Left Behind Review: Desecration

Desecration by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 1414334982, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

On page 2, we read:

Rayford and his extended Tribulation Force would continue what he called Operation Eagle.  The name was inspired by the prophecy in Revelation 12:14:

“The woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.”

Dr. Tsion Ben-Judah, spiritual mentor of the Tribulation Force, taught that the “woman” represented God’s chosen people; the “two wings,” land and air; “her place,” Petra–the city of stone; ” a time,” one year–thus “a time and times and half a time” to be three and a half years; and the “serpent,” Antichrist.

But according to the Orthodox Study Bible, this passage is both historical and futuristic at the same time.  The woman’s flight in verse 6, which describes her place prepared by God in the wilderness, where she will be fed for 1260 days,

may refer to the flight of the Jerusalem church (embodying true Israel) to Pella before the outbreak of the Roman war.  It illustrates there is no place for the Church in this age.

The 1260 days, or three and a half years, is the classic period of apocalyptic woe (see 11:2): as bad as it is, it is temporary, not the end of things.

At verse 11:2, the OSB also explains that “time, times and half a time” or “42 months” or “1260 days” is one-half of seven and symbolizes “what is not full or final but temporary, incomplete.”  The wings in v. 14 refer

to the original Exodus, as the flood [verse 15, sent by the dragon] may also be the threat of drowning in the Red Sea. However, Satan is unable to prevail.

The Jewish Church safely completes its exodus and is preserved during its apocalyptic period.  And the Church in general will be preserved: the gates of hell cannot prevail against her.

So what Ben-Judah interpreted so literally and minutely to refer to leading all the believers to Petra by land and air transport, where God will tend to them while Nicolae sends troops against them, was really just meant as an allegory to show that God will ultimately prevail in Satan’s attacks on the Church.

But somehow, Ben-Judah sees a specific place (Petra) and airplanes, helicopters, cars, etc. in these verses.

On page 15, somehow Buck and Chaim start reciting the Genesis passage in which God calls Moses to be his mouthpiece, with Buck as the voice of God and Chaim as Moses.  It’s a weird passage, with no justification I can see for why Chaim would be Moses.  It just seems to be a sudden conviction for the both of them.

But why Moses?  Where does it say in Revelations that some guy will be chosen to be Moses?  Moses was already reincarnated, his own self, as Moishe, one of the prophets at the Wailing Wall.

It seems rather presumptuous to presume that Chaim is Moses and this Genesis passage should apply to him, or that Buck should speak for God, or that Chaim should do miracles like Moses.

At the end of The Mark, we read that Chaim is supposed to “lead the remnant of Israel and additional tribulation saints to the promised land of safety” as “a latter-day Moses.”  The authors are really stretching here.

On pages 231 to 236 of The Mark, Tsion tells Chaim about his calling to be Moses and stand up to the Antichrist, that he’ll be provided manna, his clothes will not wear out, and God will protect him as he leads the people.

This takes the above-referenced Revelation passage to an extreme, and as usual, Tsion is strangely sure of something that is nowhere so explicitly laid out in the Bible.

He’s just stringing together passages that have nothing to do with each other, over something that’s meant to be allegorical.  On the one hand he’s taking that passage far too literally, but on the other hand not literally, because he’s adding all sorts of things to it.

The funny thing is, after Tsion and Buck have convinced Chaim that he’s Moses, we read on page 18, after Chaim has asked (like Moses) for somebody else to be sent, “But there was no Aaron.  Tsion was at the safe house, not having felt led to help in person.”

Easy excuse!  (“Sorry, I don’t feel God’s leading.  You have to do it, though it was my idea.”)

Then we read further: “The only other member of the Trib Force with Jewish blood, though he had grown up in Poland, was David Hassid, and he had his own special skills and assignment.”

Which may be true, but why does the “Moses” have to be Jewish?  And what does being Polish have to do with it?  Tsion just seems to be pulling stuff out of his butt lately.

On page 19 is more unintentional humor as David–probably referring to his laptop–tells Leah to pull over because he has a message from Tsion, one to send to Chang, and “It’s too hard with this thing bouncing in my lap.”  Excuse me, what’s too hard?

Hey–page 25 has another “Buck was struck”!  Haven’t seen those for a while.

On page 55, Hattie the whore-turned-annoying saint has now turned into a prophet, confronting the Antichrist in the same way any woman wants to confront the jerk who impregnated her, promised to marry her, and then tossed her aside like some clingy lady obsessed with marriage:

“Liars! Blasphemers!  Antichrist!  False Prophet! [etc. etc.]…Yours is the empty, vain tongue of the damned!”

And just like any man who doesn’t want to take responsibility for what he’s done, he has Fortunato point his finger at her, call down a fireball, and burn her to a crisp.

So much for any shippers who wanted Ray to be with Hattie now that both his wives are gone/dead and it wouldn’t be an affair.

On page 151-3, we find an interesting letter sent from Hannah Palemoon to David Hassid.  David has just lost his fiancée when she got burned to a crisp, so the relationship between them is just friendship, but a close friendship.

He decided to go one way while the group went another, but didn’t even mention it to her first; she wrote him an e-mail about it, then she anxiously awaited his reply….

I know how she feels, after being left out of so many things by a person I considered my best friend for several years, or, as Hannah put it, “My friend, my buddy, the one I assumed I would lean on, is gone, just like that.”

But David is a much better friend than mine, because he responds to her e-mail, and does it kindly, reassuring her of his friendship.  However, tragically, she gets the response after he’s already been killed by GC Peacekeepers.  This is a little subplot which got me anxiously turning pages to see what happened.

On page 162-4, Nicolae has allowed a new Jewish temple to be built–just so he can desecrate it by riding and then butchering a large pig right in the Holy of Holies, then flings blood at the altar.

The Slacktivites, or regular commenters on the Slacktivist’s Left Behind blogs, have mentioned and laughed about this scene many times, so now, finally, I can read it, in all its bloody grotesqueness.

On page 168, Nicolae–who has, of course, offended a mob of Orthodox Jews by desecrating their temple–is now facing a riotous, “mutinous multitude.”

But Chaim, who has taken on the new persona of “Micah” (an anagram) and the powers of Moses, tells the mob in his strangely stilted and melodramatic wording, “It is not the due time for the man of sin to face judgment, though it is clear he has been revealed!”

Of course not, because–as Slacktivist reminds us from time to time–it doesn’t fit with the prophecy.

We see more of this stilted language on page 245, when an angel says to Rayford, “Why are you so fearful?  How is it that you have no faith?  Be of good cheer!  Do not be afraid.”

It’s as if the authors (and many other authors as well) expect angels, prophets, etc. in modern times to speak in King James language, even though the language of the King James Bible fits the time in which the translation was written.

I would expect an angel in the 21st century to speak in the language of 21st century people so they can understand him more easily: “Why are you so afraid?  Why don’t you have faith?  Cheer up, and don’t be scared!”

On page 233, Tsion has written another missive to his Web flock, and he writes,

If you choose Christ, pray this prayer with me: Dear God, I am a sinner and separated from you.  I believe Jesus is the Messiah and that he died on the cross to pay for my sins.  I believe he rose again the third day and that by receiving his gift of love I will have the power to become a son of God because I believe on his name.  Thank you for hearing me and saving me, and I pledge the rest of my life to you.

But–but–where is the repentance of those sins, and asking for forgiveness of them?  As for Christ dying on the cross to pay for our sins–I won’t get into that, but the theology is not quite Orthodox.  I do, however, go into this subject in depth here.

On page 263, the seas have turned to blood, so now every “species of aquatic life” is dying.  So we have more death, even of innocent animals.  These books are an orgy of death!

On page 315, we have yet another scene of a believer, Chang this time, being snotty to unbelieving co-workers.  These scenes do get old after a while. What part of being a believer makes it okay to treat your fellow man like crap?

On page 324, Chaim pulls out an urn full of Hattie’s ashes, and gives it to Rayford for safekeeping, saying that he hopes to one day toss them into the wind from a high place at Petra, as “We do not worship the remains of those who go to God before us.”  This is obviously a dig against the Catholics and Orthodox, who venerate relics of saints.

On page 363, Chaim gets to do his Moses thing some more by prophesying and raising his arms as quail, manna and water are provided to the Christians at Petra, same as to the Israelites in the desert.

On page 365, as the Tribulation Force gathers to count its losses (Hattie and David), Rayford shows the urn and Hannah passes around David’s phone.  (She passes around his phone?  Why would she do that?  What, more phone worship?)

On page 366, Carpathia happily proclaims himself in a high-level meeting to be Anti-Jew.  On page 369, he describes what are, essentially, concentration camps for Jews found without the Mark.

But would the world actually stand for this?  Certain Middle Eastern countries would, but much of the world sees anti-semitism as evil, sees anything associated with the Nazis as evil.

On page 385, there is a little disagreement during a Trib Force meeting, between Chloe and Rayford.  We read, “Rayford looked to Buck, not wanting to be parental when Chloe’s husband was right there.”  Then Buck takes her hand and says, “Don’t talk yourself out of an interesting assignment.”

So–the men had to keep the unruly woman in line, the woman who had other opinions on what should happen, the woman who disagreed with the leader, and since her husband was there, he had the job to squelch his wife’s objections?  Otherwise Daddy had to do it, to a grown woman?  Ugh!

On page 405, Carpathia’s minions are about to wipe out all the believers at Petra.  We won’t find out what happens until the next book.

[11/2/11-11/16/11]

 

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