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The Return of Nouriel
“Where do we begin?” he asked.
“How about at the beginning,” she replied, “with the seal. You come into possession of a small clay seal with ancient inscriptions. You have no idea what it all means. You begin searching. In the midst of your search, you come across a mysterious man. You don’t his name or where he comes from. You don’t know how he knows things he shouldn’t or couldn’t have known. You refer to him as ‘the prophet.’"
“He tells you the meaning of the seal. And so the mystery begins.
“How am I doing so far, Nouriel?”
“Perfectly. I don’t think you have any need of me.”
“The prophet gives you a second seal in exchange for the first. You have to try to unlock its meaning until you see him again. Your encounters with the prophet happen by what appears to be coincidence or some supernatural agency. But one way or another, he’s always there in the exact time and place. And it’s in that encounter that the full significance of the seal is revealed. Each seal leads to another revelation, another puzzle piece in a still larger mystery. Altogether, there are nine seals, nine mysteries, and nine revelations.”
“Keep going,” he said.
“The mystery centers on nine harbingers, nine warnings of coming judgment, calamity, and destruction, the signs that appeared in the last days of ancient Israel. But the mind-blowing thing is that those same nine harbingers have now reappeared in modern times...on American soil, some in New York City, some in Washington D.C., some involving objects, events, utterances, even American leaders, and with eerie precision and without anyone orchestrating them. And as they did in ancient times, they giving warning...now to America.”
She paused for a few moments, waiting to see if he would interject. But he was silent. So she continued.
“At the end of all the encounters, mysteries, and revelations, the prophet reveals that you were born for a purpose that is now to be fulfilled. He charges you to spread the word, to reveal the mystery, to sound the alarm and warn whoever will listen.”
“The call of the watchman,” he replied.
“And that’s where it left off, what you told me that night.”
“And you did what the prophet charged you to do. You set out to spread the word. You committed the revelation to writing...in the form of a narrative.”
“The narrative was your idea, Ana...to change the names and details of what happened until it became a story through which the mystery would be revealed, the warning delivered, and the message sent forth.”
“And you had never written a book before.”
“No. I had no idea how to do it. But it was if the book wrote itself. The word just flowed onto the pages.”
“Most books never get published, but yours did. I never heard how it all happened.”
“The week I finished the manuscript I was scheduled to fly out to Dallas. The flight had a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina. While waiting for the connecting flight, I closed my eyes, bowed my head, and prayed for God to intervene, to send the message to the world.”
“And what happened?”
“I opened my eyes and there was a man sitting to my left. He wasn’t there when I closed my eyes. He turned to me and said, ‘So what’s the good word?’”
“A bit mystical for an opening line.”
“A bit mystical of an encounter,” he replied.
“So what did you talk about?”
“It was small talk...at first. But then his tone changed. He stared intently into my eyes and spoke with a sense of intense urgency. ‘Nouriel,’ he said, ‘God has given you a message...and a book. It’s from Him. And He’ll moved His hand to send it forth to the nation and to the world. And your life will be changed. And you’ll be known.’”
“It’s like your encounter with the prophet! It’s what you wrote about in the book, at the beginning of the story. You’re sitting down in a public place with a man sitting to your left. He turns to you and starts a conversation. Then he speaks to you prophetically. And it leads you to bringing a prophetic word to the nation.”
“Yes, except this happened after the book was written.”
“And he couldn’t have known?”
“No,” said Nouriel, “No one could have known. No one had read it yet.”
“Who was he?”
“A believer, a man of God, who just happened to have been scheduled to be on the same flight and who just happened to sit down next to me the moment I prayed that prayer.”
“But how could he have known what he knew?” she asked.
“How could the prophet have known what he knew?”
“Did he ever tell you why he gave you that word?”
“He told me that when he sat down next to me, the Lord told him to give me a message. He was reluctant, but finally spoke.”
“And what happened next?”
“Not long after that encounter, I received a communication from the president of a publishing house. He told me that the man at the airport had told him of the encounter, and of the book concerning the harbingers. He had no idea what it was about but informed that he was interested.
“And that’s how the book went forth to America and to the world—not by the hand of man, but the hand of God.”
“So it was by a supernatural encounter that the revelation became a book and went forth to America. So how many people read it?”
“I’ve been told millions.”
“And everything changed for you, Nouriel, just as the man at the airport told you it would. Suddenly, you’re known. You’re speaking across the nation. You’re being interviewed. You’re appearing on television and all over the web. You’re in Washington, DC, speaking to leaders in government. Pretty heady stuff. It could make one forget his humility.”
“No,” he said, “I know it’s not my doing. If anything, it humbles me.”
“That’s good,” she replied, “because it doesn’t just happen. A man who doesn’t know how to write books writes a book about nine harbingers of judgment and millions read it. It doesn’t just happen.”
“None of it just happened,” he replied.
“But it had to,” she said, “It was what the prophet told you would happen. It had to happen because the word had to go forth as it did in ancient times.”
And then she was quiet, as was he. She reached over to a grab a cup of coffee that was resting on the edge of her desk, brought it to her lips, and began sipping on it. But she didn’t take turn her gaze away from him. She was hoping to see some reaction, some trace of an expression that would convey more than she was getting. There was a cup of water on his side of the desk but he wasn’t touching it. He was staring into the distance as if in deep thought. And then, finally, he spoke.
“Okay Ana, why?”
“Why did you ask me to come here? In all the years since I first came here and told you what happened, you’ve been reluctant to broach the subject.”
“I didn’t want to get in the way.”
“What do you mean?”
“The whole thing was so beyond anything I had ever heard of. It was like dealing with a sacred object. I felt I shouldn’t touch it. But I watched everything from a distance. I read your writings. I watched you on television. I searched for you on the web. I just felt I couldn’t approach it.”
“All the more, it begs the question, Why now?”
“Because,” she said, “I had to know.”
“You had to know what?”
“You did what you were supposed to do. You completed the charge. The word went forth...So what now?”
“The book revealed the signs and warnings of a nation in danger of judgment. It was the beginning. There has to be more. Where are we now?”
“You want me to reveal what’s not in the book?”
“Have there been other revelations?”
“Nothing other than what the prophet told me.”
“And you haven’t seen him since then? And there’s been no more mysteries, no more revelations?”
He didn’t answer that, but put his left hand below his chin and looked downward. His lack of response intensified Ana’s interest. She held back from saying anything, waiting instead for a response. But instead of answering her, he got up from his chair and walked over to the huge glass window through which the light of the afternoon sun was streaming in and just stood there, staring out at the skyline of the city.
“So there’s been no more revelations?” she asked again.
“I didn’t quite say that,” he said without turning his gaze from the window.
“Have you heard from him, Nouriel? Since you finished writing the book, have you heard from the prophet?”
It was then that he resigned himself to the possibility that telling her might be part of the plan.
“One might say that,” he replied.
“One might say that you’ve heard from him?”
“How?” she asked.
Finally, he turned to her.
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