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Chapter 26: The Lamb
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Monday, January 6, 1:00 A.M.
Karen, Dan, Ronni, and Lacey sat around the Marlow's kitchen table, somberly sipping cups of hot chocolate. The big, white Bible from the bedroom was lying in front of Ronni, opened to the page marked by the scarlet ribbon. Ronni stared intently at a full-page colored illustration, one of many found throughout the ornate book. With a forefinger she gently traced the outline of the figure which was prominently portrayed in the picture. She closed her eyes for a few seconds and then looked at Dan and Karen.
"That's the answer," she said slowly but with conviction. "That has to be the answer."
The other women were puzzled but Dan was irritated. "I know, I know. When Karen showed the Bible to those creeps up there, they just turned tail and ran like scared rabbits. The real question is why. What made them run?"
Ronni compressed her lips and Karen's eyes followed Dan as he left the room. "Go as easy as you can, Ronni," she said softly. "Dan's having a hard time with this God and Bible business, and I think that sprain is hurting more than he wants us to know. Maybe we ought to wait--"
"Sorry ladies," Dan said gruffly. "The last couple days have worn my nerves down to bloody stumps. But I do want to talk this thing out tonight, late as it is. I'm not going to close my eyes again until I know all there is to know about what we four just went through up there. Go ahead, Ronni. We may not understand it or even believe it but we will listen to what you have to say."
Ronni nodded and began talking again, in a soft but firm voice. "I'm convinced that a lot of the answers to our questions from here on in are going to be found in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. This book was given to St. John in his later years through a vision from God. It's full of symbolism about what things will be like when we get down to the end of this age. Many Bible scholars have found all those symbols and visions very difficult to understand. Jason always said, though, that you can understand Revelation a lot easier if you can learn what the symbols represent.
"The most important symbol in the whole book is the 'Lamb of God'. John used that term in the first chapter of his Gospel when he was describing the baptism of Jesus by another John, John the Baptist. He quotes John the Baptist as saying, 'Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.' So, all through the book of Revelation, when Jesus is described in His place in heaven, he is referred to as the Lamb. In fact, the term Lamb, with a capital "L", is used in this way twenty-seven times. The Greek word actually means 'little lamb'.
"Now look at this picture. the one Karen showed upstairs." Ronni pushed the open Bible to the middle of the table and everyone moved in for a closer view.
"That's strange, almost repulsive," Dan but Karen silenced him visually before he could say more.
"This particular artist chose to portray the Lamb in the literal symbolism of chapter five of Revelation." Ronni explained carefully. "Look at verse 6. 'And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.'"
"I'll say one thing for whoever the artist is," Dan said in slightly better humor. "He got it all in." They all gazed intently at the four-color lithograph which had been rendered in a very representational style. A white lamb was shown standing on a marble dais in a shaft of bright light. Although the background was in shadow, the characteristics of the animal were very distinct. A crimson slash as though from a knife wound traversed his throat and blood flowed freely from the cut, dripping from his woolly white coat to the marble slab on which he stood. His head bore the general outline of a lamb's head but the features were beyond anything the people around the table had ever seen. Seven sharp and shining horns rose from the softness of his head, starting on the bridge of his nose and continuing up between his ears to the nape of his neck. Between each horn was an eye with the seventh eye looking directly backward.
"Are creatures like this actually up in heaven?" Lacey asked a little tentatively after they had all stared at the painting for several moments.
"The book of Revelation describes several different creatures and beasts but it's best to think of them as symbols instead of actual animals. And sometimes, the symbols are presented as a composite, as I read there in verse 6.
"In this picture, the Lamb represents Jesus Christ. The wound on his neck is the same kind of wound the priests in the Old Testament days gave the lambs which were to die on the altar of God as the sin sacrifice for the people. The number seven is significant because that number represents Divine perfection. Seven horns and seven eyes." Ronni paused a few seconds for questions and as usual, Dan had one.
"What gets me is the fact a lamb, a little woolly, white lamb is equipped with a set of seven horns. Those things look lethal. They don't seem to fit the personality of your basic lamb."
Sarcasm had crept back into Dan's voice but Ronni ignored it. "Unless I miss my guess," she responded a little briskly, "those lethal, incongruous horns are exactly what frightened the three demons upstairs a while ago. To God's children, Jesus Christ is a woolly lamb. But to Satan and his demons, Jesus is a set of seven sharp horns."
Karen's mind returned to the scene in the bedroom and she was again thrusting the bulky Bible in the direction of the demon trio on the floor. They whined, and whimpered. They curled into such tight fetal balls all individual characteristics were lost. Then, they disappeared. Right through the white baseboard and flowered wallpaper.
When they went, all the foulness went with them. The vile bilge on the floor flowed right into the wall at the same point the demons had disappeared, almost the way a television picture fades into a bright dot when the set is turned off. Karen sniffed tentatively, afraid to inhale more of that fetid stench then was necessary to provide enough oxygen to sustain life. However, her nose detected nothing but the familiar montage of cedar, furniture polish, Dan's Old Spice, and her Charlie.
Then she heard a movement on the floor behind her and she whirled quickly on the bed. Dan was on his hands and knees, shaking his heard groggily. He sat up on his hunkers and gingerly explored a goose egg on the back of his head, his fingers coming away with a little blood.
In the end, Dan's injuries and the five bullet holes in the dresser were the only detectable evidences of what the four had experienced during the last several minutes. The demons were gone, the slime was gone, the stench was gone, even the abysmal roaring was gone.
On the edge of the long dresser, Ronni had sat up and rubbed her eyes sleepily, as though waking from a nap. Lacey had already hopped down to the floor and was getting ready to help Ronni get down, too.
Karen hadn't been able to believe it! She leaned over the edge of the bed and stared at the floor. Seconds ago that floor had been covered with several inches of a ghoulish slurry, the memory of which caused her stomach to churn. Now, all she saw was a few specks of lint on the braided accent rugs and a stray sock over by Dan's chest of drawers. Otherwise, the floor was spotless.
She couldn't understand it then and she couldn't understand it now, seven horns or no seven horns. Her act of grabbing the Bible and holding it up had been born of desperation rather than faith. How could a picture in a book, even if that book was the Bible, have that kind of power over that much evil?
"Karen, what did it feel like when you held up the Bible and the demons started to retreat?" Ronni asked earnestly. "Did it feel like power was flowing through you or anything like that?"
Karen's mind snapped back to live action. "Not really. I was so scared, bombed out of my mind with fear ... I guess the only thing I can remember is that my wrists started to tingle. Weight of that big Bible, probably," and she looked at the large book ruefully.
Ronni thought for a moment and turned back to Dan. "Let me explain a bit about the symbolism of those seven horns. You're right. Lethal horns and a woolly white lamb don't go together in the natural sense. But you have to remember that the description of the Lamb with a capital "L" that we just read here in chapter five is written in the language of Biblical symbolism. If the Lamb is Jesus Christ and the wound is a symbol of His sacrificial death, then we have to think about why He died.
Quickly Ronni reviewed Friday night's discussion about God's plan for the salvation of sinners through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
"I get it!" exclaimed Lacey with animation. Her grasp of the metaphysical was superior to either of the Marlows and now her eyes were shining with comprehension. She was really something of a closet Bible reader and much of what she had read over the years but not absorbed had suddenly fallen into place. "Jesus Christ came to earth to die as the once-and-for-all sin sacrifice. And when He did that, it fouled up Satan's plan to destroy the human race which he had been working on since Adam and Eve. And I bet the seven horns on the Lamb show that He, the Lamb of God, is able to fight against Satan and win. Is that right?"
"Spoken like a true evangelical," Ronni said to Lacey with a mixture of amusement at her enthusiasm and relief that someone was getting the message.
Karen looked intrigued. "If this Lamb of God can use His horns to fight against Satan, was that a temporary or a permanent victory we just scored upstairs?"
"My guess is neither," Ronni responded wearily. "I think what we saw upstairs was a tactical error on the part of the demons. For the next seven years or so, Satan and his demons are going to have a pretty free rein on the earth. They'll have nothing to fear from either the real Lamb or a picture of Him, by God's own choice, of course. Based on the contents of Revelation, it seems like this planet and its inhabitants will go through a living hell before we get to the bottom line, as it were. Normally when I read a book I don't like to turn to the back and see how it ends before I've read the whole thing. We need an exception to that rule now. I want to show you what St. John wrote about Satan at the end of all time as we know it." Ronni flipped back several pages and then pointed to a passage.
"This is chapter 20. The first part talks about how God will lock Satan in the bottomless pit and give the earth a thousand years of peace. After this Millennium, as the evangelicals called it, Satan will be released and will go right back to doing what he has always tried to do, overthrow God and His followers.
"The final confrontation between God and Satan is known as the Battle of Gog and Magog. Here's the way it is described in verse 9 of chapter of 20. 'And they went up on the breadth of the earth and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.' Now, that bottom line, in verse 10.
'And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.'"
"I'm half ashamed to admit it," Dan said gruffly, "but that makes the chills run up and down my back." Karen and Lacey agreed wordlessly.
Dan rose and paced back and forth in front of the sink, hands jammed in his hip pockets and chin down on his chest. "I have a lot of questions which still haven't been answered but there are two which I have to ask before I go to bed tonight, or this morning, rather. First, are demons or Satan or whatever, are they keying on us, or is that just my imagination? And second, how come there's no evidence of those demons having been upstairs tonight? The stench is completely gone. You'd think something like that would last in the house for days, especially in winter. And then that slop. When I came to, the floor was completely clean and dry. Weren't those things happening up there except in our minds? Were we in some kind of a spiritual twilight zone?"
Lacey perked up. "The same kind of thing happened to me at Gettysburg Friday. One second it was January and there was snow on the ground. The next second, it was like June with green grass and warm breezes. Then it was January again. Was that the same kind of thing?"
Ronni was feeling the effects of their ordeal and the late hour but she answered quickly, before Karen could intervene on her behalf. "I have no more idea of how some of this is happening then any of you do. We're coming in contact with powers and forces which none of us has ever experienced before, or even read about, for that matter. Let me try to answer your first question though, Dan.
"Satan has countless demons at his command and he could be doing this kind of thing all over the world, at the same time, if he chose to do so. But did you notice the forms of those demons up there? Up until the time I passed out I was completely aware of what was going on. I tell you, each of those demons was a carbon copy of what Sunny looked like the day he had his picture taken, the day he died."
"But how could that be," Dan said. You told us all babies went in the rapture, just like ... just like Kevin and Kellie." He turned hastily in the pretense of blowing his nose.
"I said copies, Dan exact copies. Not the real Sunny. Satan always has been an impersonator. How do you think those seances used to work? When people supposedly came back from the dead? That was Satan, sending his demons to appear with the voice or appearance of someone's dead loved one. Anyway, I'm convinced that whole operation up there was to harass me because of my news conference at the White House. You all were involved because you were in the same general area. And it probably isn't over yet, not by a long shot."
"It's over for tonight," Karen said with a yawn. "I've had it. Dan?"
"Me too, I guess," Dan said with some reluctance. "Do you think we'll be safe?" he asked Ronni.
"I don't know. But I really think I should go home to my own bed. And if I'm out of this house, I'm pretty sure--"
"No way!" Karen responded without hesitation. "You're staying here with us, just like we planned earlier this evening."
"I agree," said Dan as he moved to Karen's side and put his left arm around her waist. "We've been in this thing together since Friday evening and from what I've been hearing tonight, we may all need each other more than any of us realize."
Ronni sighed. "I guess I'm too exhausted to argue. Let me make a rather strange suggestion, though. I think we ought to all sleep in the same room, with the light on, and with this Bible in a prominent spot, opened to the picture of the Lamb. If it fooled them before, it may fool them again."
"I'm in!" said the effervescent Lacey. "Be my first pajama party in over ten years."
The Marlows nodded in agreement and Karen began making plans to pull the twins' mattresses across the hall and put them in a vacant corner of the master bedroom.
rinsed the cups, Dan checked the back door, and they followed Ronni and Lacey
down the hall toward the stairway.
Dan broke a habit of thirty years and left all the downstairs lights burning brightly, including both porch lights.
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