His Voice from the Cross #1

by J. Quisumbing

The prisoner’s back was on fire. More than an hour ago, he endured a scourging of 25-30 lashes. He lost count. The whip used was the cat o’ nine tails, an odious punishment tool made up of nine knotted thongs of leather with jagged pieces of metal and bones embedded in the strips. Each stroke was relentless especially when the one wielding it was so enraged because the prisoner made no noise above a moan.

His vision blurred again. By the taste of salt on his lips, he knew that more blood was profusely pouring down over his eyes from the puncture wounds on his scalp. Shutting his eyes tight and blinking a couple of times, his vision somewhat cleared. Looking ahead, he could just make out the infamous execution hill which he knew was north of the city about half a mile from the city gate. Some say that this hill looked like a half buried skull hence its name.

A little strength seem to be coming back to his bruised and cut up legs especially when the heavy burden that he was carrying on his already torn up shoulder was alleviated by the overseers. Earlier, they saw that the prisoner may not make it to execution hill because he was stumbling, falling and getting even weaker with every step he took. So, they stopped the procession, grabbed an unsuspecting spectator from amongst the crowd and forced him to carry the prisoner’s burden which was a roughly hewn cross.

The prisoner finally reached the crest of the hill. He was shoved to where the cross that he carried most of the way was laid out on the ground. Men in red tunics were busily preparing it. He turned his eyes towards a commotion on his left. Another prisoner was screaming out in pain as his hands and feet were impaled onto another cross. Hearing a grating sound to his right, he turned his head to watch another cross being erected, the bottom of which fell into a carved hole on the stony ground. It made a heavy thud sound causing the prisoner already nailed and hanging from it to scream out in agony.

He was then stripped of his outer garments leaving just a loin cloth to cover him. Then, he was roughly shoved down onto the cross. He winced as his bare torn back touched the rough surface of the cross. He braced himself with expectation as his arms were stretched out onto the cross beam. Strong calloused hands pinned his forearms down with his palms facing up. The executioners then simultaneously set the tips of nine inch iron spikes over the prisoners’ wrists. They then, simultaneously pounded those nails through his wrists, expertly missing the arteries with no bones broken. The pain was indescribable.

The executioners turned their attention to his feet. First, they tied his knees together. Then, they bent his legs a little to the left about a quarter of the way up. They rested his feet on an anchored triangle shaped wooden block. With one foot over another, they drove another long spike through, pinning them securely on the sloped block.

Just as he was bearing up to the pain of those spikes being driven into his skin, his own cross was lifted up and manhandled into position. The jarring effect brought even more excruciating pain bringing him to tears and then blacked out.

When he came to, he was gasping for air. He was not breathing properly. His chest felt compressed as he hung there with arms stretched up and his legs were limp. He realized that he can inhale but not exhale. He knew he had to put weight on his feet to exhale. But as he did so his torn back rubbed against the splintered wood, causing a constant stabbing into the open raw flesh. As painful as it was, he knew he had to do it regardless the pain he had to endure.

Then the taunts came.

From his high vantage point, he can see the north road busy with passersby going to and fro from the city. Most of them joined in with the mingling crowd that continued to hurl insults at him.

Someone in a rich robe shouted, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself!” Many laughed and shook their heads. Others mockingly called him the king of the Jews and that he should come off that cross to rule them. It went on and on, and even the condemned men left and right of him joined in. (Matthew 27)

Then another voice said, “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”

The prisoner recognized that voice. It was the same voice that tried to tempt him during his time of fasting in the wilderness some three years ago. He said, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”

In his ear, he can hear that same tempter taunt him. “Son of God,” he would whisper, “You have at your command, legions of angels just waiting for you to give the order to destroy those that have done this against you. These creatures are not worthy of your love. See how they mock you. Elijah once asked God to send down fire upon his enemies who mocked him. You command the elements. Reveal your glory to them and watch them grovel in the ground and beg for forgiveness. Do you not see these people?”

He does see them. He looks down at the overseers laughing among themselves and callously gambling over his garment. He cannot get himself to hate them. Then, he scanned the crowd who continue to jeer at him. He saw their pettiness & shallowness; their angers & fears; their ignorance, their frailty & many faults. He also saw inside their hearts and he knew they were lost and hungry for a better life. He once told his disciples that what he saw in people was a flock without a shepherd. He saw each of them as created in God’s image. No, he could not condemn them. He knew that one day, the time of judgment will come, but not yet.

He peered up at the sky. The sky was clear but in the distance he could see angry clouds forming. He knew that his Holy Father was angry and rightly so.

The prisoner braced his legs and painfully lifted his body up. He breathed in, looked up to Heaven and said…

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Author’s Note:

Holy Week is just around the corner. Every Week until Resurection Sunday, I will post a story on the last words of this prisoner who hung on a rugged cross and paved a way for you and me who believe to everlasting life.

I really hope we can have a conversation. Please contact me here at Facebook MESSENGER by audio from 3-5pm Monday to Friday. Scheduled small group chats can be organized as well. Or send me a message HERE.


A Fictional Series by J Quisumbing

CHAPTER 2 continued…

“How many people now?” asked the Admiral.

“The last count was 248. Well… it’ll soon be 249. One of our Bajau Laut ladies… ah… Mrs. Espinada… is due to give birth anytime now.”

Alicia turned the camera on Jona. “Jona, excuse me for eavedropping, but may I ask, how many of those sea gypsies did you get to join your project?” Seeing his frown, she quickly added, “No, I am not prejudice. I did a story on them some years back. The impression I got was that they were very much set in their ways.”

“Well, most are, but even among such a tight knit community, there are those that feel they need to spread their wings a lot more, so to speak. To answer your question, we have about 22 families that joined us.”

“How ever did you get them to join you?”

“Well, seven years ago, I was scuba diving off Palawan when I met this guy named Ito Ito about 20 feet underwater. I was so focused to take a picture of this nudibranch when suddenly this bamboo spear swoosh right by me and hit a very large moray eel. Apparently, this eel was going to take a big bite of my leg. I turned around to see this small skinny guy with no scuba gear except for goggles, a wooden flipper on one foot, a makeshift speargun and get this… white underwear with red hearts all over it.” There was laughter all around including Hallbright who was listening also.

Jona continued on, “Anyway, we got to talking in the dive boat I was staying in. He told me about how he used to belong with a sea gypsy clan in the Sulu Sea until they exiled him because of religious differences. So, he and his family have been living a nomadic life. He was such an expert of survivinging entirely off the sea that I told him that I wished I had about a hundred like him for my project. When we parted, I thought I’d never sea him again. Two years later, when we launched the rings into the water, about thirty bancas with multicolored sails appeared into San Miguel Bay. It was Ito Ito, his family and 21 other exiled families like him. It took him about a year to seek them out and assemble them together. Then, they took a year to sail their fleet of boats to reach us.”

“Attention everybody,” piped-in the Pilot, “…we are about to land. Please buckle up.”

The chopper descended on the heliport which was situated right next to the stern superstructure. It didn’t take too long for them to land and as soon as the whirring of the engines decreased, the crew chief went past them to open the rear cargo hatch.

Jona was off his seat as soon as the crew chief gave the clearance. First, he helped Alicia with her bags then got his own and he led them off the chopper. Waiting for them was his wife, Mae and Robby Ramiscal. Also there waiting were Bryce and Bree Grover, a brother and sister team incharge of the multiple agri and aquacultural projects.

To be continued…


Note from the author:
Oceanus Adventure is a fun effort on my part to enter the wonderful world of creative writing. It’s a story of a group of people who launched themselves into the Pacific Ocean on an artificial island to solve the Great Pacific garbage patch. My hopes is that this will end up into a TV series.

Comments and idea suggestions will be most welcomed. I hope you enjoy.


A Fictional Series by J Quisumbing


“Oceanus… a Titan from Greek mythology,” Hallbright said.

“Yes,” said Jona. “He was the Titan god of the river Okeanos, which was believed to encircle the world and connect the earth to the heavens and the underworld. Anyway, Oceanus is an artificial floating atoll and it is all floating on… trash!”

“Trash! Incredible!” said an excited Hallbright, “I recalled watching videos of a floating island made of thousands of recycled plastic bottles in the Caribbean coast of Mexico… built by… ah… Reishee Sowa.”

“In fact, his designs and experiences were a large factor into the workings of the Oceanus Project,” explained Jona. “Of course, our floating creation is a lot more extensive than Mr. Sowa’s little island.”

“To what end?” asked Alicia who had her camera on him.

“The Oceanus Project is not just a floating city. She is our answer to the Great Pacific garbage patch. Now, before you ask any questions, the pilot is going to orbit Oceanus twice and then we will land. Enjoy the view.”

As Alicia turn the camera on Oceanus, she zooms in for a better look. Jona called it a floating atoll. By definition, an atoll is a ring-shaped reef that encircles a lagoon partially or completely. This is definately ring-shaped and it brought to mind another man-made atoll in Dubai, the Palm Jumeirah; except that this one floats. As they orbited closer, she saw that there were actually two rings; the outer ring of which is narrower than the inner. Both rings had foliage. As they came closer, she recognized that the foliage on the outer ring were mangroves. The inner ring seem to have more variety of foliage including the recognizable palm and coconut trees.

‘How in heaven did they get mangrove and coconut trees to grow on floating trash?’ she thought. ‘A definate question to ask later.’

By the look of it, the diameter of Oceanus is about twice the length of one of those supertankers, about 4000 feet or so. The rings, however, did not form a complete circle, however. In actuality, the atoll is made up of two arcs, their ends of which were attached to two superstructures, one of which seem to be the bow of a freighter which was cut in half.

On the other end was another superstructure but a lot more different from the bow. As the chopper flew by it, she saw that this superstructure was about nine stories high above sea level. The structure itself is built up on twin catamaran hulls, but by the look of the darker colored waters underneath there seem to be more underwater. The opening between the hulls is the gateway into the lagoon. By the look of it, a sailboat can go through it with space to spare. Now, the chopper was giving them a better view of the lagoon.

“I see that you expanded the inner side of the ring,” it was the Admiral’s voice.

Alicia saw that from the inner side of the ring, the floating land roughly extended out. On it were about twenty or so dome huts.

“Well, the villagers needed more ground space for their cottage industries,” Jona said. “They’re quite enterprising. Did you know that the women figured out how to convert seaweed into toilet paper? We are slowly and surely becoming less reliant to outside supplies.”

“What’s that big island?”

“That’s the staff’s residence island. That’s where we will be staying.”

Alicia panned the camera to the big island mound near the bow. On it were six dome structures encircling a larger double decked structure also with a dome roof.

“The smaller island is still under construction,” said Jona. “That will be eventually fused with the residence island.”

To be continued…


Note from the author:
Oceanus Adventure is a fun effort on my part to enter the wonderful world of creative writing. It’s a story of a group of people who launched themselves into the Pacific Ocean on an artificial island to solve the Great Pacific garbage patch. My hopes is that this will end up into a TV series.

Comments and idea suggestions will be most welcomed. I hope you enjoy.


A Fictional Series by J Quisumbing

CHAPTER 1 continued…

Major Roque navigated the chopper by mostly hugging the eastern coast of Luzon with the Pacific to their left. Two and half hours later, they were over the Bicol Natural Reserve. It was suggested that he give the passengers a more dramatic approach. So, Maj. Roque dove the chopper to treetop level. From the back, he heard someone yell out, “heee hawww”!

Then looming in front of him was the forested mountain range of the reserve. He turns on the PA systems and said, “Buckle up and tighten your belts, people. This is going to be a fun ride.”

Jona tightened his belt. “Here we go again, Admiral. Jer knows I hate this part.”

To keep from throwing up, he locked his eyes out the window. Fortunately, he was sitting next to the Admiral who had the larger domed window with fantastic vantage view of the scenery. The chopper wound its way up and down deep forested ravines.

“Oh yeah,” whooped Hallbright. “This is better than the rollercoaster at Six Flags.”

Jona tightened his grip on his chair, then asked the Admiral, “Do you think the pilot can perform a roll in a twin rotor chopper this size?”

The Admiral laughed out loud and sympathetically tapped Jona’s white knuckled hand.

“Sir, the last ridge is coming up,” said the co-pilot.

“Ah right.” Maj. Roque clicked on the PA system. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, I hope you enjoyed the ride? We are making our approach to our destination in 20 minutes. Ms. Buenaventura, you can activate your cameras at this time.”

The chopper climbed to an altidude where the passengers can get a grand view of the San Miguel Bay. The bay’s width is about 20 miles at it’s widest running from west to east. It’s length, from the mouth of the bay going south, is about 25 miles. The bay encompasses the provinces of Camarines Norte to the west and Camarines Sur on the south and east.

The voice of the pilot came on again on the PA system. “If you look out the port side, that is the left side, you can see where we’re landing.”

Alicia had control of one of the cameras and was sitting just behind Admiral Harris’ seat. So, besides her own portal, she can just stand and pan her camera out his bigger window.

“There she is, Admiral, at the center of the bay,” Jona said.

Alicia pointed her camera to where Jona indicated. She was slowly panning right, trying to keep the camera steady against the aircraft’s vibration still not seeing nothing but sea and the distant coast of the bay which was a little blurred. Then she stopped panning when she spotted something green. She adjusted the focus and zoomed in. At first, she thought she was eyeing an island. But there was something strange about it. Then she realized that it was not just an ordinary island. Though it had vegetation, it seemed artificial.

“Jona, is that island…?”

“…Floating? Yes!” Jona stood and faced everyone. “Folks… welcome to Oceanus!”

To be continued…


Note from the author:
Oceanus Adventure is a fun effort on my part to enter the wonderful world of creative writing. It’s a story of a group of people who launched themselves into the Pacific Ocean on an artificial island to solve the Great Pacific garbage patch. My hopes is that this will end up into a TV series.

Comments and idea suggestions will be most welcomed. I hope you enjoy.


A Fictional Series by J Quisumbing

CHAPTER 1 – continued…

“Sir,” said the co-pilot who was looking out his window, “ang dyan na sila.” (‘they are coming…’)

Jona looked out also and saw a group of six exiting the terminal. “There they are. No rough flying please.”

Jer laughed out again and gave him the thumbs up. Jona closed the cockpit door then went to the side hatch where his guests were already climbing in. Jona guided them to their seats. The last to board was a tall white haired man in his seventies.

“Hi Admiral. Any problems with the paperworks?”

“Nope. Our embassy people did a good job smoothing the way with your government…” said Admiral Harris. “…including keeping my indentity hush hush.”

Admiral Reese Harris is a retired Naval Chief of staff and is now a sitting U.S. Senator. Some years ago, Jona befriended him when they sat opposite from each other when the Admiral headed the committee to investigate the feasability of his project. There was much debate and consternation between them but after a chance meeting in a Georgetown Irish pub, they began to see things eye to eye and became longtime friends.

Jona guided him to a seat on the left side by the only dome window.

“This is your seat, Admiral. You’ll get the best view here.” Jona saw one of the female passengers gesturing to him, “Ah… excuse me, I’m being paged.” He goes towards her.

Alicia Buenaventura is Filipino-American who recently moved back to Manila. She is a Youtuber with her own channel. She and a team of four videographers are in contract with National Geographic to journal his project. Jona was elated when he received the email he was longingly waiting for after a year of negotiation with the executives of NG. Alicia was their answer.

“Where can we set up the flight cameras?” she asked, hefting a couple of Go Pro cameras in her hands.

“The pilot said you can set up a camera in the cockpit. Another camera can also be mounted in the belly view port. The chopper’s engineer will show you.”

“That’s great,” replied Alicia. “We’ll get fantastic aerial scenes for our opening broadcast. Ah, Mr. Quimby…”

“Please, call me Jona.”

“Alicia… ah… Jona, I understand Robby Ramiscal is part of your crew?”

“Yes, he is. He’s one of my supervisors. How do you know him?”

“Oh, we were in college together,” she said smiling.

Jona could not help but read something mischievous in that smile.

“Well, you’ll be able to catch up with him…” Jona then adds, “…his wife and kids tonight at the reception.”

Her smile disappeared as quickly as it appeared. Then the corner of her lips went up ever so slightly and Jona thought he saw a glean in her eye. He guessed that Robby is going to have an interesting year ahead of him.

The big chopper lifted off the tarmac. To avoid the incoming and outgoings of planes of the very busy airport, the chopper flew north for a short while then swung east over the city until they were just over the mountain ranges that overlooked the metropolitan. Then it changed course to south by southeast.

Tony Hallbright, who was sitting on the starboard side of the chopper saw they were skirting what looks like a large three-pronged lake. He popped up his Google Map app and read that it was called Laguna de Bay or Laguna Lake. According to Wikipedia, it is the largest fresh water lake in the Philippines located southeast of Metro Manila between the provinces of Laguna to the south and Rizal to the north. They were flying low enough that tony can still distinguish several aquaculture pens. From his research, they were more than likely filled with tilapia and a mullet like fish which the locals called Bangus. Tony had some of the delicious milkfish for breakfast. A very pretty Filipina waitress recommended that he should eat it with garlic fried rice, salted eggs with red yokes and some pickled papaya relish. And to spice it up all up, she generously sprinkled his fish with reddish cane vinegar suffused with garlic, onion and tiny red peppers. He smiled to himself. Not only did he enjoy his meal, he also got to ‘friend’ her at Facebook.

To be continued…


Note from the author:
Oceanus Adventure is a fun effort on my part to enter the wonderful world of creative writing. It’s a story of a group of people who launched themselves into the Pacific Ocean on an artificial island to solve the Great Pacific garbage patch. My hopes is that this will end up into a TV series.

Comments and idea suggestions will be most welcomed. I hope you enjoy.

WORD Sent Forth #19

This is for those who feel the need to be ready when God calls.

There are those that are afraid to die because they feel that their spiritual life needs improvement. So, how do you go about improving spiritually?

First step, consider what pleases God? Believe…

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him.
John 6:40
“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 5:24
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Faith needs right knowledge.

The Apostle Paul wrote this…

Romans 10:1-2
Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.
Joshua 1:8
Keep this Book of the Law (Bible) always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

How does one strenghten their faith even more?

Colossians 3:1-2
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Matthew 6:33
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.

A Christian author wrote: ‘Our minds are so much set on Earth that we are unaccustomed to heavenly thinking.’* So, since you have a desire to be right with God, then keep your eyes on the prize – that is, HEAVEN.

[* from Randy Alcorn’s – Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.]

I really hope we can have a conversation. Please contact me here at Facebook MESSENGER by audio from 3-5pm Monday to Friday. Scheduled small group chats can be organized as well. Or send me a message HERE.


A Fictional Series by J Quisumbing


‘It is good to be home,’ thought Jona Quimby.

He had arrived from the states and had boarded a large chopper which was revving up it tandem rotors at a private hanger across from the domestic airport of Manila, Philippines.

The chopper is a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter formerly purchased from the United States Navy by his organization. The usually sparse interior was decked out with a number of comfortable airline seats good for 18 passengers leaving a large space at the rear for cargo which was being loaded with different sized crates.

“Jona? How the heck did you get this navy chopper?” asked his companion as he stowed his bags in an upper compartment.

His name is Tony Hallbright, a marine biologist Jona met at a scientific symposium he attended at Seattle, Washington. Tony was young and was only 2 years in his field. From out of more than twenty experienced marine biologists Jona met with, he chose Tony because he was the most eager and not hampered with the traditional habits.

Jona smiled at him and said, “I have a friend in congress, a retired admiral, who believes in our project.”

“So, where are we flying to now?”

“Well, we’ll fly for about 3 hours going southeast to the Pacific side of Luzon,” Jona said, “… to a protective bay called San Sebastian in the province of Bicol.”

Tony was speedily typing out San Sebastian Bay Bicol on his search engine of his smart phone.

“Aha, is this it?”

Tony showed him a Google map satelite image of the bay on his phone. Jona gave him the thumbs up.

“Relax for a while, Tony. I have to talk to the pilot.”

Jona entered the cockpit to where the pilot and the co-pilot were going over their checklist.

Maj. Jerome Roque was a retired pilot of the Philippine Air Force. Jona first met him some ten years ago during the Marawi City conflict. Jona was a marine officer on a reconnoiter mission about five blocks deep into the city. He and his six man squad were on top of a seven storey structure when he noticed an OV-10 Bronco, an airforce twin prop plane diving straight at them. Jona was rivetted as he traced the trajectory of a single bomb drop. He thought they were dead and he so wanted to punch out that pilot’s lights. But the bomb by passed the building they were in and impacted into a structure across the street from them which to his surprise flushed out a great number of insurgents. Weeks later, he met that same pilot, a Captain Roque at that time, and they became close friends after that.

“Hi Jer, kumusta?” (‘how are things?’)

“You sure took your time getting back,” said Jer as he turned to face him. “You were supposed to be back a month ago.”

“I had to stay a little bit longer,” said Jona. “Our backers wanted a more extensive report and they also took their time to put a delegation together.”

“Another inspection? Don’t they know we launch in a couple of days?”

“They wanted to be there for it. This deligation is going to be with us a long while.”

Jer rolled his eyes up, shaking his head. “Well, I pray they don’t turn this into some kind of publicized stunt.”

“Don’t worry, Jer. Our backers like ourselves do not want to attract too much attention.”

“So, Jona? Who are in this delegation? Is that young guy back there, one of them?”

“No,” Jona snickered. “He’s a young enthusiastic marine biologist I picked up at Seattle.”

“Young? How experienced is he?”

“Well, he’s a little green…”

“What?!” Jer smirked. “Oho ho ho ho… Mae is going to kill you. She is expecting a more experienced guy.”

Jona smiled impishly. Jer’s face lit up with understanding. Laughing out loud, he got up out of his seat. “I’m just going to have a peek.” He peered through the cockpit door at Tony Hallbright then quickly sat back down in his seat, chuckling. “She’s going to have him for breakfast. As for you… you better get off and catch a plane back to the states.”

“Ha ha ha! Very funny.”

(To be continued…)

Note from the author:
Oceanus Adventure is a fun effort on my part to enter the wonderful world of creative writing. It’s a story of a group of people who launched themselves into the Pacific Ocean on an artificial island to solve the Great Pacific garbage patch. My hopes is that this will end up into a TV series.

Comments and idea suggestions will be most welcomed. I hope you enjoy.

Sketching HIStory #25

Genesis 24 – Servant’s Journey to Find Wife for Isaac

1 Abraham was now a very old man, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. 2 One day Abraham said to his oldest servant, the man in charge of his household, “Take an oath by putting your hand under my thigh. 3 Swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women. 4 Go instead to my homeland, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son Isaac.”

5 The servant asked, “But what if I can’t find a young woman who is willing to travel so far from home? Should I then take Isaac there to live among your relatives in the land you came from?”

6 “No!” Abraham responded. “Be careful never to take my son there. 7 For the LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and my native land, solemnly promised to give this land to my descendants.a He will send his angel ahead of you, and he will see to it that you find a wife there for my son. 8 If she is unwilling to come back with you, then you are free from this oath of mine. But under no circumstances are you to take my son there.”

9 So the servant took an oath by putting his hand under the thigh of his master, Abraham. He swore to follow Abraham’s instructions. 10 Then he loaded ten of Abraham’s camels with all kinds of expensive gifts from his master, and he traveled to distant Aram-naharaim. There he went to the town where Abraham’s brother Nahor had settled. 11 He made the camels kneel beside a well just outside the town. It was evening, and the women were coming out to draw water.

12 “O LORD, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. 13 See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. 14 This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’—let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.”

15 Before he had finished praying, he saw a young woman named Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who was the son of Abraham’s brother Nahor and his wife, Milcah. 16 Rebekah was very beautiful and old enough to be married, but she was still a virgin. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came up again. 17 Running over to her, the servant said, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jug.”

18 “Yes, my lord,” she answered, “have a drink.” And she quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and gave him a drink. 19 When she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels, too, until they have had enough to drink.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jug into the watering trough and ran back to the well to draw water for all his camels.

21 The servant watched her in silence, wondering whether or not the LORD had given him success in his mission. 22 Then at last, when the camels had finished drinking, he took out a gold ring for her nose and two large gold braceletsb for her wrists.

23 “Whose daughter are you?” he asked. “And please tell me, would your father have any room to put us up for the night?”

24 “I am the daughter of Bethuel,” she replied. “My grandparents are Nahor and Milcah. 25 Yes, we have plenty of straw and feed for the camels, and we have room for guests.”

26 The man bowed low and worshiped the LORD. 27 “Praise the LORD, the God of my master, Abraham,” he said. “The LORD has shown unfailing love and faithfulness to my master, for he has led me straight to my master’s relatives.”

28 The young woman ran home to tell her family everything that had happened. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, who ran out to meet the man at the spring. 30 He had seen the nose-ring and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man had said. So he rushed out to the spring, where the man was still standing beside his camels. 31 Laban said to him, “Come and stay with us, you who are blessed by the LORD! Why are you standing here outside the town when I have a room all ready for you and a place prepared for the camels?”

32 So the man went home with Laban, and Laban unloaded the camels, gave him straw for their bedding, fed them, and provided water for the man and the camel drivers to wash their feet. 33 Then food was served. But Abraham’s servant said, “I don’t want to eat until I have told you why I have come.”

“All right,” Laban said, “tell us.”

34 “I am Abraham’s servant,” he explained. 35 “And the LORD has greatly blessed my master; he has become a wealthy man. The LORD has given him flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, a fortune in silver and gold, and many male and female servants and camels and donkeys.

36 “When Sarah, my master’s wife, was very old, she gave birth to my master’s son, and my master has given him everything he owns. 37 And my master made me take an oath. He said, ‘Do not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women. 38 Go instead to my father’s house, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son.’

39 “But I said to my master, ‘What if I can’t find a young woman who is willing to go back with me?’ 40 He responded, ‘The LORD, in whose presence I have lived, will send his angel with you and will make your mission successful. Yes, you must find a wife for my son from among my relatives, from my father’s family. 41 Then you will have fulfilled your obligation. But if you go to my relatives and they refuse to let her go with you, you will be free from my oath.’

42 “So today when I came to the spring, I prayed this prayer: ‘O LORD, God of my master, Abraham, please give me success on this mission. 43 See, I am standing here beside this spring. This is my request. When a young woman comes to draw water, I will say to her, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jug.” 44 If she says, “Yes, have a drink, and I will draw water for your camels, too,” let her be the one you have selected to be the wife of my master’s son.’

45 “Before I had finished praying in my heart, I saw Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water. So I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ 46 She quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and said, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’ So I drank, and then she watered the camels.

47 “Then I asked, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She replied, ‘I am the daughter of Bethuel, and my grandparents are Nahor and Milcah.’ So I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her wrists.

48 “Then I bowed low and worshiped the LORD. I praised the LORD, the God of my master, Abraham, because he had led me straight to my master’s niece to be his son’s wife. 49 So tell me—will you or won’t you show unfailing love and faithfulness to my master? Please tell me yes or no, and then I’ll know what to do next.”

50 Then Laban and Bethuel replied, “The LORD has obviously brought you here, so there is nothing we can say. 51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go. Yes, let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has directed.”

52 When Abraham’s servant heard their answer, he bowed down to the ground and worshiped the LORD. 53 Then he brought out silver and gold jewelry and clothing and presented them to Rebekah. He also gave expensive presents to her brother and mother. 54 Then they ate their meal, and the servant and the men with him stayed there overnight.

But early the next morning, Abraham’s servant said, “Send me back to my master.”

55 “But we want Rebekah to stay with us at least ten days,” her brother and mother said. “Then she can go.”

56 But he said, “Don’t delay me. The LORD has made my mission successful; now send me back so I can return to my master.”

57 “Well,” they said, “we’ll call Rebekah and ask her what she thinks.” 58So they called Rebekah. “Are you willing to go with this man?” they asked her.

And she replied, “Yes, I will go.”

59 So they said good-bye to Rebekah and sent her away with Abraham’s servant and his men. The woman who had been Rebekah’s childhood nurse went along with her. 60 They gave her this blessing as she parted:

“Our sister, may you become the mother of many millions! May your descendants be strong and conquer the cities of their enemies.”

61 Then Rebekah and her servant girls mounted the camels and followed the man. So Abraham’s servant took Rebekah and went on his way.

62 Meanwhile, Isaac, whose home was in the Negev, had returned from Beer-lahai-roi. 63 One evening as he was walking and meditating in the fields, he looked up and saw the camels coming.

64 When Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac, she quickly dismounted from her camel. 65 “Who is that man walking through the fields to meet us?” she asked the servant.

And he replied, “It is my master.” So Rebekah covered her face with her veil. 66 Then the servant told Isaac everything he had done.

67 And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.

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Sketching HIStory #24

Genesis 23 – Death and Burial of Sarah

1 When Sarah was 127 years old, 2 she died at Kiriath-arba (now called Hebron) in the land of Canaan. There Abraham mourned and wept for her.

3 Then, leaving her body, he said to the Hittite elders, 4 “Here I am, a stranger and a foreigner among you. Please sell me a piece of land so I can give my wife a proper burial.”

5 The Hittites replied to Abraham, 6 “Listen, my lord, you are an honored prince among us. Choose the finest of our tombs and bury her there. No one here will refuse to help you in this way.”

7 Then Abraham bowed low before the Hittites 8 and said, “Since you are willing to help me in this way, be so kind as to ask Ephron son of Zohar 9 to let me buy his cave at Machpelah, down at the end of his field. I will pay the full price in the presence of witnesses, so I will have a permanent burial place for my family.”

10 Ephron was sitting there among the others, and he answered Abraham as the others listened, speaking publicly before all the Hittite elders of the town. 11 “No, my lord,” he said to Abraham, “please listen to me. I will give you the field and the cave. Here in the presence of my people, I give it to you. Go and bury your dead.”

12 Abraham again bowed low before the citizens of the land, 13 and he replied to Ephron as everyone listened. “No, listen to me. I will buy it from you. Let me pay the full price for the field so I can bury my dead there.”

14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “My lord, please listen to me. The land is worth 400 pieces of silver, but what is that between friends? Go ahead and bury your dead.”

16 So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price and paid the amount he had suggested—400 pieces of silver, weighed according to the market standard. The Hittite elders witnessed the transaction.

17 So Abraham bought the plot of land belonging to Ephron at Machpelah, near Mamre. This included the field itself, the cave that was in it, and all the surrounding trees. 18 It was transferred to Abraham as his permanent possession in the presence of the Hittite elders at the city gate. 19 Then Abraham buried his wife, Sarah, there in Canaan, in the cave of Machpelah, near Mamre (also called Hebron). 20 So the field and the cave were transferred from the Hittites to Abraham for use as a permanent burial place.

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BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #13

Obedience to Government or to God?

Acts 5:29
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men…”

There are times that I get arguments that the verse above gives us liscence to not obey the government (usually around April when it’s time to pay taxes). Of course, for some, I suspect that their motives has nothing to do with obeying God either. Nevertheless, it needs addressing.

Let’s start with a clear statement of the Lord’s will.

Romans 13:1-7
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Now, I understand that this is a hard pill to swallow especially in these problematic times when people feel betrayed by those in government. For myself, I take comfort in the words of Jesus when he said, “The truth will set me free.” And the truth is, all human beings make mistakes including those in government. So, I tend to be forgiving. Why? Well, my take on Romans 13:1-7 is that I give much credence to those in office because I trust God and leave the outcomes to Him.

1 Peter 2:13-17
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

How about the Apostle Peter’s statement above, ‘We must obey God rather than men’?

Let us look at the context of Acts 5

Acts 5
12 At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all together in Solomon’s portico…
16 The people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together as well, bringing people who were sick or tormented with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.
17-18 But the high priest stood up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public prison.
19-20 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and leading them out, he said, “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple area the whole message of this Life.”
21 Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple area about daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, that is, all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison for them to be brought. 22 But the officers who came did not find them in the prison… 25 …someone came and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple area and teaching the people!” 26 Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned).
27-28 When they had brought them, they had them stand before the Council. The high priest interrogated them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this Man’s blood upon us.”
29-32 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

Every Christian will stand on a crossroad where they will have to choose between obeying God or the government that want you go against God’s will. I pray that we choose right regardless the circumstances.

To Him be all the glory.