldn’t be the case. Soon the force field would be no more. Then, nothing would exist … not on Colony 52.

“It’s funny, you know, though not in an amusing way …” Nora’s voice was hollow. “… but I can still hear the screaming even now that the radio is turned off.” Nora muttered. “Am I dreaming? It’s getting so dark. The lights are all going out one by one … And now, they’re gone. They’re all gone. Ours could come back on though. And what about my parents and brother …? It’s cold, so cold. And dark — so very dark. How far do you think we can go before we die of suffocation — assuming you’re right, and they don’t kill us?”

“As long as it takes. I believe we can make it to the nearest planet.”

“But how much oxygen could we have left?”

“Enough I think. As soon as we’re farther away we’ll set off faster.”

Nora reached back and grasped his hand.

“Thank you for coming for me — no matter what happens.” she murmured softly.

He squeezed her hand.

“Don’t give up, Nora. Don’t give up.”

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2016

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Nocturne’s Reaping® : Dirge

Chapter 22

Nora entered the locker room. She found she was actually glad — glad to have a break from Ned at least. But then, she was confronted by glares, which were coming from those three girls she had had a run-in with earlier at the dorm. Thankfully, they weren’t in the mood to make more of it than that. Still, she didn’t need to be surrounded by such anger and disdain now of all times.

Even so, Nora would have lingered in the locker room if she had been given a choice, but she wasn’t. Instead, the recruits were all ordered from the room before Nora had even laced up her boots. Nora had managed to be one of the last ones to leave, however. She took those few moments to try to regain her composure and even managed to pray a little. This time she simply prayed for all those on Colony 52. As she approached the exit to the locker room, she somehow had a sense of peace settle over her. She sighed. She didn’t want to die, especially not this way; and yet, she was not so frantic as she had been before. She had done everything she could think to do.

As Nora stepped into the hallway, she figured the man standing awkwardly near the exit must be Ned, though it was impossible to tell with the helmet he was wearing. She walked up to him. There was no point in this tension, Nora decided. They’d be trying to survive together. And if they did make it back to the colony, they’d need to work together to land someplace else, so they could escape the Administration.

“Listen, today’s a bad day for both of us. Let’s just try to work together and survive.”

Silence. Nora was shocked when Ned started to walk away toward the rest of the group. He was giving her the silent treatment now? How was that going to work? Yes, it was good his inane chatter had ended, but still …

Nora reluctantly joined the others. After all, what choice did she have? Just as before, Ned kept looking over at her. She would look over at him from the side. She felt herself flush. Obviously, he was trying to make her uncomfortable, Nora concluded. Still, she decided not to look at him anymore lest she give him the wrong idea.

Each pair was led to a small plane of their own. It was so tiny; Nora wondered whether she and Ned could even fit in there. Nora also wished she could pick her own plane. It was probably paranoid of her, but having Mrs. Grafton, who clearly didn’t like her, choose the vehicle that Nora would either live or die in didn’t sit right with her.

Nora looked around her. Within the shadows of the doorways, men stood with guns. Nice, Nora thought. Ned put his hand on her shoulder. He motioned with a movement of his head toward the plane.

Nora looked back up at the ladder. Ned was smarter when he didn’t talk, Nora concluded. If she tried to run now, she’d be killed right away. What was more, it was foolish of her to think there was ever a way out, not really. It was all just an illusion. The recruits had, in fact, been led to believe that, so that they would keep delaying action until it was too late. But had there ever really been an opportunity for her? Not since they discovered her and Jack on the roof. Jack …

Nora, despite having come to terms with her situation, still didn’t want death — and yet, that seemed to be the only option that the Administration seemed to be offering. It was just about delaying the inevitable now. Nora grasped the ladder with her hands. She hesitated briefly. Then, she took a deep breath and started up the ladder. Nora squeezed as far forward on the one long seat as she could manage once she got inside. She was hoping that she would have to come into contact with Ned as minimally as possible. Nora was still thinking about Jack when Ned entered the plane and filed in behind her. It should have been he who was here with her, not Ned. It was hard not to blame Ned for that on some level, though she couldn’t be sure it was his fault. Fortunately for Nora, Ned seemed to be giving her some space. Though, he was still closer than Nora would have liked.

Yet, somehow, Nora could feel herself breathing easefully for the first time since she found out Ned was to be her copilot. And when the hatch came down around them, Nora concluded Ned must have been the one who pressed the button to close it. This development surprised Nora as she didn’t think he knew much of anything about the plane. Just then, the hangar door began to open. The morning it revealed featured a thick layer of dew covering the ground. The brightness from one of the simulated suns created a sort of haze. If it weren’t for these circumstances, Nora would have found it to be a nice day.

“You may start up the planes.” a female voice said over the intercom. Ned started the plane as directed. Once again, Ned seemed to know what he was doing. Maybe he’d be more help to Nora than she originally thought.

“When the light comes on, it will be your turn to head out on to the runway. Also, all pilots should be aware that we now have the capacity to override your controls upon takeoff. Each of your planes has an onboard navigational system preprogrammed to guide you to the spot where you will ascend. We will bring down safely any plane that avoids the set course, but the consequences will be severe.”

And there it was — the answer to the question that had been milling around in Nora’s mind. She had been waiting to see whether there was any indication that the Administration could control them once they took off. Of course, that didn’t mean they could control them after they got into space or out of a certain range; there was really no way to know that at this point. Nora also couldn’t be sure that what they were telling her now was the truth. All she could hope for was that it would turn out to be a lie later on.

Nora watched planes head out one after another. Then, her light came on.

“All right. Let’s get out of here.” Nora commented. “At least that’s one positive thing we can do.”

Nora began to ready the plane by pushing the correct buttons on the console. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a commotion going on to her right.

“I wonder … what?” Nora started.

She looked over to her other side and discovered Ned was leaning forward and removing some metallic piece from under the console.

“What are you doing, Ned?!” Nora demanded, fearing he was removing something critical to the operation of the plane.

“Take us forward.” Ned replied, only it wasn’t Ned’s voice she heard.

Nora looked ahead; she was utterly stunned. Was she imagining things? She started the plane forward. Then, she managed a near flawless takeoff. Nora breathed.

“Is it you?” Nora then asked the man behind her. “Jack, is it you?”

“Yes.”

Nora laughed with joy; her tension eased.

“How — how?” she stammered.

“I hid in the locker room. Ned is unconscious there. I recognized him from before. Plus, he was complaining about you. I knocked him out from behind. Chances are they may have just found him.”

“Before that…” Nora started.

“I sneaked in via a supply truck. Seems there aren’t too many people trying to get in, so they didn’t really examine the trucks thoroughly. Not to mention, the grounds are short-staffed. The guards seemed to be off doing something else. It’s possible they’re elsewhere because of Group B’s departure, though it’s also possible there’s another reason.”

“Well, what should I do? I mean, that was the pilot override you removed, wasn’t it?”

“Yes. I managed to get some useful information while I was here before.”

“Then, where should we go?”

Nora turned her face around just slightly. Then, she realized she was only able to see his helmet.

“Take us up to space.”

“What?! But they are there! And if the override is gone, then we can escape from the Administration. Do you think they’d try to bring us down? They might anyway because you’re here with me.”

“Yes, but it’s a chance we’ll have to take. I’ve given it a lot of thought; it’s the only way we can survive long-term.”

“But how could that be?”

“There are things I figured out that make it true.”

“What — what about your family?” Nora asked Jack.

“They died a long time ago. Not long after that day I met you, a disease went through the tunnels. By the time I found them again, it seems they had already been exposed. They told me to leave again when they became symptomatic. When I went back a week later, I was told they were dead.”

Nora turned back around and considered.

“I’m sorry …” she muttered, though it seemed inadequate. “And my family?”

She had almost been too afraid to ask.

“I took care of that.” Jack paused. “Nora, we don’t have time to waste. If you try to get off course, we’ll miss our chance. We need to do this.”

“All — all right. With you here with me, I probably can do it.”

Nora pulled back on the controls, and they began to climb toward the darkness.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2016

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Exodus 4

And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.

And the LORD said unto him, “What is that in thine hand?” And he said, A rod.

And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.

And the LORD said unto Moses, “Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail.” And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:

“That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.”

And the LORD said furthermore unto him, “Put now thine hand into thy bosom.” And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.

And He said, “Put thine hand into thy bosom again.” And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh.

“And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.

“And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.

And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since Thou hast spoken unto Thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

And the LORD said unto him, “Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?

“Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.”

And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray Thee, by the hand of him whom Thou wilt [Or, shouldest] send.

And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said, “Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.

“And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.

“And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.

“And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.”

And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace.

And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, “Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life.”

And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.

And the LORD said unto Moses, “When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.

“And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, ‘Thus saith the LORD, “Israel is My son, even My firstborn:

“And I say unto thee, ‘Let My son go, that he may serve Me’: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.” ’ ”

And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.

Then Zipporah took a sharp stone [Or, knife], and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.

So He let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.

And the LORD said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.

And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which He had commanded him.

And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:

And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.

And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that He had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped (Exodus 4: 1-31).

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Romans 9

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,

That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

For I could wish that myself were accursed [Or, separated] from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants [Or, testaments], and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, “IN ISAAC SHALL THY SEED BE CALLED.”

That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

For this is the word of promise, “AT THIS TIME WILL I COME, AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON.”

And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth;)

It was said unto her, “THE ELDER SHALL SERVE THE YOUNGER.”

As it is written, “JACOB HAVE I LOVED, BUT ESAU HAVE I HATED.”

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

For He saith to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I WILL HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I WILL HAVE COMPASSION.”

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, “EVEN FOR THIS SAME PURPOSE HAVE I RAISED THEE UP, THAT I MIGHT SHEW MY POWER IN THEE, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE DECLARED THROUGHOUT ALL THE EARTH.”

Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth.

Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will?

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor?

What if God, willing to shew His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted [Or, made up] to destruction:

And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory,

Even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

As He saith also in Osee, “I WILL CALL THEM ‘MY PEOPLE,’ WHICH WERE NOT MY PEOPLE; AND HER ‘BELOVED,’ WHICH WAS NOT BELOVED.”

“AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS, THAT IN THE PLACE WHERE IT WAS SAID UNTO THEM, ‘YE ARE NOT MY PEOPLE’; THERE SHALL THEY BE CALLED THE CHILDREN OF THE LIVING GOD.”

Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, “THOUGH THE NUMBER OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL BE AS THE SAND OF THE SEA, A REMNANT SHALL BE SAVED:

“FOR HE WILL FINISH THE WORK, AND CUT IT SHORT IN RIGHTEOUSNESS: BECAUSE A SHORT WORK WILL THE LORD MAKE UPON THE EARTH.”

And as Esaias said before, “EXCEPT THE LORD OF SABAOTH HAD LEFT US A SEED, WE HAD BEEN AS SODOMA, AND BEEN MADE LIKE UNTO GOMORRHA.”

What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.

But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

As it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN SION A STUMBLINGSTONE AND ROCK OF OFFENCE: AND WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH ON HIM SHALL NOT BE ASHAMED.” (Romans 9: 1-33)

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PSALM 34

A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed.

 

I will bless the LORD at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.

I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

They looked unto Him [Or, they flowed unto Him], and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.

O fear the LORD, ye His saints: for there is no want to them that fear Him.

The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?

Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry.

The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate [Or, shall be guilty].

The LORD redeemeth the soul of His servants: and none of them that trust in Him shall be desolate.

 

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PSALM 33

Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.

Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto Him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.

Sing unto Him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.

For the word of the LORD is right; and all His works are done in truth.

He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness [Or, mercy] of the LORD.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.

He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: He layeth up the depth in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.

For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.

The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: He maketh the devices of the people of none effect.

The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance.

The LORD looketh from heaven; He beholdeth all the sons of men.

From the place of His habitation He looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.

He fashioneth their hearts alike; He considereth all their works.

There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.

An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy;

To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waiteth for the LORD: He is our help and our shield.

For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.

Let Thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in Thee.

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PSALM 32

A Psalm of David, Maschil.

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.

For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

For this shall every one that is godly pray unto Thee in a time when Thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

Thou art my hiding place; Thou shalt preserve me from trouble; Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with Mine eye.

Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.

Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

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