It was a beautiful new day of spring in the New Earth, and today not only the birds were singing. Levi never felt so good. He woke up earlier than everyone else and started to make breakfast for everybody.
“I hope you guys like pancakes.”
“Wow! Someone woke up in a good mood,” June said walking down the stairs accompanied by her two little princesses ready for school.
“Pancakes!” the girls shouted.
“Uncle Levi. I love pancakes,” the oldest said.
“Do you? Maybe I can teach you, and we can make some pancakes together, what do you think about that?”
“I want to make pancakes too!” the youngest shrieked jumping on Levi’s neck.
“All right, all right!” Levi mumbled, having difficulty speaking with the two girls hanging on his throat.
“Okay, girls. Let uncle go. He needs to finish our pancakes,” June said.
“Are we having pancakes?” Marcel asked, coming down the stairs joining the party in the kitchen. “What is the occasion?”
“I don’t know. Ask Levi,” June answered.
“I’m just trying to be a good guest. Okay, everybody. Here come the pancakes,” Levi said serving everyone. He took his seat and was ready to have a bite when Marcel interrupted him.
“Levi, I would like to say thanks for the food.”
“Oh, Okay. You are welcome,” Levi replied. Marcel, June, and the girls giggled at Levi’s response.
“No. I mean, I appreciate you making breakfast, of course. But what I mean is that I would like to say a prayer thanking God for the food before we eat.”
“Oh, all right. Sorry,” Levi said blushing a little and putting the pancake on his fork back on the plate. “I forgot you are a preacher now. Please, go ahead.”
* * *
Marcel and Levi got out of the pod, and Levi recognized the place right away. “Hey, this is the building where I woke up, isn’t it?”
“Indeed,” Marcel answered. “Wow. It looks amazing. I was so taken away by everything else that I didn’t realize how beautiful it was.” Levi admired, now noticing the bold building sign letters in the facade.
“‘Lazarus I.’ Why is it called Lazarus I?”
“Are you familiar with the Bible account of Lazarus?”
“The one resurrected by Jesus, right? Oh, yeah. I see.”
“This is one of the hundreds of other complexes around the world. We call them ‘Resurrection Centers.’ In these centers, thousands of people are brought back to life every day, just like you were.”
“Really? Every day? That is a lot of people. I wanna ask why, but I guess you are going to tell me that this is one of those questions I will learn the answer to at school, am I right?”
“You are a fast learner, aren’t you?” Marcel grinned.
“So, let me ask you this. What are we doing here? Do I need a check-up or something? I thought we were going to school.”
“We are going to school. This complex also holds the classes for the resurrected ones,” Marcel said while entering the lobby of the building.
“Stay here in the line to talk to the receptionist. They will give you more instructions.”
“Wait, wait. Where are you going?”
“I have to keep going or I will be late.”
“Late for what?”
“Do you work here? How come you don’t tell me those things, man? What do you do here?”
“I teach some of the classes. Don’t worry. You will be fine. See you later.”
“Hey, wait!” yelled Levi. “Seriously?” he muttered.
The group of people that would form Levi’s class was gathered in the lobby, waiting for instructions. All of them were from the same generation. There was a significant cultural and background diversity among them, with one thing in common. They were all intellectuals: doctors, authors, specialists in their respective fields of expertise. One of them approached Levi and introduced himself.
“Hi, my name is Lee.”
“Hey. I’m Levi. How are you doing?” Levi responded.
“Hard to say. Physically I look like a million bucks. I mean, I woke up here and strange things have happened with my body. I’m not sure if you know what I’m saying.”
“Oh, yeah. I know what you mean.”
“But I never felt so lost in my life. Not really sure what happened. It seems that these classes we have to take will reveal everything.”
“That’s what I’ve been promised too. What did you learn until now? How long have you been ‘resurrected’?”
“I woke up two days ago. I don’t know much. But I have experienced some crazy, strange things; I mean, did you know they have found a way to reverse aging?”
“Yup! My grandparents look younger them me.”
“I’m a biologist, or should I say I was? Anyways. I am specialized in wildlife, and used to write for magazines like National Geographic, for documentaries on Discovery Channel, BBC; you know. Anyways. Yesterday they took me to some kind of park where I realized one of my biggest dreams. I always wanted to be able to play with big wild cats, you know. I mean, I have been studying African lions my whole life and being able not only to paddle or touch them but to hug, run and play with them. Oh, my God! I can’t describe it.”
“That really sounds amazing. I have experienced some surreal moments, myself. I’m an astrophysicist, and I was flabbergasted with the mapping of our whole galaxy. I almost had a heart attack when I learned they had made contact with extraterrestrial intelligent life.”
“Really? The whole galaxy? Aliens? Wow! I have to say. I love the future. But right now, I feel like a small child, a little bit disoriented and confused. So many questions. How did we get here anyway?”
“Exactly. That was my first question. But I didn’t get a clear response to that yet. I hope we will find some answers here.”
After receiving electronic tablets, they got a quick tour of the complex. It had six floors going up, hosting all administrative offices, and ten levels going down, which held different departments, mainly the resurrection and the educational center. Access to the resurrection center was not granted to them just yet. It was lunchtime when their tour was finished. Levi’s class joined the other students at the dining hall together with some of the people that worked there. The room was immense. A place that would easily fit and feed over one thousand people. And that was just one of the dining halls in the complex. Before the meal was served, the overseer of ‘Lazarus I’ gave a brief speech welcoming one and all to their new lives in this new world, which over the past two days, all students in that room had a glimpse of. He reassured the big crowd of resurrected ones that they will have satisfying answers to their questions, and he wished them the best, hoping that they would enjoy learning, discovering, and exploring in this fabulous new journey ahead of them. The overseer was eloquent and inspired confidence. From where Levi was sitting, it was impossible to take a good look at the person speaking, until he realized the man was being broadcast to all the various monitors spread throughout the hall. The face on the monitor nearby seemed familiar to him.
“Wait. I know him,” Levi said to himself. “He worked at NASA, didn’t he?” he kept staring at the screen, trying to remember. “No?” It finally came to him, but he couldn’t believe it. “Is that, Mike? The janitor?”
The first lecture would take place that afternoon. Right after lunch, the one guiding Levi’s group through the tour also showed them to their classroom and passed on the few last instructions regarding the program. Levi’s class numbered forty-five individuals counting him. They all took their place in the two hundred seat auditorium, shaped like a large indoor amphitheater. The minutes passed, and the class started to become anxious and impatient. The ambient sound of people murmuring was abruptly silenced by doors slamming when the instructor suddenly barged in through the podium’s right side entrance. Absolute silence followed his arrival. Like everyone else in the room, Levi was expecting to be taken aback by what was coming, but he was in for a special treat.
“Good afternoon, everyone. Sorry, I’m late. My name is–”
“Jacob?” Levi mumbled, surprised.
* * *
The class was over, and Levi ran down from his seat to the stage to meet Jacob. He wasn’t the only one. They all had a lot more questions to be answered.
“O.K. ladies and gentlemen, that is all for today. Make sure you are here tomorrow at the same time for more,” Jacob said dismissing the class.
“That was great. Since when are you a professor?” Levi asked.
“Hey, son! I hope you liked my little surprise.”
“I was not expecting to see you here. That was a nice surprise, indeed.”
“I know that our introductory lesson today may have raised more questions than it answered.”
“Oh, yeah! My head is still spinning,” he gasped.
“I’m glad you liked it,” Jacob smirked.
“The video about the origin of the universe was fascinating. I remember, back in ‘my days,’ studying about something called the ‘Loop Quantum Gravity’ theory, which was a much better explanation for the origin of the universe than the Big Bang Theory. But what you guys have presented here today; It’s genius. So beautiful and elegant. It is quite humbling to see how far we were from what seems to be the truth.”
“Yes. We all learned a lot since then,” Jacob said.
“It all makes sense, but still. It’s very hard for me to believe this whole ‘creator of the universe’ idea. That a super-intelligent being exists and that he is personally interested in the life of insignificant humans to this extent? And I think I’m not the only one having a hard time believing. You got yourself a tough crowd here, Jacob.”
“Believe me. I know.”
“By the way, you really got me with the ‘Aliens’ story.”
“What story?” Jacob smiled. “I told you, you were right about the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial beings. I just thought it was too soon to tell an astrophysicist that the extraterrestrial beings in question were actually the Creator himself and his son.”
“Good call. But still, you must understand that I will need more than a reasonable explanation, right? I mean, I am a scientist. I will need some hard evidence here.”
“I expected no less from you. Be patient and keep an open mind. Today was just day one. Buckle up, son. We haven’t even started yet.”
* * *
That evening the Adam’s were hosting dinner. Sarah and Naomi loved to visit them. They had an extraordinary house. It was a big house built in the trees. The small transparent cylindrical elevator would take you all the way up to the top of the trees. Its doors would then open to the large veranda with branches coming in and out of it. Monkeys, birds, and other little animals were constant and welcome visitors. On the roof, there was a small but powerful observatory, the girls’ favorite place in the house.
“Come with us, Uncle Levi. Let me show you my favorite star,” Sarah said, dragging Levi by the hand.
After dinner Levi, Marcel, and the girls went back to the observatory to look at the stars. Levi had many things on his mind. A lot had happened that day. He was still trying to wrap his head around some of it, but one thing, in particular, was bothering him.
“Hey, Marcel,” Levi said. “Do you remember Mike from NASA?”
“Yes, of course. You met Mike today, right?” responded Marcel finishing calibrating the telescope for the girls to look at the Eagle Nebula. Their favorite star-forming region. Or as they like to call it: ‘their favorite nursery room for baby stars.’
“Seriously? No way! Is the director Mike? Mike, the janitor?”
“Yep! He is not a janitor anymore. He is my boss now.”
“No, kidding?! How did that happen?”
“It’s a very nice story. But I will let Mike tell you his story himself. Maybe we should try to arrange to meet him tomorrow, what do you think?”
“Can we do that? I would like that.”
“Yes, of course! He is a pretty busy guy, but I am sure he will be pleased to make time for an old friend.”
“That will be great. Mike explained something about different classes. Some are faster than others. I seem to be in a slow class. I don’t get it. In my class, we have some pretty smart people. Are the faster classes only for geniuses?”
“Ha, ha, ha,” Marcel laughed hard. “No, no. It has nothing to do with how smart you are.”
“So, what then? My class will take months to finish, while some of the shorter classes will take just a few weeks. Why can’t I take a shorter class?”
“Well, some people from our generation, and generations before ours, already knew about the reality we are living now. They knew back then what the future would be like, and they expected to be resurrected to live in the world we live in today. So, they already had a pretty good idea of how things would work. Pretty much all their expectations for this time have come true.”
“Really?” Levi asked. “How did they know all of this?”
“Remember, when we used to say that religion was a waste of time? Even after that famous neuro-scientists had suggested that there was some kind of evolutionary advantage to faith because people with faith tended to be happier and live longer?”
“Yes, I remember. That paper was hilarious.”
“Well, that is why you are in a slow class. As it turns out, one of those religious groups had accurate knowledge of what would happen in the future, our present day. When they are resurrected today, they are introduced to a system that they already knew would exist. You don’t have that kind of knowledge because you were never expose to it. You didn’t have the opportunity to study the Bible with this group before the Final War. That is why you need more time to finish your resurrection school program.”
“Wait. Does it mean that, by the end of this course, I should convert to some kind of religion?”
“Not at all. There is no religion to convert to. Religions ceased to exist with the Final War. What we have now is a whole new system, a united, family-like society that happens to be governed by the Creator himself. And it is not a matter of believing or not anymore. It is just how things are. The purpose of the school for resurrected ones is to introduce you to this new system and society and help you to integrate and to be a citizen of this new world.”
“Let me see if I understood. Are you saying that the whole thing is ruled by an extraterrestrial creature that claims he created everything in our universe? And that he arrange the writing of this ‘book’ to tell his creation what was going to happen and how he would take charge of things on Earth? Is that right?”
“Not exactly. He didn’t claim anything. He has shown us. But, yes. The Bible was the media used by Him to convey his message to his creation.”
“Why a book? Why not something more dramatic, clear, and evident? Like, I don’t know. Maybe showing up in a huge spaceship or any other big demonstration of power, as in any good aliens invasion movie?”
“He was interested in those that were earnestly seeking him. Those that truly want to find their Creator. The people’s responses to the Bible’s message exposed what kind of person they were. If they were humbled and pure, true seekers, the Creator would reveal to them the secret hiding in his word. If not, it didn’t matter how much they would read the Bible; they would never get its true meaning. Like in steganography, you know?”
“Steganography? The technique of hiding secret data within a non-secret, ordinary file or message?”
“Exactly. Well, maybe not the best example, but yes. Something like it. Where you can only read and understand the secret in the message if you have a key. That key was given by the Creator himself to those that were genuinely searching for the truth. The Bible called this key or helper ’the holy spirit.’ Which in reality is the Creator’s supernatural power.”
“So, you said there is no religion. But it all sounds too much like Christianity to me.”
“Okay. Think of this. Remember the time when we work at Nasa? At that time, how many theories of everything (for the origin of the universe) were there?”
“A few dozen? String theory, loop quantum gravity, causal dynamical triangulations, Internal relativity…”
“Now, imagine that one of them was right.”
“Then, that one would not be just a theory. It would be the description of reality.”
“Exactly. The same with religion. There were so many of them. Each one with its own theory. But imagine one of them was right.”
“Are you saying Christianity was right all along, and now it not just a religion. It simply is the truth about reality?”
“Not Christianity per se. Inside Christianity, there were hundreds of different religions. But one small group of true Christians had got the key, the accurate understanding, given by the Creator himself. They were the ones used by him to found the New Earth, a global family-like society, formed by physically perfect humans under the rulership of their Creator.”
“Wait. Does the whole world respond to this extraterrestrial being? We are not in charge of our planet?”
“Well, we were never in charge, my friend. But if you mean there are no human governments; you would be right. The New Earth government is established in the spiritual realm, made up of non-humans. Here on earth, we have the government’s representatives that lead the people by following the heavenly government’s instructions.”
“Wait, wait. ‘Spiritual realm’? ‘Heavenly government’? Now you lost me.”
“Don’t worry. Everything will be explain in your class at Lazarus. You just need time.”
“I will probably need more than a few months then.”
“I know it is hard to accept. Everything is so different, from what for you was just a few days ago. Having questions is normal, and it is important to ask them. But try to be patient and take your time. Meanwhile, enjoy yourself. You are in the future, man! Have you realized that? You are a time traveler of sorts,” Marcel said with a smile.
“Oh yeah. I still can’t believe it.”
* * *
It was already late when Rachel showed her visitors to their rooms. While Marcel and June were getting ready for bed and Rachel was reading stories to the girls, Jacob and Levi were looking at the stars. “Jacob, can I ask you a question?”
“Of course, son. What is it?”
“What happened to Mom? I was expecting to see her today.”
“I see. Sorry, Levi. She is not with us anymore.”
“I don’t get it. If Mom died after me, she was supposed to be back from the dead by now, right? Following the whole thing about ‘the last will be first’ principle we learned today?”
“Very good. You were paying attention. Unfortunately, this principle doesn’t apply to my daughter.”
“She was given a chance to live without seeing death like your grandmother and me, for example. We didn’t die and then were resurrected as you were. We have never experienced death. The same for Marcel and June. But Martha turned that chance down.”
“What do you mean? What happened to her?”
“Sadly, she died in the Final War. On the final day, with the signs in the sun, moon, and stars, some thought that it was some kind of an alien invasion, like those depicted in old Hollywood movies. But soon it was clear to everyone. There was no alien invasion. Humankind was on the verge of self-destruction, and the Creator had to intervene to prevent the worst before it was too late. Human governments from all over the world got together to resist the takeover, unsuccessfully. When it happened, God protected those that had chosen his side. Those who didn’t support him were not able to protect themselves when the war broke out.”
“I don’t understand. Mom believed in God. How come she was not on his side? I was never sure of God’s existence, so why am I here, and she isn’t?”
“We, as a family, believed in a god, as you know. But the god we believed in and the one who created the universe is not the same. Before the war started, the true God provided a place of refuge, a shelter to protect his people from the destruction that the war would bring. He used human representatives to warn all peoples, in every land, tribe, and tongue, about the upcoming war and to inform them about his place of protection. We believed those human representatives, but Martha didn’t. We joined them and took refuge in His earthly organization. When the Final War broke out, we were protected, and we survived. In this war between human governments and God’s heavenly forces, every individual in opposition to Him was destroyed. Martha was given a chance to know the true God, join his people, accept his rulership, and live forever. But she refused it.” Jacob paused. He then looked at Levi and continued. “You didn’t have this chance, my soon. That is why He brought you back to life for you to have that same opportunity.”
“I can’t wrap my head around what you are saying, but for some reason, I don’t feel angry or sad about Mom. I miss her, yes. But I’m not sad. That’s strange, right?”
“Don’t worry, son. Soon, everything will be revealed to you, and all will make sense. Meanwhile, I would like to show you something.”
“What is it?”
“Come on. Have a look,” Jacob said showing Levi the telescope.
“Something I asked Marcel to set up for me. Do you recognize that?”
Levi looked through the telescope. “Is that…?” Levi paused before he exclaimed. “Good Rockets! Is that James?”
“Cool, huh? Your telescope made some important discoveries centuries ago.”
“Wow! Are you serious?”
“Yes. Tomorrow in class, you will learn how to access, through the device given to you, all the information about this and about pretty much anything else you want to know.”
“Oh, really? I was actually wondering when we would be able to explore these tablets.”
“Yes, I know,” Jacob said with a grin. “There is a lot to be learned but be patient. Enjoy the process. There is no need to rush or to hurry anymore. From childhood, you always had a curious mind, and you pursued knowledge tirelessly throughout your entire life. I truly believe you are going to love it here.”
“I have a feeling you are right,” Levi said with a smile, which soon was followed by a sigh while he was glancing at the stars. “I just wish Mom would be here.”
Jacob wrapped his arm over Levi’s shoulder, “Me too, son. Me too.”