As we approach the mist coming from the portal entrance to the Tenth Heaven, I see two angels on either side wearing halos and dressed in white. They are standing at attention and looking straight ahead like the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace. Seneca signals for us to stop. He approaches the angels and speaks with them alone. After a few minutes, he returns and tells us we will be allowed in very soon.
“What is with the security?”
“This is standard entry procedure for the Tenth Heaven. This is where the Holy of Holies is located as well as the Book of Life. Almighty has a very real enemy in Lucifer. If you knew how much she would like to trick her way into this place and destroy these things, you would understand the security. Many artifacts are stored here as well. These things are mentioned in the Bible. It’s a shrine to the fulfillment of promises.”
“Seneca, you just referred to Lucifer as ‘she.’ Are you telling me Satan is a woman?”
“Yes, Lucifer is a woman. When you know more about the Great Game, you’ll understand why. I told you when we first met I would prepare you to meet her. You shouldn’t be surprised to find that a female is the enemy of man.”
I look over to Tova and mouth, “What?” She just shrugs and giggles.
The guards haven’t moved, but it appears that someone inside has been informed of our arrival. The fog to the portal begins to subside. A well-groomed young man steps through to us from the other side. “Hello, guests. Welcome to the Tenth Heaven—home of the Saints. Your arrival makes the light a little brighter here today.” He leans in to hug Seneca, who then introduces us one by one. The smile never leaves the face of the mystery man with the gentle demeanor.
Once Seneca finishes introducing us to him, he informs me that this man is Abel—the son of Adam and Eve. “Abel… as in, Cain and Abel?”
“That’s right. Abel was the first human to cross over to Heaven. His was the first death on Earth. The time you spent in Sunday school is going to help you, Grayson. You’ll probably remember the stories that go with the Saints we are about to meet! Why is your mouth hanging open?”
“I guess I hadn’t stopped to think about meeting the men and women of the Bible. I’ve heard the stories, but never thought about seeing the faces that go with them. It’s a little bit of a jaw dropper.”
“It usually is. Did you have a favorite hero from the Bible?”
“Oh, there are so many, but I guess I’d say it’s a tie between Daniel and Jonah. I want to know how they faced huge beasts—unarmed—and survived. I would ask Daniel how he found the courage to stand before the lions and ask Jonah how he survived living inside of a whale for three days.”
“Well, both men are here. If you don’t get to meet them on this visit, know you will have another opportunity when you return. You will be meeting all of the Saints when they host a grand celebration of your victory.” Seneca pats me on the shoulder.
“Abel is going to go through the portal with us, and we will have a quiet time with the Saints. We are not to speak unless spoken to. Please don’t interrupt anyone and be sure to bow when you approach the thrones.” Seneca stops his gaze on me. “Too bad about the shirt.”
“Whoa. Hold on. Is my shirt going to be a problem? I don’t want to get a Saint angry.”
“There’s no anger here.”
“Nice side-step. I’m a soldier who knows the importance of being properly dressed. Would it be better if I turned my shirt inside out?”
I turn the shirt inside out and put the emblem on the backside. I now have a clothing tag hanging below my chin. I try to rip it off, but it is sewn tightly into the seam. After a minute of struggling with the tag, I look up to notice that everyone is watching me. Except for Abel, they all burst into laughter.
“So, this is funny to you? I’m freaked out here.”
“Its okay, Grayson. I was just having some fun with you. We are given robes when we get inside. Everyone who approaches the thrones must be in white robes. You can put your shirt back the way it was.”
As I take off my shirt and pull it on in the right direction, I smirk at my jokesters. “That’s some very gentle comedy, guys.”
“Yes, but it worked.” Tony says while still laughing. “Personally, I like the shirt. It takes the attention off your orange flip flops.”
“Oh man, what am I going to do about the shoes, Seneca?”
“I suggest slouching as you walk so the robe can touch the floor and cover them.” Seneca lets out another one of his belly laughs.
Abel doesn’t join the laughter, but he does smile. He gives off a tender, serious vibe. He directs our attention back to the journey and leads us through the portal in a single file. Once inside, we are all handed white robes by an angel who has porcelain skin and translucent blue eyes. His demeanor is one of servitude and understatement. His back is fitted with long wings that rise a good three feet above him. Encircling his head is a band of light. It’s not solid, but the light moves with him. I am amazed at how accurate the descriptions of angels are on Earth. I’d like to talk to him about Heaven, but he leaves the room as he hands the last robe to Liam.
Once we don the robes, we step into a thick mist. It isn’t as thick as the portals in the other Heavens, but it’s still too dense for having a clear view. I can make out the figures of my teammates, but the fine details are hazy. I can’t see more than three feet in front of me. Abel and Seneca guide us with their voices. I bring up the end of the line with Tova. I offer to hold her hand, and she accepts. Our last steps give way to a clearing inside a massive arena. We’re near the top and can look down on the center platform. On the stage is a circle of thrones. I remember from the last book in the Bible that there are twenty-four thrones for Saints in the Holy of Holies. I count them. Yep, twenty-four it is.
There is a large throne in the center of the circle of twenty-four, that is made of a crystal-like material. It’s opaque. I can follow its outline, and yet see through it at the same time. The entire throne sparkles under the bright light that shines directly on it from an opening in the dome ceiling.
Everything here is made of pure white alabaster and garnished with precious gemstones. There are sections of gold, silver, brass, and copper in a rotating pattern on the thrones of the Saints. The platform on which the thrones sit is made entirely of gold. There is a kneeling bench around the entire circumference of the lifted stage. Fine silk pillows are in place for kneeling. The arena is lit with thousands of white candles. As we walk down the aisle, we pass rows of flickering candles. A massive chandelier of burning candles also hangs over the entire stage. This scene would be the perfect setting for a royal wedding. It’s the most beautiful design I have ever seen.
Seneca stops at the edge of the platform. He puts his knees on one of the pillows and bows with hands out in front of him. We follow his lead. One of the Saints rises from his throne and walks to Seneca. He puts his left hand on Seneca’s shoulder. “You can all rise. Thank you for your reverence.”
Seneca eases his way back to his feet. “Abraham, it is an honor to introduce you to the team that has been chosen to retrieve the Keys to Death and Hades. First, I present to you Sterling and Seiko from the Sixth Heaven.” Sterling and Seiko bow their heads slightly. “Next, we have Liam and Kimmy from the Eighth Heaven.” They also bow their heads. “This is Tova and this is Tony from the Ninth Heaven. And, the leader of this team is Grayson from the Fifth Heaven.” I am shaking inside as I bow. I can hardly believe Abraham is standing right in front of me—the undisputed father of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
“You are a fine-looking team. I know the Archangel Michael personally chose each of you after receiving recommendations from the guardian angels and spirit guides. I am speaking for the other Saints today when I tell you we have great faith in you. We know containing Lucifer will not be easy. Seneca will go into the history of the Mission with you before you depart.
“On Earth, you will be walking through the lands in which I raised my livestock, farmed my crops, and raised my sons. It saddens me to see the land is now desecrated with weapons of battle as it is being prepared for the Great War. We will be watching over you from here. Our prayers for your strength and safety will constantly be on our lips until you return victorious. My fellow Saint, Moses, would also like to address you. I leave you with a prayer for your protection.”
As I stand before the great Saints of the Bible, I think of how undeserving I am to be here. There must be millions of men and women who know their Bible stories better than I do. They would know what these great men and women did in history and would fall all over themselves to touch their hands.
As Abraham returns to his throne, Moses walks towards us. His beard is pure white and hangs to his thighs. Seneca bows again. We do the same. “Greetings, Warriors. I am also trusting in you. It is a great honor to be chosen for this final mission. I once stood where you are standing. I had many doubts and fears as I led God’s people out of Egypt. My shortcomings and lapses in faith are well documented in the Book of Exodus, so there are no secrets here. I want you to know that when you face your greatest fears on this journey, never doubt that Almighty is watching over you. His ways are not your ways. It is often difficult to understand his methods. But, rest assured—they are always the right ones.
“Know that Lucifer is a very worthy opponent. She has already devastated the condition of Man. In a very short time, she will have ultimate power over the men and women who are not the children of Almighty. She will deceive them and lead them to the dark side. She will laugh at their pain and celebrate their deaths. You will see things that will break your heart. Watching people harden their hearts to their Creator is soul crushing. It is difficult to see men continue to bring pain upon themselves.
“I have a very special interest in your Mission. You will understand more when Seneca covers the rules of the Great Game. My prayer of blessing is bestowed upon you now.” Moses walks back to his throne and takes a seat.
There are angels on either side of each of the saints attending to their needs. They bring them bowls of fruits and drinks in cups made of gold. They wash their feet and wrap them in warm towels. The Saints on the thrones are watching over a screen embedded into the floor of the arena. It easily measures the size of a football field. They are watching the happenings on Earth in real time, with the screen split to view multiple scenes of activity. The saints are discussing the events as they unfold.
The arena has tens of thousands of seats. Many of them are filled with guests in robes. They watch the Saints and listen to their rulings, much like a Supreme Court Session. One of the twenty-four thrones is empty, as is the main throne in the center. Sheer white curtains drape across the ceilings and walls. A gentle breeze blows lightly through the room causing the curtains to dance and the flames to flicker in synchrony. I have never felt as much peace and protection as I do here with the saints. I don’t want to leave, but Seneca motions for us to head out.
Once we are outside, I start bombarding Seneca, and the others, with questions. “Who are the people sitting in the auditorium? How did they earn their way to the Saint’s Heaven? Why was one of the thrones is missing a saint? Why was the center throne empty?”
Seneca takes all the questions himself this time. “The twenty-four thrones are filled with the saints chosen from history. The one that is empty is reserved for Saint Peter. He’ll take his seat after every child of Almighty is safely inside the Pearly gates.
“Many of the Saints you saw are martyrs. Anyone killed for his faith is welcomed here to watch the sessions. The people you saw are preachers, rabbis, prophets, teachers, missionaries, journalists, authors, coaches, and many not-so-visible heroes. When martyrs arrive, St. Peter has them escorted to this Heaven to meet the Saints. They are honored for the sacrifice they made. They can come and go as they please. Some assist with the tragedies of man playing out on the screens in the floor.
“The empty center throne is the throne of the Lamb that was slain, Jesus, the Son of God. Once your training is complete, you will know the secrets of the Great Game and all of this will come together.”
“The dark times—the Tribulation—are really going to happen?” I ask. “There’s a world war coming, isn’t there? And the plagues, the curses, and the natural disasters we’ve read about. They’ll begin now, won’t they? Be straight with me, Seneca—my mother and grandfather are still on Earth.”
“Yes, it is about to begin.”
“Where is our leader—the one who sits on the empty throne? Shouldn’t he be here now to watch over the people?”
“He is meeting with Almighty. After this, Lucifer will meet with Almighty and have the power transferred to her. You are correct that there is a dark time coming. Jesus will return to his throne before the Tribulation begins, but he will be bound from interfering with the disasters on Earth. Almighty’s hand is being withdrawn for a time. If you thought Earth was a dark place when you left, a much darker time is coming when Almighty removes his protection. Our part is to prepare for the role we have been given. I cannot promise anything regarding the fate of your loved ones. Every man, woman, and child have a role to play we cannot interrupt. The best way we can serve them is to do what we have been gathered to do.”
Seneca places his hand on my left shoulder and looks to the rest of the team. “Let’s prepare.” As he walks towards the portal, the familiar dark cloak of war settles over me. It haunts me every time I begin an assignment, the removal of innocence. It’s the realization the journey from here to the end is wrought with pain, loss, and uncertainty.
This time, I am not afraid for my life—I am afraid for the people on Earth who will face the destruction and wrath of Lucifer and her demons. As the others follow Seneca, I think of glancing back to the Saint’s Heaven for some comforting, but then I remembered what happened to Lot’s wife when she looked back. I keep my gaze forward and follow my team.