From The Cross in the End-Times
“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (Pet. 1:16)
One of the reasons that the main characters in the Left Behind books resemble the fictional characters Jack Ryan in a Tom Clancy spy thriller, Jason Bourne in a Robert Ludlum novel, or Dirk Pitt in a Clive Cussler adventure novel, more than the biblical characters of Gideon, Samuel, Elijah, or Daniel, for example, is that most of the supernatural fine details of the events of the last days are still locked safely within the mind of God. One of the reasons why the Left Behind book series volume number ten has people from all over the world inquiring about salvation using the very conventional means of connecting with internet councilors located in a computer command center in the ancient city of Petra, is that we currently cannot imagine all of the actual working out of the fine details of God’s upcoming end-times plans.
We cannot anticipate from our limited human perspective the supernatural biblical-style events like the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), or Peter’s preaching to the multitudes after the healing of the crippled man at the entrance to the Temple (Acts 3:12-26), or Stephen’s Spirit-anointed and thoroughly self-abandoned outreach in divine love to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:2-53). We cannot envision ahead of time the Holy Spirit being poured out upon Cornelius the Roman centurion and his Gentile friends (Acts 10:44-48), or the Holy Spirit being poured out upon “certain disciples” upon meeting Paul in Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7), or the Spirit utilizing intense persecution in Jerusalem to send out the first Christian missionaries “scattered abroad” to personally spread the gospel message according to Acts 8:4.
In my opinion, one of the reasons why the Left Behind books has its main characters courageously saving fellow believers out of danger all over the world using conventional, adventure-novel style methods is that we do not currently know all of God’s finely detailed plans yet. The reason why Lear jets, masterful disguises, and cleverly crafted rescue strategies are used in the Left Behind books rather than the supernatural biblical storylines of an angel rescuing Peter out of prison in the middle of the night (Acts 12:5-19), or Jesus standing beside the three young Hebrews in the fiery furnace (Dan. 3:25), or God protecting Daniel in the lion’s den (Dan. 6:23), is that we do not know all of God’s specific higher ways yet as applied to the end-times tribulation period.
Attempting to recreate the entire end-times tribulation storyline using biblical prophecy with added fiction to fill-in the missing details is a difficult task in a book series like Left Behind. The seven-year tribulation will be filled with supernatural events beyond our current imagination, and beyond what can be revealed in great detail within the scope and broad outlines of the biblical end-times prophecies so far.
Accurately depicting the upcoming tribulation events ahead-of-time would be like trying to fictionalize beforehand the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt while Moses is walking with Aaron toward Egypt prior to their first confrontation with Pharaoh. The only person in existence at that precise moment who knew in detail what lay ahead in terms of the required supernatural, upcoming events in Egypt was God. Worldly conventional storylines filled with adventure-novel suspense, and larger-than-life fictional characters, are used by necessity and by default in the Left Behind book series, because of everyone’s current ignorance of God’s upcoming very specific and exhaustively detailed supernatural intentions.
No one but God knew in advance about God’s creative military strategy for Gideon to defeat the invading Midianites. No one except God knew far in advance about God’s creative idea for Joshua to bring down the walls of Jericho. No one knew until that very moment that God would honor Joshua’s request to temporarily hold back the sun’s progress across the sky until the army of Israel could defeat the enemy. No one but God knew, far out in advance, that God could provide fresh drinking water out of barren rocks in the desert, or provide manna from heaven for the sustenance of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years.
No one knew weeks or months beforehand that God would part the Red Sea. No one knew beforehand that the Son of God, along with two angels, would pay a personal visit to Abraham and Sarah to announce to them the upcoming conception of their son Isaac. No one had the slightest idea in advance, other than God, that someone like Joseph of Arimathaea would unexpectedly approach Pilate regarding the disposition of the dead body of Jesus. No one understood beforehand, except possibly John the Baptist (Jn. 1:29), or Simeon and Anna in the Temple (Lk. 2:25-38), that salvation would come to mankind through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God through a partial-only first-advent fulfillment of the messianic prophecies, that would divide, separate, and offend a large portion of the Jews at that time.
Absolutely no one understood the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ ahead of time, as evidenced by the actions of everyone around Jesus. Even with all of the Old Testament messianic prophecies so clear to us today in hindsight…the ancient Jewish practice of blood atonement for sin…and the straightforward disclosure of Jesus to the disciples of His upcoming death and resurrection weeks ahead of time, no one at the time understood the divinely creative novelty of the cross and the resurrection until after the actual events transpired. This should at the least give us pause as we consider the enterprise of attempting to construct an end-times scenario of events from start to finish.