Glorious Appearing by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 1414335016, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:
A plot summary is here.
My first point is on page 149 because there isn’t a whole lot that actually happens in this book. You’d think that nearly 400 pages of the climax and conclusion of this loooong series would be exciting, especially coming as they are at the time of Armageddon and Christ’s second Second Coming (that is not a typo)–but they’re not.
On page 190, for example, we’re still waiting for Jesus to arrive in the sky–and nothing much else is happening except for waiting and occasional skirmishes with the armies of the Antichrist.
Anyway, on to page 149. The skies are full of supernatural lightning, as one of the Tribulation Forcers, Enoch in Illinois, worships and enjoys “The awful and terrible wrath of the Lord on display for the whole world!”
Er–What about calling it the wonderful deliverance of God’s vastly outnumbered people, about to get slaughtered? Does everything have to be about wrath with these writers?
On page 178 is more of the same idea of God hardening the hearts of the “evil” people who refuse to repent despite all the many Tribulation events that are obviously the battle between God and Satan.
While I can see the writers’ point, I still have trouble with the idea that even if the unbelievers do change their minds, they can’t repent and become Christians, even though they haven’t even died yet.
Usually, doctrine says you can repent up until you die–or, in some doctrines (what I’ve seen in Orthodox and Catholic doctrines and theological opinions), after you die. If it’s possible to repent even in Hades, then you should still be able to repent even up until Armageddon.
On page 191, Chaim says that,
I do not believe the Son of God is going to sit on His horse in the clouds with a gigantic sword hanging from His mouth. He is not going to shake His head and slay the millions of Armageddon troops with it. This is clearly a symbolic reference.
Oh, sure, with all the other unbelievable stuff you insist is literal, that is obviously symbolic!
Finally, after 202 pages of waiting and waiting and waiting and slowly moving and very little actually happening (other than people constantly wondering when Jesus is coming), Jesus finally arrives! And the gorefest begins!
Page 204–gore. Page 205–gore. Page 208–gore. Page 210–gore.
Basically, wherever this Jesus goes, Unity Army (Antichrist) soldiers just fall dead, “their bodies ripped open, blood pooling in great masses.” Or their skin dissolves. Horses die, too, and birds eat their fill.
As Susan R. Garrett writes in What Do Presbyterians Believe About Evil?:
In the final volume of the Left Behind series all the vengeance envisioned in the later chapters of Revelation is carried out. Here LaHaye and Jenkins understand divine power as just like worldly power, only more so.
“Power” in their view means fire-power, the power to destroy. So, at his glorious appearing Jesus slays millions of non-Christian storm troopers by the sheer power of a spoken word, and then causes their bodies to be instantly decomposed.
This is an image of Jesus wielding the power of death. But it is a false and idolatrous image.
God’s power is not the power of death, for death is “the last enemy,” which will itself be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26).
God’s power is the power to create, the power to endure, the power to forgive, the power to love. God’s power is resurrection power. It is the power of life.
Such power, freely given, is God’s answer to the problem of evil, until that great day when all creation is set free from its bondage.
Then Jesus begins speaking to the Christians, each person hearing his own name spoken simultaneously. In an odd and clueless juxtaposition, we read on page 212, “Rayford sat in the middle of the carnage surrounding Petra, his heart bursting, the love and adoration he felt for Jesus coming right back at him from the clouds.”
Wait–in the middle of carnage? Then in the middle of Jesus speaking to everyone, Rayford slides to the ground and repeats, “I am so unworthy…Unworthy, unworthy!”
Pages 213 and 244 are full of what an ungodly (pardon the pun) amount of the whole book is full of: clipping and pasting Bible verses and sticking them in the mouth of Christ (or others, on occasion).
It really feels like Jenkins had 400 pages to fill and only a tiny amount of plot, so he just started throwing in verses from the Bible to pad it. These scenes also seem very corny.
Then on we go with more carnage and gore, things like entrails and innards gushing to the desert floor, Carpathia and Leon driving a Humvee that gets “bogged down in a reddish brown mud” and Leon having to get out into a sea of blood to push the Humvee out.
Pages of gore: 225-9, 239, 247, 249, 250, 252, 253, 254-6, 258, 273, 274, 278-9, 286….
Can we say, gratuitous?
Pages 275-276 are words in Jesus’ mouth which are clipped and pasted from Isaiah 40 and Zechariah 14. So this is where the gorefest comes from, including the flesh dissolving–
But are we really supposed to take this so literally? Couldn’t this be metaphorical imagery used to demonstrate the power of God over his enemies, written in a more barbaric age?
On page 278, Enoch, in a neighborhood in Illinois, goes through an earthquake and “heard Carpathia loyalists screaming for their lives.”
So–didn’t he go do anything to help them? Or did he just let them die? There is no indication that he does a thing.
On page 323, we read, “Jesus had told [Chang] that He was there when Chang was born, when he was raised in a godless home and an aberrant religion.”
I’m having trouble figuring out what “aberrant religion” Chang was raised in; it does not seem to be named, at least that I can remember over all these books, or find on the Net. Just that it’s not Christian.
But in any case, that statement of a “godless home” and “an aberrant religion” is not only contradictory, but insulting to Chang’s family’s religion.
On pages 331 to 337, we see the new world with Christ now in charge. The weather is “hot, clear, refreshing, as if they were breathing new air.” The trees and bushes are “suddenly full and healthy.” Everyone can speak his own language while understanding each other.
Since all the evil people of Jerusalem and Israel are dead and gone, the million righteous survivors can live in their houses.
All animals are docile, and fat cows and sheep happily line up to be butchered for delicious meat. The groves and even the city trees are full of fresh fruits and vegetables which just fall off the trees. Yes, that appears to include vegetables falling off city trees.
As soon as the produce falls and is gathered, the branches ripen again.
Money is no longer needed. It’s bright day and night–which I expect would suck when you’re trying to sleep, or want to get out of the glare.
All damage and residue from the earthquakes has vanished, leaving a clean, safe city. Even the houses are clean and orderly, “as if a cleaning crew had swept through the entire place.”
And when people say grace before a meal, Jesus answers each of them “audibly and immediately and personally” in their heads.
No flies bug the food as they stop to listen and worship while Jesus keeps talking, which in normal circumstances would make everyone impatient to eat. But for them, hunger can wait, and the food retains its heat.
On pages 351 to 352, the character Eleazar explains that during the Millennium, “anyone born during the Millennium who does not trust in Christ by the time he or she is a hundred years old will be accursed and die.” While believers get to live all the way through to the end of the Millennium.
While the quoted passage (Isaiah 65:17-25) does talk about long life for the righteous, it does not specifically say that unbelievers will die at age 100. Nor does it say that all righteous will live to the end of the Millennium.
Heck, it doesn’t even necessarily fit into the premillennialist doctrine of the Millennium, or 1000 years of a literal reign by Christ on Earth before the Judgment.
The passage says this is a “new heaven and a new earth,” or rather, a purified, glorified earth. This comes at the end of time–as we see in Revelation 21, it’s after the Great White Throne Judgment.
The Orthodox Study Bible connects the Isaiah passage to Revelation 21. So the references to people living long, babies, people dying, must be metaphorical, because after the Judgment, no one dies or is born or ages.
But LaHaye and Jenkins yank out of this hard-to-understand passage the concept that you have until age 100 to decide to “trust in Christ,” and if you don’t, you die; if you do, you live to the end of the Millennium, up to 1000 years.
You’re just making this up! It just gets so unbelievable as the authors describe it, that the Isaiah passage must be meant metaphorically. Especially since, in Isaiah’s day, Christ had not yet come to Earth, so he would not have been referring specifically to Christians!
An interesting aside on Isaiah 66:24, which is about the continual burning of the bodies of the wicked, and the righteous looking upon them, after all wickedness is finally defeated:
The Talmudists (t) observe from hence, that the wicked, even at the gate of hell, return not by repentance; for it is not said, that “have transgressed”, but “that transgress”; for they transgress, and go on for ever; and so indeed the word may be rendered, “that transgress”, or “are transgressing” (u); for they interpret it of the damned in hell, as many do; and of whom the following clauses may be understood:
for their worm shall not die; with which their carcasses shall be covered, they lying rotting above ground; or figuratively their consciences, and the horrors and terrors that shall seize them, which they will never get rid of. The Targum is,
“their souls shall not die;”
as they will not, though their bodies may; but will remain to suffer the wrath of God to all eternity: neither shall their fire be quenched; in hell, as Jarchi interprets it; those wicked men, the followers and worshippers of antichrist, will be cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; they will for ever suffer the vengeance of eternal fire; and the smoke of their torment shall ascend for ever and ever, Revelation 14:10,
and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh; the true worshippers of God, Isaiah 66:23 to whom their carcasses will be loathsome, when they look upon them; and their souls abominable, because of their wicked actions; and who cannot but applaud the justice of God in their condemnation; and admire distinguishing grace and mercy, that has preserved them from the like ruin and destruction. The Targum is,
“and the ungodly shall be judged in hell, till the righteous shall say concerning them, we have seen enough;” —Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
From what I understand, the Targum was an oral explanation of the Torah given by rabbis in ancient times, to help the people understand the Torah better.
So–according to the Targum, the punishment goes on because the wicked never stop sinning, yet this eternal punishment only lasts until the righteous ask for it to end?