NOVEMBER 9, 1996
Westlake Village, CA
Edited SEPTEMBER 25, 2008
"The man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people" (Exodus 11:3).
Chapter Seven, Verse Seven
Well, we all know that woman's work is never done, and I guess neither is a writer's. I have been rejoicing all week that I had finished the book, but LO, it came to pass that there's just one more, short (I hope), chapter to write. I suppose the good news in this is that the number of chapters has risen from six (the number of man), to seven (the number of perfection). Yesterday, I was looking at a four line verse I had written at the end of chapter six, and I thought, "That's not finished. There's more." So, I began playing with words, and in the middle of it, the phone rang. It was the office secretary, Mae. She asked me if I'd heard the news about Bryan and Natalie. I replied, "Yes, Lenny told me that Natalie delivered healthy twin boys this past week." Mae said, "Maybe you'll write another poem." God had given me a poem for this young couple last year when Jessica, their four month old baby girl, died in a tragic accident. (She was killed by the family pet, a pit bull.) I had shown the poem to Mae, and she had matted and framed it for the couple. (The poem is entitled "In Memory of Baby Jessica," link at end).
They were so touched by the words that they had them inscribed on Jessica's tiny headstone. It took me a long time to find the courage, but I finally went to the cemetery and looked at the stone. I certainly would never have chosen to get a poem published in this way. I didn't know them very well, and I was just too upset to talk to them about the tragedy when it happened, but I wrote a journal chapter expressing my anguish and travail over what I saw as God's harsh dealings with them. Mae is close to the family and she had told me this spring that Natalie was expecting twins, but the doctors were concerned about her because she is such a tiny little woman. They put her to bed in her sixth month, and last week, she delivered healthy twin boys, each six pounds and 18 inches long! What a miracle of God! She named them Jasyn and Jordyn.
After getting off the phone with Mae, the rest of the poem came flowing out. I read it out loud to Lenny and sobbed like a baby, not only because of God's goodness to this family, but also, because I perceived it to be a prophecy for us as well. The poem is included at the end of this chapter. As sometimes happens, words don't always flow out of me in chronological order. I faxed this poem to Mae and she already has plans to mat it in blue and frame it for them, once I get it laser printed.
Meanwhile, back on the real estate front, I heard from Luis, the Seller of the infamous "piece of dirt." He called yesterday to say that he had arranged for a meeting with Will, the guy from whom we need the easement, next Wednesday evening. Luis asked me to get the Buyers there as well. After almost a month of searching, and some interesting information which Lenny and I found on some old deeds, it turns out that there is a reference to an easement, but it is not insurable because of mistakes that were made when the land was first subdivided. Three title companies agree that an easement was intended, but since it was not executed properly, it cannot be insured. All roads seemingly lead back to Will. The Buyer has seen an attorney who advised him not to close without a valid easement. He advised the Buyer to have the Seller deliver an easement prior to close of escrow. Easier said than done, because we'd probably have to litigate to get one, and that takes thousands of dollars and probably two years of our lives before we could stand before a judge.
Right now, the options are 1) the Buyer can cancel the escrow, get his money back and walk away; 2) the Buyer can close escrow without an easement and take the risk of litigation down the road; or 3) the Buyer can negotiate with Will and give him the water rights he wants in exchange for the easement. The one thing that is quite clear is that the Buyer does want this property. So, again, we wait until next Wednesday night to see the outcome of this little "showdown at the OK corral." It doesn't seem so crucial to me at this point because there's not enough money in this escrow to pay all the back payments we currently owe on the house. God has some other way to provide for the rest of our financial needs, I feel sure, but what it is, I haven't a clue.
I woke up a little after midnight last night with my head spinning with plans for this Wednesday evening meeting with Will. I got up and went into the kitchen for a glass of milk and picked up my Bible. It fell open to Exodus 11:7, 9-10: "But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.....And the Lord said unto Moses, 'Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.' And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh; and the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land."
Intuitively, I knew right then that in our little Exodus play, Will is Pharaoh and I am Moses. Pharaoh wouldn't let the people go. Will won't give us an easement. God was telling me clearly, that I should not blame Will for his obstreperousness. He can't help it that he's been a rotten puke. God is the one who has hardened his heart. Why? Probably for the same reason He hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that He could show forth His power and that His name might be declared throughout all the earth (Rom. 9:17). Now Pharaoh was a REALLY rotten puke. God told Moses that He would stretch forth His hand upon Egypt and bring forth His armies and His people out of the land of Egypt "by great judgments" (Ex. 7:4).
Even though I see it and can understand it, nevertheless, like Moses, I'm not very happy about it. God told Moses before he ever went into Egypt that He would harden Pharaoh's heart so that he wouldn't let the people go (Ex. 4:21). In fact, He told him this on many occasions. (See Exodus 7:3; 8:15, 32; 9:7, 34-35; 10:1,20,27; 11:9-10;14:8.) Among the reasons God gave for hardening Pharaoh's heart were these: a) so His wonders would be multiplied in the land of Egypt (11:9); and b) so the Israelites could tell their sons and their son's sons all the signs which He did in Egypt so that they would know that He is the Lord (10:2).
Even though God had told him what would happen, Moses was upset when it came to pass. After all, when he did what God asked and had his first encounter with the monarch, Pharaoh not only did not let the people go, but he increased their work load by taking away the straw that he had previously provided for them to make brick. Now, they had to scrounge around in the fields to get their own straw, but they still had to make the same amount of bricks (Ex. 5: 7-13). Not nice and not fair! I can relate to that. Needless to say, this did not please the Israelites. They sent their union leaders to Pharaoh to complain about these unfair working conditions, and he gave them his royal response: "But he said, "You are idle, you are idle; therefore you say, 'Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.' Go now, and work; for no straw shall be given you, yet you shall deliver the same number of bricks" (Ex. 5: 16-18). What a nice guy! Understandably upset, these union leaders gave Moses and Aaron an ear full. "Like, we didn't have enough trouble before you came? Thanks for nothing!"
Moses took the matter to God and complained: "Then Moses turned again to the LORD and said, "O LORD, why hast thou done evil to this people? Why didst thou ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he has done evil to this people, and thou hast not delivered thy people at all" (Ex. 5:22-23). In other words, "I did my part; now, when are you going to do yours?" Also notice that Moses said, "Why hast THOU done this evil to this people," rather than, "Why has Pharaoh done this evil? Well, at least that makes me feel a little better for all the whining I have done. Moses had a close encounter of the miraculous kind with God, you may recall, what with the burning bush and the rod that became a serpent and all (Ex. 3:2-5; 4:3-4). God surely wouldn't reveal Himself that way to me, because He knows how scared of snakes I am. But even though he had witnessed all that spectacular power on display, Moses still thought God had deserted him. I don't feel so bad about my groaning and moaning now, I really don't.
Now comes the good part of the story, I mean for those of us looking on. I would guess that Moses and Aaron may not have seen it that way. God made them responsible for six hundred thousand men on foot (Ex. 12:37), PLUS women and children, and a mixed multitude of "flocks, herds, and very much cattle." It may have been one of those great honors that they would rather have done without. Can you imagine? Actually, those of us that saw "The Ten Commandments" in our youth can attempt to visualize it, if only through movie magic. Anyway, after four hundred and thirty years, "it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt" (Ex. 12:41). They left behind the taskmasters' lash of slavery, back breaking labor, poverty and degradation, and turned their eyes toward the land of Canaan, "a land flowing with milk and honey" (Ex. 13:5), which God had sworn to give unto their fathers: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
God knew their hearts, and how unstable and insecure they were. Therefore, when He led them out of Egypt, He did not take them by way of the land of the Philistines, because He knew they would want to run back to Egypt if they encountered those blood thirsty warlords. Instead, He led them through the wilderness of the Red Sea (I'm sure He didn't just think of parting it miraculously right when they got there). The people took the bones of Joseph with them, just as he had instructed them before his death hundreds of years before (Ex. 13:17-19). God provided them with a road map vastly superior to a Thomas guide: "And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people" (Ex. 13:21-22). Wow! What a truly awesome sight that must have been. It gives me goose bumps to consider the exodus:
God led the motley crew by the hand,
through desert, over land and sea,
taking them to the Promised Land,
and I know, He'll do the same for me.
Well, of course, nothing runs smoothly or as WE had planned, does it? Sure enough, when old Pharaoh saw his slaves departing, he thought of the lost revenue, the venture capital at risk, the stock market crashing, the gross national product going down, and other dire consequences, and he just decided that he'd made a bad choice, and now, he was going to correct it. So, he set off in hot pursuit with "all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea" (Ex. 14:9). This is kind of like going after a spider with a Gatling gun, it seems to me, but it had the desired effect. When the children of Israel saw all the king's horses and all the king's men, "they were sore afraid" (14:10). No kidding! They said to Moses, "What? There weren't enough graves for us in Egypt, already; so, you've brought us out here in the wilderness to die? Are you crazy?" (Jan's paraphrase of Ex. 14:11). Moses, was a wise man, and one endued with a lot of help from on high, AND INSTANT ACCESS TO THE DIVINE THERAPIST to get him through all these ordeals with neurotic people.
He probably counted to ten and then, said to the people, "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever." Then, to drive the point home, he added, "The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace" (14:13-14). OOPS, I think he just told them to quit whining, but maybe, just maybe, he was doing a little of his own, for the Lord said to him, "Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward" (Ex. 14:15). Come to think of it, God has said to me once or twice, "Quit griping and get on with it."
Anyone who saw "The Ten Commandments" would remember this next scene, which Charlton Heston brought to life in the movie version. Standing on the cliff overlooking the sea, the wind whipping his hair and robes, Moses stretched forth his hand over the water, "and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided" (Ex. 14:21). While all this was going on, the angel of God went behind the Israelite camp, "and the pillar of the cloud came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these (Israelites); so that the one came not near the other all the night" (Ex. 14:20). Wow! Can you picture that scene? Remember though, that God had hardened Pharaoh's heart; so, he ordered all his horses, his chariots, and his horsemen to follow hot after them, right into Red Sea. As we know, this was a mistake, big time, but then, these things happen when God hardens your heart. The text says that God "troubled the host of the Egyptians, and took off their chariot wheels" (Vs. 24-25). Right about then, they decided they'd better make a run for it back to Egypt.
At that point, God told Moses to stretch out his hand again over the sea, "And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. Thus, the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians; and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses" (Ex. 14:27-31). What a GREAT story to tell your grandchildren!
Would to God, all our own stories had such spectacular endings, but alas, we are all too much like the children of Israel. God has to keep sending us little reminders along the way that He is in control, not us; and that no matter how wise as we think we are, He has a better plan for our lives. That's what our little heaven and earth quakes are all about, I think. As a kid growing up, when I would read these thrilling Old Testament stories, I would think, "Those, stupid, stupid Jews! How in the world could they see the hand of God deliver them in so many miraculous ways and still be afraid, and still not trust Him, and still disobey Him? Boy, were they dumb!" Ah, the naiveté and rash judgment of youth. Now, of course, I can see that for as many times as God has saved me from sure disaster, kept me safe in the palm of His hand, I doubt; I fear, and, I'll admit it. I whine.
What I saw in the middle of the night last night is that God has hardened this Will's heart, just as surely as He did Pharaoh's. Gosh, I hope He's not going to drown him in the sea, but, oh well, His ways are higher than my ways. I'll just have to go along with whatever He does and make the best of it. Seriously, I feel that somehow, at the end of this long, aggravating, expensive ordeal, the entire cast of characters in this little drama are going to stand still and see the glory of the Lord revealed. "Did He go to all this effort just for me?" I wondered, "Is it for the Buyer, for the Seller?" Probably for all of us, I would think, because the Lord is faithful and sure, and He will not rest, sleep, nor slumber until all shall know Him, from the least to the greatest, from the most religious to the purely pagan.
And even though I might be tempted to think that the other players need to see this magnificent triumph more than I do, it's probably not so. I probably need to see it more than anyone else in this morality play. Certainly, Lenny and I are the ones being squeezed the most. The other players at least still have jobs and income, whereas we don't. Plus, Isaiah says that "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). That certainly includes me.
Why do I need this experience? For starters, I need to know that God's hand is not shortened and that He can still deliver (Isa. 50:2). Boy, do I need it. It's not my job to be His press secretary either, for the day is coming, when the Lord says, "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord;' for THEY SHALL ALL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST OF THEM UNTO THE GREATEST OF THEM, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more" (Jeremiah 31:33-34).
That will let all the guilty souls off the hook; leave the self righteous types with nothing to boast about; relieve the anxiety of all those who are afraid to witness for God, or who are too ineffective to do any good even when they try, and show all those who thought they were in control, that God is in charge. Churches will have no reason to build big, expensive buildings. (Maybe the ones already built can be converted into condominiums.) There'll be no reason to hound people for money because God Himself will be the government and there will be plenty to go around for everyone. Missionaries can come home because everyone will know the Lord. God will write His Word in our hearts; so, preachers will be out of a job. Don't worry, Lenny, I'll still preach to you. (He likes it, you see. He really does.)
Why am I saying all these things? Because in that glorious day, everyone will know the Lord, everyone! Haste that glorious day, Lord. "And in that day thou shalt say, 'O Lord, I will praise thee; though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation.' And in that day shall ye say, 'Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. Sing unto the Lord; for he has done excellent things; this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitants of Zion: FOR GREAT IS THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL IN THE MIDST OF THEE'" (Isaiah, Chapter 12).
November 11, 1996
I just got another call from Luis, the Seller of the piece of dirt. He says that Will called him this morning to set the meeting back to Friday, not at the real estate office, but at a deli in Westlake. Oh the joys of dealing with Pharaoh. He changes the plans to suit his own needs. I'm not surprised, but I am most certainly tired of it all. At least, I know that Moses didn't have to rehearse for the Red Sea extravaganza; he just had to show up. So, I don't have to plan for this meeting Friday, or whenever it actually happens. Lenny and I will just show up and see what wonders God will reveal. To be continued....
The Throne of God.
Open our ears that we may hear and our eyes that we may see. the glory reserved for those, who wait, Oh Lord, on Thee. By the power of Your Spirit, Lord, You temper for us our fate; You give us mercy, faith, and love, and teach us how to wait.
The battle's fought; the trial's done, You saved us from the Fall. We see that everything is You; that You are all, in all. You've given us eternal bliss. You've loved away our fear; You've triumphed over every grief, and wiped away each tear.
In everything, You trained us, Lord, though it seemed such pain and trouble; we wept for everything You took, but for each loss, You returned us double. We've come to the holy city. On Mount Zion, we take our stand; with the assembly of the firstborn, we've entered the promised land.
We bless you that You loved us so, to give us all You own; We join the heavenly chorus, in worship before Your throne.
By Jan Austin Antonsson, November 8, 1996
(This poem is dedicated to Natalie & Bryan Hull, written in memory of Jessica, with great joy for God's faithfulness in giving them Jasyn & Jordyn, born 11/5/96).
Editor's note: the music is "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee," from Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Words by Henry J. van Dyke, played by Jani on the new keyboard the Lord gave me.
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
Forward to Faxes From the Fiery Furnace
Faxes From The Fiery Furnace, Chapter One
Shame From Shiloh, Chapter Two
E-Mail from Armageddon, Chapter Three
Baggage From Babylon, Chapter Four
Just A Note From Job, Chapter Five
Joy From Jerusalem, Chapter Six
In Memory of Baby Jessica
Dancing with the Devil, Chapter Eight
News From Neosho, Chapter Nine
The Glory Road
We would enjoy hearing from you!
This writing was uploaded to the web 8/27/05,
by Jan Antonsson, webmeister,
and last updated 12/04/08.