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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
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*        = Good, with reservations



by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

Reviewed August 1, 2002.
Tyndale House Publishers, 2001.  407 pages.  Available at Sembach Library (F LAH).

I know, I’m a book behind on this series.  Yes, we do have the newest book, The Remnant, at the library.  I usually wait to read the next installment until the demand has gone down a bit.

I’m not crazy about the writing style of these books.  I’ve decided that their weakness is the biggest when it comes to interpersonal relationships between the characters.  Characters tend to go on for pages agonizing over decisions or over the reactions of their friends.

However, these books are excellent when it comes to action, and the story crafting is excellent.  Once I pick one up, it’s extremely hard to stop reading until I’m done.  I don’t like cliff-hanger endings for books, but I can see why everyone is eager to get their hands on the next installment.

I like it very much that these books are fiction.  I firmly believe that what the Bible describes in Revelation is going to happen.  However, I do not think it was written so that we could make charts explaining when and how all of this would take place.  I think the point was to tell us who wins--God.  Also, when it does happen, people will recognize that this is what the Bible was talking about.  I don’t think it was written to tell us ahead of time so much as to let people recognize it when they see it.

So I like it that these are written as fiction.  The authors aren’t saying, “Here is what will happen.”  They are saying, “Here is one story that might happen.”  Isn’t the province of fiction to ask the question, “What if?”  These do that beautifully.

I do think it’s wonderful that this series is bringing the teachings of the Bible to the attention of thousands of people who would not be interested otherwise.  A lot of people have vague ideas about what Revelation teaches, thinking it’s just describing a big destruction of the world at the end of all things.  While I hope that no one thinks that the scenario in the “Left Behind” series is the only one that fits what the Bible says (There are lots of different interpretations among Christians.), if readers do some day live to see these things happening, I hope that they will take note and take a closer look at the Scriptures.

In the 70s, author Salem Kirban wrote a book called 666 that was a novelization of the Tribulation.  And of course I saw the film “A Thief in the Night.”  It’s amazing to me how much easier it is to imagine the events of Revelation happening now, in the age of the Internet and in a time of a united Europe.  Very interesting.

One thing I like about this new series is that in those other presentations, no one ever talked about fighting back.  I assumed that if you were a believer during the Tribulation, you could hide but the enemy would be sure to find you, and you were destined for a bloody death.  They’ve added an interesting twist to these stories by putting someone undercover in the enemy’s camp.  The result reads like a suspenseful spy novel.

I never thought before about how long a period of time seven years is.  Some of the clearest predictions, like everyone having to take the “Mark of the Beast” on his right hand or his forehead, won’t even happen until the last half of the seven-year period.  (Or at least, that’s how it appears.)

I definitely have some quibbles with the series.  One is that I think that Salem Kirban made a lot more sense when he took the amazing locusts “with faces like human faces” described by John to be men in armor, with helmets.  The tails that harm people could so easily be guns.  It seems pretty clear that something roaring like thousands of horses going into battle is probably a motor.  John, the one who saw these visions, had never seen modern technology.  How else would he describe it?  So I thought the authors choosing to describe them as literal bugs to be a bit silly.

Also, they have some prophets speaking in Hebrew, but everyone can hear them speaking in their own language--Only the Americans hear King James English!  I thought that was silly, too.  They seemed to move away from that approach in this book.  This time when people spoke Scripture, they used modern translations.  I’m glad they changed that, since it was distracting.

Another thing I liked about this book, is that I’d never quite understood the chapter in Revelation about the woman who gives birth to a child and then hides in the desert from the beast.  This interpretation--that believers from Israel will be given a place of refuge from the Antichrist--made a lot of sense.  Even given that framework, they made it very exciting to see how it would play out.

Maybe I’ll have to put The Remnant on hold after all.

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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