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By Malcolm Anderson
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Malcolm Anderson
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The rather small Semitic man clinched his fists and gritted his teeth.... as a child in Tarsus, he had attended some of the barbaric Roman games but he had never seen anything like this...... The Jewish Mob were more like wild beasts and as they charged toward the defenseless man, he could not watch...... As the stones began to fly, the man did not give ground but stood boldly and gazed steadfastly up into Heaven...... seeing the Glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, as if Heaven were reaching its hand to welcome him home. His entire being seemed to be bathed in blinding light not unlike the transfiguration of Jesus: "His face did shine as the sun and his raiment was white as the light" (Matthew 17:2)........ And the man died, as Jesus had died, without a trace of resentment toward his contemptible tormentors, to-wit: "Lord, lay not his sin to their charge". (Acts 7:60)
Saul, mused to himself ....... just who was this Stephen, and why had he persecuted him so vigorously, so as to enrage this Jewish Mob so. Then Saul began to remember, this Stephen was no ordinary Jew, he was foreign born, being raised in centers of vast Greek culture and was much better educated than the Jews of the homeland. He had spoken brilliantly before the same Sanhedrin, which had condemned Jesus to death on the cross, and most certainly Annas and Caiphas were in attendance. Saul further remembered that Stephen's defense had been absolutely masterful; he had lectured the entire Sanhedrin on the details of Jewish Old Testament historyclimaxingwithastingingrebukeoftheillegalcrucifixionofJesus, which brought down the house with hoots of derision.
As Saul wandered blindly through the crowded streets of Jerusalem, he was extremely depressed by the brutal execution of Stephen that he had just witnessed, nothing in his background had prepared him for this moment. Saul was born in Tarsus on or about 5 BC, which would make him a contemporary of Jesus, who was born on or about 6 BC in Bethlehem.
Tarsus, although a pagan city, was a well known center of culture for the teaching of philosophy and the liberal arts of the day and as Saul would later admit "no mean city"(Acts 21:39) However, Tarsus could not match the ultimate centers of learning that were already established in Athens and Alexandria. Several times throughout Saul's lifetime, he had occasion to refer to his Roman citizenship, in fact, more than one time this had most certainly saved his life. It would appear that if Saul were a free born Roman citizen, his father was surely also a Roman citizen. (Acts 22:28) Since his father was allegedly a tent maker, he certainly could have provided a very valuable service to the Roman Army and therefore his Roman citizenship could have been a "political appointment" rather than a hereditary one by virtue of birth.
Although Saul was born in Tarsus, historical records tell us that he probably did not spend his childhood there. Since his father was a Pharisee, it was no doubt determined early in Saul's life that this pagan city of Tarsus was not for him. His father must have felt that Jerusalem would provide a much more suitable environment for his young son during his formative years. As Saul's life developed, he certainly became a Pharisee in his own right, which provided him with another valuable credential which would serve him well throughout his life.
The Godship Zechariah had been in stationary orbit, over Jerusalem, since the conclusion of Operation Messiah......... Eigon, the giant Zamank, was the helmsman on the third watch, he was covered with green fur and appeared to be a "subhuman" species, but in point of fact, he was very advanced on the evolutionary scale, in addition to his engineering training, he possessed vast culture by modem standards, speaking several languages including Aramaic and Greek, which made him quite valuable on this particular assignment. He had been recruited by Godfleet Command from his home planet of Reigel VI.
However, not all the crew members of the Godship Zechariah were from Reigel VI: Many recent "Earthlings" were now members of Godfleet Command: Executive Officer Mary Magdalen of Judea; Joseph of Arimathea; King Herod, former Tetrach of Galilee; and Simon of Cyrene a/k/a Lt. Alexander Aliopoulios, to mention a few.
Since it was only the beginning of the third watch, Eigon was merely staring down at the lovely blue green orb slowly rotating beneath him, he seems unprepared when suddenly a pale blue light, indicating a personnel message on his console began to flash. "Bridge". "Master Helmsman Eigon speaking". A very familiar and crystal clear voice suddenly invaded his consciousness. "Hi Eigon, this is Mary, your favorite pest and I can't sleep..... some of the things happening in Jerusalem I don't like and I'm not sure I understand" "Yes Mam!!" Eigon spoke in an absolutely proper chain of command voice, which would most certainly belie any hint of familiarity between them. "Permission to speak freely. Mam!!" "Why certainly, Eigon but whats this all about? "Mary, when you came aboard the Zechariah, you were an Ensign. I had no difficulty meeting with you alone but now that you are the Executive Officer and Second in Command of this Godship ... to say the least, I am a little bit apprehensive!!" There was silence on the other end of the line as Mary considered how to explain all that had happened since she had become a disciple and companion to Jesus. "Eigon, you certainly need an explanation as to all the things that have happened to the "Son of Man" on earth but I want it to be face to face, not on an unsecured line". Eigon spoke very gently in a voice that seem to belie his fearsome countenance: "It just so happens. Madam, that I am just leaving to inspect the Zero Gravity Bay at Section 7, Bay 7 and you're certainly welcome to join me, if you like". "Right, Sir" Mary Chirped...... "I'll be right up". Eigon set a bank of function monitors into operation and barked into a microphone..... "I'll be right back - 1 have to inspect Section 7, Bay 7".
Eigon greeted Mary with a proper salute and what would pass for a "broad grin" on Reigel VI, most certainly not a snarl "How have you been, Mary, and what is this all about?" Mary laughed: "Just wait till we get to the Cloud Bay, so I can relax and I'll explain".
Eigon and Mary released their antigravity belts as they cleared the massive Gravity lock and floated into a glorious blue sky festooned with fluffy white clouds ... "You know something, this is nice" Mary spoke softly as she floated lazily through the beautiful sky... "You've got to remember, Eigon, I was raised in Judea as an earthling, therefore, I've been burdened by gravity all my life. You were lucky to be from Reigel VI where you gravity is very similar to our moon". Eigon interrupted Maryand roared: "I know exactly what you mean, when I beamed down to Arimathea to correct the subspace problems we were having during Operation Messiah, I was almost crushed".
Mary suddenly turned serious and spoke in a Godlike voice: "Eigon, you must remember that Jesus is not only truly God, whom we worship with all our hearts, minds and souls, as the Son of God but he is also a man, a man born on earth of human parents, so he is also human in every respect, he was the "Son of Man" as he often referred to himself throughout scripture.
Now please recall, when Jesus and I were growing up in Israel, the social decorum of the day virtually forbid a Jewish man to be unmarried. According to Jewish custom, celibacy was considered almost a sin and certainly condemned. Therefore, it was only natural for the entire congregation to assume that we were married. Further, Jesus was from the House of David and I was from the House of Benjamin, it could be assumed to be a royal wedding so to speak. We could have been married by a Rabbi at the home of Joseph of Arimathea, who is Jesus's Uncle. From that time on, until his crucifixion, I was his constant companion and disciple. At the time of his crucifixion, we were only separated for a short period of time, until you beamed him back down to the tomb on the first day of the week. Mary showed a flash of excitement as she recalled the scene at the tomb: "Yes, I can remember Jesus exact words after you beamed him down. He said: "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father" (JOHN 20:17) "But then I knew that he still loved me and that we would be together for all eternity."
Enough of this serious talk. Green Man. I've heard rumors of this new Apostle named Saul, who used to oppress us down in Jerusalem. I'm not sure I like this man at all....... my future studies have told me that this new recruit would be no more than a "third round draft choice", certainly not qualified to replace Judas.
"Not so fast, my friend", laughed Eigon.... to begin with - Saul is not being recruited to replace Judas or to be the 12th Apostle, that's already been done shortly after Judas hanged himself ... His name is Matthias and he was chosen to take Judas' place to keep the number of Apostles at 12, probably symbolic of the 12 tribes of Israel, now maybe we need 13 so that we can proselytize the gentiles."
"Moreover, please recall that even after the original 12 apostles were appointed; there was still much work to be done in order to spread the word among the Jewish population that our Lord decided to appoint another seventy "apostles" sending them two by two into every city and place."
"Your future studies of scripture will certainly document our Lord's words to these new Apostles, as follows": "The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers in his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say. Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And to whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them. The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say. Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city." (Luke 10: 2-12)
"In retrospect, it would appear that our Lord's original intention was merely to rescue the lost children of Israel". "As an illustration, please recall our Master's trip to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon." "A Palestinian (Canaanite) woman cried to Jesus to "Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil." "Jesus did not answer the woman right away but continued walking away from her. Finally he turned and said coldly: "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel". "But the woman fell at his feet and began to worship him saying: "Lord, help me". "Jesus, looking down, and still appearing to be somewhat annoyed, said: "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to the dogs". "But the woman did not relent and spoke sharply to Jesus: "Yea, Lord: but even the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table". "Jesus suddenly smiled broadly and lifted the sobbing woman to her feet and gently said to her: "O woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt". "And her daughter was made whole from that very hour". (Matt. 15: 22-28)
"It would therefore appear, that our Master realized that the Gospel should not belimited only to the lost sheep of Israel but should be shared with the Gentiles and the world at large. Therein, may lie the key as to why the Master wants to appoint Saul who is not only a Pharisee and well versed in Jewish history but he is also a Roman Citizen being raised in the City of Tarsus, an acknowledged Center of Greek Culture embodying the best Arts and Science in the known world."
After the decision was made by the Triune God not to limit the Gospel to the lost sheep of Israel but to share the Good News with the Gentiles and the World at Large, this' New Covenant' posed problems that had to be addressed at once at the highest level.
There was a certain man named Cornelius, who was a Centurion of the Italianband and in command of the military garrison stationed at "Herod's Praetorium", which was the permanent residence of the Roman Governors of Judea. Cornelius was thought to be the personal bodyguard of the Governor. Thus, next to the Governor, Cornelius must have been one of the most important and best known men in the entire region. Cornelius was a Gentile but a good and devout man who prayed and gave alms to the God of Israel, on a daily basis, this was no doubt why God chose him to become the First Gentile Christian.
About the ninth hour of the day (or about 3 pm), while Cornelius was at prayer, an Angel of God spoke to him: "Cornelius", Cornelius was afraid but answered in a steady voice: "What is it Lord". And the Angel said unto him: "Thy prayers and thine alms have ascended as a memorial before God". "And now, you are to send men to Joppa and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: he lodgeth with one Simon, a tanner, whose home is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do". (ACTS: 3-6)
Having been thus instructed by God, Cornelius ordered two of his servants and a devout soldier to go to Joppa to locate Simon Peter. Now Joppa was only 30 miles south of Caesaria, directly on the Blue Mediterranean, but it was already late in the day, so it was determined that they should arrive at Joppa the following day.
As the detail of Cornelius approached Joppa..... Peter was going up on the housetop to pray, it was about the sixth hour (or about 12 noon) and Peter was very hungry and would have eaten but fell into a trance. And he saw Heaven opening and something descending, like a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a great voice to him: "Rise, Peter; kill and eat". But Peter said: "No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean". And the voice came to him again a second time:" What God has cleansed, you shall not call common". (ACTS: 10: 9-15)
Meanwhile, the detail dispatched by Cornelius had arrived at the gate and were inquiring about the location of Simon Peter. After explanations had been made, Peter invited the Cornelius detail to spend the night so they could begin their 30 mile journey north to Caesarea in the morning.
The next day, Peter and some of the brethren from Joppa, accompanied them on their trek to Caesarea. Upon their arrival, Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his kinsmen and close friends. When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up saying: "Stand up; I too am a man". (ACTS 10: 24-26) After Peter had lifted up Cornelius, head dressed the entire assembly of Jews and Gentiles: "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation: but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean". (ACTS: 10:28-29)
Peter stood to his full height and began to speak in a voice surely filled with the Holy Spirit: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the word which he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), the word that was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be just of the quick and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." (ACTS 10: 34-43)
Excerpted from OPERATION ODYSSEY by Malcolm Anderson. Copyright © 2013 by Malcolm Anderson. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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