NRA: God Bless You, Dr. Rosenzweig

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 139-141

Buck Williams and his charter pilot land safely inside of one of the contradictions in Tim LaHaye’s “Bible prophecy.”

“Don’t worry about me, buddy boy,” Ken Ritz told Buck as he helped him off the Learjet. “I’ll hangar this baby and find a place to crash for a few days. I’ve always wanted to tour this country, and it’s nice to be in a place that hasn’t been blown to bits.”

LaHaye’s prophecy scheme tells us that after the Rapture of all real, true Christians, the Great Tribulation begins. During this final seven-year period, the Antichrist will rule over the world as the all-powerful dictator of an all-encompassing one-world government.

LaHaye’s prophecy also tells us that the first thing this Antichrist will do as head of the OWG is sign a peace treaty with the nation of Israel.

See the problem here? LaHaye doesn’t. He’s told us that the Antichrist will rule over every single nation on Earth, sweeping aside all former national boundaries and sovereignties to create a single, global empire.

Except somehow Israel isn’t included. So the Antichrist’s global empire is apparently like the old Los Angeles Country Club.

Nicolae Carpathia’s not-quite global one-world government (gray).

This is the sort of problem that comes from taking a bunch of verses from Daniel and a bunch of verses from Revelation and pretending they’re all about the same thing — a prediction of a future empire that has nothing to do with the Seleucid or Roman contexts that the authors of those books were writing about.

LaHaye’s strategy for dealing with this contradiction is to ignore it and hope no one notices. That means poor Jerry Jenkins has to ignore it too in his attempt to type up a fictional depiction of the fulfillment of these “prophecies.”

Jenkins slips up a bit here, shining a spotlight on this contradiction with Ken Ritz’s comment that “it’s nice to be in a place that hasn’t been blown to bits.” At this point in the story, the Antichrist has been wantonly bombing major cities throughout his OWG — destroying London, New York, Washington, Chicago, Dallas, Toronto, Mexico City, Cairo, etc., and raining death down on millions of his subjects. Israel thus becomes the only safe haven in the world. The place ought to be swarming with refugees.

But then, inexplicably, Nicolae Carpathia’s sudden war against his own empire hasn’t produced any refugees anywhere. Buck and Ken began their journey in Milwaukee — a city one would expect to have been flooded by refugees from the war zone in Chicago. Yet the nuclear destruction of Chicago doesn’t seem to have altered the daily routine of life in Milwaukee at all. The destruction of O’Hare International Airport in Chicago didn’t even disrupt flight schedules in or out of Milwaukee.

The destruction of Chicago doesn’t seem to have resulted in refugees even in Cicero or Evanston or Oak Lawn or any of the other adjoining cities and towns — all of which are miraculously unscathed and unperturbed.

Pause to think about things like that for too long and you’ll never be able to keep reading. It’s too huge. The whole story — and the whole alleged “prophecy” depicted by the story — collapses under the weight of such vast, weird impossibilities. So let’s not pause too long. Let’s just say again, quickly, “Just go with it” and race ahead to the next bit.

Unfortunately, Jerry Jenkins isn’t going to allow us to race ahead just yet. The rest of this chapter turns out to be a review of prophecy/plot points from the first two books.

Buck thanked him and grabbed his bag, slinging it over his shoulder. He headed toward the terminal. There, beyond the plate-glass window, he saw the enthusiastic wave of the wispy little old man with the flyaway hair, Chaim Rosenzweig. How he wanted this man to become a believer! Buck had come to love Chaim. That was not an expression he would have used about the other man back when he first met the scientist. It had been only a few years, but it seemed so long ago.

This is where, if this were a 1980s TV series, the screen would go all wavy and we’d hear Buck in voice-over saying, dreamily, “I remember it like it was yesterday …” The two-fold purpose of the next seven pages is the same as those old TV flashbacks: 1) To remind viewers/readers of what happened previously in the series, and 2) To cut expense/effort by recycling old clips instead of filming/writing new material.

Buck had been the youngest senior writer in the history of Global Weekly — in fact, in the history of international journalism. He had unabashedly campaigned for the job of profiling Dr. Rosenzweig as the Weekly’s “Man of the Year.”

I feel a little sorry for Buck here, congratulating himself on his “historic” designation as a senior writer. What this designation actually meant was that Stanton Bailey realized he could save some overtime expense by switching Buck from an hourly employee to an exempt, salaried staff-member. Bailey guessed, correctly, that this little ladder-climber would be so intoxicated by the new title that he wouldn’t even realize it meant longer hours for less pay. “Good news, Williams! We’re making you a senior writer — the youngest senior writer the magazine has ever had.” The kid bought it hook, line and sinker.

Buck had first met the man a little more than a year before that assignment, after Rosenzweig had won a huge international prize for his invention (Chaim himself always called it more of a discovery) of a botanic formula. Rosenzweig’s concoction, some said without much exaggeration, allowed flora to grow anywhere — even on concrete.

The latter had never been proven; however, the desert sands of Israel soon began to blossom like a greenhouse. Flowers, corn, beans, you name it, every spare inch of the tiny nation was quickly cleared for agriculture. Overnight, Israel had become the richest nation in the world.

We covered this back in the first chapter of the first book — the strangeness of imagining that agriculture was the path to becoming “the richest nation in the world” (see “Weird Science” — from October of omigod 2003). Among the many things Jenkins hasn’t considered here is the difference between growing, say, corn, and growing “flowers.” He seems to assume that everything can be harvested by machine — like in that retrofuturist robot-farm diorama in Disney’s World of Tomorrow. That overlooks the vast army of farmworkers this plan would require to harvest things like flowers, tomatoes, strawberries, etc.

Although Israel’s sudden, massive need for such labor might help to account for another puzzling, impossible-seeming assertion from this section back in the first book, the authors’ matter-of-fact, unexplained and unsupported statement that:

The prosperity brought about by the miracle formula changed the course of history for Israel. Flush with cash and resources, Israel made peace with her neighbors.

And by “made peace with,” the authors actually mean “annexed and absorbed,” since we’re told that — thanks entirely to Rosenzweig’s miracle formula — the nation of Israel has expanded to include what in the actual world is the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and parts of Iraq.

The unreality of this whole bit regarding Chaim Rosenzweig’s miracle formula comes from the backwards process of Jenkins’ project here. He’s not trying to tell a story, but to depict the fulfillment of a prophecy. Thus instead of asking the storyteller’s question — “What happens next?” — he starts with that answer and works backwards.

This miracle formula is a potentially interesting idea. A capable science fiction writer could start with that idea and extrapolate the kind of new world that would develop from such a premise — complete with the conflicts, and thus the stories, that this new world would bring. But that’s not how Jenkins approaches any of this. He’s starting with a bunch of texts describing prosperity in an ancient, agrarian society, and treats those texts as predictive prophecies about the future. He’s not at all curious about imagining the ramifications of Rosenzweig’s formula, or how such a thing would change and reshape the actual world. He just wants to check off another box on LaHaye’s prophecy check list.

“Desert blooms.” Check. “Magog” and Ethiopia invade without effect. Check.

That second one is pieced together from bits of Ezekiel. This is inserted into the “prophecy” from Revelation based on the dispensationalist hermeneutic principle of “Hey, what the heck, why not throw in something from Ezekiel?”

The book of Ezekiel’s reference to “Magog” is a bit obscure, but since it’s said to be north of Israel, and since it begins with an M, “Bible prophecy scholars” during the Cold War decided it meant Moscow — about which more in a moment.

Other nations had been jealous to get hold of the formula. Clearly, this was the answer to any economic woes. Israel had gone from vulnerable, geographically defenseless country to a world power — respected, feared, envied.

Respected, feared and envied seem to be presented there as synonyms. Or perhaps “feared” and “envied” are presented as the authors’ definition of what it means to be “respected.” This is helpful for understanding Tim LaHaye’s political ideology. And probably also for understanding his idea of pastoral leadership.

Other nations wanted Rosenzweig’s formula so badly that they assigned high-level diplomats and politicians to court him. He acceded to audiences from so many dignitaries that his life’s work had to be set aside. He was past retirement age anyway, but clearly here was a man more comfortable in a laboratory or a classroom than in a diplomatic setting. The darling of Israel had become the icon of world governments, and they all came calling.

Chaim had told Buck at one point that each suitor had his own not-so-hidden agenda. “I did my best to remain calm and diplomatic,” he told Buck, “but only because I was representing my mother country. I grew almost physically ill,” he added with his charming Hebrew-accented dialect, “when each began trying to persuade me that I would personally become the wealthiest man in the world if I would condescend to rent them my formula.”

That’s an odd use of “condescend” there, ignoring the usual negative connotations of hauteur associated with the word. We usually think of someone being “condescending” when they presume a kind of intrinsic superiority for themselves and thus an equivalent inferiority for others. Like, for example, when an American writer describes an Israeli character as speaking in a “charming Hebrew-accented dialect.”

The Israeli government was even more protective of the formula. They made it so clear that the formula was not for sale or rent that other countries threatened war over it, and Russia actually attacked. Buck had been in Haifa the night the warplanes came screaming in.

But if you remember the scene from back in the first book, it wasn’t only Russia that attacked. As per the arbitrarily chosen “prophecy” of Ezekiel 38, Gog and Magog are not acting alone: “Persia, Ethiopia and Put are with them.” So LaHaye’s prophecy, duly depicted by Jenkins, gives us a Russian-Ethiopian joint attack.

And here, in this flashback-summary, we’re told explicitly that this attack was sparked by Israel’s refusal to allow other nations to benefit from Rosenzweig’s formula — not for any price.

So, then, on the one hand we have Ethiopia, a nation chronically ravaged by famine. And on the other hand we have Rosenzweig’s Israel, a nation blessed with miraculous agricultural fertility that it refuses to share or even to sell to people dying of starvation. But we’re supposed to regard Ethiopia as the unambiguous villain in that scenario.

Buck’s current flashback recalls more details of his earlier flashback to the explicit divine intervention that spared Israel from any harm despite the exhaustion of Russia’s entire nuclear arsenal in its attack.

The miraculous delivery of that country from any damage, injury, or death — despite the incredible aerial assault — made Buck a believer in God, though not yet in Christ. There was no other explanation for bombs, missiles, and warships crashing and burning all over the nation, yet every citizen and building escaped unscathed.

It’s not obvious to me why the authors say there, “though not yet in Christ.” Buck’s newfound faith is the result of experiencing an epic, undeniable supernatural act by the God of Israel in defense of Israel. That shouldn’t have set him on a path toward Christianity, it should have made him a resolute convert to Judaism.


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LBCF, No. 181: ‘Meet the Steeles’

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  • aunursa

    Chaim “was past retirement age anyway,”

    Rosenzweig’s age is never explicitly stated. Although he is described as “elderly” one year prior to Book #1. Yet he is only “late sixties” at the beginning of Book 10, (4 1/2 years later) and “early seventies” at the beginning of Book #11 (7 years later). If we assign him the age of 69 at the beginning of Book #10, then he would be about 67 in Book #3. So to Jerry Jenkins, 64 is “elderly” and 67 is “past retirement age.”

  • “He’s not trying to tell a story, but to depict the fulfillment of a
    prophecy. Thus instead of asking the storyteller’s question — “What
    happens next?” — he starts with that answer and works backwards.”

    This is another way Sara Douglass tells this story so much better in the Wayfairer Redemption series. She admitted that she wrote the story first, then The Prophecy that binds the initial story together. She skips the Rapture, the only people lucky enough to escape the Tribulation are the ones who died in the past. Of course she actually skips the Christianity part of the Armageddon tale, but you can definitely feel at times how that story gets its inspiration from this premillenial dispensationalist formula.

    I also think Jenkins meant Chaim to say that should he consent to rent out his formula, not condescend. With the void of Christian sexual ethics Fred often points out though, it’s easy to see why he would get the two confused.

  • Dogfacedboy

    I sometimes write like that, too, when I’ve been drinking.


    Just spotted this. :)

  • Will Hennessy

    “Don’t worry about me, Buddy Boy…”

    I assure you, Ken. Buck was not in the least worried about you.

    Also, I for one am glad that Jenkins does these little flashbacks to points we read every time a character who is not an author-surrogate shows up (so like a billion times now). And it’s a good thing nothing else was going on in the story so we have the time.

  • There’s a terrible movie called The Omega Code with Casper Van Dien and this guy who’s the bad guy in a lot of 80’s TV. That’s the Anti-Christ’s evil plan, he’s the developer of the water desalinization plants that provide water to every nation on Earth. Then HE RULES THE WORLD!!!! Gets shot in the head and resurrects. TurboJesus makes an appearance, IIRC, it’s been years. I had knew about these books, but never read them. This movie was eerily similar to them though, a complete rip-off. The movie was better though, but this is WAY more entertaining.

  • reynard61

    I thought it was because he was a fbucking idiot.

  • This was discussed in the comments at the time this was introduced to the story, the fact that the ONLY way for Israel to get rich off the formula WAS to license it.

  • I like how you skip MOST the Bush years. ;^D

  • Anton_Mates

    You know, like Joan Rivers.

  • Then you could harvest the kudzu to refine into ethanol to supply your army.

  • arghous

    But where does the butter come from? From cows (or perhaps goats). And bees. You can’t have a land flowing with milk and honey without them, now can you? So they better cut back on the zuchinis.

  • Deborah Moore

    Except for their concept of bombing, which is stuck in WWII and has not fully assimilated what nuclear weapons mean. (I have mentioned this before, but LaHaye was apparently a bomber pilot in WWII, so I can only assume the wildly inaccurate descriptions of nuclear war is based on his experiences in conventional bombing).

  • P J Evans

    I don’t know how they’re going to be growing all this stuff in a desert, without getting a lot of water from *somewhere*. (One of my uncles grew corn a couple of times. He said it needs three things to do well: water, water, and water.)

  • “I’ll hangar this baby and find a place to crash for a few days. I’ve
    always wanted to tour this country, and it’s nice to be in a place that
    hasn’t been blown to bits.”

    You know, this could almost qualify as actually acknowledging that the world kind of went through a minor little thing called a nuclear war.

    But it just doesn’t feel real, in the same way as another story I once read, a professor in it casually talked of going on sabbatical only four months after a terrible nuclear conflict wiped out the Eastern Seaboard.

  • This part also shows how TERRIBLE Jenkins is at foreshadowing. He thinks he’s being coy, having Buck declare his desire to save Chaim, but in actuality he’s just telegraphing what will happen, especially by spending this moment in a huge info dump about Chaim, immediately afterward.

  • Deborah Moore

    Maybe he invented a special formula that lets plants grow without water.

  • P J Evans

    I’d donate some ‘weed from hell’. (it’s some kind of knotweed, I think. It was beating out *English ivy* at one place I lived.)

  • I have to ask, cuz I’ve seen it SO MANY TIMES, but is this actually a THING? Like where they confront over her shoes? Cuz I need to go lie down if that’s true.

  • P J Evans

    Maybe he thinks ‘retirement age’ is 55.

  • arghous

    The ol’ russkies were actually pretty clever. On the race to thermonuclear weapons, they briefly lept ahead of the U.S. When U.S. scientists got atmospheric data back from that test, they did a collective “Doh! Lithium!” head-slap at how they never considered that.

  • reynard61

    Am I the only one who thinks that this may have been how the Krynoid got it’s start?

    “The Krynoid Salad Bar! Eat it before it eats you!”

  • Deborah Moore

    Look I know this has been pointed out before, but if you are trying to get ahold of a country’s super secret formula, dumping your entire nuclear arsenal on the country and reducing it to radioactive glass is about the worst possible way to get it. It would make more sense if you had gotten the formula and wanted to ensure that no one else got it.

  • Flying Squid wtih Goggles

    Or a machine gunner on a bomber, according to Wikipedia. Either way, you’d think he would have noticed the advent of the nuclear age.

  • Once they used the Star Trek Genesis bomb on Israel it was supposed to spread over the world. All the back breaking labor is in preventing it from spreading. That is why Nikki blew everything up. OK. Maybe not.

  • colleeniem

    I have de-lurked (after years of lurking and reading and re-reading!) to say.
    Brilliant title, Mr. Clark.

  • banancat

    I understood how he was using it, but he still shouldn’t have used it that way. Language changes, and most people do not use the word in that sense anymore, especially his audience. And as a writer, his first job is to know his audience. Even if it’s technically correct according to a dictionary, it’s not good writing to use it in that way unless he intended to make it stand out for some purpose.

  • hidden_urchin

    How did I miss that the first time? It was really compelling and you should definitely consider returning to it, if you are so inclined.

  • fraser

    And if only it had some way to make itself respected and feared besides a kick-ass military, lots of funding and Mossad.

  • Buck and Chloe confront Verna about being a lesbian (and ultimately blackmail her). Jerry Jenkins “foreshadowed” Vern’a evil lesbian ways by pointing out that she wears “sensible shoes.”

  • fraser

    Hebrew accent? Wouldn’t it be an Israeli accent?

  • reynard61

    It’s very disturbing to know that someone can write that badly while stone-cold sober.

  • IIRC, they also frequently imply that Tsion ben-Jewishguy is “old,” even though he is only a couple of years older than Ray-gun, who is in his early- to mid-forties.

  • tatortotcassie

    Because he’s a “bucking” moron who can’t do one useful thing in 3.5 years?

  • Lori

    Strictly speaking we have no way of knowing what state of sobriety that Jenkins was in when he wrote that.

  • Blackmail, rufk’nkiddingme???!!!??

  • Wednesday

    No! Testing it would be doing Science. And doing science is morally wrong, especially if it involves biology, because of evilution.

    …yeah, basically, I don’t know why else they wouldn’t test such a thing.

  • I do think he was just confusing “condescend” with “consent”. Good alternative hypothesis, though.

  • Buck and Chloe followed her out toward the front door. “Our private lives, our beliefs, are none of our employer’s business,” Buck said. “For instance, if I knew you were a lesbian, I wouldn’t feel it necessary to tell your superiors.”

    “Buck! I had no idea Verna was a lesbian!” Chloe said.
    “You had no idea? Neither did I!”
    “You’re kidding!”
    “I’m not. You think that little revelation was of God too?”

    I rest my case, although I think RubyTea would agree with me.

  • aunursa

    Not really foreshadowing. Every single person that they befriend gets saved. Not a single relative or friend of our two heroes dies unsaved.* Rayford and Buck (and the rest of the Tribbles) are never forced to confront the realization that a loved one is burning in hell for all eternity.

    * Except for Buck’s mom. It is strongly implied that she died unsaved. But that happens in Prequel #2, and so at the time that L&J wrote the main 12 books, it hadn’t been established yet.

  • Czanne

    They don’t even need soil, necessarily. Israel exports a metric crap-ton of produce, some fresh, some preserved. Some of the preserved stuff is likely still around — canned, dried, frozen. Mass spec a few thousand samples of the old stuff, compare to new, work backwards from statistical results. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just better.

    Also, why is there not an enormous outcry from food safety activists about GMOs and unknown chemicals? A Seekrit Fertilizer that that makes everything, including corn (a notoriously thirsty crop), grow in a region that gets less than 30 cm. of rain a year, has got to be out of Dr Frankenstein’s DNA lab. I could imagine ginormous boycotts of all Israeli produce.

  • ChristianPinko

    That’s some obscure Woody Allen referencing, right there.

  • ReverendRef

    Yet the nuclear destruction of Chicago doesn’t seem to have altered the daily routine of life in Milwaukee at all.

    This is good news. Miller, MGD and PBR are still in production and available.

  • Dogfacedboy

    Perhaps he was “drunk in the spirit” as they say.

  • mcc

    This is the thing that puzzles me most. Keeping the process to build a nuclear bomb secret should be the *easy* thing; you could reproduce the research that lead to the bomb for certain, but it’s going to be quite hard to get hold of a nuclear bomb itself to study it. But this is like… a fertilizer? It’s going to be splashed all over the whole country. The more of it you manufacture and use, the more of it there is around to steal and the more know-how there is on the making of it out and about. And this stuff isn’t being kept in like, military bases or secure areas. It’s being kept in farms. If you pay for real security for all facilities where the formula is being used, then you’ve eliminated the economic advantages of mass factory farming that your formula once offered you. This is, specifically and linearly, a chemical which benefits you more the more you use it.

    I can only make this make sense if we imagine some sort of Monsanto situation where draconian futuristic IP laws mean that everyone has access to the Rosenzweig formula, but it’s patented. Russia is more afraid of the consequences of a nuclear strike than it is afraid of violating Israel’s patent rights.

  • Good, because the only Berkowitz I could think of would’ve shot his way in.

  • ChristianPinko

    You take that implied slur against baboons back right now!

  • What might make a fun story is all the other country’s failed attempts at replicating the formula. Marvel’s done that viz the Captain America Super-Soldier project for the last decade or so.

    My guess? Milk of the Dark Mother, the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young. But side effects from that are pretty darn noticeable.

  • I could see going straight to ‘If I can’t have it, nobody will!’ if your country didn’t have, oh, one of the most infamous spy agencies in the world. (Russia, not Ethiopia. Never heard much about Ethiopian Intelligence agencies.)

  • Yup. And I’m sure that Jenkins would argue that Buck would never do something so nasty as blackmail somebody. After all, Buck got the information through God, so it’s not really real blackmail, right?

    Except it totally is.