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Nocturne’s Reaping® : Intermezzo

Chapter 11

Kenji knew the letter was important; he could just tell. Therefore, it was essential for him to mail it without anyone suspecting what he was up to. He decided to involve Erik as his unwitting accomplice. It would seem less suspicious if two friends headed out on an adventure than if he wandered around the streets alone. He had to make sure this letter wasn’t retrieved right after it was deposited in the postal box; therefore, he couldn’t tip off anyone to what he was doing.

On the one hand, he thought he was being paranoid; on the other hand, he noted Miss Harrington’s bizarre reaction to Takara leaving the building. People were watching Takara and controlling her movements. He just had to make sure this letter got to where it needed to be.

“Something going on?” Erik asked him.

Kenji had been standing outside the virtual reality corridor waiting for Erik. The question was how much should he say. Maybe Erik could point him in the direction of a postal box that was less conspicuous. The closest one might not be the best choice as it turned out. In his current frame of mind, Kenji resisted looking up the information online again lest someone saw him take the letter from Takara.

“I have to mail this letter …” Kenji stated.

“Okay.” Erik sounded confused.

“It’s sort of complicated.”

“Does it have something to do with that girl?” Erik asked.

“Yes.” Kenji wondered where Erik was going with that question.

“Why don’t you just give it to her then?”

“I can’t.”

“Oh …” Erik considered. “Oh, she left. Hey, they’re all gone!”

“Yes, the bus left a little while ago. I told them we weren’t needing a ride since we came here on our own.”

“So, what’s the problem?”

Kenji considered.

“Like I said …”

“Listen, do you want me to mail it for you?”

“I … don’t know …”

“It’s not a big deal. There’s a box on the way to my house.”

Kenji found himself handing the letter over. His heart sank a little as he let it slip away from his grasp.

“You won’t forget?” Kenji asked.

“No.” Erik insisted. “I’ll do it. I know how hard it will be to work with you if I don’t.”

Erik placed the letter in his jacket pocket.

“Catch you later.” Erik said as he took off.

 

***

 

Kenji was concerned on his way home. He had decided to walk rather than call his parents for a ride, despite his home being pretty far away, in order to have some time to think through the things that were weighing on him. Had he betrayed Takara’s trust by giving the letter to Erik? It wasn’t as though he felt that Erik would purposefully let him down. But what if the letter fell out of Erik’s pocket? Kenji tried to tell himself that Takara could just write another one, but honestly her home life seemed really strange. Perhaps, it had something to do with her father’s death? Kenji had been afraid to ask about that. Not only did he not want to pry, but he felt it could also be potentially dangerous.

And to think he barely knew Takara before the course. He had liked her before; it wasn’t that. But she seemed so far away to him then. Now he was too worried about her to truly appreciate how great it was that they were actually spending time together.

Earlier that day, he had split his attention among looking for her to come into the arcade, exploring the computer programs, and talking to Erik. He had been worried what she might think when she found he wasn’t on the bus. His alarm clock hadn’t gone off in time for him to catch the bus, so his mother had offered to drive him. As his eyes drifted downward that last time, his eyes met hers. He was in awe of the brilliant smile Takara had given him; so much so that he was in a daze when he came down to the main floor.

Then, once again, it seemed as though her life had sneaked in on her. More than once before, she had alluded to being trapped at that place — that Institute. It was so bad apparently she didn’t even believe she’d be given the extra time to go to the arcade to complete her work.

Then, there was the way Miss Harrington had treated her. Kenji had never seen the teacher raise her voice before, but it was more than that. There was this venom to her words, as though she didn’t like Takara at all anymore. Kenji shook his head. What had Takara ever done to her? Nothing so far as Kenji could tell. Takara seemed to wilt like a blossom in the snow at that moment. Kenji sighed. He knew he wasn’t enough. She needed more support than he could give in the small amount of time they saw each other. And then, there was the letter. What would become of that?

Just then, Kenji noticed that the dull roar of a car engine, the awareness of which had entered into the back of his mind awhile ago, was still there. Kenji began to count the seconds of how long the sound remained. He began to wonder what its presence meant as time ticked by. As he stopped at the crosswalk, he could hear the hover car slowly approach. But instead of coming up to the line, it stopped just behind Kenji and idled there: he was being followed. Suddenly, Kenji’s concerns about Erik taking the letter from him were gone. As it turned out, Erik was the best chance that letter had of getting where it needed to go.

Kenji arrived home not long afterward. He had thought about going someplace else, so that those following him wouldn’t know where he lived. The only problem was he didn’t know where he could go nearby that would be safe. Not to mention, he was walking at such a clip by then that he was getting tired. He couldn’t seem to stop himself either. Ever since he realized he was being followed, he felt compelled to press forward and get home as quickly as possible.

Kenji ran up the stairs to his apartment, unlocked the door, and rushed inside. He’d made it! After removing his shoes and his bag, he yelled out, “I’m home!”

“Okay. No need to be so formal.” his mother returned.

Kenji sighed.

“I’m in the kitchen, by the way. I made some cookies if you’re interested.”

Kenji hesitated. It all depended on what type of cookies she was making. Some days they were great; other days his mother would try new recipes, new concoctions she created. Some of the combinations got to be bizarre.

Kenji entered the room then sat on a stool near the counter. He prepared himself for the worst.

“I made your favorite: peanut butter.”

“Is that all that’s in there?”

“Oh.” Her face fell. “Are you disappointed?”

“No, oh no! I can’t wait!”

“Good.” She smiled. “By the way, why were you out of breath? You usually say ‘I’m home’ with a lot more enthusiasm.”

Kenji looked at her skeptically.

“Some car seemed to be following me.” he admitted.

Kenji figured it was best someone else know just in case it was something. Still …

“But of course I can’t be sure.” he added.

“You know that wouldn’t surprise me at all.”

Kenji was taken aback by her reaction.

“This city has gotten strange. I mean, they never did figure out where that robot went. Next time you’ll have to call me; I’ll drive you home.”

“All right.” He nodded.

“Still, it’s unfortunate a person can’t just wander the streets anymore. I’m not sure when that happened. This colony used to seem so peaceful.”

“I don’t know.” Kenji acknowledged.

His mother sighed. Then, she went to the oven to retrieve the cookies.

“Oh, by the way, your father has started a booth at the local flea market. He wants us to go help.”

“Today?”

“Yes.”

“What would I do?”

“We’re supposed to look interested in his collection of custom-made fishing lures just in case no one else is.”

Kenji was doubtful.

“What?”

“He doesn’t want to be embarrassed. And I’ve made plenty of cookies to keep you going.”

It only then became clear to Kenji that the cookies were a bribe to get him to help with his father’s latest money-making scheme. Oh, well. At least he’d have some cookies and something else to think about.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2019

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Nocturne’s Reaping® : Intermezzo

Chapter 10

Miss Harrington did announce at the next class session that a field trip would be scheduled for the coming Friday if everyone could attend. There were no complaints, so she went ahead with the scheduling. It seemed there had been a standing agreement, which Miss Harrington had been routinely canceling, with the arcade. Now, however, Miss Harrington was seemingly over whatever it was that had been troubling her before. All she mentioned that gave anyone a clue as to the reason for the reversal was that a conversation she had had recently had been very reassuring. She was now certain that she could handle things. Takara glanced at Kenji’s image briefly and noticed the same puzzled expression on his face that was likely on hers. Their conversation afterward sort of touched on their mutual confusion; but really their talk was very simple and brief. They would see each other on Friday, after all. Takara felt relief that she would see him again.

The week went by really slowly, but it was uplifting to hear before class began how excited everyone was about the forthcoming field trip. They would finally be given the opportunity to start work on an assignment of their own rather than just take a tour of the facility. Takara was relieved to find out that few students had actually gone back to the arcade on their own time. Actually, the only kid who seemed to go there a lot was the kid named Erik Lancaster. And it wasn’t as though he was trying to upstage the others, it seemed. He just had a real interest in the virtual reality corridor. Since he lived close to the facility and the course didn’t delve into that particular subject a lot, his parents bought him a membership to the arcade. Yet, it appeared there was only so much one could do on his or her own. That was why Erik was eager for the class to meet there. Then again, everyone seemed to feel the same way; just reading about the course subject didn’t seem like enough. Though the topic was interesting to read about, the real draw of the course, Takara discovered, was the work that could be done at the arcade facility.

Finally, Friday came. Takara became nervous that morning. After all, she wouldn’t put it past these people to tell her she couldn’t go at the last minute. Takara wrung her hands for a moment. She wondered whether there was a way she could guarantee she’d be able to go. Her first thought was to be especially nice to whomever she ran into. After all, she was in a good mood and was excited to begin the day. But then she thought better of it. This course was Mr. Tyler’s idea; Takara figured it was more than likely suggested to prevent her from going back to her old school for some reason. If Takara got on too well at the online school, he might bring in a private tutor instead; then, she would never have an opportunity to leave the Institute and contact her mother. Not to mention, she would lose her contact with Kenji as well.

Takara sat on her bed and considered. The way she had to live here … there was always a possibility someone would analyze her reaction. She sighed. Perhaps, she should focus on how tired she was. The fact was she hadn’t slept much the previous night. She kept dreaming that she had overslept and missed the field trip. And her restlessness only got worse the further into the night she got. Eventually, she just decided to stay up lest she really did sleep too long. It would be just like Patty to let her sleep in when she could least afford to.

Takara had made some progress in improving her strength, however. The walking was really helping to improve her endurance. The irony was the more she did and the more she pushed herself, the more she realized how weak she had become after the accident. Takara looked down sadly. At that moment, Patty entered the room. It was her job to arrange for the bus to come pick up Takara. Takara looked at the woman briefly then turned her gaze away. She held her breath. She wondered whether the woman was going to say anything about the day’s activities.

“Well, aren’t you going to get dressed?” Patty asked.

Takara stood without looking at the woman. She walked straight forward towards her dresser. She had waited to dress, so she wouldn’t appear to be desperate to go. Patty placed Takara’s tray of food on the dresser and headed out of the room. Takara could feel the woman glare at her, even though she didn’t see it firsthand.

Still, the reality was that Takara had picked out her outfit in advance. It was the prettiest outfit she could select without drawing too much attention to herself. It really felt as though she were going to a regular school again. It would be hard for her to hide her excitement, but it was imperative, nonetheless.

Takara ate every bit of her food. She figured she needed every ounce of strength she could get. Also, if everything went according to plan, she wouldn’t have the time to get food at the arcade. She’d be too busy mailing her letter! Takara even attempted not to appear to be in a hurry while she ate; still, her eyes watched the clock steadily.

Next, Takara grabbed her bag, and, as casually as possible, she headed out the door and into the hall. Takara did make eye contact with a few people she passed by. She tried to appear as pleasant as she could. She just hoped she could get out of the building without …

“Takara!” a voice called out.

Takara froze. Then, she slowly turned toward the atrium. There was Mr. Tyler with the same strange man as before.

“Come here, won’t you?” he called out from the same high-back chair her father used to occupy when he went to the atrium.

“I-I have to get …” she stammered.

“You have enough time.” he mentioned coolly, while staring straight ahead.

“Come … here …” he stated with intensity without actually shouting.

Takara made her way over to him with her eyes cast downward.

“Takara, please shake hands with Mr. Connelly. He is wanting to make your acquaintance.”

Takara eyed the man suspiciously.

“Come now, is that any way to act?”

“You don’t remember me, do you?” the strange man asked.

“No.” Takara answered skeptically.

The man sat up in his chair. He and Mr. Tyler appeared to exchange glances. Mr. Connelly seemed to be relieved.

“Well, why don’t we say that your father and I were friends.” the man continued.

“Really?” Takara asked.

“Sure.” he replied with a smile.

Takara looked between the two men. There was something going on here, but Takara couldn’t guess what it could be. The only thing she could tell was that Mr. Connelly seemed happier now that she had come over.

“You may leave now, Takara.” Mr. Tyler informed her.

“All right.” Takara started.

“It was nice to meet you.” she added. She said this towards the other man at the last minute. Only, strangely, the man seemed uninterested in her now. He merely lifted his eyes and nodded slightly. Takara was taken off guard. She turned slowly and headed for the exit. She felt deflated for some reason. But then, as she walked from the Institute and came out into the sunshine, her mood began to improve. She began to feel empowered again. There was something about just this small amount of freedom that left her feeling invigorated. She also started thinking about positive things. She may have felt low before she left, but the truth was that she had gotten out, and she was on her way. She had her letter to her mother. She even had her father’s key safeguarded in her shoe. Just having something from her father’s room was comforting, even though she had no plans to use it.

The key did, however, make it a bit harder to trek down the driveway. It would probably be even worse going back up the hill later. But still, somehow, it was worth it to have that key with her. When Takara got to the street, she was unnerved to find the bus waiting for her. Takara attempted to walk as fast as she could lest they leave her behind. It occurred to her that if she hadn’t been building up her strength these past weeks, it might have been gone already.

Upon boarding the bus, the first person whom Takara made eye contact with was the teacher. Miss Harrington kind of smiled then looked away.

“I’m sorry …” Takara acknowledged. “I’m late.”

The woman nodded slightly. Takara concluded that maybe her teacher was still upset about what had happened the last time they were on the bus. Still, instead of focusing on that, Takara decided to connect with Kenji instead. It would be nice to have someone to sit near, though it would probably be too risky for them to sit in the same seat. As Takara scanned the bus, she was horrified to note that Kenji wasn’t there. Takara froze. Where could he be?

“Takara … Takara, will you please have a seat.”

“Oh—yeah.”

Takara went for the closest seat. She barely sat down on it before the bus moved on. Takara cast a look into the back of the bus just to make sure she hadn’t missed Kenji. Maybe he had dropped something and was picking it up when she had looked before. Only she wasn’t wrong; he wasn’t there.

Takara turned back in a daze. How could this be? What could it mean? Kenji never mentioned that there was a possibility he wouldn’t be able to make it. Did something happen to him? Takara still had her hand on the top of the seat in front of her. She resisted the urge to look back a third time; instead, she let her eyes drift towards the teacher. Should she ask her where Kenji was? Takara decided against it. She breathed and then sat back in her seat. She would contact him as soon as she could and make sure he was all right.

Takara tried to refocus on her mission to send out the letter, but she found she was too deflated for that. And it wasn’t as though there was anything she could do with the letter at that moment.

The bus pulled up to the arcade. Takara filed out with the others. She breathed in the fresh air. Actually, it seemed as though it might rain. Takara did think to look around her then, though she couldn’t see any postal boxes to place her letter in. They all headed into the arcade. As Takara stepped into the main room, she felt lost. She looked down and off to the side. Students walked past her on their way inside. Takara decided to wait until the teacher announced what they were going to do before she headed all the way into the main room. Takara sighed and began looking around her again. Her eyes wandered upward towards the transparent part of the second floor that jutted into the main room.

That’s when she saw him: Kenji was there in that spot! They made eye contact. Takara beamed at him. He had found a way to be there after all. And he may have even chosen that spot, so that he could keep a lookout for her.

The teacher then decided to gather the group together. Takara looked at the teacher as she spoke. As Takara glanced back up at the cubicle, she found that Kenji was gone. She didn’t really know what to make of it, but at least he was here … somewhere. It would probably be a good idea to pay attention to the teacher in the meantime, Takara decided.

“I have an assignment sheet for you to download to your tablets. It’s a pretty simple assignment. It’s basically just to familiarize you with the computers. We’ll be working in the virtual reality corridor at a later date. And, of course, you are always welcome to come back on your own time. I have scheduled times for you to work during the week.”

Takara’s heart sank. Her face flushed. How would she be capable of keeping up with the course if she couldn’t come back here on her own? Takara looked at some of the other students. Then, at that moment, Kenji came up to Takara’s side from behind.

“I’ll get that sent out to you right now.” Miss Harrington turned and began to fetch something from her bag. She pulled out her tablet. After a few moments, she informed them that it was done.

“Since we still don’t have enough computers for all of you, I’d like you to work in groups of three or four.”

Takara and Kenji looked at each other. There was a silent understanding between them that they would work together. Suddenly things were looking up; now, Takara had an excuse to talk with Kenji. She had been somewhat worried that people might notice she had a particular interest in him otherwise. But whom else could they work with?

“Hey, Erik.” Kenji called out. “Do you want to work in our group?”

The boy with the light brown hair turned and smiled.

“Sure.” he stated. Kenji had been talking to Erik online recently about their shared interest in virtual reality. Takara also remembered that Erik was the one who had ended up asking Miss Harrington about when the next field trip would be. Takara decided she approved of the choice. After Kenji, he was the one other person Takara would feel comfortable working with. He seemed to be pretty independent-minded, and that made Takara think that he would be unlikely to tell people what she did. After all, she still had to mail out her letter.

“Is everyone ready? Good. Then, everyone can go get on a computer.”

Takara, Kenji, and Erik got the computer that jutted out into the main room. As it turned out, both of the boys Takara was to work with had been working in the lab before the start of class that day. Erik stepped to the side of Kenji’s computer and logged off his own computer. He returned shortly thereafter, pulling a chair with him. Takara sat in a second chair that had been left in the cubicle. Kenji sat in the chair in front of the computer.

“Is it okay that I start?” Kenji asked them. “We are supposed to take turns.”

“Yes, that’s fine with me.” Takara replied.

“Yes.” Erik concurred.

Takara sighed. She looked around her. This was great on so many levels; now, they could help one another get their work done. It was also nice to be able to interact with other people in a positive way again. Still, there was something she couldn’t forget about. As much as she wanted to enjoy this experience as long as possible, she had to finish this assignment as soon as she could. She needed to free up some time in order to have the opportunity to mail out her letter. She breathed. She didn’t even know where she could find a postal box to put it in.

Still, she decided the first thing to do was to focus and get her work done early; that way she would have time to consider what to do next.

“I can’t believe how simple this assignment is.” Erik remarked quietly. “I mean, it’s not exactly worth the wait.”

“Yeah, I know you really wanted to learn something you hadn’t already figured out on your own.” Kenji acknowledged.

“Yeah. But I guess we have to get this kind of thing done before we can move on; still, it sort of has me worried that we aren’t going to get to do anything interesting.”

“I’m just worried I won’t be capable of keeping up with the workload.” Takara heard herself add before she could catch herself. What if they — but especially Erik — thought to ask her questions about this statement?

The two boys looked at her.

“She isn’t here all the time like you are.” Kenji explained.

Erik nodded. Takara breathed. She found she was very grateful to Kenji at that moment.

Kenji sighed.

“Well, I think we should be capable of getting this done pretty fast, and then we can do whatever we want.” Kenji put forth.

That sounded good to Takara, and the trio did manage to finish the assignment swiftly.

“Well, I’ll just submit it to the teacher then.” Kenji announced.

“Great. I’ll be in the virtual reality corridor if you need me.”

Finding herself alone with Kenji, Takara asked him, “Do you happen to know where a postal box is?”

Takara held her breath for a moment. After Kenji pressed the submit button for the assignment, he turned and looked at her.

“Umm … let me see.”

Kenji did an online search for postal boxes. Takara was surprised it hadn’t dawned on her that she could use the computers from the arcade for this purpose. Then again, Kenji was using his own login. If Takara had been the one who had logged in, she’d be afraid her online movements would be tracked.

“Here’s … let’s see … I guess there’s one just two blocks away.”

He pointed to his left.

“That way.”

Takara beamed.

“That’s great! Thank you!”

Takara then headed for the elevator. She figured there was plenty of time to make it there and back before the bus left. It was simple really. Takara felt so relieved and enthusiastic at that moment she forgot to be cautiously aware of her surroundings. For as she left the elevator and headed decidedly for the exit, she heard a voice call out to her from behind: “Stop, Takara!”

Takara froze so suddenly that she almost tripped. As she turned, she was surprised to find Miss Harrington glaring at her.

“Just what are you up to?” the woman accused her harshly.

Takara looked off to the side in shock.

“You can’t leave this building until we’re all ready to go.” the teacher persisted.

Takara kept her eyes cast down. Her face reddened.

“Do you understand me?!”

“Yes.” Takara responded.

“Since you’re done so early, maybe the others are, too, and we can all just leave right now!” Miss Harrington spat.

Takara continued looking down in embarrassment.

“And don’t you worry; you’ll have plenty to do in the future assignments. You’re going to need all of your class time to keep up with them!”

What did she mean by that? Why would Miss Harrington want to make things more difficult for her? Miss Harrington walked past her then. As Takara looked up, she noticed that Kenji was standing in the entrance to the hallway. The look on his face said that he heard everything. He approached. Takara looked down again; she was mortified.

“You all right?” he asked her.

She nodded slightly.

“I’m not sure what that was about.” he spoke softly. “But it seemed out of line to me.”

Takara nodded again. She was still in shock.

“Can I help?” Kenji whispered to her. “Do you have something to mail?”

At first, Takara looked at him with surprise. Yet, she was careful not to overreact. She then slipped her hand into her bag. And when she saw the teacher wasn’t looking, she passed the letter to him.

“Thank you.” Takara said, glancing over at him.

Takara forced herself to smile, though her eyes were still sad. Kenji smiled and nodded. Takara felt a certain amount of exhilaration as she handed her precious letter over to Kenji. Maybe it was the fact she knew him from before that caused her to trust him. Either way, she felt she finally had someone on her side again. Kenji found he was just as happy as she seemed to be; finally, there was something he could do for her.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2019

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Ezekiel 1

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity,

The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.

Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.

And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.

And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.

And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.

Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.

As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.

Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward [Or, divided above]; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.

And they went every one straight forward: wither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.

As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.

And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.

Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.

The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.

When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went.

As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings [Or, strakes] were full of eyes round about them four.

And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.

Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.

And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.

And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.

And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.

And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.

And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of His loins even upward, and from the appearance of His loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.

As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake (Ezekiel 1: 1-28).

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Exodus 9

Then the LORD said unto Moses, “Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, ‘Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.

“‘“For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still,

“‘“Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain.

“‘“And the LORD shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children’s of Israel.” ’ ”

And the LORD appointed a set time, saying, “To morrow the LORD shall do this thing in the land.”

And the LORD did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.

And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.

And the LORD said unto Moses and unto Aaron, “Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh.

“And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt.”

And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast.

And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians.

And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.

And the LORD said unto Moses, “Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, ‘Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.

“‘“For I will at this time send all My plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like Me in all the earth.

“‘“For now I will stretch out My hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth.

“‘“And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee My power; and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth.

“‘“As yet exaltest thou thyself against My people, that thou wilt not let them go?

“‘“Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now.

“‘“Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die.” ’ ”

He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses:

And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field.

And the LORD said unto Moses, “Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.”

And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt.

So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.

And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.

Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail.

And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.

Intreat the LORD (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer.

And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the LORD; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the LORD’s.

But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear the LORD God.

And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was boiled.

But the wheat and the rie were not smitten: for they were not grown up.

And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto the LORD: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth.

And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants.

And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses (Exodus 9: 1-35).

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Romans 14

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

He that regardeth [Or, observeth] the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living.

But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

For it is written, “AS I LIVE, SAITH THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL CONFESS TO GOD.”

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

Let not then your good be evil spoken of:

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.

It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he who condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14: 1-23).

 

 

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Isaiah 22

The burden of the valley of vision. What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?

Thou that art full of stirs, a tumultuous city, a joyous city: thy slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle.

All thy rulers are fled together, they are bound by the archers: all that are found in thee are bound together, which have fled from far.

Therefore said I, Look away from me; I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people.

For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord GOD of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains.

And Elam bare the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen, and Kir uncovered the shield.

And it shall come to pass, that thy choicest valleys shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.

And He discovered the covering of Judah, and thou didst look in that day to the armour of the house of the forest.

Ye have seen also the breaches of the city of David, that they are many: and ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool.

And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall.

Ye made also a ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool: but ye have not looked unto the Maker thereof, neither had respect unto Him that fashioned it long ago.

And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:

And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.

And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, “Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die,” saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

Thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, “Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say,

“‘What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he [Or, O he] that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock?

“‘Behold, the LORD will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee.

“‘He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord’s house.’

“And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down.

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:

“And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.

“And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

“And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house.

“And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons [Or, instruments of viols].

“In that day,” saith the LORD of hosts, “shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 22: 1-25)

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Mark 13

And as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples saith unto Him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!

And Jesus answering said unto him, “Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

And as He sat upon the Mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately,

Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?

And Jesus answering them began to say, “Take heed lest any man deceive you:

“For many shall come in My name, saying, ‘I am Christ’; and shall deceive many.

“And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.

“But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them.

“And the gospel must first be published among all nations.

“But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

“Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.

“And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

“But when ye shall see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

“And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:

“And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.

“But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

“And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.

“For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

“And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom He hath chosen, He hath shortened the days.

“And then if any man shall say to you, ‘Lo, here is Christ’; or, ‘lo, He is there’; believe him not:

“For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

“But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,

“And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

“And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

“And then shall He send His angels, and shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:

“So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

“Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away.

“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

“Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

“Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

“Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

“And what I say unto you I say unto all, ‘Watch.’ ” (Mark 13: 1-37)

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