CHAPTER 14

"Hello, Jacob." Monica appeared in front of him, a kind expression etching her face. Jacob smiled at her, then gazed for a moment at the towering buildings cut into the rock on both sides of the canyon.

Monica touched his arm; Jacob turned his gaze toward her. The angel nodded toward David and Ben, chatting with several others. "Don't you think it's time you made things up with David?" she asked softly.

Jacob sighed. More and more, his hate felt like a heavy weight he yearned to be rid of. Sam, Monica, and Michael were right—it really was time to end the feud. Goodness knew his people would face enough hate from Puccini, and from their Arab and Russian enemies. He was so tired of living in enmity with David. By now, all he wanted was to be friends with both cousins again. He rubbed his forehead with his fingertips, then turned to face Monica.

"All right." He gave her a wan smile. "I will." Monica beamed approvingly. "But—" He frowned. "Now that we're all here, how are going to feed everyone? In the short time we had to make preparations, we didn't have time—or space on the helicopters—to store a lot of food."

"God will feed you and your people while you are here." Monica touched his shoulder. "Just as He did your people during the exodus from Egypt. He will also provide water."

"And what about our clothes?" Jacob glancd down at his suit, now rumpled.

"God will preserve your clothes so that they will not wear out. Just as He did for the ancient Israelites fleeing Egypt."

Nodding, Jacob slowly approached his cousins, his shoes thudding on the stone floor. David froze as he saw Jacob approaching, his own eyes widening. Ben did likewise, a questioning glance on his face.

Jacob took a deep breath, then swallowed. Trying to force a smile across his face, he extended his hand toward David.

"I'm sorry," he told David and Ben. "I'm just a fool, and a stubborn one at that. I shouldn't have hurt you the way I did so long ago, David, and I shouldn't have allowed hate to poison me in the years since."

David laid a hand on Jacob's arm. His fingers pressed the cotton of Jacob's sleeve against the skin. "I'm just as guilty of that as you are," he said, his voice cracking. "I was so bitter toward you, I didn't even want to think about being friends with you again." Impulsively, he threw his arms around his cousin. For a long moment, the two embraced, tears wetting their cheeks.

At last, Jacob stepped back. "Forgive me?" he whispered.

David nodded. "Yes," he whispered back, his voice hoarse. He gasped. "I just realized something," he whispered. "I haven't worn a nicotine patch since night before last, and I feel no craving whatsoever! God has delivered me from my cigarette addiction!"

Ben laughed and put an arm around his shoulder. "That is good news! Something tells me cigarettes are going to be scarce here, so I'm glad you've kicked the habit." David and Jacob nodded agreement.

Approaching footfalls caught Jacob's attention; he pivoted to find Richard and Ryan approaching them, followed by their families. "I just saw," Richard said, a beaming smile on his face. "You don't know how this makes me happy." He looked from Jacob to David, then patted the shoulders of both. Christina and Kristen beamed, as did Rachel. Little Nicole in Kristen's baby carriage just gurgled and cooed; next to her, Jeremy laughed and waved. With a chuckle, David and Jacob waved back at the two-year-old.

"And me," Ryan added. He looked toward the far wall, where a long table covered with a glistening white cloth had suddenly appeared. Huge bowls of steaming food stood in a row on it. Savory, spicy smells wafted toward his nose; his stomach growled. "And since it seems that God has provided us with some supper, let's go now and get some. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm hungry!"

"Yes, and I've got to feed the babies, shortly," Kristen added. "Then I've got to find someplace to put them to bed; it's past their bedtimes!"

Chuckling and teasing, the small group hurried toward the line now forming. As Richard waited, he noticed Michael—once again appearing human, but wearing a brown tunic instead of an IDF uniform or a snow-white robe—picking up his paper plate and approaching Tess. Once more, she had on a chef's outfit. A towering lamp stood behind her, flooding the table and the surrounding area with light.

"Well, well!" Michael sniffed, a pleased expression etching his bronze face. "My favorite dish—tuna knish! Tess, you're a lot softer at heart than you let on."

"Oh, hush!" With a snort, Tess heaped a plate with the steaming tuna knish, laid a bagel next to it, and handed it to the archangel. "Just take your plate and find yourself a place to eat. Can't have our warrior archangel going back to his duties, complaining I let him starve." She waved her wooden spoon at him.

Laughing, Michael cradled the plate against his chest. After getting some plastic silverware, a paper napkin, and a Styrofoam cup of tea, Michael marched toward the other end, where people were now kneeling or sitting cross-legged to eat. Several feet from the table, still waiting in line, Richard and Ryan shook with laughter, hands on their thighs; they couldn't help it. Behind Richard and Ryan's wives, so did David and his cousins. They had seen and heard the whole thing. Christina and Kristen exchanged amused glances.

"Well, cousins, things may not be right with the world, but at least things are right among us," David told Jacob and Ben, as their guffaws subsided.

The other two Israeli men nodded agreement. "Yes, David, they are—at last!" With a grateful smile, Jacob looked from David to Jacob, who smiled his acknowledgement. Near them, Monica, Andrew, and Gloria echoed the cousins' sentiment.

"I'm so glad God has restored their relationship," Monica said. "And that He has gotten all these people here safely." She looked at the towering red rock walls enclosing the canyon, and the tall shadows moving on them. "They will be safer here than they would be anywhere else."

Andrew nodded agreement. "They will be far safer, till Jesus comes back, than most of the rest of the world's population. Including those who remained behind in Jerusalem." A sad expression welled up in his expressive eyes. "The second seal is about to be opened. War is about to break out. And it will be very rough for the people who stayed in the city. And those who live in the rest of Israel." He sighed. "Those who hid from the soldiers who tried to evacuate them are going to wish desperately that they had listened and cooperated."

Gloria tilted her head. "Doesn't the Book of Zechariah talk about that? About some invasion of Jerusalem?"

"Yes." Sam joined them, wearing a dark-brown suit. He, too, carried a paper plate heaped with tuna knish. "And the approaching war will nearly destroy the planet and come close to wiping out all life on earth. It will start when the Arab nations invade Israel and Russia steps in to help them. The invasion Zechariah spoke of will happen near the end of the Tribulation, shortly before Jesus returns."

He paused, shaking his head. "The world has never seen such a time as is about to start, nor will it ever see it again." He scanned the people waiting their turns in line. "At least these people will be kept safe through it all."

Andrew nodded agreement. "I won't be appearing in my official capacity here, thank the Lord. I will be kept extremely busy elsewhere, though."

"You and every other angel of death," Sam agreed.

Monica nodded. She gazed at Tess, as the supervisor angel filled plates and handed them out. "What will these people eat, Sam?"

Sam fixed his gaze on the long line of people waiting for their turns. "God will send them manna. Just as He did for the people fleeing Egypt. He will also open a water source for them." The Special Forces angel pivoted to face the other angels, then nodded toward the people milling around them. "Tonight's dinner is a special treat, in honor of the successful flight from the Antichrist's wrath. Mostly, though, they will eat manna and quail, as their ancestors did during the Exodus. And they will drink water."

Monica sniffed. Pleasure gleamed in her eyes. "Well, tonight, I want to drink some coffee. I smell mocha latté!" She beamed. "Let's get some!"

Laughing, the angels strolled toward the lines, to wait for their turns, Monica smiling broadly at the star-studded black sky spanning the rim of the canyon. Overhead, a dove flew, cooing softly.

THE END

©2005, by KathyG.

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