Our story begins in a little village in Oxfordshire, called South Moreton.
In South Moreton there was a Baptist Chapel, where there were many worshippers. But our narrative is only concerning one member of the congregation: John Smith. (Yeah, lousy naming right?)
John was interested in working as a missionary, and had approached a number of missionary societies for support for work in China, but had many times been rejected, because of his poor language skills.
But one day while John was sitting down to his supper, he heard the phone ringing, so he went to answer it.
He picked up the phone, and after uttering a greeting, he listened intently to what the person on the other end of the line was saying. I’m not exactly sure of the exact words but it seems that John was offered to join a missionary society as a “time travelling missionary”. And so, without much thought as to what this work might entail, John said “Yes”. So it was agreed that John should go to Reading the following day to have a looks at the “ship” and test run it.
That night John didn’t sleep too well, he was nervous, and uncertain as to whether he had made the right decision. So John decided that he must decline the offer in the morning.
So in the morning John got himself ready to go to Reading. His intention was to tell the missionary society that he felt that it was not God’s will at the present to undertake such a ministry.
So when John arrived at the mission headquarters in Reading, he was greeted by the chairman of the society, who asked him whether he was ready for the test drive. John thought it would be impolite to decline the mission before he had formally test-driven the “ship”.
So the Chairman showed John the way to the “ship” which was rather small looking and had the name “Vapour” written on the side.
The Chairman said, “Time is like a vapour, that’s where we get the name from!”
John and the Chairman stopped just in front of the door to the “Vapour”, and John asked the chairman, “Did I mishear you on the phone of something? Because I thought that you said that this is a time travelling mission, and I’m pretty certain that people can’t travel back in time.”
The Chairman replied, “O but you can travel through time. People have been doing it for centuries, it’s just been kept very hush-hush”
“Oh” replied John, “but if God is sovereign, and has already decreed all that should happen through time, how then can we go back through time and change what has already happened?”
“I too had a problem with that” The Chairman explained, “but it was discovered to me by someone else the mystery of time travel, that in God’s eyes time is happens all at once, and so now is happening parallel to the day of Christ’s birth, and it is only in our human and inferior perspective that time is linear, that one day follows another. That is why Christ’s blood atoned for David who died many years before Christ appeared in human flesh. And thus when you travel back in time you will not be changing the decree of God in time, but you will just be changing your own perspective of time.”
John pondered these thoughts for a few minutes, and then said, “I’m not sure that I really understand what you are saying.”
The Chairman replied, “It is hard for me to explain, but I trust that you will know these things by experience. You see it’s like trying to explain the atoning merits of Christ’s blood to one who has never experienced first-hand the mercies of God.”
John had nothing to reply to this, he was a young man, and the Chairman had seen many years and so he realised that there was a wisdom which cannot be gained but through years of serving our Lord.
So after that confusing conversation, The Chairman opened the door of the Vapour and revealed inside just enough room for one man to sit on a chair.
The Chairman drew John’s attention to a big red button in from of the chair, and said, “There is only one button, so it should be easy to navigate where you want to go, the button is already programmed to go where you are most needed. Under the chair you will find a large number of Bibles, and some books on how to speak a lot of the ancient languages. So now could I ask you to get in to the seat and just press the button? And may God be with you!”
John followed his orders, still unbelieving concerning these time-travelling theories, but thought that the Chairman deserves respect, and thus John went into the Vapour, shut the door, and pressed the button.
The Vapour vanished!
John sat himself in the “Vapour”, made himself comfortable, and said a little prayer that God would be with him. And then he pressed the big red button!
There was a flash of light, and all went dark.
These were very strange occurrences, and before today John had never thought that time travel was even a remote possibility. And so when the light flashed and all went dark, John just sat there in the ship a little bit dazed.
But after a while John thought that he ought to at least open the door to see what was actually outside.
John opened the door just a little crack, and saw that it was all dark outside. Well, it certainly wasn’t dark when he stepped into this machine, and now it is. So if this isn’t just an elaborate hoax, John’s going to have to admit that time travel is actually possible.
So John decided that this was not the time to be exploring his new surroundings, there was no telling what could be out there. So he decided to sleep in the Vapour, and check it all out tomorrow.
That night John had some really bazaar dreams, which he couldn’t quite remember when he woke up, but took it as a sign that there may be some strange things lining the path ahead of him on his new missionary journey.
That morning the sun was shining brightly, and it was very hot. It was certain that he wasn’t in England anymore, as you definitely do not get that weather in England.
John decided that he ought to venture outside.
As John looked around himself, he saw that he was in the middle of a desert, and very far from home. All of a sudden, John felt a shiver run up his spine, a moment of fear when he realised that he was all alone in a strange place. But then John realised that although he was the only human within miles around, yet he was not alone. God was with him. In fact he felt closer to God here in the wilderness then he had ever felt while in the comforts of his own home in England. In a way he felt as if he were following in the Saviour’s footsteps, who too had to spend many days alone in the desert.
I won’t bore you with the tale of John travel through the desert, I’m sure you can imagine for yourself what might have happened on that solitary journey, where nothing living seemed to have ever ventured.
But finally, John found his way to greener lands. And it was here that John saw his first human being, although I’m not sure “human” is quite the right name to describe them. There was a man and a woman, butt-naked and seemingly shameless, doing abominable things out in the open countryside. John was obviously very shocked as he would never have seen anything like that in England. But, nevertheless, he pretended not to have noticed them, and walked right past.
He walked a little further and saw a man walking towards him. The man wore a long robe , the hem of which almost touched his sandals. The man was smiling. His face was as a young man’s face, very smooth, and yet there seemed in his eyes the wisdom and grace that can only be seen in very aged men in our world.
The man greeted him with a bow, and said, “Come friend, we have been waiting for you”
John looked confused and asked, “Do I know you?”
“No” the man answered, “but we be brethren nonetheless!”
By this, John inferred that the man too was a Christian.
“I’m sorry” said the man “I haven’t introduced myself yet, my name is Enoch, I am the seventh in line from the father of all, Adam. And I understand that you are a messenger from God. Don’t worry thy brother Raphael has told me of your coming, and has duly taught me your speech”
For the benefit of my readers, Raphael is an Angel of God, and although never mentioned in the bible is mentioned many times in Jewish literature, and in Enoch’s own book, which bears his name.
Enoch continued, “Please, follow me back to my earthly abode, and there you may tell me what message the Lord has put in thy mouth for my ears.”
As they were walking, they saw even more vile acts of lust, performed by the wicked people of the land.
“It has been shown me” said Enoch “that God will destroy this world, for all the ungodly deeds that the men have ungodly committed. And then there can be no salvation for this world.”
“That is not true” said John, “there will be salvation, God will even send his son into this world and He will bear our sins and in so doing will save our souls from eternal condemnation!”
Enoch’s face began to be full of joy and said, “Brother, indeed I am very thankful that God has sent you here this day to bring me such marvellous news, I have preached against the sins of this nation for many years, and have focussed much on the wrath of God, but today I realise that God also has a greater measure of Mercy, and when I leave this earth Mercy will be my only plea, O God be merciful to me!”
After that, John heard a voice from heaven saying “IT IS TIME”. And he saw Enoch ascending into Heaven. And then there was a flash of light, and John too had disappeared!
John was initially a little shocked to find that he was one moment talking to Enoch and the next moment he was back inside his time machine. But John had just started to expect the weird to happen, and so this did not come so much a shock to him as it might have done.
Wondering where he might have turned up, and what year he was in, John thought there was no use in staying inside his ship, and so he endeavoured to venture out into the open.
He opened the door a little crack, and was delighted to see that he was in the middle of a modern city.
The first thing that John noticed was that they were speaking with American accents, so he worked out from that that he was in an American City.
Then he saw someone drive past in a very strange looking vehicle, not a car, but similar, except that it hovered above the ground, rather than rolling along on wheels. It reminded John a bit of Star Wars.
It was obviously a later year, and sometime in the future, but John couldn’t begin to guess the date. He didn’t want to ask a passer-by as he was afraid that they might think he was insane, or mentally unwell. So he decided to go to a store and buy a news paper.
He wandered around the town for a while until he found a little corner store, which he entered into. John learned a lot from entering into that store. First he discovered that he was in New York City, by looking at the different magazines and seeing that all the local papers were New York papers. He also found out that the date was 8th September 2050. And then he discovered that they believed very strongly that the world was going to end on the 15th September. John bought the New York Times, to have a look at later. There was no human at the store counter; instead there was a robot, which seemed to speak perfect English.
John found a nice little park, where there was a bench, where he sat down and read his news paper. He read about a famous evangelist by the name of Michael Buckingham, who was telling everyone that it was merely a myth that the world will end, because, as he argued, that the day that Christ returns will be the day that the world ends, and that day is said in the Bible that no man can know the day or the hour when these things shall happen.
This seemed to catch John’s attention, and he intended to seek out this man, and learn from him.
It wasn’t that hard a job for John to seek out Michael Buckingham, he was so well known in the city of New York, that all he needed to do is ask one person where he lived, and he was directed to the very door.
The house was nothing so grand, it was not like anything John had expected from most famous evangelists who seem to preach about contentment and moderation, but do not live by their rules. Michael Buckingham’s house was small and moderate.
John rang the door bell. A beautiful young lady answered the door; she was about the same age as John. When John had told her about how he had heard of Michael Buckingham, and that he was keen to meet him, she told him that he was her father, and that he always welcomes guests.
The young lady led John into the sitting room where Michael Buckingham was sitting. Michael immediately stood up and introduced himself as “Michael”.
John then introduced himself. And Michael said, “I trust you have already met my daughter Ofelia?”
John turned to Ofelia and smiled, “Ofelia, that’s a lovely name!”
“You are dressed very strangely my friend!” said Michael, “You wear clothes as if you were an old man like me. Have you come far?”
“Yes, Indeed” Said John, “very far, but I don’t think you would believe me if I told you.”
Michael Answered, “Maybe you’re right, I feel to have a problem believing sometimes. It’s my old nature getting the better of me”
Ofelia stood up and asked John if he would like a cup of “Lyang”. John had no clue what Lyang was but assumed that it was the futuristic version of coffee of tea. And in any case, the way that Ofelia, looked at John, I don’t think he could refuse anything, so he said, “Yes please!”
Michael Continued: “Scientists have supposedly discovered that the world will end next week, but as Christians we believe that the world will not end that day, because that it cannot be known by humans.”
“I read that in the news paper,” Said John.
“Don’t believe everything you read in the papers, son” Said Michael, “the Devil is very much behind them trying to cause panic and confusion, the Chinese are selling tickets to go to New Earth for 1 billion Dollars each. Only a fool would spend that amount of money.”
That night John stayed at Michael’s house. His sleep was very troubled on account of all the talk about the end of the world. But when the morning came he was just pleased to be alive.
When he had woken up, John got himself dressed, and then went downstairs for breakfast. The date was the 9th September 2050, and it was a Sunday.
Breakfast was nice; there were a few items of food which he had never tasted before, which are obviously to be created some time in the future. There was only John, Michael and Ofelia at the table, and over the course of the meal he discovered that Michael’s wife had passed away a couple years ago after a long term illness.
“But she’s in a better place now” Said Michael.
John nodded understandingly.
“Well” said Michael, “I presume that you will be coming to church with us?”
“Definitely!” Answered John.
“Then we had better get into the car” said Michael.
So they made their way out the back door where John saw that Michael had one of those strange looking cars which he had seen the previous day when he arrived, which hovers over the ground rather than being driven along by wheels.
They made their way to the church. And to John’s surprise, the church looked nothing different to what they look like now, for all he knew he could well have been back in 2011, except that he was driven there in a strange pod car.
Inside the church they had segregated seating, and so the men sat on one side of the church while the woman sat on the other side.
There was a very large congregation there, probably about one thousand people.
They sang a few hymns, a lot of them John already knew, and some he presumed were futuristic.
And after a few men prayed a short prayer each, Michael stood up to preach. He preached about the end of the world, and that it is not going to end this coming Saturday, for it is impossible that anyone can know the time of the end of the world. He also talked about someone called Peter, who John later discovered was Michael’s eldest son, who had apparently decided to leave Michael’s church and form his own congregation, but he was preaching that the world WAS going to end on Saturday, and he himself had bought tickets for himself and his family that they might go to New Earth.
And then after they had sung another hymn, the service was over, and everyone chatted at the end of the service. Ofelia introduced John to a few of her friends. And then they went back to Michael’s house.
That afternoon, they just relaxed, Michael and Ofelia when to their respective rooms for a nap, and John just spent some time reading books. He learned that over the years from 2012 to 2050 all church denominations died out except for the Baptists, and so “Baptist” and “Christian” became synonymous. He read a number of other books mostly ones by Michael Buckingham.
And then in the evening they again went to Church, and Michael again preached. This time he preached about the Prophet Enoch, and he had no idea that John had actually met him in person.
While he was preaching there was a violent earthquake, and the foundations of the church shook so much that the glass of all the windows cracked and shattered into a billion pieces. The congregation were shocked and they all said to one another that maybe Peter Buckingham was right; maybe the world really was ending.
I’m sure Michael too was quite shocked, but yet he kept his composure and shouted out with a load voice and said, “This is the work of the Devil, let him not deceive you with his earthquakes to believe that the end of the world is coming! The Devil may be able to work small wonders, but my God is able to work GREAT wonders!”
After a hymn, the congregation left, and no-one seemed to so much as say “hello” to each other, but everyone went home in silence evidently fearing that their faith in Michael was not right.
And so John and Michael and Ofelia were left at the church to clear up the damage that was created by the earthquake.
John then asked Michael, “Do you really believe that that was just the Devil trying to make us afraid?”
Michael answered “I trust in God!”
Then the ground began to shake again, this time much more violently than before. Ofelia let out a shrill scream and grabbed hold of John’s hand.
And the building collapsed upon them.
They were buried.