On p. 263-4, once again, we see how good Christians conduct themselves as David Hassid says everything he possibly can to offend and rile up Guy Blod. He makes fun of his name, disses his title, insults his statue–things that, perhaps, you might think in your head, but telling a person these things is downright rude. Is this how David expects to make converts for Christ as the End draws nigh?
On p. 264, we almost see the long-awaited return of “Buck was struck,” except this time it’s different: “It struck Buck.” No, unfortunately, “it” is not a truck. (“The truck struck Buck” would have been perfect.) “It” is an abstract thought, a realization. How disappointing.
Oh, what joy to read on p. 266:
Exhausted as he was, David could not sleep. He lay in his quarters, wondering why he got such joy out of tormenting Guy Blod.
He couldn’t shake from his memory Rayford’s story of having tormented Hattie Durham’s friend Bo, and how Bo had eventually committed suicide.
Sure, Guy was a case, and David enjoyed beating him in a battle of wits and sarcasm. But was he laying groundwork for ever having a positive influence on the man?
Finally, the clue bus has stopped for David! He asks God for forgiveness, and to give him special compassion for Guy.
However, I am still bothered, because Rayford and David are feeling regret because taunting hampers their witness to Christ. Being a good witness should definitely be a concern, but your chief reason for kindness should be, it’s the right thing to do.
On p. 277, we find dissing of the term “religion.” As if Christianity weren’t a religion itself, and as if nobody could find peace and righteous living through another religion’s tenets, we have our formerly Muslim friend Albie and Buck talking about the “difference between religion and Christianity” and that “religion is man’s attempt to reach God, while Jesus is God’s attempt to reach man.”
Considering that “religion” basically means a system of beliefs about deities, their requirements and how to treat your fellow man, Christianity is just as much a religion as anything else is.
As a writer, such butchering of the language grates on my brain–and makes no sense, because the word “religion” is being unfairly maligned, so preachers can make sermon points and Evangelicals can get a new code phrase to put on T-shirts.
Farther down the page, they insult the intelligence of others who disagree with Tsion. Albie says how he spent a few days surfing Tsion’s website archives, and read about the plagues, judgments and prophecies. He says, “How anyone with a functioning mind could read that and not–”
Here he’s interrupted because they have to keep moving. But his meaning is clear: If you disagree with Tsion’s take on what’s going on, you’re an idiot.
On page 293, a Turk on a news report says he believes Nicolae was divine in every sense, possibly “the Messiah the Jews longed for all these centuries. And he was murdered in their own nation, just as the Scriptures prophesied.”
So…the people who believe this are not evil, just deluded, wanting to worship Christ but confused about who he is? So why do they deserve death?
On page 294, we see quoted Matthew 24:21-24:
For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
Of course, these books consider this to be an end-time prophecy, even though many of the prophecies of this chapter (up until verse 29) were fulfilled in AD 70. That’s when the Roman general Titus put a statue of himself in the temple of Jerusalem, then destroyed the temple, and the Jews suffered unimaginable horrors, horrors that confirmed the description in verses 21-22 that no time ever before or since could ever be as bad. But read what the Orthodox Study Bible says about chapter 24:
The Scriptures describe the end times in a variety of ways, so that no precise chronology can be determined (see Dan 7-12; Mk 13; Lk 21; 1Co 15:51-55; 1Th 4:13-17; 2Th 2:1-10; and the Book of Revelation).
The Lord’s emphasis is on watchfulness and the practice of virtue rather than on constructing timetables of things that have not yet happened. In Matthew’s account here, the end is described as encompassing the initial sorrows (vv. 4-14), the great tribulation (vv. 15-28), and the coming of the Son of Man (vv. 29-31).
The period of the great tribulation includes the entire Christian era and is not limited to the final years before Christ’s return.
In Eusebius’ Church History, he, as does the Orthodox Study Bible, connects the “abomination of desolation” in verse 15 with Titus setting up his statue.
Then he quotes from Josephus’ “Jewish War” on the many horrors the Jews went through during the Roman siege and after the temple was destroyed: the famine, murders, torture worthy of Vlad the Impaler just to find a hidden loaf of bread, the dead lying everywhere around the city because they could not be buried by the sick and starving left behind, a mother eating her own baby, a total of 1.1 million lives lost by famine and the sword.
Eusebius notes that this was also foretold in Luke 19:42-44, 21:23-24, and 21:20. All of this fits Jesus’ prophecies in Mt. 24 so well that, until verse 29, we don’t need to look to the end times to fulfill them.
On page 300, Tsion is trying to interpret the Revelation images of the “sun-clothed woman” “who wore a garland of stars and used the moon as her footstool.”
I love this line: “Clearly she was symbolic, as no woman was that large or had a child in space.” LOL Why must it be symbolic? Because this time the literal way is just too outlandish to work.
The following few pages are attempts to interpret chapter 12 of Revelations.
(Yes, darn it, I’m going to call it “Revelations” because I’ve always called it that and I don’t like changing what I’ve always called something. That’s why I continued to call my college’s office building “Jubilee” even after they renamed it. So there.)
Taking out my trusty Orthodox Study Bible, I find how chapter 12 should be interpreted. Turns out, Tsion gets it right. Score a point for these books.
On page 309, we read about Buck’s family getting converted to Real True Christians before being murdered. A pastor tells Buck that Buck’s brother was the:
“instigator. He confronted your father about his stubborn insistence that he was a believer and always had been. Your brother visited our house church by himself the first two or three times, and to hear your father tell it, he finally came just to avoid being alone. Mr. Williams, it took a long time for your father to get the picture….
I just want you to know, sir, that your dad and your brother became true believers, and I’m sure they’re with God right now.”
On page 108 of “Left Behind,” we read that Buck’s family attended church regularly all their lives. Their pastor was also left behind after the Rapture, and told them that if it had been the Rapture, he and the family would all be gone, and not just the children. We also read that “the lack of any connection between his family’s church attendance and their daily lives” made him stop going to church when he came of age.
I can understand how not seeing Christianity lived out at home can make you doubt the strength of your parents’ faith and convictions– Christians who don’t follow Jesus’ principles have always been easy to find.
But how is it stubbornness to say that you’ve always been a believer? Maybe Buck’s father didn’t always follow the faith’s dictates, but he was still a believer because he believed in Christianity. Wouldn’t it be more correct to say that his actions got him left behind, and not his beliefs?
Note that the guy’s pastor didn’t get Raptured, either, and that now Buck is being told that his father is now a “true” believer.
Hmm….I strongly suspect from this that Buck’s father was in the “wrong” church before. You can’t just believe you’re a Christian, you have to be in the “right” church, in this case a house church formed after the Rapture.
It’s also not clear how exactly Buck’s family didn’t demonstrate Christianity at home. Was it a lack of charity toward others, a general air of meanness and selfishness, or was it an acceptance of sex and alcohol and cussing and dirty movies?
This is far more important to understanding why his family got left behind, than whether they went to the right church or believed the right things.
To be continued.