The men gathered around their leader in the center of the "Glorious Life" cathedral located inside the domed city of New Jerusalem. The men were anxious and looked towards their leader, a man in his mid-fifties with a gray beard. He was wearing a shimmering gold suit, the one reserved for the most holy person and supreme leader. The man in the gold suit looked at the gathering congregation.
"Grand Pastor Brendon, we beseech you to call upon God!" cried a desperate man his eyes wide with fear.
"Calm brothers, calm," Grand Pastor Brendon held up his hands to gather everyone's attention.
"Grand Pastor, the events are in place for the prophecy. We are ready. How much longer must we wait?" called another frightened man.
"All things come when ready. The Lord God will certainly be preparing to take us up to his arms," Grand Pastor Brendon said. "We have nothing to fear. Did we not rebuild the temple on its original site after the dirty bomb devastated Jerusalem over two hundred years ago?"
"Yea!" the gathered men called out.
"Have not the four horsemen been released in the form of 'Conquest', 'War', 'Famine', and 'Death'?"
"Yea!" the men cried.
"Are there not earthquakes and martyrs?"
"Yea!" the men cried.
"Have we not seen an antichrist spreading his power over the world and people being marked by the beast?"
"Yea!" the men cried.
"Have we not helped the events to happen as they were told in the book of Revelations?" Grand Pastor Brendon screamed in a fever pitch.
"Yea! Yea!" the men returned just as heartily.
"Then allay your fears and take comfort in the glory of God. Are we all not wealthy, do we not all have enough food to eat? Is there any among you who lack any comfort in life?"
"It is as you say Pastor," another man cried out. "But we have been fighting against the infidels in a holy crusade now for over four hundred years. Certainly, God is pleased by now."
"I have no doubt the Lord God is pleased. However, you must remember we are not to test the Lord. No brothers, we are to continue his work here on earth," Grand Pastor Brendon said. "We must continue to spread the word by gun and sword. We must show our enemies how futile it is to try and defeat us for God is on our side."
The men looked upon the Grand Pastor with awe for surely he spoke with the spirit within him. His words were true and the men were content to live their life in relative comfort and ease inside the domed cities of North America. All one had to do was look outside the domes to see the devastated wasteland that now covered the entire planet.
Life outside the domes were harsh. The ozone long depleted could not protect any living thing from the harmful rays of the sun. Life was short and painful without the proper protection. Few animals were able to adapt to the great polluted deserts that covered continents. The vegetation was sparse as well. The foul water was full of toxins that did little to slake the thirst of the dried-cracked terrain.
The air full of radiation, disease, and pollutants covered the earth in a brown haze that even the acid rain could not disperse. It made the sun once bright and yellow look like a festering orange wound.
Domed cities were the answer to survival. All the remaining nations of the world housed their remaining populace inside the huge structures. The better ones were reserved for the wealthy, and the lesser maintained domes housed the poor and criminal. All the domes filtered the air, cleansed the water, maintained the temperature and grew the food that the people needed to survive.
However, after centuries of living in the domed cities people were becoming restless. There was little beauty to be seen naturally. Only pictures from ancient times. Livestock that were raised in sterile barns offered the only animal life the residents could see. The people were ready to move on.
Grand Pastor Brendon slept fitfully that night in his penthouse apartment. He did not know how much longer he could keep his flock together. Some were even considering in engaging in the forbidden science of space exploration. Such blasphemies could make people reconsider such horrific thoughts such as evolution.
"No, no" Grand Pastor Brendon moaned in his sweat soaked sheets. He tossed and turned until finally a deeper sleep calmed him.
"Brendon," a voice said from the darkness.
"Yes?" Grand Pastor Brendon said to the faceless voice from the blackness of his dream.
"Do you know who I am?"
"Y-yes," stammered Grand Pastor Brendon. "You are the Lord."
"That is correct," the faceless voice replied.
"We have waited long for your return Lord," Grand Pastor Brendon said reverently.
"Yes, you have waited and in that time what have you done to my world?" the voice said forcefully.
"Lord, according to Genesis 1:28 you made us stewards of the earth," the Grand Pastor replied meekly.
"Yes, I left you in charge as one would leave a gardener in charge while the master is away. When the master returns he would hope the gardener had improved the land not destroyed it."
"Lord, we thought you were going to return quickly. The signs were all there and one does not repair a vehicle if it is not going to be used any more," Brendon, no longer feeling much like the supreme and divine earthly ruler with the title of Grand Pastor.
"The signs you speak of were always there. You believed that if there was grief and war upon the earth my time to return was at hand. Yet, I point out to you that the world is a broken world and it will always be filled with war and grief.
"However," continued the voice. "You also tried to force the prophecy along as if you could force my hand."
Grand Pastor Brendon felt shameful for the pride of his predecessors did indeed allow them all to believe they could force certain events to happen by manipulating certain factors.
"Do you not remember my teachings?" the voice asked.
"Yes, we tried to follow them faithfully. Like in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. We knew you were a hard master so we went forth and tried to double your wealth. We converted many a soul for you and in return we were rewarded with prosperity and wealth," Grand Pastor Brendon replied.
"Hypocrite!" spat the voice. "You converted people by the sword when I taught peace and love. You also claim your riches were my reward to you for a job well done. You fool you have been deceived by Satan. I stated in Matthew 6:24 and in Luke 16:13 that you cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and riches!
"My anger burns with your words of twisting my teachings into condoning bloodshed and storing up earthly treasures. What did you do with your wealth then?
"For it was John the Baptist who proceeded me who said in Luke 3:11 'the man who has two coats to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.' Yet you passed tax laws benefiting the wealthy and hurting the middle class. Therefore, you are taking the coat even from the man with one leaving him without. Did I not state in Luke 20:25, Matthew 22:21, and Mark 12:17 'Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's?' You are privileged and therefore a greater burden is upon you to help your fellow man.
"You also seem to have forgotten my words in Mark 10:25, Matthew 19:24 and Luke 18:25, 'it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'
"Furthermore, did I not tell the rich man in Luke 18:25, Mark 10:25 and Matthew 19:21 'to sell all that he had and give it to the poor and then he could follow me?"
Grand Pastor Brendon was silent for a while before he lamely added, "Lord in Mark 14:7 and in John 12:8 you said we shall always have the poor."
"Fool, again you have twisted my words and meanings. What I said was, 'because you will always have the poor with you and can help them whenever you want, but you will not always have me.'
"I was reminding my disciples to celebrate that I was with them while they could. After I was gone they would have all the time they needed to help the poor.
"You have also forgotten Matthew 22:36-40 where I state that you shall love the Lord God first and to also love your neighbor as yourself. This you have failed to do.
"You have taught that you should hate those you do not agree with in thought and in deed. You have forgotten to turn the other cheek and to love thy enemy. You have even gone so far as to teach intolerance for other Christians. Our Father cares not whether one is called Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, or even Evangelical. He cares about how you have treated one another.
"When you use me to justify your wars you anger me the most. Do you forget that he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword? Or what I said in Matthew 5:44, 'But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;'
"You fear advances in science as if learning itself was a sin. Seeking knowledge is God's plan for you as long as you remember to honor Him and to love one another."
"Certainly Lord you do not expect us to believe such blasphemous teachings as evolution?"
"You do not need to believe any such things. However, to persecute those who do, is against my teachings. For God works in mysterious ways and His ways may not be what you believe they should be," the voice said.
"That is good because it is stated in Genesis 1:26 we were made in God's image," Grand Pastor Brendon stated.
"This is an example of which I speak. God in making man in His image is referring to man's ability to reason and think unlike the other animals. It is unfortunate that over time man has made God into his image. Furthermore, why is evolution beyond the ability of God the Father? Would He not like a carpenter continue to refine His creations to perfection over time?
"Does not the Bible in Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, Psalm 104:5, I Chronicle 16:30 and Ecclesiastes 1:5 state that the earth does not move? Yet, even to this day you have no problem accepting that the earth moves around the sun. Does this take away from the power of God?"
"Lord what you say means that the Bible is not 100% accurate. Why would God put such inaccurate information in the Bible?" the Grand Pastor asked.
"You forget that men still wrote the Bible. Even if God ordained that every word be written as He stated, some men would take the time and effort to change it. Have you not done so to serve your purposes?"
Grand Pastor Brendon became troubled in his mind. What he was hearing was not what he had been taught to believe. If what the voice he believed to be from Jesus was correct, then that means he and his followers were damned.
"But Lord the Book of Revelation states clearly the signs that signal your arrival. Certainly this cannot be inaccurate," Grand Pastor Brendon said.
"Again you read from the wrong book. I did not write the Book of Revelation; in fact, it is not clear to many men if the Book is telling of things to happen or of things that had happened or even if it is divinely written. I am not here to tell you this one way or the other.
"I will tell you that in Luke 17:22-37 and in Matthew 24:4-14 and 41-44 I laid out clearly that you will not know when I arrive. I will arrive like a thief in the night and that there would be those who would in fact wrongly say there would be certain signs to look for. These were my words and I would hope that you would give them greater weight than those belonging to others."
"What of the two great commandments that I mentioned in Matthew 22:36-40? Have you loved God the Father with all your heart, soul, and mind? Or have you focused on earning treasures here on earth that will do you no good in heaven?
"Have you loved your neighbor as yourself? Or have you spread hatred? Did not your forbears' centuries ago say the former nation of the United States was cursed by God because of 'liberals, homosexuals, feminists, and abortions?' This resulting in the terrorist attacks that destroyed to great towers?
"I say unto you that 'the sins of the father shall not pass onto the children.' I will also point out that I mentioned in Luke 13:4 that when the tower of Siloam fell on eighteen people killing them that they were no greater sinners than the holiest in Jerusalem.
"You and your predecessors have corrupted my message of love and peace over the centuries until it became about hating homosexuals and people who want abortions, to prosperity for the righteous and war on the nonbelievers. If you want to win people over to your side you must use love and understanding. You have to realize that not everything is black and white, right or wrong.
"You are always stating that God is with you. The more important question is are you with God?"
Grand Pastor Brendon's head swam. This must be some terrible dream. All the plans and efforts over centuries to prepare the way for the Lord's return he was told were wrong. Maybe this was not Jesus but instead the Deceiver, Satan himself trying to lead him and his flock astray. It would be most cunning for the Devil to use the Bible itself against him, to use it to sow the seeds of mistrust and doubt.
"If you are truly the Lord I will need some proof," Grand Pastor Brendon stated bravely though he did not feel brave.
"You doubting Thomas!" the voice exclaimed. "You yourself this very day reminded your followers that you shall not test the Lord.
"However, if it is proof you need then I shall give you something to prove that this was not just a simple dream or that I am Satan. Yes, I can read your sinful heart.
"Therefore, when you awaken I will have gathered all those worthy. Those that remain will be doomed to live out their existence on the world you have destroyed over the centuries.
"If you so choose you can change your ways and repair the damage done to the earth then those who remain can join those who have been chosen," the voice said.
Before Grand Pastor Brendon could ask anything further the voice disappeared. The Grand Pastor continued his slumber in unease. For his mind was deeply troubled. Everything he believed in could very well be false -- or worse. Still, he could be facing a test against the Prince of Lies. It was not so easy to just say, "Get thee behind me Satan."
The buzzing alarm awakened Grand Pastor Brendon. He liked to get up early in order to get a head start on the day. After showering and eating, Grand Pastor Brendon then turned on the teleview News Service. The big news that blazed across the 3-D screen proclaimed, "Several Domes have reported a sudden disappearance of citizens. In fact some of the Domes where the poor resided are completely empty. Was this a terrorist plot?"
Grand Pastor Brendon watched in horror as news anchor after anchor repeated the strange and bizarre story. Not one of them considered that the Rapture had just happened and that those who remained on earth were not going to be taken up to Heaven as they believed. If this got, out there would be pandemonium. Grand Pastor Brendon decided then and there to keep his exchange with Jesus to himself.