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The procession, led by singers dressed in long, flowing, purple robes encircled with white sashes, moved slowly down the crowded main street of Jerusalem. The band followed with drums, tambourines, symbols, horns and trumpets drowning out the gentler sounds of bells and flute. There was an air of excitement as people followed behind. Children ran and skipped, dogs barked and scampered around their legs. Construction of the Jewish temple(1) was complete. This site had remained empty for over 1900 years.

 

Today, all were invited to come and view the temple's splendour. It was built of solid timbers grown in Israel. Much of the wood was overlaid with gold. The magnificent pillars in front of the temple were intricately carved with fruit and wreaths. Inside, the temple was adorned with heavy curtains and lit with golden lamps. The altar, tables, bowls and other articles were made of burnished bronze or silver. Carved cherubim graced the panelled walls with wings spread as if to protect everything in this place. Precious stones were inset into the walls of another room engraved with palm trees and chains. The temple, its surrounds and internal furnishings were all reminiscent of the glorious days of Solomon.


The crowd gazed in awe at the palatial grandeur and opulence of the extravagant interior. They became hushed as trumpets sounded heralding a new time for Jewish people. The High Priest, dressed in black, entered and stood before the altar with hands outstretched.


His prayer began, "Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or on earth like You. Heaven cannot contain You; how much less this new temple we have built. Hear us from Heaven and forgive the sin of Your people. When Your people struggle, hear their cries. Oh Lord God, do not turn from us, for You are good and Your mercy endures forever."


The High Priest motioned to one of the dignitaries in the front row. Alexander Judastus stood and thunderous applause filled the air. This was an indication of the warmth towards the man who made the building of this temple possible. The high priest noticed that although Alexander Judastus proudly and vainly received their adulation, there was also a narrowing of his eyes, suggesting other feelings. The high priest shivered, and wondered why he had misgivings about Alexander. When the accolade ceased, the high priest knelt, with his head bowed to the ground. The sounds of harps, flutes and bells filled the temple in a sweet finale to its dedication.


The sacrificial system was then reintroduced. As the high priest gazed slowly around the temple, he noticed a sea of emotional Jewish faces. They could barely believe this was happening after more than nineteen centuries without a true place of worship. Cattle, goats and sheep were slaughtered. This was the Jewish way of obtaining forgiveness for sin.(2) Some onlookers were distressed and likened these rituals to heathen worship. They did not understand the difference between heathen views of sacrifice and God's way with the Jews in the Old Testament. Whereas heathens believe their gods needed man's sacrifice to appease their anger, Old Testament Scripture required man to sacrifice animals in order to gain forgiveness. Thus, any separation because of sin could be overcome.


One onlooker in the congregation turned to his friend and asked, "What do these sacrifices mean today?"


"To put it simply, the Christians who were raptured believed the Lord Jesus' sacrifice when He died on the cross, typified the temple sacrifices. When Jesus died they believed no further sacrifice was necessary. Because the Jews do not accept Jesus as their Messiah, His sacrifice means nothing to them. That explains why you see the animal sacrifices still being carried out.


For two weeks the feasting and celebrations continued. During the entire period, there was continual reference to the part played by Alexander Judastus in allowing the building of the temple and in bringing peace to Israel. Some Jews thought he was the Messiah they had been waiting for since the time of Moses. Finally, on the last day, the Jewish people gathered in the temple to pray, pleased that at last, another milestone in their many years of Jewish history had been reached.

 

Since the rapture, many who had become Christians continued to preach and teach of Jesus Christ. The large group of Israelites preaching about Jesus Christ, were convincing thousands more to also believe in Him as their Saviour. These thousands of God's special preacher's knew they belonged to God and would be protected from all evil.


The two special evangelists, Jihela and Echon, continued to preach, ignoring undercover efforts to silence them. Rumours abounded concerning these men who were being hunted from town to town as they preached. It was reported that whilst preaching in a busy shopping centre, a small group of men with long knives approached them. One of the evangelists, Jihela, turned to face the angry mob. Fire appeared to come out of his mouth like a flamethrower, killing the would be attackers.(3) The remainder of the shoppers, although they backed away, listened even more intently to the rest of the evangelist's message. Later, in a park nearby, Jihela stood preaching to a gathering crowd. Motor bikes were suddenly seen speeding towards him and Echon, his partner. There was a sudden downpour and a bright zigzag of white lightening struck the riders. They were immediately electrified.

 

Wisps of smoke rose from their smouldering bikes. Jihela and Echon stood their ground and were unscathed. Once again they were supernaturally protected by the power given to them from God.

The NovelNotes Feature

These are a helpful feature of this novel. Their use is optional. They may be used if you want to understand more of the underlying Biblical aspects of the story, or the historical and factual material. However, you do not have to use these to follow the story line of the novel.

 

Chapter 17 NovelNotes

1. This was an incredible time for many Jews. For more than 1900 years they had waited for this moment. Once again they would have their precious temple in which they could worship God - or so they thought.

 

2. To the non-Jewish mind and to those who do not understand the killing of animals as a sacrifice, this must seem strange indeed. What we have to remember, is God Himself taught the Jews this was how sin would be forgiven. God was of course on a path of teaching the eventual sacrifice of Jesus Christ, as a once and for all payment for the sins of all mankind.

 

3. We should not be surprised at the power of these two evangelists. In the Bible, they are called God's witnesses and are given unlimited power to serve God's purposes on earth for 1260 days. Such supernatural power is quite common in Scripture. The example of Moses using God's power to persuade Pharaoh to let the Israelites go from Egypt, is a foreshadowing of what the two witnesses are able to do. Although there is much conjecture as to who they are, the two witnesses are not explicitly named in Scripture. For the purposes of the novel, we have assumed a name for each.

Continue to Chapter 18