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Nocturne’s Reaping® : Dirge

Chapter 11

 

Not much was actually known about the confinement exercise. Most of it was just rumor and speculation. Group A, as the first group was now being called, were an elusive bunch. Upon reflection, Nora believed she saw a group in the cafeteria she never saw elsewhere sitting rather quietly together. It was soon after that first sighting that the rumors about the confinement exercise started circulating. Come to think of it, it was about the time the rumor started that sightings of Group A stopped. Nora had to admit she previously had feelings of relief over not being in Group A’s position. Now, she was.

“After your belongings are delivered to you …” Nora heard Mrs. Grafton say.

Nora had apparently been tuning out most of the words Mrs. Grafton had spoken. But something about this sentence broke into her consciousness.

“Belongings?” Nora heard herself utter. She instantly regretted it.

Mrs. Grafton looked up in her direction. Nora had apparently said that louder than she intended. That and the fact that the trainees in Group B were spread so far apart probably made Nora easy to spot. But it was unnerving all the same. She still remembered Mrs. Grafton from the day she arrived. And that girl … what had happened to that girl? What was her name? Oh, yes, Lisa. What if she had been put into Group A? Nora hadn’t seen her since that first day. She now doubted Lisa was released. And it would have been too extreme to have killed her. Then again, maybe being in Group A was the same as death … If that was true, then maybe Nora had nothing to fear from this woman. After all, she was already in the next group to go.

“Yes, we’ve sent people to collect your belongings. They’ll be sent to a new dorm.”

“With Group A?” Nora wrung her hands. She didn’t really want to ask, and when the woman looked at her with an intense glare she wished she hadn’t. Even so, Nora felt she had to ask all the same.

“No, we’ve been renovating a different building, and it’s ready now.” Mrs. Grafton stated coolly.

Nora was slightly relieved to hear that Group A was still seemingly expected to return to their old dorm. Then again, they hadn’t left yet.

“Now, may we move on?” Mrs. Grafton sighed. “I’m sure there will be time for questions at some point in the future.”

Nora forced herself to nod. For a moment, she thought she’d be in some sort of trouble. But the woman asked whether Nora was done in such a way that it seemed as though she was placating Nora. Mrs. Grafton had been much nastier with Lisa. Nora kept reminding herself that there wasn’t much they could do to her at this point. Maybe that was the reason there was no big confrontation this time; they didn’t seem to have anything to back up the threats with now. They could speed up the timetable of the other recruits, but there was no way to really control anyone in Group B anymore. They couldn’t kick Nora out since she wanted to leave. They could beat her, she supposed, but that might mess with the timetable they seemed to be on. The fact was that some people might prefer to be beaten under these circumstances. So, how could they force them to go? For Nora, it was the fear for her family’s safety that was motivating her the most. But could that be the motivation for all of Group B? To Nora’s knowledge, the Administration didn’t even know about her family. How would they know if the others had one? The threat of death perhaps — if it was threatened to be a painful death — might do it. That possibility was all Nora could come up with. After all, as long as the Administration could make them believe that this plan was their best chance for survival, what choice did they really have? But it required the trainees to believe it, which would be no easy feat.

And yet, it occurred to Nora that no one had been threatened openly. The way they had been forcibly detained and transported here coupled with the reason they had been given for being seized had merely given them that impression. Clearly, Nora had not been the only one to feel it either. They were all expendable; their feelings didn’t matter. Nora wasn’t used to being treated this way, though it appeared the others were. They seemed to be hoping to muddle through it somehow and make it to the other side in one piece. Perhaps, it was human nature to feel this way, or maybe it was past experience telling them to hold on — that the situation might improve. Certainly, they all seemed to feel powerless to change things for the better. What’s more, they seemed to be counting on their captors to just decide to set them free.

“After you get settled, change into your swimming attire.” Mrs. Grafton directed.

“Swimming attire.” Nora repeated.

Every eye in the room turned an annoyed look onto Nora. It struck her then how alone she truly was. And now, the ones she was with seemed to dislike her. She had thought she and her roommates would be kept together. After all, it only made sense; they were in the same classes and occupied the same room in the dorm. Yet, somehow, Nora was chosen to be isolated from the rest. Would all of the recruits have the same outcome? Would those from the other groups grow closer, the separation harder as time passed? Or, would they grow numb and cynical, not caring what happened to anyone? Maybe it was for the best to get this process done and over with now rather than later. Still, Nora could feel the urge to cry come over her. She knew then without a doubt that she didn’t want to die. But it would seem it was out of her hands now. She had been hoping something would change and reverse the situation she was in; that hope was now gone. Unlike the others who had returned to their old dorm rooms, the illusion that she would ever be allowed to return home had been ripped away.

 

***

 

 

At first, Nora thought she’d have to find the new dormitory on her own. But they sent a guide to show the members of Group B the way. Or, was it to make sure they went where they were supposed to go? The first thing she noticed upon entering the building was a small cafeteria. The presence of the cafeteria suggested there would be no more meals with her roommates. How they left things was how they were going to stay. And Nora was going to simply disappear as Group A had.

Next, Nora and the others were given their room assignments. They were then steered toward a staircase. The rooms for the women were on the second floor. Nora could tell by the closeness of the doors that the rooms were small. The door to her room was unlocked; in fact, it didn’t even have a lock. The room housed a desk, a closet, and a single bed. There was also a light overhead. Nora went across the threshold. There was just a little time left before she had to change into a swimsuit, but she figured she may as well look around. One of her first observations was that there were new belongings, recently issued, that had been placed on her desk. There was now a swimsuit among the other articles of clothing. She stared at it for the longest time. The confinement exercise had seemed horrible enough before, but the fact that she now knew there was swimming involved terrified her on a new level. She sat on the bed and began to pray to God.

Eventually, Nora forced herself to stand up. She didn’t want to go, but she didn’t want to be late either. She figured it was too late not to be noticed. Still, maybe she could prevent her situation with the others from becoming worse.

After Nora got her swimsuit on, she didn’t feel quite comfortable. So, she decided to put one of her trainee outfits on over it — the one with shorts and a t-shirt. She then grabbed her towel and headed from the dorm. The dorm seemed nice; well, it was clean anyway. The main problem was how lonely and quiet it was, especially with all the stress going on. Nora hadn’t figured she would miss having a roommate. Yet, she found she really needed to talk with somebody about the confinement exercise and what was going to happen after it. Maybe someone could explain how swimming would help her pilot a plane. Then again, maybe she didn’t want to know.

 

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2016

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Nocturne’s Reaping® : Dirge

Chapter 10

 

It was strange to Nora how much the supplies still seemed to mean to Elsie. But it wasn’t just Elsie — it was most everyone. The amenities seemed to create a sense of normalcy among the recruits. Though, it wasn’t nearly enough for Nora. Ironically, Nora found herself in a situation that was not unlike the situation she was in the day after the nebula reapers broke free. But that day was before anyone knew what had happened. Maybe she and her family, her classmates, and her neighbors should have asked more questions — not that they would have gotten any real answers if they had. But how could all these people — who knew the truth of what was going on at the Installation — slip into this denial? Maybe it was just too much for them to bear. It was too much for Nora to bear; and yet, she couldn’t see herself just pretending it was all okay.

Nora tried to understand where the other recruits were coming from; she really did. But it just made her feel even more removed from everyone else around her. She had gone into town that day to avoid feeling that disconnect between reality and the life she was living. Now, she found herself in the same situation — only worse — much, much worse. Why didn’t she stay with her family? To go seeking after a sense of understanding and to lose most everything that mattered to her in this life — what a fool she had been. Then again, there was one person who seemed to understand her; that person was Jack.

She had thought a lot about Jack since their time together at the dugout. He was not only a great distraction; he made her feel better just by being there. There was an unspoken understanding that they were on the same page. Nora couldn’t explain what a comfort it was to have someone who just got it. Unfortunately, unspoken feelings were about the only way they could communicate since then. And those lectures — those gut-wrenching lectures — were the only opportunities she had to see him. Even at the cafeteria, she wasn’t able to say much to him. She would put forth the effort to laugh with her friends and try to get eye contact with him. She thought behaving this way made it less obvious that she had a connection with Jack. She thought about passing him a note, but that would be absurd.

She wasn’t sure why she kept her relationship with Jack from Elsie and Tina. Perhaps, the fact that Tina had told Elsie all about Nora’s past made her seem less than trustworthy. Elsie, on the other hand, never seemed like the type of person who could keep a secret. But maybe more than anything, Nora just needed something of her own to hang on to. Nora just wished she could talk with him as she had at that baseball dugout. He was the one — the only one — who made the current loss of her family hurt just a little less. One time, Elsie and Tina went back in the cafeteria line to get dessert. Nora declined; she didn’t feel like it.

“Jack.” Nora uttered when he suddenly came and stood across from her at her cafeteria table. Nora then looked about her to see whether Elsie and Tina were watching.

“Is something wrong? I mean, besides the obvious.”

Nora smiled despite herself.

“No, it’s silly. I’m just afraid of their knowing about us.”

Jack raised an eyebrow.

“Do you want me to leave?” he asked with a lilt of humor in his voice.

“No, no. I’m being silly. Please sit.”

Jack sat down across from her.

“What are you afraid they’ll think?” he asked.

Nora looked over at him slyly.

“Nothing. It’s silly.”

She looked down again.

“It’s actually nice to talk with you.” she added.

Jack didn’t seem surprised.

“I’m glad.” he said.

“I just wish we could really talk.” Nora breathed. “You know?”

She looked him in the eye. He looked down then nodded. It was at that moment that Nora saw Tina and Elsie coming back out of the corner of her eye. She turned and looked towards them. She then heard Jack slide his chair back. He stood; she looked up at him. Jack smiled slightly. He then reached forward and grabbed the salt off her table. He turned as the two girls approached and headed back to his own table.

 

***

 

 

It was another rainy day the day after that last encounter with Jack. The rumor was that the Administration submitted a request to the Atmospheric Regulatory Commission to make the rain stop. The understanding around the dorm was that the Regulatory Commission was none too pleased. It seemed the Commission members got it in their heads that this rain was what constituted a regular weather pattern for the colony — as though there were such a thing. The source of the information was reportedly someone overhearing part of a phone conversation at the Administration’s main office. Overhearing was the only way any of the recruits found out information the Administration didn’t want them to know. Sometimes the information wasn’t reliable, but occasionally it turned out to be true. Nora hoped this particular information proved to be false.

The word was that the Administration of Public Defense was adamant about the weather change. If this information was true, it probably meant that the first recruits — those who arrived sometime before Nora’s group — were going to be sent out soon. And yet, it seemed unlikely to Nora that this conclusion was accurate. After the tragedy of the other day, you’d think the Administration would want to take some time before progressing with its plans. Besides, what was the rush? Were conditions deteriorating that fast? Nora noted the rumor but didn’t pay too much mind. In fact, it wasn’t until the Administration summoned the recruits to the auditorium that it was announced that the Atmospheric Regulatory Commission had finally relented and planned to stop the rain. The situation then seemed dire to Nora. The Commission was known to be unyielding and arrogant. What must be going on to make them alter their policy at all?

Yet, the Commission had obviously refused to alter the weather pattern that particular day — the rain proved that. So, the teachers, angered by the inconvenience, announced to all of the second-round recruits — after they arrived at a new, surprisingly smaller auditorium — that Group B would begin confinement training right away. It wasn’t ideal, but the Administration wasn’t going to be held hostage completely by the Regulatory Commission.

“Why—why not just have lectures today?” Nora stammered as she addressed the question to Tina. “And who’s in Group B? Is that all of us? No one ever talked in those terms before.”

Mrs. Grafton must have realized by the students’ blank expressions that they didn’t know what she was talking about. So, Mrs. Grafton, frustrated, searched her attaché case for the list of names composing Group B. Nora looked at Mrs. Grafton skeptically. The woman seemed somewhat smaller to Nora in this new room. Instead of being on a podium in the center of the room, Mrs. Grafton was standing much lower than the students; for the students sat in tiered rows, which formed a semi-circle around Mrs. Grafton. Unlike before, there was no assigned seating. But, once again, there weren’t enough seats for everyone. In fact, the room barely contained the masses. This overcrowding added to Mrs. Grafton’s dwarfed appearance. Yet, Mrs. Grafton seemed determined to offset this disadvantage with a marked display of attitude. Why else put on this big show of disgust? Nora knew the Administration had never told the recruits about the groupings. Then again, maybe Mrs. Grafton was just angry that it was raining. Even so, it bothered Nora that Mrs. Grafton should even playact at blaming all of them for her bad mood. Then, Nora looked at Tina and Elsie, who just stared straight ahead. At first, Nora thought they didn’t get how annoying it was. But then, she realized they were worried. Finally, Mrs. Grafton found the list.

“This is really not necessary to know since all those who don’t go today will be going soon. But I guess those not in Group B may as well be dismissed for the day. Each group is comprised of both men and women from different dorms and floors.”

“Why would they do that?” Nora wondered to herself.

And did it mean that only a couple of people from each place would stay together? Would she still be with Tina and Elsie? Maybe she could be with Jack …

“We’ve decided after the incident the other day to expedite our schedule.”

Nora’s brow furrowed. That was the opposite of the reaction she expected.

“Anyway, here’s the list.”

Deep down everyone was nervous; Nora could tell just by looking around. And yet, there was a difference between knowing something could happen and actually having it occur. That was how Nora felt when her name was called. A chill went up her spine. She turned to look at her friends, and they looked sympathetically back at her but did not look particularly horrified. As the final names were read off, Nora realized she was the only one she knew who was going next. Nora was in shock. Her eyes searched the room. Finally, she caught sight of Jack. He stared back at her steadily.

It didn’t take long for Nora’s roommates to detach from her. In fact, it happened almost instantly. Tina, who was sitting next to Nora, turned away and was facing Elsie. They were talking to each other. Elsie, who was facing Nora, glanced over at Nora briefly then quickly looked away. Nora turned and stared forward. She didn’t need this rejection on top of everything else. She looked down and gripped her chair with her hands.

“Silence, please!” Mrs. Grafton called out. When it was quiet enough, she added, “I will read the other lists when it becomes necessary.”

Mrs. Grafton’s reminder did its damage. The newfound silence became stifling. All of a sudden, the relief of not having their names called out dissipated. After all, it was only a temporary reprieve for the rest. Soon all their names would be called out. Nora wanted to feel sorry for them, but at that moment she could feel nothing of the sort. Even though their total joy had been quashed, there was still a spark of optimism in the girls. Their situation could still change for the better; there was still time for them. Maybe a third group wouldn’t even turn out to be necessary. If that ended up being the case, then it would be Nora and the others in Group B who would be the lone ones among them to face down the nebula reapers. Now, maybe they were worried for Nora; maybe they were afraid to lose her. And maybe this whole turn of events came too close to home for them. Yet, somehow, having them look over at Nora occasionally as though she were already dead wasn’t helping her.

“The rest of you are dismissed.”

Tina and Elsie stood. Nora couldn’t seem to help herself; she looked up at them. Nora hadn’t wanted it to end this way. Unfortunately for Nora, they didn’t look at her again. They just left by the door on Nora’s right. She felt like a fool; her heart sank. It was like watching strangers pass by — like watching someone else’s life. Nora entwined the fingers of her hands. She glanced around her and saw that some of the people, like herself, had remained in their seats. She assumed these people were now in Group B. She tried to get eye contact with some of them. Perhaps, they could relate to what she was going through. Only, they all seemed be in their own world. And even when she managed to get eye contact with someone, he or she looked away. It seemed no one wanted to get closer to anyone — most likely for the same reason that Tina and Elsie had just walked away in silence.

“Amber … you were called.”

Nora could hear someone near the exit say.

“Shh …” Amber remarked.

Amber’s “friend” stood her ground, effectively blocking the girl’s escape.

“It won’t do you any good.” the friend told Amber. “If it’s not you, it will be one of us.”

Eventually, Mrs. Grafton motioned with her head toward the door, and two men came to pull Amber back. They sat her in a nearby chair and stood next to her as the girl sobbed violently.

Then, suddenly, Nora’s eyes were drawn to the movement of someone approaching her. It was Jack. Nora has subconsciously been watching for him to pass by her. It didn’t occur to her at that moment that he should have already left. Now that he was standing next to her, she felt a jolt of relief. Had she just not noticed his name being read? Not a single Jack had been called out. Then again, maybe he had given them a different name. Jack sat next to her then stared straight ahead.

“Are you in Group B?” Nora asked him.

“No.” Jack returned lowly.

He looked over at her to see a horrified look cross her face.

“I thought you needed someone.” he explained.

Nora proceeded to look forward and bite her lip. She berated herself for being so selfish. Then, she said, “It’s fine. I’m glad you don’t have to go right away. Maybe you’ll be spared this outcome.”

And yet, even as she said this, she was on the verge of crying.

“It’s just that … what am I going to do?” her voice cracked as she spoke.

“Stay strong.” he responded.

Nora turned toward him.

“But I’m not going to exist here very much longer. This is the end for me.” Nora whispered. “Why didn’t it occur to me before that this would happen? Maybe I was just hoping that the first group would succeed. They still could, couldn’t they?”

Nora looked at Jack pleadingly. He said nothing. Nora’s face fell further.

“There seems to be one too many here.” Mrs. Grafton announced.

Jack stood.

“I guess they don’t want the rest of us here … yet.” he noted.

Nora watched him take a couple of steps toward the door. Then, he looked at her.

“I’ll think of something, and I’ll see you later.” he said.

Nora forced a smile. She appreciated that he was trying to make her feel better, even though she felt it would be of no use. Jack left Nora alone then. Though Nora didn’t believe she could be saved, she did hope one thing Jack said would turn out to be true. She hoped that somehow, someway she would see him again.

 

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2016

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THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL

OTHERWISE CALLED, THE FIRST BOOK OF THE KINGS

 

1 Samuel 15

Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over His people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, “I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.

“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”

And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.

And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.

And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.

And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.

And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.

But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,

“It repenteth Me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following Me, and hath not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.

And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.

And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.

And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?

And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.

Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.

And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?

And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, “Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.”

Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?

And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.

But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.

And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, He hath also rejected thee from being king.

And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.

Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD.

And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.

And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.

And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.

And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for He is not a man, that He should repent.

Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.

So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD.

Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past.

And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal.

Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.

And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that He had made Saul king over Israel (1 Samuel 15: 1-35).

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Romans 5

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

(For until the Law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come.

But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one Man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

For if by one man’s offence [Or, by one offence] death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.)

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.

Moreover the Law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5: 1-21).

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Zechariah 6

And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.

In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses;

And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay [Or, strong] horses.

Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord?

And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits [Or, winds] of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.

The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country.

And the bay went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and He said, “Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth.” So they walked to and fro through the earth.

Then cried He upon me, and spake unto me, saying, “Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted My spirit in the north country.”

And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

“Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah;

“Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest;

“And speak unto him, saying, ‘Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, “Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the LORD:

“Even He shall build the temple of the LORD; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” ’

“And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the LORD.

“And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD,” and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God (Zechariah 6: 1-15).

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Exodus 2

And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.

And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.

And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.

And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.

And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it.

And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children.

Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?

And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother.

And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it.

And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses [That is, drawn out]: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.

And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren.

And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.

And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?

And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known.

Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.

Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock.

And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.

And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day?

And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock.

And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread.

And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.

And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom [That is, a stranger here]: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.

And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them (Exodus 2: 1-25).

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Isaiah 58

“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.

“Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.

“‘Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and Thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and Thou takest no knowledge?’ Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.

“Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day [Or, ye fast not as this day], to make your voice to be heard on high.

“Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul [Or, to afflict his soul, for a day]? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

“Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out [Or, afflicted] to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; and the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.

“Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, ‘Here I am.’ If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;

“And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:

“And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

“If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

“Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 58: 1-14)

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