ARTICLE:Left Behind and Right Ahead
Published on Thursday March 2, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
Left Behind and Right Ahead
by Karen Horst Cobb
The four horseman of the apocalypse are fast approaching. Recently I heard a radio interview with Tim LaHaye (one of the authors of the wildly popular Left Behind series - LaHaye & Jenkins ) In their books the authors define details of end times theology which seems to have an influence on many on the Christian Right. Lis Winstead & Rachel Meddow on the Air America radio program Unfiltered, invited Mr. La Haye to present his views and to talk about his popular novels. Although the hosts and the guests hold very differing world views the interview was respectful and informative on both sides. I listened intently since I am trying to be a follower of the teachings of Christ. I want to understand what is happening to the Church today.
One of the things which Mr. LaHaye said sparked my thinking about the characteristics of the long anticipated and prophesied antichrist. LaHaye said that , in his latest book, the nature of the antichrist is further revealed. He explained that he is using the account of the temptations of Christ in the desert as a test which the antichrist fails. He suggested this is a model for how the antichrist makes his motivations clear to the reader by accepting the deals presented by the devil , the deals which Jesus refused. I remember much about this account but as a result of this interesting and insightful criteria for identifying evil in the world I went back and looked at the essence of the test. The account is in Matthew 4 and as I meditate on this passage I also am reminded of Ephesians 6:12 where I read that “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” So I wanted to look again at the temptations Christ faced in the desert so I can understand what contract the powerful “evil -doer “ signs with the devil. When Jesus took this test he was physically at his weakest (as he had not eaten for forty days), he was without human support (alone in the desert) and was vulnerable to the elements (no home or city walls). So, he was hungry, alone, and unprotected. Below are the 3 basic test questions presented to Christ and (according to LaHaye ) the coming or residing evil ruler of the world empire.
Test to Rule the World
1. Will you use your power to get the resources you need to survive even though they are not in your Environment ? The Devil said prove your power by turning stones into bread to save yourself.
2. Will you use your power to protect yourself from painful traumatic death even though you engage in risky behavior ? The Devil said prove your power by jumping off this cliff
3. Will you compromise your dependency on God’s promises and His love in exchange for a chance to rule the world ? The Devil said worship my worldly power and govern an empire.
Of course we know Jesus passed the test with flying colors. His faith in God was greater than his human needs and the love of the living God cast out the fear of his temporary human condition. So, now I can look for clues as to who is a follower of Christ and who is governed by the powers of darkness as I evaluate the current and emerging world powers and apply this test.
It is clear that in the past 2005 years the forces which dominate our planet have not changed at all. Rulers today seek resources which are not in their natural environments to offset their discomfort and to assure their survival instead of trusting in Divine guidance to meet their needs. We know from the example of God’s care for the Israelites wandering in the desert that the living God is capable of serving a feast of manna when bread is not available. Today governments stockpile grain from various locations and divert water to make deserts into fertile fields while their neighbor’s gardens wither in the parching sun. Worldly leaders import the fuel to bake the bread and eke out oil to transport it so they will never experience the discomfort of hunger.
Rulers today travel into unfriendly environments and maintain foreign policies which logically result in their citizens being attacked in retaliation by angry hordes. They seek dangerous powers of weapons of mass destruction and the technology to harness the complicated powers of nature to dominate and control. They strive to show off their superiority. They demonstrate their powers by rising high in sky from the outermost regions of the known universe and desperately seek to go beyond so that the power of mans knowledge can rain down on command to destroy those who stand in the way or threaten their dominance.
The most powerful rulers today appear to have made the deal with the devil to rule the world. There have been discussions across the globe about the need for one world government and the establishment of a global empire. Various leaders utilize the fundamentals of exclusive religious practices to justify theocracies which dominate and control others. They manipulate their populations making it look like they rule with the mantle of God. They all preach the gospel of nationalism and speak of the Motherland, or the Homeland, or the Promised land as well as many other expressions of superiority and separateness. They arrogantly proclaim they are empowered by God Himself to rule the world.
So who will be left behind and what is right ahead? The followers of the example and teachings of Christ may not all agree on end time events. There are those who believe the righteous will be gathered up in the loving arms of the living God before the darkest days and there are those who believe that the righteous will be gathered up after demonstrating Divine love during great suffering and others know that God often uses the simple to confound the wise.
Some remember that the ways of the Divine are far above the ways of man. They remember that a child shall lead them to the peaceful kingdom. As I try to understand the end of time prophesies and to watch for the signs of the closing of this global chapter of eternity, I look to the wisdom of Christ when He was presented with this three questioned test proctored by the destroyer of love. I am determined to be gathered up in the arms of the living God no matter how and when the tribulations come. It seems obvious that it is not the rightness of our logic, or the qualities of our moral values, but the completeness with which we love the living God, our next door neighbors and those around the globe that impacts the world. This is what honors the Creator and His creation. I will remember the temptations of Christ as I hear other people’s ideas about who will be left behind and observe what is right ahead.
Karen Horst Cobb is a writer, artist, and public speaker addressing issues of peace, social Justice and the environment. She has a MA in Counseling and lives in rural New Mexico mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was recently published on the Every Church a Peace Church website.