Posts Tagged ‘jewish wedding customs’


Several hours later, the doctor stood before three men who claimed responsibility for the sick woman. Wishing to be on his way home from an exhausting night, the doctor quickly shared the results from the CT scans and blood work. “She’s malnourished and underweight. The 104 fever is caused by pneumonia in both lungs.”

“Will she die?” Ze’ev asked genuinely concerned, not for her sake but for his. He was afraid that the goddess Shakti would reclaim her promise of wealth if Adi died.

“Don’t know. We’ll have to just wait and see if she’s strong enough to fight off the
infection. She’s so malnourished that it is highly doubtful that she’ll be able to pull
through.” The doctor paused looking at the three men. The trio was silent. “If there are no questions, I’ll be on my way. Another doctor will check on her later tonight.”

As soon as the physician left, Ze’ev turned to the two men and gave them a cold, hard stare

“She wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for you,” he accused.

Thomas looked nervously at Matthew who now stood in human form. Matthew’s
eyebrow arched, “I’m trying to save her from who you work for.”

Ze’ev gave a nervous laugh, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I love her and you best keep away, Ambassador.”

A spark of anger flickered in Matthew’s eyes, “You love her? Come now, Ze’ev, let’s be honest here. What did Rasha promise you – power, wealth, fame if you marry her?”

Ze’ev flared at the accusation. Taking a step toward Matthew, he threatened, “How dare you accuse me of these things! You need to leave here at once or else…”

“Or else what, Ze’ev?” Matthew closed the gap between them and stood towering over the smaller man. Ze’ev was no match for Matthew’s strength. Ze’ev faltered, taking several steps back. “Don’t pretend to care for Adi when I know the truth!
As for leaving, I’m staying right here.” To emphasize his point, Matthew crossed to the other side of the bed. He pulled a chair closer to the bed, and sat down, clasping Adi’s frail hand in his larger protective one.

Ze’ev glared, sat down in the other chair, and grabbed Adi’s other hand. Both men sat in silence, staring at one another. Thomas left muttering about finding another chair.

There were more than just four beings in the room. Dagon and Shakti hovered behind Ze’ev while glaring and taunting Michael and Gabriel, who stood with swords poised and ready to defend.

“You’re a fool, Ambassador, to think that Adi will ever choose your Prince,” Ze’ev

Growing weary of the taunts of Dagon, Shakti, and Ze’ev, Matthew looked
up with all authority and demanded, “In the name of Prince Joshua, I command you to be silent.”

Startled, Ze’ev fell back into his chair, unable to speak. Upon hearing the
name of Joshua being spoken, Dagon and Shakti trembled, making a hasty retreat into the far corner of the room.

Exchanging amused glances with one another, Michael and Gabriel felt a surge of pride for their King, their Prince, and their Ambassador.

…to be continued…


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Just then terrible wails and shrieks were heard in the unseen world while simultaneously a male Soterian voice was heard, “Adi! There you are. I’ve been looking for you!” Adi turned, surprised at the mention of her name. Alarmed, Matthew noticed the tide had turned in the battle. More Shedim had accompanied Ze’ev to the park. Noticing the ensuing battle, they rushed ahead to join their compatriots. The King’s warriors fought bravely but were being forcefully driven back towards the woods. Angels spiraled downward with torn and battered wings. Matthew was running out of time.

Adi shrank at the sight of Ze’ev walking towards her, looking clean- shaven and as handsome as ever. She remained silent, confused at the conflicting emotion that overwhelmed her. A part of her felt relieved to see someone familiar, but at the same time she drew inward with revulsion and distrust.

Ze’ev frowned at the sight of Matthew who sat there refusing to give up his seat. Ignoring him, Ze’ev purposely slid onto the opposite side of Adi forcing her to slide in the middle. Her beautiful lunch was just getting worse. Ze’ev placed an arm around Adi gently giving her shoulders a squeeze, all the while giving a challenging smile to Matthew. Matthew continued to glare.

“I’ve been looking for you, Adi,” Ze’ev repeated.

Adi craned her neck to make eye contact, “You have?”

“Yes, and then I remembered that this was our favorite spot. My spirit sensed that you would be here on such a beautiful day.” Ze’ev said smugly emphasizing the word, our.

Embarrassment flushed Adi’s face, “I don’t remember us coming here, Ze’ev.”

Matthew arched an eyebrow in amusement while Ze’ev fought to hide his frustration. “You poor dear, you look half-starved!” Ze’ev quickly changed the course of the conversation. Sniffing at Adi, he crinkled his nose, “And you smell terrible! When was the last time you showered?”

Adi shoved the remaining fries into the paper bag. Before she could respond, Ze’ev’s voice continued with false concern, “Adi, dear, why don’t you come home with me! I’ve promised to take care of you, and I will!”

Adi shifted uncomfortably on her seat, fully aware of Matthew’s gaze upon her. “I – I- can’t.”

“But winter is coming, Adi. There’s no way you’ll survive! I can provide you with shelter, food, clothing, and so much more.”

Adi hesitated as she envisioned the restaurants that Ze’ev had taken her to. The wind was growing colder and stronger while the sun disappeared behind darkening clouds.

“Maybe you’re…” Adi began.

“Adi, the Prince can provide you the same, but he can provide you with so much more. What Ze’ev offers will never satisfy.” Matthew stated quietly.

Ze’ev angrily leaned forward, “Just how is the Prince going to take care of her while he is in prison, Ambassador? From what I hear, he’s most likely not even going to survive the seven years, and then where will Adi be?”

Fear for Joshua welled up inside of Adi, “What do you mean the Prince won’t survive?”

Upon this announcement, the battle that surrounded them stopped. All went silent. The Shedhim looked at one another in joyful surprise while the King’s warriors looked at one another in shocked dismay.

“I hear he’s been taking dreadful beatings. They’ve beaten him with whips that have glass chips tied at the end, just to make it more painful. A person can only survive so long with his skin being peeled away like that.” Ze’ev stared boldly into Matthew’s eyes, a smile of victory tugging at his lips.

Adi gasped, “Matthew?”

Matthew looked evenly at Ze’ev, “The Prince will survive, Adi, and he will come for you!”

Upon this proclamation, the King’s dominion gathered the last of their strength and cried, “For the glory of King Penuel and Prince Joshua!” Mayhem broke out as the battle began to rage once more.

Ze’ev chuckled, “I doubt that, Ambassador, but, I’ll allow you your little game. Adi, if the Prince did survive, what kind of future will you have with him? Most likely, he’ll be insane, he’ll have lost his throne or may be crippled and you’ll spend the rest of your life waiting on him hand and foot.”

“You don’t know our Prince very well, Ze’ev.”

A cold blast of wind hit the trio, causing them to shiver. Ze’ev impatiently grabbed onto Adi’s arm, “Come, Adi, it’s getting cold and you’ll get sick. I’m tired of this conversation.”
Adi sat there sickened over the revelation of the inhumane suffering of Prince Joshua on her behalf. Hysteria threatened to overwhelm her; she wanted so badly to get away from both men. She threw off Ze’ev’s arm and jumped up from the bench, whirling around to look at both of them. Ze’ev’s nonchalant, almost gloating attitude over the Prince’s predicament angered Adi, but the guilt she felt around Matthew made her want to hide. She didn’t know what to do!

The few remaining warriors positioned themselves between the bench and its occupants. Michael spread his one good wing over Adi while taking the blows from the hideous creatures who wanted to deceive her mind. “Choose the Prince!” Michael groaned as a bat-like creature swung his sword at Michael’s knees. Michael went down, the vultures sinking their claws into him. With the last remainder of his strength, he held tightly to his sword and cried in a loud voice, “Choose the Prince, Adi!” A bolt of light shot out, temporarily blinding them.

Adi looked deep within Matthew’s pleading eyes. A longing to choose the Prince and to leave with Matthew encompassed her. The Prince could never love a girl like you! You’re worthless! A very small blob had slipped past the wounded Michael and attached itself to Adi. With a confused cry, Adi shouted, “Leave me alone!” With that she whirled around and began to run.

“Adi, wait!”

Adi stopped, turning to look at who was calling her. It was Matthew. He stood there holding out her bag of clothing that she had forgotten in her haste. “You’ll need this,” he said quietly, with pain deep within his eyes.

With a sob, she grabbed the bag out of his hand and ran as quickly as she could before she could change her mind.

…to be continued…

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Unknown by all, the theatre had been occupied by more than just Soterians. Lurking about were Rasha’s horde—hideous, vile spirit-like creatures that could attach themselves to Soterians for the purpose of mind manipulation. A group of them had surrounded Ze’ev and Adi when they first walked into the theatre. During the play, they had whispered words of deception into Adi’s ear, awakening the desires of power and lust. Now as the couple walked down the staircase, the group of grotesque spirits surrounded them.

To stand in opposition to Rasha’s horde, King Penuel’s able-bodied warriors stood poised and ready for Michael’s command.


“As soon as we see Adi, convince Ze’ev to talk with you for a few minutes about a business proposal,” instructed Michael. The tall, blonde haired man standing next to him nodded as he pulled at his bow tie. “I don’t see why men have to wear bow ties. These things choke!” he mumbled.

Michael chuckled, “At least you don’t have to wear high-heeled shoes like women do! These are good reasons to be thankful that we are not Soterians!”

The man laughed but quickly sobered as he noticed movement along the coffee bar area. “Rasha’s horde is here. If there’s a fight, do I leave Ze’ev and join you?”

“No. I’ll handle it. Ze’ev must not know that you are a part of this. Keep him distracted.”

Glancing up at the broad, red-carpeted staircase, the two defenders watched as the flow of people descended. Sensing Matthew’s presence, Michael spotted him standing to the left of the stairs nearest the restrooms. Matthew was signaling with a slight nod of his head that he had spotted Adi and Ze’ev.

“Here they come,” Michael whispered.

As the couple came into view, the blonde watched with disgust the trio of deceptive spirits that were twittering back and forth between Adi and Ze’ev. “Will they let me near Ze’ev?” the man asked.

“They won’t recognize you as long as you stay in human form, but I’ll still have to engage them to get them away from Adi or they’ll never let Matthew near her.” The two stood silently watching as the couple neared the bottom of the stairs. “Are you ready?” The man nodded. Brandishing his gleaming sword, Michael instantly transformed into an invisible light force. In unison, the man and Michael advanced upon the startled grotesque creatures. With a shrill cry, the demons attempted to raise their swords in defense, but it was too late. With one swoop of his sword, Michael sent the three deceivers into the invisible cavernous abyss that had opened up in the foyer floor.

As soon as the demons went tumbling into the abyss, three of King Penuel’s defenders surrounded Adi, their swords raised in readiness for other attackers. Seeing that Adi was protected and Ze’ev free, the man calmly stepped up to him. “Ze’ev?”

Unaware of the intangible forces that had surrounded him, Ze’ev looked up in surprise at the sound of his name. A blonde man was extending his hand, “My name is Jordan. A friend of mine said that he saw you here and that you would be the perfect one to help me in my dilemma.” Turning to Adi, Jordan shot her a pleading look, “Would you mind terribly if I snatch him away? I promise this won’t take long.”

Adi looked at the bewildered Ze’ev. “Of course, I’ll just slip into the ladies’ room a few moments.” Excusing herself, she slipped away into the crowd while the blonde man pulled a reluctant Ze’ev toward the coffee bar chatting at full speed.

The flash of brilliant lights from King Penuel’s forces instantly caught the attention of Rasha’s hideous gang that was lurking about the coffee bar. With a mighty guttural roar, they charged toward the oblivious Adi. Michael intersected the first one, a small bat-like creature with green foam around his twisted mouth. Impaling the thing on his sword, Michael quickly flicked it into the abyss as if he were flicking a mosquito. Two more rushed towards the defender while a third skirted around the trio and headed for Adi. Gripping his sword tightly, a blinding bolt of light radiated from his hands bursting through the sword causing the disoriented demons to fall back. Holding the sword horizontally, Michael swung whipping them into the dark cavern. Quickly turning, he saw the angels who surrounded Adi were in full battle against a horde of sulfur-smelling, red-eyed beings. Just as he was about to strike at the mass, a powerful blow on his back sent him crashing into the stairs.

“Michael, you’re fighting a losing battle. Adi belongs to my master!” A dark, snarling form loomed over the stunned Michael.

Gathering up his strength, Michael shouted back, “We’ll let Adi decide that, Dagon!” Both looked in Adi’s direction and watched as a warrior sent the last demon sailing into the abyss. Matthew stepped from a protected alcove, quickly pulling Adi into its shadows while the King’s warriors formed a wall of flaming swords protecting Matthew and Adi. At the sight of Matthew, Dagon lunged with an angry roar across the foyer toward the Ambassador.

A tall man began pulling her into the corner. Adi punched at the man’s chest, but the grasp on her arms was too strong.

“Adi, quiet down, it’s me, Matthew!”

Outraged, Adi hollered, “What are you doing?”

Quickly covering her mouth, Matthew shushed her. “Adi, I have to talk to you! Just give me ten minutes and you’re free to go! Will you be quiet?” Matthew looked away from her and out towards the foyer. Seeing Dagon thundering towards the wall of warriors and towards him, he knew he didn’t have much time. Looking back at Adi he asked, “Well?”

Wide-eyed, Adi nodded her consent. Once satisfied that Adi wasn’t going to shout again, Matthew released her. Staring at her intently, Adi could see the urgency in his eyes. “Adi, I’ve come to warn you about Ze’ev. He’s not who you think he is.”

“How do you know?” Adi retorted.

“He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing who will say and do anything for wealth and power. Don’t trust him.”

Adi crinkled her nose in confusion, “He’s a what?”

“A wolf in sheep’s clothing. In other words, he’s a con. Don’t believe his flattery.”

Angrily, Adi pushed Matthew back, “His feelings for me are real! He’s given me a roof over my head, food, clothes, and love. He’s promised me that I can be a goddess just like Semiramis!”

“Semiramis?” Matthew asked incredulously. “I know that the play made her and Nimrod out to be wonderful admirable people, but the truth is they were evil! Another legend has it that Semiramis’ lust for power drove her to sacrifice her own husband. She had him ripped to pieces! In order to keep her power, she made her infant son king, and, of course, she ruled in his stead while he was too young. She led people to believe that Nimrod was a god and even suggested that her son, Damu, was Nimrod reincarnated. She deified her son and she herself became the Queen of Heaven, brainwashing everyone into thinking that the constellations told the story of King Penuel cruelly overtaking the rightful king’s kingdom and that someday a son would be born of a divine woman. The son would grow up to be a god and reclaim the kingdom and give it back to the original king. The truth is that King Penuel is the rightful king and his kingdom was snatched away by evil.” Matthew paused allowing this to sink in and then asked, “Do you know that when Damu grew up and could fulfill his role as king, Semiramis planned to have him killed?”

Adi slowly shook her head, eyes wide at the story. “What happened?” she whispered.

“Damu learned of the plot and killed her himself.” Matthew’s voice grew urgent, “Is this the woman you want to be, Adi? Ze’ev made promises of food, shelter, riches, and love. The Prince will do all those things for you and so much more, Adi. With Ze’ev you will never be satisfied, but with the Prince you’ll never want for anything.” Matthew shook his head despondent, “Don’t be placated by temporal things.”

“The Prince? Where is he now?” Adi grew indignant and embarrassed as Matthew pointed out her shallowness.

“Sacrificing for you, Adi.” Matthew responded quietly. A brilliant flash of light visible only to Matthew captured his attention. Michael had intercepted Dagon temporarily blinding him. Dagon wildly swung his sword in an attempt to slash Michael who stepped back raising his sword in a circling motion and bringing it down onto Dagon’s shoulder.

Seeing Matthew’s concern and attributing it to her outburst, tears formed in Adi’s brown eyes, “I’m sorry.” Swallowing back a sob, she continued, “It’s just so hard and so confusing. I need time to think.”

Returning his attention to her, Matthew slowly nodded, “While you’re thinking, Adi, ask yourself this question: would Ze’ev have taken your place in prison like the Prince has done?” Matthew glanced behind him staring intently at the battle. Dagon was retreating spewing forth sulfuric green slime and obscenities, “We will meet again, Michael. Don’t think you’ve won!” With that threat, he disappeared. Breathing heavily from the exertion, Michael looked towards Matthew. Adi noticed Matthew give a nod at someone that she couldn’t see. Confused, Adi looked in the direction of Matthew’s gaze but saw only people milling around. Matthew turned back to her, giving a small smile, “You know where I am, Adi. I’ll be waiting.” Then he was gone.

Unseen by Soterian eyes, Matthew stood next to Michael. “Good job, Michael. Close up the abyss and keep Adi in your sights.”

“Yes, sir. Any progress with her?”

Matthew tenderly watched Adi slip away from the alcove, “She’s sensitive to what I tell her, but she does not trust easily. At least I’ve cast doubt in her mind about Ze’ev.” Clapping the King’s officer on the back, Matthew again complimented Michael, “Good job tonight. I had better get back to Thomas. He’s a little put out that he could not come along.”

The blonde- haired man looked past Ze’ev and into another world. Seeing that Michael was motioning for her to come, he turned his attention back to Ze’ev, “Thank you so much for giving me your time.”

Ze’ev looked at him quizzically, “I don’t understand. You said you wanted to discuss a business proposal.”

“Oh, another time, another time.” The man waved away Ze’ev’s concern. Stopping suddenly, he turned with a word of warning, “Ze’ev, I wouldn’t believe everything Rasha says.”

“Rasha? How do you. . .” Ze’ev stood there dumbfounded looking at the milling crowd. The man was nowhere in sight.


He turned toward the voice calling him and saw Adi coming toward him. Noticing his perplexed expression she asked, “Is everything alright?”

Shrugging, Ze’ev mumbled, “Weird. The man just disappeared.”

“Did he say what he wanted?”

“No, he just rambled on and on about the weather, who’s playing in the championships, and stuff like that.”

“But I thought he had to talk business?”

“That’s what he said, and when I asked him, he just rushed off!” Ze’ev gave an exasperated sigh. “What a weirdo!”

Feeling a little unsettled about the strange encounters, Adi suggested that they return home. She wanted to escape to the privacy of her room to think about what Matthew had told her. Whom to believe, Matthew or Ze’ev?

…to be continued…

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Adi awoke the next morning feeling happier than she could remember. Ze’ev’s music must have worked! She thought, but then remembered that it was a different CD than what he had put in. “Oh, well! It doesn’t really matter. I’m going to have a great day today!” She exclaimed out loud as she jumped out of bed.

Quickly dressing into one of her new outfits and brushing through her tangled hair, she raced down the hallway with anticipation. Disappointment filled her. She didn’t see Ze’ev anywhere. “Ze’ev, are you here?” she called.

“I’m in here! Just open the door!” a muffled voice responded.

Following the sound of his voice, she noticed a closed door just off the kitchen. Feeling hopeful again, she bounded across the kitchen and opened the door. Peering in, she saw Ze’ev sitting cross-legged on a mat, his back completely straight, hands turned palms up resting on his knees. The room was void of any furniture or wall hangings. Soft music was playing similar to the one he had loaned Adi last night.

“What are you doing?” Adi asked curiously.

“Meditating. It’s a great way to start the day.” Ze’ev opened his eyes and smiled. “Come sit with me, Adi.”

Adi looked apprehensively, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ve never meditated before, seems kind of strange to me.”

“Come on. I’ll teach you.” He patted to another mat next to him.

Shyly, Adi crossed over and sat on the mat in the same manner as Ze’ev.

Ze’ev laughed at Adi’s obvious embarrassment. “You’ll get used to it. Meditating has the power to change your life.”


“This world is full of negatives and our subconscious picks up on the negativity around us. When we constantly hear negative statements about ourselves we begin to believe them. Who do you think you are, Adi?”

Feeling uncomfortable, Adi looked down ashamed, “A thief. Trash. Poor.” Tears rose to the surface. This was not a conversation she wanted to have.

Ze’ev gently laid a hand on her shoulder, “It’s okay, Adi. I used to have a negative view of myself, too. It was shaped by other’s opinions. Now that I have used this meditation, my view of myself and of my life has changed tremendously.” He paused waiting for a reaction, when none came, he continued, “How would you like to see yourself, Adi?”

A tear slipped down her pale face, “Beautiful. Clean. Valuable. Wanted.”

In an attempt to lighten the mood, Ze’ev joked, “Your wish is my command! I have the perfect meditation CD just for that.” Ze’ev got up and left the room. A few moments later, he returned with another disc. “This one is for building self-esteem, which you are in desperate need of, my dear.”

“I don’t understand how that is going to help me.”

“It’s pure science and spiritual at the same time. We need to reprogram our minds, cleanse our thoughts from all negativity. You believe that you are ugly and a piece of unwanted garbage because you have been told that. Now, you need to embrace a new way of thinking. Science has discovered that our subconscious can retain information that is given on the binaural waves such as alpha, theta, delta frequencies. Our conscious mind does not hear it, but our subconscious does. Listen to it enough times and our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and our world will change. It’s called subliminal messaging.”

Mystified, Adi asked, “What does the message say?”

“For this CD, it affirms that you are beautiful, you are valuable, you are creative, you are divine, you are light. When you are relaxed and your mind is opened to these affirmations, you will begin to believe it and incorporate these positive things into your life. It’s known as the law of attraction. If you think negatively, you will attract the negative. If you think positively, you will attract the positive. You have the power to change your life, your destiny. You are in control, you are the master painter!”

Adi slowly nodded, trying to absorb all the information. “It makes some sense, but I want to think about it first.”

Annoyed, Ze’ev shrugged, “It’s your canvas, Adi, not mine. The longer you delay, the more negative situations you will inherit. I would think that you’d be tired of that by now. Anyone who is anyone in Soteria is involved in this. It is our great destiny to bring Soteria into a new enlightened age. Mankind will take the next step in the evolution process and will possess all knowledge and power as we allow the divine spark to flow through us. You can either be a part of it or be left out to wallow in your pitiful self.”

Adi’s eyes widened with surprise as the meaning of the words made a painful impact. With a cry, she jumped up and fled to her room. Frustrated, Ze’ev ran a hand through his hair while letting out a stream of curses. After giving himself a few moments to calm down, he approached Adi’s room.

“Adi, I’m so sorry for being rude. I was out of line.” He waited by the door listening for a response. When none came, he pleaded, “Please, Adi, let me in so I can explain.” Still no answer. “I just said those things because I care. I want you to be all that you want to be and have all that you desire. I know it didn’t sound like it, but I do really care.”

The door opened to reveal a tear- streaked face. “You were really harsh, Ze’ev. What happened to positive thoughts? I would think that would cause a person to be positive with their words too.” She spat out.

Ze’ev feigned humility, “You are so right, Adi, I’m sorry. Let’s try this for something positive – I’m going to take you to a play tonight!”

Adi’s face brightened, “Really? What’s the name?”

Ze’ev wiggled his eyebrows flirtatiously, “The Goddess of Soteria!

“Ooh, sounds mysterious!” Adi gave a soft chuckle.

“Very. And today I will take you shopping for an evening gown! Those clothes we bought yesterday were for everyday wear, but not for a night at the theatre! Now let me see you smile so that I know you’re still not angry with me.”

Adi managed to give a small smile that satisfied Ze’ev. “Good. Now dry those tears and get ready. We need to leave in fifteen minutes for a lunch reservation!”

…to be continued…

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“Thanks for letting me spend the night, Ze’ev.” Adi smiled gratefully at the man that stood before her. Glancing about the elegant bedroom that boasted of a queen size bed adorned with a soft, gold duvet and an abundance of colorful, silk pillows. “This is a beautiful room!”

Ze’ev reached out and began to massage Adi’s shoulders, “You don’t have to stay just one night, Adi. You can live here. Like I said before, you’re my girl.” He whispered seductively into her ear.

Adi stiffened. “Ze’ev, I need time…”

“Of course you do.” Ze’ev snapped quickly dropping his hands to his side.

“I don’t mean to hurt you! These past few days have been so overwhelming, and I just need time to sort it all out.” pleaded Adi.

Not wanting to push Adi away, Ze’ev softened his tone, “I really do understand, Adi, take all the time you need, but while you are recovering from your traumatic experiences, I want you to know you can stay here for as long as you need to.”

“Thank you. That’s very kind.” Adi blushed.

“Hey, that’s what friends are for, Adi!” Reaching into the drawer of the Queen Anne style nightstand, Ze’ev pulled out a CD entitled, Delta Spirit. Handing it to Adi he explained, “You look like you could use a deep relaxing sleep, this music will help.”

Mystified, Adi took the CD and studied the picture of a beautiful cascading waterfall gracefully flowing over the majestic mountain side into a tranquil pool at its base. “How does this help me relax?”

“According to research, the brain responds to different noise frequencies. It’s called binaural beats, and it helps the body heal itself. This CD primarily has the delta binaural beat which creates a rejuvenating, dreamless sleep. Just close your eyes and envision yourself floating away on the water! It really helps!”

Scrunching up her nose, Adi looked up, “What?”

Ze’ev laughed, “Never mind. It’s all the rage in Soteria. An acquaintance of mine gave it to me when I was under tremendous stress. I must say, it has worked for me. I feel much more peaceful and at ease. I guarantee you will feel much better tomorrow!” Leaning down, he gave her a quick playful peck on the cheek and walked to the door. Remembering one last final instruction, he turned and said, “Oh, it works best with headphones which are in the drawer of the nightstand. Goodnight, Adi.” Winking, he closed the door.

Adi slowly undressed as she replayed the day’s events in her mind. In the beginning, she had a hard time accepting that Ze’ev’s concern for her was genuine, but now after he had gone out of his way to meet all her needs, she began to reconsider what she had first thought of him. She once had considered him to be conceited, arrogant, and completely self-centered, but the events of today had shown a different side to this man. He was gentle, thoughtful, and caring. He had even called her “his girl”. If only that could be true, if only she could belong to someone such as he. What had held her back from giving herself over to him?

The memory of Prince Joshua looking deep into her eyes and declaring his love for her came back in answer to her private musings. She realized that it was the Prince that was holding her back from getting too comfortable with Ze’ev. I must discover the truth about these two men first, Adi decided. Feeling overwhelmed with fatigue, Adi slipped into the luxurious silk, purple sheets, giving a contented sigh as the mattress conformed to the contours of her body. Remembering her nightmare from the night before, she reached over to feel for the headphones in the drawer and then pressed play to listen to the relaxing music that Ze’ev had given her. A dreamless sleep is just what she needed tonight.

The ethereal sounds of synthesized strings and voices mixed with the melodic, rhythmic sounds of a waterfall floated through the headphones. Adi closed her eyes savoring the soothing sensations that calmed her mind and emotions. Visualizing herself floating lazily on the tranquil, blue lake, she began to sense every muscle as they released the tension and relaxed. She was one with nature, she was one with herself.

…to be continued…

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Adi thrashed and groaned upon the bed. Terrified shrieks and wails coming from a deep dark endless abyss engulfed her as she was being dragged to the pit by a monstrous shadowed form. “I’ve got you now, Adi, you’re mine!” The monster let out a deep guttural laugh that sent a cold chill throughout Adi.

“Someone please help me!” She screamed out as she kicked and punched at her assailant, but he was too strong for her.

“It’s too late for you!” The massive form ground out. “You chose this!” He yanked her harder towards the pit.
“I didn’t choose this!” Adi cried as she dug her heels into the ground.

The monster grabbed her by the arm dangling her over the fiery abyss. Adi could feel the extreme heat engulfing her back. “Oh, but you did, Adi. Joshua gave you a chance and you didn’t accept it and now you have to pay for your crimes!” Throwing his head back the shadowed form let out a roar of giddy laughter.

“Please,” she begged, “don’t drop me!”

“I’ve worked hard to pull you away from Joshua and I must say I was quite successful!” With that he let go of her arm sending her spiraling down into the flames.

Adi screamed out, “Joshua save me!”

Just before her body reached the flames, a strong and mighty hand reached out grabbing her arm. Looking up, Adi stared at the face of her rescuer. Blood was flowing down his cheeks from a long gash that circled his forehead much like a bloody crown. His beautiful brown eyes and perfectly shaped lips were swollen and bruised. In spite of the pain he was suffering, Joshua pulled her up until she was settled onto solid ground. An angry evil voice shouted in rage from the edge of the pit, “NO! She’s mine! You can’t have her!”
Adi woke up with a start, sweat pouring down her back. She lay there in the darkness trembling. Unable to get the torturous scenes of her nightmare out of her head, she threw back the covers and turned the light on. Feeling somewhat relieved to see the normalcy of her room, she began to pace, but the more she paced, the more the walls seem to close in on her. I’ve got to get out of here! Adi thought. I can’t think with Matthew so close in the other room. Even in spite of Matthew’s kindness, Adi felt uncomfortable around him. His presence made her painfully aware of her failures. Adi dressed quickly and quietly unlocked her motel door and slipped out into the night.

For several hours Adi wandered the streets, carefully avoiding the nightlife spots. Growing weary, she searched for a corner to curl up in. Just as she found one, she heard a squeak of a shoe behind her. Adrenaline coursed through her as she whirled around ready to fight off a possible attacker, but to her surprise no one was there except for a distant shadow retreating behind a building. Adi carefully watched the spot until her eyes blurred. Must be my imagination, she decided. After finding a few cardboard boxes and ripping them apart to form a somewhat cushioned bed, Adi curled up and fell fast asleep.

“Adi! Adi wake up!”

Adi groaned. Her whole body ached from the hard, cold ground. Squinting against the mid-morning sun, she noticed a black form leaning over her. Frightened, she sat up and began to swing at the man.

“Whoa!” The man laughed, grabbing her arms. “When are you going to learn that you can’t fight me?”

Adi’s eyes widened, “Ze’ev! What are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same question!” he said, eyeing her ragged appearance and her strange choice of accommodation.

“I—I didn’t have any place to go,” she lied.

Ze’ev’s eyes narrowed, “I thought you would be staying with that Matthew fellow and his side-kick.”

“Well, they offered, but I didn’t feel comfortable.”

“Why you ungrateful girl, you, after all what Prince Joshua did for you?” Ze’ev feigned mocked horror.

Adi defensively pulled her arms away from his grasp. “I don’t know this Prince Joshua. Besides, I needed time to think.” Angrily, she stood up as she tried to smooth out her shirt.

Ze’ev followed suit, towering over her. With an unexpected gesture, he gently laid his hand on her shoulder. “You don’t have to get defensive.” Concern replaced his sarcasm. “As a matter of fact, I’m glad you left that guy. I was on my way to find you.”

Amazed, Adi asked, “You were? Why?”

Pretending embarrassment, Ze’ev looked down and kicked at a pebble. “I was worried that the Ambassador might mess with your mind or something.”

Hope sprang into Adi’s eyes, “You cared?”

Ze’ev laughed pulling her into a warm embrace, “Of course, I care!”

Adi snuggled in close relishing the scent of his cologne. After a brief moment, Ze’ev pushed her away from him so he could better examine her. “Hey, you don’t look so good. I insist on taking you to my place so you can clean up and then I’ll take you to any restaurant you like, my dear!”

“Really?” For the first time, the fear and torment of her life began to subside.

“Absolutely!” Ze’ev said with a flourish. “After you, Madame!”

Adi laughed and stepped out from her hiding place. “This is going to be easier than I thought!” Ze’ev mumbled under his breath.

…to be continued…

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Adi shuddered at the gravity of the two men. “You keep talking about a coming destruction. What is it?”

“Right now, King Penuel and Prince Joshua are extending peace, love, and opportunities for restoration, but someday, someone will come to power in Soteria that will make grand promises of peace and restoration. He will appear as if he is the ‘hero’ of the story, but the reality of it is that he will lead them into battle against King Penuel and Prince Joshua.”

Adi gasped in horror. “Will he win?” She whispered nervously glancing around for any eavesdroppers. The thought had crossed her mind to ask who the enemy was, but the less she knew, the better it would be for her, or so she assumed.

Matthew looked gravely at her, “No. All of the Soterians who choose not to follow Prince Joshua will be destroyed and punished for all time. Today, the Prince stood before a judge and allowed himself to take on your punishment, but someday, the Prince will be the judge.”

Adi held her breath in shock at this revelation. Is this an ugly joke? Anger coursed through her. Prince Joshua a judge? How can he marry me, a criminal? Feeling the sting of disappointment, Adi blurted out in mid-thought, “What kind of a marriage would that make?”

Startled by the outburst, Thomas asked bewildered, “What are you talking about?”

Understanding Adi’s turmoil, Matthew took Adi’s hand in his and looked deep into her eyes. “Adi, you are a jewel to Prince Joshua. You must understand that he desperately loves you. You must also understand that you are in danger of all that we have discussed. If you choose to reject the Prince’s proposal, someday you will stand before him not as a bride stands before her groom, but as a prisoner stands before her judge. He does not wish to judge you, he wishes to marry you and protect you from further punishment.”

Adi snatched her hand away indignantly, “That’s a contradiction! How can Prince Joshua love me and then condemn me? That doesn’t make sense!”

“Does a father withhold correction from a child when the child has done something wrong? No, he doesn’t, no matter how much he loves the child. In this case, Adi, the Prince will not be at fault. You have to admit that he has gone through great lengths to convince you of his love and his desire to protect you. If you deliberately choose to ignore his attempts and in so doing, choose to stand with the enemy, then what choice does he have but to judge you?” Matthew looked at her pleadingly.

A cold dread crept through every ounce of Adi’s body, causing her to shiver. This was too much information. The confusing turn of events of the day and this dreadful story from Matthew, completely overwhelmed her.

Seeing her exhaustion, Matthew gently touched her hand again, “This has been a trying day, Adi. Maybe after a good night’s sleep, things will make sense in the morning. I’d like for you to stay with us at the motel. I’ve rented another room for you.” He stood, stretching to his full height. Quickly, he stepped next to Adi, offering a hand to help her up. Adi placed her small delicate hand in his much larger, stronger one. Adi wanted to refuse, but Matthew’s presence was so commanding and so compelling that she couldn’t voice her rejection.

….to be continued…

The Inner Workings of the Story:

How can a God of love send someone to hell? Isn’t that a contradiction? Before answering that question, we must understand Who God is. God is holy, perfect, pure, without sin. Habakkuk 1:13a says, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and You cannot tolerate wrongdoing…” In order for us to understand our sinful condition, God gave us the Ten Commandments – His moral law. Each one of us has broken His standard. Romans 3:23 states that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Because we have broken the law, our judgment is death (“Then shall He say also unto them…,’Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels'” – Matthew 24:41). Our destiny is hell.

I thought God was loving! We can’t forget that God is Just. Would Judge Wilson have been considered a fair, just judge if she had let Adi go and declared her not guilty? I don’t think that the people whom Adi stole from would consider the judge fair. Adi broke the law and Judge Wilson had to be just in her decision. So God must be with us. That leaves us in quite a horrible predicament.

Now we can get back to God being loving! I Peter 3:18 teaches that “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God”. Jesus, the Son of God, was willing to exchange places with us, to exchange our sinful record for His holy record! He took our punishment when He died on the cross, but He didn’t stay dead! He rose from the dead 3 days later giving us the victory over death.

God is also gracious! He has extended to us the opportunity to be pardoned and to be freed from judgment! John 1:12 promises, “As many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

Jesus went through great lengths to show you His love. Should He be blamed if you choose not to receive Him? No. What choice will He have but to judge you if you choose to stand with the enemy? I plead with you, repent of your sins and believe in His death and resurrection so that you may stand before Him as a bride stands before her groom and not as a prisoner stands before his judge.

For more information go to http://www.abidebible.com and watch the 20 minute video entitled, “The Exchange” or contact me directly at kristenzuray@gmail.com

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