The Ark of Apocalypse  

CHAPTER SEVEN

The Power of the Ark

Merlin awoke at five a.m., dressed quickly, and went downstairs to prepare Mass for Philip and Simon. When he arrived, he found Philip staring through the window at the lake, deep in thought. One night of pumping furiously, and the lake was almost empty.

"What are you doing up so early? You will need all the sleep you can get to preserve your strength. Today is going to be the biggest day of your life."

"How do you expect me to sleep after what I heard last night? I tossed and turned for a couple of hours and then just gave up. I've been watching those men out there. They’ve been pumping that lake all night long. I've also noticed that these hills are filled with armed people. I suspect they’re not just company for those who came in the two Choppers."

Merlin prepared the table for Mass as he spoke. "Yes! I know! They are always here. They pretend to be farmers or fishermen in the area, but they are always here. They have been protecting that lake for seven hundred years." Merlin left the room to fetch Simon.

To Philip, that sounded odd. Why would anyone have to protect a lake? But he remembered now. The world he awoke to today was forever different from the one he had become accustomed to. Yesterday had changed everything. His awareness of his God-given mission in life was beginning to take shape. Merlin had said such staggering things to him. And the pope? His doubts about the authenticity of that ceremony had evaporated. Still his eyes were fixed on the lake. He reasoned, obviously, that there had to be something IN the lake that was being protected, not the lake itself. But what could be of such compelling import that generations of men, in the guise of farmers and townsfolk, would devote their entire lives protecting it? He had a powerful sense that he was soon to find out!

After Mass, they all enjoyed a hearty breakfast, which Merlin prepared himself. There were four men in the front of the building wearing Knight robes, OSV machine guns at the ready. These four never came inside. Philip was still in casual clothes, this time tennis shoes and a heavy pull-over sweater. During breakfast, Simon asked Merlin many questions about the conversation the night before. Merlin answered them all very patiently. Philip just listened. After eating, Philip silently left the table to sit in a wooden rocking chair. In a moment, he was fast asleep.

Simon laughed loudly with admiration. "So! This is the Great Monarch!" He looked down at the little man sleeping in the chair. "So this is what I was born to protect and to follow unto death! God has either strange ways or a good sense of humor."

The rest of the morning passed quietly. Simon resumed his post, watching over Philip, while Merlin sat pensively. At 12:00 noon, Philip was still sleeping when a quiet but firm knock was heard on the front door. Simon peered out the window, retrieved his modified M-60, and opened the door. A serious looking Knight stepped briskly inside, walked over to the rocking chair, and looked down at the sleeping King. Without averting his gaze, he said to Merlin, simply, "It's ready."

"You wait here. I'll check," Merlin ordered Simon. As Philip slept on, Simon brewed him some coffee.

Within fifteen minutes, Merlin was back. "It's ready."

"Have the hills been checked?"

"Yes! And as soon as we are seen leaving the rectory, the escort choppers will lift off and do a quick reconnaissance of the surroundings. We will need tight security for the rest of the day, no matter the cost." Merlin looked at Philip and shook his head. "I will never understand the mind of God." He shook Philip. "Get up, my King, the world awaits."

Simon brought him the coffee as Philip rubbed his eyes. "Well, it couldn’t have been a bad dream if you two are still here!" Philip was only teasing. He knew that today was to be the most important day of his life, even greater than yesterday. He gratefully drank the coffee without rising from the rocking chair. "I had a strange dream. There was an angel standing on the Earth and making an oath to God. It was very odd."

"When you are ready, we must go." Clearly, Merlin was getting nervous again. He had resumed his pacing back and forth, going nowhere in a very great hurry!

At last, Philip announced, "All right! I'm ready." His hair was disheveled, he hadn't shaven, and his clothes looked like he had slept in them, which of course he had. But he was ready. Merlin shook his head in disbelief at the spectacle before him and led the intrepid trio out the door. Outside were eight Knights wearing robes and clutching modified AK-47s.

When Philip stepped out, all the knights bowed. This caught Philip by surprise, and he almost stumbled back into the rectory. Running his hand along his chin, he felt his whiskers, and then ran the same hand through his hair. The bowing Knights had strengthened his growing awareness that he was somehow, unbelievably, special. He grabbed Merlin by the sleeve of his habit. "I think I should go back in and clean up a bit." Merlin eagerly agreed.

In short order, Philip reappeared decked out in a new set of clothes and looking much better. He even wore a suede coat with a fur collar. The Knights bowed again, but this time, Philip was expecting it. He followed Merlin to the back of the rectory and then they walked towards the lake. Simon and the other Knights followed behind closely. No one spoke a word.

When they arrived at the lake shore, Philip could see that they had built a sort of bridge across the drained lake. It extended to the center of the lake where there sat a pile of large rocks that had been submerged for so many centuries. Two men stood on each side of the bridge at the center of the lake.

"Follow me." Merlin walked quickly out to the center of the lake with Philip close behind. Simon followed the new king, but the other men spread out around the lake.

In the center of the lake, amidst the pile of rocks, there was an opening with a set of solid rock stairs descending about fifteen feet. Merlin made his way over the rocks and slowly stepped down the stairs. Philip and Simon followed. Naturally, everything was wet. At the bottom of the steps was a flat passage about a hundred feet long. At its end was another staircase. Philip followed Merlin down the passage and up the other stairs. At the top of these stairs there was a short landing and then more stairs going down again. Somebody had gone to considerable trouble to hide whatever Philip was about to find! At the bottom of these stairs, everything was dry. Candles had already been placed along the way. Again, there was a long passageway, this one on a slight incline. Philip figured that they were now under the mountain and out of the lake.

Awaiting them at the end of this passage was a large copper door with beautiful inlays of sculpted grapes, angels, pomegranate trees, and Templar Knights. In its center was carved a crown like the one on the Table at the rectory. Merlin reached into his brown robe and pulled out a large key. When Merlin was young he had dived many times into the lake and visited the room he was about to go into.  But it was now 50 years since he had been there and despite his best efforts his enfeebled hands couldn't turn the key. A quick glance from the priest and Simon quickly reached forward, worked the lock, and pushed the door open.

Inside was a flat space about ten feet square with another door on the other side. "Be very careful in here. Brusque movement will cause the ceiling to collapse, and there are five hundred feet of rock above us."

Merlin handed another key to Simon. He turned it very slowly. With this door now unlocked but unopened, he returned and closed the other door, then carefully locked and tested it. He rejoined Merlin and Philip and pulled open the other door very slowly, all the while looking very carefully at the ceiling. Once open, he stepped aside to let Merlin and Philip pass.

Merlin lit three candles and passed them around. They walked up a short flight of stairs and down to another door. This door didn't look like it was made of copper. It looked like gold. Philip reached out and touched the door. It was eight feet tall and six feet wide, beautifully carved with the same images as the first door. "Yes! It's gold." Merlin offered. "It’s solid gold and three inches thick. Even Simon would not be able to push it open if it was not so well balanced on those hinges."

Merlin made the sign of the cross, said a short prayer, and took out a gold triangle from his pocket. He placed the triangle into a slot on the door. It fell through and came back out a slot at the bottom. "OK! Simon, it's time to see how strong you really are."

Simon leaned against the door and pushed it open a couple of feet. He stepped part way through the narrow opening, put his back to the door frame and then pushed it wide open. Merlin picked up the candle and walked in. He proceeded down four steps as the candlelight filled the room. Philip stepped into the room closely behind.

Philip stood in awe. The light from the one candle filled the room with dazzling light. It was the size of a basketball arena. The floor was at least one hundred feet long and seventy feet wide. The ceiling was round and vaulted, about seventy feet high at the center with eight pillars down two sides. There were barred, eight inch holes on the right and left sides of the room for ventilation.

What lit the room up from Merlin's single candle was the gold, piles and piles of gold everywhere. The entire floor was filled with gold coins, gold vessels, gold candlesticks, gold bowls, gold lamps, gold censers, palm trees of gold, basins, pillars, cherubim angels, altars, all of gold and inlaid with costly stones. In some places, the gold was piled twenty feet high. On both sides of the large room were two cherubim angels fifteen feet tall with wings fifteen feet long from tip to tip. Chains and cords of solid gold hung from the walls.

At the end of the room, about 100 feet from Philip, sat a large altar of solid gold, itself inlaid with beautiful stones. On top of the altar was a leather bound box about two feet long and two feet tall with no markings. Jewish candle holders rested on both sides but they held no candles. Instead, on either side of the leather box, there was a single candle holder with a candle that Merlin lit.

Philip stepped down the four steps as Simon went around the room lighting candles in the walls. Merlin stood looking at Philip for his reaction to the unimaginable wealth in the room. Philip kept turning around and around. He had never been impressed with wealth, but this was overwhelming. He had never imagined that so much gold and so many jewels could be in one place. It seemed as if all the gold in the world was in this one room.   

One thing was out of place, a plain leather box on the large gold table.  The mere fact that it stood out caused Philip to come back to it over and over after looking over the entire room.  The two 15 foot angels seemed to be looking at the plain leather box.  Pointing: “What is that?”

Merlin went up the box.  He pulled the top off and then moved the two doors on the sides open which in turn opened the sides and laid them down behind.  In the box was a chalice.  It was a brown glass cup about 6 inches tall held in place by webbing of gold grapes and vines on the bottom third of the cup.  It had a gold base, stand and handles also decorated in grapes and vines. The glass cup was half full of something black and solid.  This is the Holy Grail, the cup of the Last Supper.”

“The Holy Grail!  Then there is a real Holy Grail?”

“Yes!  This is the most famous relic in the history of the world and as you study it let me tell you its history because this will become part of your life from now on.

"The Grail, before Moses set it in gold, was just the brown diamond cup that you see. It was first given to Enoch by Adam in a short wine and bread ceremony. Adam used it in the Garden of Eden to eat and drink from the Tree of Life.” 

Merlin was talking quietly and slowly so that Philip could follow and contemplate what he was saying. 

“When they left the Garden of Eden, they took the cup with them. It passed down to Enoch.  Enoch left it with Methuselah before he ascended to Paradise.   Methuselah gave it to Noah. Melchisedec brought it from the land of Samurais (where it was lying neglected) to the land of Canaan, in a place he called ‘Salem’, later called Jeru-salem. He used it at the Sacrifice of bread and wine offered to Abraham, and he afterwards gave it to Abraham. It passed on down to Moses, who added all the gold handles, base and stem and placed it in the upper part of the Ark with the Ten Commandments. It was the Grail that gave the Ark its Power."

Philip did not take his eyes off the Chalice. Merlin was not sure if he was even listening. He decided to go on anyway.

"When the safety of the Ark was in doubt, at the time of Jeremias and the Machabees (2 Machabees 2:1-8), Jeremias took the Ark and the Tabernacle and hid them in the same cave that Moses entered to spend his last day on earth. The Ark and the body of Moses are still in that cave.

"But the Grail was not in the Ark when Jeremias hid the Ark. The Ark went to the house of Obededom for three months (2 Kings 6:11) and after that the Ark only had the Two Tables of Stone in it. (3 Kings 8:9) The Holy Grail, the staff of Aaron, the bones of Joseph, the Manna, etc. remained in the House of Obededom. This was the house that Christ used for His Last Supper.

"Christ knew the Holy Grail was in the wall of the upper room. He removed it and used it to change wine into His Precious Blood. Later, Joseph of Arimethia used it to remove the Blood that fell down from the cross into the rock crevices. What you see in the Chalice is the real Blood of Christ. That is why it is called grail. Grail means blood, holy blood." Merlin stopped and stepped backwards quietly.

Now it was up to Philip. Everything depended on this moment. All these elaborate preparations depended on this man. All Merlin could do now was wait. He looked over at Simon. Simon did not move, and though his eyes were wet from the tears he had shed, he could not take them off of the Grail.

Philip finally turned away from the Grail, looked over at Merlin, and with tears streaming down his face he asked, "How can I serve the Blood of Christ?"

The weight of centuries seemed to flee Merlin in an instant. As the words left Philip’s mouth, Merlin dropped down next to the kneeling Philip and hugged him from the side with both arms. He placed his head on Philip's shoulder with a mixture of joy and relief.

After a time, Merlin rose and held out a hand to Philip. Philip also rose, but he did not take his eyes off the Chalice. Merlin turned towards the Holy Grail, removed the flat cap, pulled down a veil, placed it over his hands, and picked up the Holy Grail by the two large handles. He turned around and faced Philip and lifted the Chalice up above his head.

"This is the Blood of Christ, the Blood of the New and Eternal Covenant. Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever, Amen."

Merlin lowered the Chalice, looked at Philip, "Take and drink, this is my blood." He handed the Holy Grail to Philip. Philip reached out hesitantly, put his hands under the veil, so as not to actually touch the Grail, and grabbed both handles with great care, so as not to drop it. He looked down into the cup, a cup that had been in the hands of Adam and Christ. The blood that lay inside was coagulated. It was hard and black. But as Philip looked down into the cup, the blood softened and liquefied, turning red. Philip cringed at the thought of drinking blood, but he was determined to do it because it was Christ’s blood and Christ commanded it (John 6).  Slowly Philip raised it to his lips, tipped the Grail and drank a small amount of Christ’s Blood.

To his surprise the blood tasted like fine wine. He lowered the Chalice and stared into the cup. The liquid solidified again and became hard. As he handed the Grail to Merlin, a great change had come over him. His tears were gone. His face had changed too. He no longer showed the doubt or fear that he had before. He face was now chiseled with daring determination.

"My Lord, it is time." Merlin shouted. "Simon, carry the Chalice. It is time to go." Merlin placed the Chalice back into the leather box, restoring the lid.

Simon slung his weapon over his shoulder and picked up the box. Merlin led the way, Simon following and Philip walking behind. They closed the doors carefully as they left this holy sanctuary.