That evening the Adams were hosting dinner. Sarah and Naomi loved to visit them. They had an extraordinary house. It was a large wooden structure 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 welcomed visitors. There was a small but powerful observatory room on the roof, 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 as soon as they arrived.
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?” Marcel responded as he was 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 himself. Maybe we should try to arrange to meet him tomorrow, what do you think?”
“Can we? 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,” Levi said, excitedly. “Mike explained something about different classes,” he continued. “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,” Marcel laughed. “No, no. It has nothing to do with how smart you are.”
“So, what then? My class will take months to finish, while some 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, 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 that?”
“Remember when we used to say that religion was a waste of time? Even after those 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.”
“What?” Levi asked.
“As it turns out, one of those religious groups had accurate knowledge of what would happen in the future. When they are resurrected today, they are introduced to a system they already knew would exist, based on what they learned in the Bible. You don’t have that kind of knowledge because you were never exposed to it. That is why you need more time to finish your resurrection school program.”
“Wait. Did you say Bible? 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 be converted to. Religions ceased to exist with the Final War. What we have now is a whole new system, a family-like society, that happens to be overseen 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 help you to integrate and to be a citizen of this new world.”
“Let me see if I understood. Are you saying that the entire world is ruled by an extraterrestrial being claiming he created everything in our universe? And that he arranged the writing of this ‘book’ to tell his creation what would happen in the future? 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.”
“A book, really? Why not something more dramatic, clear, evident? Like, maybe showing up in a huge spaceship, I don’t know. The ‘take me to your leader’ sort of thing.”
“He was only interested in those that were earnestly seeking him. The people’s responses to the Bible’s message exposed what kind of person they were. If they were humble, 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? That technique of hiding secret data within a non-secret, ordinary text?”
“Well, maybe not the best example, but yes. Something like that. 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 the ‘helper’ or ‘holy spirit,’ which is the Creator’s active force.
“So, you say there is no religion. But it all sounds too much like Christianity to me.”
“Okay. Maybe you can think of it like this. Remember how many theories for the origin of the universe we used to have?”
“A few dozen? String theory, loop quantum gravity, causal dynamical triangulations, internal relativity….” Levi kept going.
“Yeah, yeah,” Marcel stopped him and continued. “Now, imagine that one of them was proven to be right.”
“Then, that one would not be just a theory. It would be the description of reality.”
“Exactly. The same with religion, you could say. 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 is not just a religion. It simply is the truth about reality? Is that what you are saying?”
“Not Christianity per se. Inside Christianity, there were hundreds of different religions. But one small group of true Christians did have the key, the accurate understanding, given by the Creator. And they were the ones used by him to found the New Earth.”
“Wait. We are not in charge of our planet anymore?”
“Well, we were never in charge, my friend. But if you mean there are no human governments, you would be right. Our government, called the New Heavens, is made up of non-humans and it is established in the spiritual realm. Here on Earth, we have it’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 explained in your class at Lazarus. You just need time.”
“I will probably need more than a few months then.”
“I know it is hard. 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. Not even Doc Brown would believe that.”
“Doctor Who?” Marcel smiled.
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 looked at the stars in the observatory room.
“Jacob, can I ask you something?” Levi asked.
“Of course, son. What is it?” Jacob replied while looking through the telescope.
“What happened to Mom? I was expecting to see her today.”
“I see,” Jacob said. He walked away from the telescope and sat on the sofa. “Sit down with me for a minute, son,” Jacob requested. Levi complied and sat beside him.
“If Mom died after me,” Levi continued, “she was supposed to be back by now, right? Following the whole thing about ‘the last will be first’ principle we learned today.”
“Very good. You were paying attention,” Jacob replied. He paused for a moment before he continued: “But this principle doesn’t apply to my daughter.”
“No? How come?” Levi asked, surprised.
“Martha could have been here with us today. But she turned that chance down.”
“What? Why would she do that?”
“Why indeed,” Jacob sighed. “Well, let me tell you what happened,” he continued. “Humankind was on the verge of self-destruction back then. When it happened, and people saw the ‘signs in the sun, moon, and stars,’ some thought it was an alien invasion. Like those depicted in old sci-fi Hollywood movies, you know? But soon, it was clear to everyone. That was no alien invasion. It was the Creator’s army taking over Earth’s control from his spiritual enemies.
“The Final War?” Levi asked.
Jacob confirmed with a nod.
“Did you say ‘spiritual enemies’? I thought that the Final War was a battle between aliens and humans?”
“No. God’s spiritual enemies were the ones manipulating human governments, influencing them to attack his people on earth. The war was fought by God’s army against his powerful spiritual enemies.”
“Extraterrestrials fighting over Earth’s control? Sounds like an alien invasion to me.”
“God’s spiritual enemies were controlling the world for millennia already. If anything, the Final War was a rescue mission, to put an end to God’s enemies control over the Earth and save his creation from destruction.”
“But, human governments were not really aware of this control, were they? They didn’t know they were fighting against the Creator himself. Well, not really, I mean, as you said, they were being manipulated, right?”
“Aware or not, human governments and world leaders have never cared about God. Many rejected the fact that a Creator even existed, as you probably remember. And those that professed to believe in God showed complete disregard for his word, using it as a tool to control others and advance their own selfish interests, actively choosing to ignore his will. By doing that, they put themselves on the side of God’s spiritual enemies, and in the Final War, all of them came to know who they were fighting against.”
“And, anyone that didn’t support the Creator was automatically against him? Is that it?”
“He didn’t want anyone to be destroyed. But he would not allow anyone to keep destroying his creation either. Time has proven that humans simply cannot solve their problems without his guidance. So, essentially, yes. People had to decide if they would accept God’s rulership or not.”
“Okay, grandpa. Not sure if I understand all of that, but what does this have to do with Mom? Mom believed in God, right? I was never sure of his existence, so why am I here, and she isn’t?”
“Right. Well, as a family, we believed in a god, as you know. But so many of the things we were taught made no sense, and our religious leaders could not provide us with satisfying answers. That always bothered me. I then decided to search and find the answers to my questions myself. I read all the so-called holy books and researched all the main faith and belief systems at that time. That only added to my frustration with God and religion in general. Until, one day, I met someone who offered to answer my questions using the Bible. And indeed, he did. Through my Bible study, I finally found what I was looking for. I also learned that the god I believed in and the one who created the universe were not the same. Before the Final War started, the God I learned about in the Bible had provided a spiritual place of refuge for those seeking him. He used human representatives to warn all peoples, in every land, tribe, and tongue, about his upcoming war, just like it was foretold in his word. Your grandmother and I decided to trust and follow those human representatives. We joined them and took refuge in his earthly organization, but Martha didn’t. We tried our best to help her. She even studied the Bible with us for a while. She had the chance to also learn about the true God, join his people, and accept his rulership. But as I said, she refused it. Sadly, your mom died in the Final War, my son; I am sorry,” Jacob said. Levi was speechless. “You didn’t have this chance,” Jacob continued. “That is why he brought you back to life so that you could have that same opportunity, you see?” Levi remained without words, absorbed in his thoughts but showing no reaction.
They sat there quietly, gazing at the stars for a while when finally Levi spoke: “Strange.”
“What is it, son?” Jacob asked.
“I don’t feel angry or sad about Mom. That’s strange, right?”
“Don’t worry, son. Soon, everything will be revealed to you, and all will make sense.”
After another long pause, Levi continued: “What took him so long, though? To take back Earth’s control, I mean. Didn’t he care about what was going on here before?” he asked.
“That is a good question. One of the many questions I had too,” Jacob replied. “We are going to talk about it in class soon. Can you wait until then?”
“Sure,” Levi agreed.
“Meanwhile, I would like to show you something.”
“What is it?”
“Something I asked Marcel to set it up for me,” Jacob said, standing up and showing Levi to the telescope. “Take a look. Do you recognize that?”
Levi looked through the telescope and asked: “Is that…? Wait! Is that James?”
“Cool, huh? Your telescope made some important discoveries centuries ago.”
“Wow! Are you serious?”
“Yes. And tomorrow you will have access to all information about this and about pretty much anything else through the device given to you.”
“Ah, all right. I was wondering when we would be able to explore those 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 around Levi’s shoulder and said: “Me too, son. Me too.”
After a moment of silence, Levi asked: “What about Anne? She died before me. Is she still coming back?” he asked.