NRA: Nudge, nudge, wink, wink

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 156-161

Buck Williams is trying to reach former-rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah, but Ben-Judah is in hiding. So Buck turns for help to Moses and Elijah.

Moses and Elijah are characters in this story. Moses Moses and Elijah Elijah. As in Mt.-Sinai, Ten-Commandments Moses and Mt.-Carmel, fiery-chariot Elijah. The very same. They’ve mysteriously come back to life and returned to Earth. And now they are both, like Tsion Ben-Judah, born-again Rapture-Christians.

There’s something vaguely familiar about that “Moishe” guy.

I know we’ve mentioned all of that before, but sometimes it’s helpful just to step back and let it sink in again how deeply weird it is that Moses and Elijah are characters in this story.*

Tim LaHaye wants his readers to recognize that he, Tim LaHaye, is uniquely correct about the meaning of the Bible and of “Bible prophecy,” and so his story includes Moses and Elijah as characters who stand around preaching that Tim LaHaye is uniquely correct about the meaning of the Bible and of Bible prophecy. They stop just short of mentioning LaHaye by name, but still.

Anyway, Buck takes a cab to the Temple Mount, where Moses and Elijah have been holding court, and before he arrives there we get one last flashback/summary/review reintroducing these two characters to any readers who may have forgotten them.

They called themselves Moishe and Eli, and truly they seemed to have come from another time and another place. They wore ragged, burlap-like robes. They were barefoot with leathery, dark skin. Both had long, dark gray hair and unkempt beards. They were sinewy with bony joints and long muscled arms and legs. Anyone who dared get close to them smelled smoke.

So either this is Moses and Elijah from the Bible, or it’s Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.

Those who dared attack them had been killed. It was as simple as that. Several had rushed them with automatic weapons, only to seem to hit an invisible wall and drop dead on the spot.

The rules clearly state that there’s a penalty for using range weapons in melee.

Others had been incinerated where they stood, by fire that had come from the witnesses’ mouths.

Note the plural here. The authors suggest that this has happened more than once, publicly. And they’ve previously told us that one such incident was filmed by not-CNN and broadcast around the world.

Set aside the laws of physics here. Yes, of course this bit of the story violates the laws of physics — that’s the authors’ point. But what the authors fail to see is that this bit of their story also violates every known law of human nature. The people in their story are not people — not anything recognizable as the humans that we know.

They’ve just described a scene in which the entire population of the world witnesses a series of explicit, undeniable and unambiguously supernatural events. And then everyone simply ignores them. No awestruck wonder. No curiosity. No skeptical probing to try to figure out how the trick was done. Just a giant collective shrug. That’s impossible. Humans don’t work like that.

But according to the authors, humans do work like that. Or, at least, Christ-denying, unsaved, non-RTC, damnation-deserving humans do. In their view, unbelievers are not simply unconvinced, but obstinate, willful deniers of evidence every bit as overwhelmingly clear as the miraculous fire-breathing killers in this story. (Just read Josh McDowell or any other “apologetics” book — it’s obvious, so anyone who doesn’t immediately convert is just stubbornly rejecting what they know to be true.)

They preached nearly constantly in the language and cadence of the Bible, and what they said was blasphemous to the ears of devout Jews. They preached Christ and him crucified, proclaiming him the Messiah, the Son of God.

If they’re sticking to “the language and cadence” of that part of the Bible, it wouldn’t sound blasphemous to the ears of devout Jews. It would sound like first-century koine Greek — an indecipherable babble even in a tri-lingual city like Jerusalem.

The only time they had been seen apart from the Wailing Wall was at Teddy Kollek Stadium …

Jerry Jenkins is so proud of the one piece of lazy research he bothered to do that he can’t resist repeating it every chance he gets. Yes, Teddy Stadium is a real place in Jerusalem. And Moses and Elijah, apparently, are football fans.

The only time they had been seen apart from the Wailing Wall was at Teddy Kollek Stadium, when they appeared on the platform with Rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah, a recent convert to Christ. News coverage broadcast around the world showed these two strange men, speaking in unison, not using microphones and yet being heard distinctly in the back rows. “Come nigh and listen,” they had shouted, “to the chosen servant of the most high God! He is among the first of the 144,000 who shall go forth from this and many nations to proclaim the gospel of Christ throughout the world!”

That “come nigh” and “go forth” business is what the authors actually meant by “the language and cadence of the Bible.” For the authors, the language of the Bible is English — but only English as it was spoken before Friedrich Schleiermacher was born.

But even if you read the Bible in King James English, it’s hard to explain how Ben-Judah could be counted among the “144,000” mentioned in the book of Revelation. “These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins,” Revelation 14:4 says. And yet, verily and forsooth, the authors themselves hath written that Ben-Judah had taken unto him a wife, and gone in to her and knew her and uncovered her feet, and lo, in the fullness of time, she bore unto him many children.

The authors review how Ben-Judah then spent the following year on a stadium tour around the world, “resulting in tens of thousands of converts,” before the recent slaughter of his family which drove the ex-rabbi into hiding. And that brings us back to the present in our story, with Buck approaching the Western Wall to seek help from “Moishe and Eli” in tracking down Ben-Judah.

This evening the witnesses were doing as they had done every day since the signing of the treaty between Israel and Carpathia: They were proclaiming the terrible day of the Lord.

And if that made you think of this, then your brain works the same way mine does.

And they were acknowledging Jesus Christ as “the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.”

So Moses and Elijah haven’t become orthodox Christians — they’ve become Monarchian heretics. (Hey, I’m not judging. I lean more than a bit Patripassian, myself.)

Buck was always thrilled and moved by the preaching of the witnesses. He looked around the crowd and saw people from various races and cultures. He knew from experience that many of them understood no Hebrew. They were understanding the witnesses in their own tongues, just as he was.

French-speaking people heard the witnesses speaking in King James French. Spanish-speakers heard King James Spanish, Mandarin-speakers heard King James Mandarin. …

Buck creeps closer until he catches their attention:

Both stared directly into his eyes, and he could not move. Without gesturing or moving, Eli began to preach. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said.”

Believers in the crowd mumbled their amens and their agreement. Buck was riveted. Moishe stepped forward and seemed to speak directly to him. “Do not be afraid, for I know whom you seek. He is not here.”

Back in the first book the authors established this pattern of having the Two Witnesses speak almost entirely in direct quotations from the Bible. That seemed like a timid choice — a way of side-stepping the precarious challenge of writing dialogue for characters who are supposed to be speaking on God’s behalf.

Here that choice creates a problem, since Buck is coming to them with a specific, extra-biblical question — “Do you guys know where I might find our friend Tsion?” That question seems to require a specific answer involving something other than a hodge-podge of Bible passages plucked out of context.

The authors solution is to have the Two Witnesses speak in a “clever” biblical code. “I know whom you seek,” Moishe says to Buck, winking broadly. “Eh, get it? Whom you seek? Like, it seems like I’m only quoting from Matthew 28, but really I’m also talking about Tsion … get it?”

But Buck doesn’t get it.

Moishe, still staring at Buck: “Indeed He is going before you into Galilee. There you will see Him. Behold I have told you.”

I supposed this is slightly more subtle than having Moishe tell Buck that “ion-Tsay is in alilee-Gay.” But only slightly. Yet despite such broad hints, Buck still takes a while to pick up on all this winking and elbow-nudging:

The witnesses stood and stared silently for so long, unmoving, it was as if they had turned to stone. The crowd grew nervous and began to dissipate. Some waited to see if the witnesses would speak again, but they did not. Soon only Buck stood where he had stood for the last several minutes. He couldn’t take his eyes off the eyes of Moishe. The two merely stood at the fence and stared at him. Buck began to advance on them., coming to within about 20 feet. They seemed not even to be breathing. Buck noticed no blink, no twitch.

“Jeez, kid,” Moishe whispered. “Galilee. Tsion’s in @%#$ Galilee. How many times’ve I gotta say it? Now get lost before you draw any more attention to yourself.”

That’s what I wish happened here, but what actually does happen is even sillier:

In the fading twilight, he carefully watched their faces. Neither opened his mouth, and yet Buck heard, plain as day in his own language, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

And, finally, Buck gets it.

So then, two questions:

1. If you can communicate telephathically, why wouldn’t you do that first instead of speaking out loud in a heavy-handed Bible “code” that your dim friend still can’t quite grasp? And,

2. If you’re communicating telepathically, why are you still speaking in Bible code?

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* Why Moses and Elijah? Well, in LaHaye’s idea of the End Times, they will be the “Two Witnesses” whose story is told in Revelation 11.

We should note that Revelation itself never names those Two Witnesses, and that they seem to appear much later in that story than they do in LaHaye’s chronology. Revelation gives us the seven seals of divine wrath, then the first six of the seven trumpets, and then the Two Witnesses show up, but for LaHaye they appear before any of those divine judgments even begin. He can explain why that is, mind you, and if I had several hours to spare and access to the dozens of charts, graphs and decoder rings necessary to explain it, I could show you how he does that and how it almost makes a kind of internal sense given the whole vast, convoluted premillennial dispensationalist framework. But for now let’s just note this as another reminder that LaHaye’s insistence that he sticks to a “literal” reading of the Bible should not be mistaken for a claim that he sticks to anything like a linear reading of it.

The idea of identifying John of Patmos’ two unidentified witnesses with Moses and Elijah is an old one. It’s an old guess more than a “tradition,” since apart from modern “prophecy scholars” like LaHaye, it was never suggested as more than speculation. That guess is inspired by the strange story in the Synoptic Gospels of Jesus’ “transfiguration,” which describes Jesus’ encounter with those two patriarchs. Moses and Elijah carry great symbolic weight there as the embodiments of “the law and the prophets,” respectively, although that symbolism has always bothered me a bit, since Jesus himself said otherwise, repeatedly. The embodiment of the law and the prophets, Jesus said, is love.

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  • Kenneth Raymond

    2nd Edition is the only true edition, as Gygax meant the game to be played!

    (Actually most of my gaming career was 3/3.5. Various reasons why we never moved forward, including money, time to relearn, and eventually people moving away. Geez, I miss having people to game with.)

  • Alix

    Forgive me if my nonliteral language meter might not be sufficiently well-tuned.

    *Shrug* I have the same problem when it comes to spoken tone, fwiw. I’m generally better at comprehending tone in text, to the chagrin of probably every person who’s ever had to actually speak to me.

    can you please reference some sources to back up your first claim?

    Not really. It’s something I heard an awful lot in several places in Virginia growing up, is all.

  • Sue White

    I’m generally better at comprehending tone in text, to the chagrin of probably every person who’s ever had to actually speak to me.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve spoken to you, unless there’s another Alix who writes like you do. :-)

  • Michael Pullmann

    He hangs them upside down over the scorpion pit with a sign that says “Learn the words.”

    No, wait, that’s Lord Vetinari.

  • Alix

    You know what? I actually do get what you’re saying and don’t really disagree – you’ve laid out EH’s problematic behavior well and you’re right about its effect, intentional or not.

    But honestly, that’s why I respond to him. He’s shown evidence of being willing and able to change his own mind on things – but aside from that, he’s not the only person who sees these conversations, he’s often a convenient springboard into pointing out serious errors (and frankly, feeding the troll or not, I don’t want him to be the final, uncontested word on some of those things), and it’s also why I keep asking him to cite his own supports/if he knows how he comes off. (Though I do have to admit, I want him to support his stuff so I have some clue where the hell he gets his arguments. There’s an old saw about curiosity that comes to mind…)

    I know the popular internet advice is to just ignore trolls. I’ve ignored him plenty in the past, and I don’t always respond to him now. But I also don’t see how it’s any skin off your nose if I choose to talk to him, since he’s shown he’s not just going to go away. I’m sorry that annoys you. :/

  • Alix

    *blink* Really? Either’s possible, I suppose. :P

    (…Did I mention I also have a horrible memory for names and faces? *wince* All it took was my brother dyeing his hair for me to not recognize him until he told me who he was…)

  • Sue White

    I usually can’t remember them either. But “Alix” is an unusual name. And there was one on the newsgroup I still occasionally read.

  • Alix

    Er, maybe? It’s unlikely, though – I’m a chronic lurker. XD Sorry. I’m very unhelpful, I know.

  • Exodus 28:

    ETA: Note that Moses, being Aaron’s brother and not a descendant, is not permitted to wear the priestly garments. And it’s not known if Elijah was descended from Aaron; he may well not have been.

  • Eric Oppen

    Question: Would the Egyptian Christian monks from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher hear the Two Witnesses in King James Arabic…or King James Coptic? I ask this because as I understand it, Coptic (a late form of Egyptian, written in a variant of the Greek alphabet) is still the liturgical language of the Coptic Church.

  • Sue White

    Must be one of those weird coincidences then! Zie was also witty and verbose.

  • Alix

    …would you believe I actually try to be concise? It never seems to work.

    “witty” – I’m flattered you think so. Usually it’s more “trying to type straight at the hour of Go To Bed Already, Stupid.”

  • Panda Rosa

    You’re not the only one, took me a while to figure it out as well.

  • Alix

    Putting this in another comment so it doesn’t get lost in a wall of text:

    I should clarify that I’m in no way advocating people responding to him if they don’t want to, obviously. I’m not even saying people shouldn’t call him a troll, tell him to fuck off, whatever. (Dehumanization crosses a major line of mine – it clearly doesn’t for others – but that’s really the only reaction to EH I’ve found over-the-top.)

    But I am getting slightly tired of the assumption that I must obviously be lacking all the right info because I choose to engage him. No, I’ve just made a different choice than most of you and that’s fine. And hopefully I’ve at least managed to communicate something of my thought-process, however misguided y’all think I am. :)

  • Lori

    Maybe he can finally go to Pesach though.

  • Winter

    I’m a little jealous. The only physical Chick Tract I’ve ever received is “Creator or Liar?”, which is just a bundle of Bible verses tied together with Pascal’s Wager. I found it tucked under my windshield wiper like a car wash ad and it’s dull enough to deserve no better.

  • Monica

    An argument could be made, I suppose, that not only does everyone hear the prophets in their own language, they hear whatever translation of the Bible they’re most familiar with. Of course, this argument would hold a lot more weight if Buck had read ANY version of the Bible before this whole Tribulation business started.

    In other news, I think a prime candidate for GIRAT in fiction would be Raymond Burr’s character from “Godzilla.” A giant monster attacks Tokyo while he’s ON VACATION, and what does he do? Immediately starts investigating what happened, why, and how. He gets translations when he doesn’t understand Japanese and is seen several times sending updates to the Chicago paper he works for back home. He reports from the scene until the building he’s reporting from is destroyed, and then is seen during the final scenes of the film, still reporting, with his arm in a cast.

    If Bucky were in that situation? He’d probably spend most of his time in Tokyo complaining how Godzilla destroyed the phone lines, so he can’t call and tell all of his friends how he’s got the scoop of the century. And then fail to actually, y’know, report anything.

  • Daniel

    It really did make my day, particularly given which one it was. I would have preferred “the visitors” but only because of this panel:

  • Alix

    …I totally misread this at first, and I thought you were talking about casting Godzilla as Buck. I was all ready to comment about how Godzilla was too active to be a good stand-in for our dearly beloved GIRAT, but then I reread your comment and my brain caught up. XD

  • Monica

    I got one as a trick-or-treat handout one year, entitled “Happy Halloween.” I found it very odd, as it starts out with 3 kids going into a haunted house, and then one of them gets hit by a car and dies. Then we find out that, even though he went to Sunday School, he’s in hell because he rejected the magic prayer. The “happy” part is when his friends dedicate their lives to Christ. And presumably promise to shun devil-worshipping cults of children who want to dress up and get candy.

  • Daniel

    Yep, I’ve read that one and it’s a corker. There are better ones- there’s one I can’t remember the name of where a kid hangs himself because someone he knows (never shown) told him that Hell is a massive party. His friend promises to also hang herself so she can also come to the party but is rescued by a vicar just as she puts the noose round her neck (she’s about twelve, as well). She is instantly saved by finding out Jesus, who voluntarily had himself killed, is very anti-suicide and that actually Hell is not the rocking party it was cracked up to be by whoever the hell told them this. She is happy. So her best friend’s death doesn’t matter any more.
    And I won’t even start on the horror that is “Lisa”….

  • MuseofIre

    As subtlety doesn’t appear to have at any time been part of their toolkit, I’m gonna have to go with Door #2.

  • Daniel

    You do him a disservice. The GIRAT would actually know exactly what Godzilla was, and how to stop it. He would know exactly how to save the lives of every one in Tokyo. He would also know when Mothra et al would turn up, and how to stop them. He would know all of this, and only once he’d got all the information (without going to any trouble to ask for it- someone else would just tell him before they die) would he sit on the story and refuse to tell anyone else. THAT’S what makes him the GIRAT.

  • Daniel

    Every time this issue comes up- which is a lot- I wonder what exactly the One World Religion actually is, and why people are supposed to be opposed to it. I can’t actually identify any creed that it has, and obviously its “tyranny” doesn’t extend to stopping anyone practicing any other faith- even ones that are blatantly opposed to OWR. I think it’s another instance of something being “evil” because of who does it rather than that it’s done at all. If the OWR were evangelical end times Christianity, would Timkins object?

  • MuseofIre

    There is no creed, because nobody REALLY believes anything other than what RTCs believe, we just like being oppositional and screwing with their heads and stuff.

    Obviously, a OWR that is evangelical end times Christianity is exactly what they want and expect. But unless it corresponds EXACTLY to their own interpretation, rituals, and terminology, they would reject it.

  • Daniel

    Somewhere inside I knew this. I keep trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, I keep somehow thinking that maybe just maybe they put some thought into what they were writing. Like “what would be the point of a one world faith?” I mean, if you think of the sheer difficulty in getting even a small group of people to agree on anything, how would you do that by edict for everyone in the world? Besides the boast that you managed it, which admittedly would be staggeringly impressive, what would be the point? What does this needlessly complex process allow the Antichrist to do? This idea could have given a competent writer at least a trilogy on its own. I don’t know why I feel disappointed, I just…at some point it would be nice to think that Timkins had put at least a tiny bit of effort into this.

  • Persia

    NGL, I watched all of M & W about six months ago and thought ‘wow, this five-minute sketch is so much more accurate about human nature than Left Behind.’

  • Daniel

    Well not priestly garments, no. Moses had his own look, after he’d been through the whole Prince phase with the veil. I see Moses as Ian Anderson looks now and Elijah as Geezer Butler circa Vol 4. Although he’s not there, Elisha is Wilko Johnson. Because he just is.
    Also- “he may not have been”… is there some gossip there? Do tell…

  • caryjamesbond

    Incidentally, “a triangle of hammerhead sharks” was recently voted the absolute worst instrument to play in an orchestra.

  • Vermic

    I wish the Two Witnesses had just roasted Buck the second they saw him coming. “Excuse me, do either of you know where I might find–” WHOOOOOOOOSH

    It’s not a particularly deep thought, but it’s one that makes me happy.

  • Daniel

    only because it’s really difficult to get it off them. Sharks love their percussion.

  • Daniel

    Said poor family has to make do with a wicker chair for him at pesach. Well, not wicker strictly speaking, but cereal stalks. They have seder seats of rye.
    You burst my bubble and that’s the best pun I’ve got in me.

  • LoneWolf343

    Godzilla vs. The 50-Foot Antichrist.

  • LoneWolf343

    Hammerhead sharks that BREATHE FIRE.

  • Alix

    The best kind!

  • caryjamesbond

    You know, in the Bible, neither Moses or Elijah were particularly humble. So you have to imagine these two bickering egotistically all the time. And they ARE old Jewish men- the oldest Jewish men, really.

    “Oy, Moses, always with the ‘wandering in the desert’ and the ‘manna from heaven! Give it a rest! You’ve been kvetching about that for MILLENIA now, you schnoor!”

    “And I suppose you want me to shut up so you can tell again the story about you calling down the fire on the priests of Baal? Feh! If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t even be here to be calling a burnt matchstick down, you momser!”

    “At least I didn’t marry a shiksa! Oh, how your mother suffered for you! Slaved away making pyramids while you and that nogoodnik pharaoh adopted brother of yours lay around eating grapes in luxury! She worked her fingers to the bone for you!”

    “Ah, say what you want. At least I never at a locust! And you, what did you ever do but burn up some mishegas priests? You wouldn’t know a tsuris from a brocheh, you shlemiel! You did nothing but play to shmendrik wannabes! I did something great! I faced down royalty!”

    “Pah! I was starving in the desert, kings were threatening to cut off my kishkes- what was your great accomplishment? Nuhdzing some pharaoh until he let you go? And didn’t you need to bring your goy brother in law along to do the talking, nu?”

    “OOOOOH that’s enough! Put your hands up you no good litvak!”

    “And I’ll knock you on your tuches! Bah, it would take you another forty years to find that! With both hands!”
    ““May God wash your mouth out with a bar of Fels-Naptha. I’m going to tell Abraham what you said to me. Then you’ll be sorry!”

  • P J Evans

    If they’re hearing the Two Witnesses in KJ Coptic, then there must also be some people around there who hear them in KJ Latin.

  • P J Evans

    Or given him a really bad sunburn, maybe?

  • Lori

    That is a great pun. I’m impressed.

  • Daniel

    You’re too kind. I think the correct queen/Jewish pun to congratulate someone is “May-zal Tov!”

    I’ll stop now. I don’t really like Queen.

  • Jamoche

    One of them must be played by Mel Brooks. It’s a law.

  • caryjamesbond

    I picture Mel Brooks and Billy Crystal.

  • reynard61

    They called themselves Moishe and Eli, and truly they seemed to have come from another time and another place. They wore ragged, burlap-like robes. They were barefoot with leathery, dark skin. Both had long, dark gray hair and unkempt beards. They were sinewy with bony joints and long muscled arms and legs. Anyone who dared get close to them smelled smoke.

    “So either this is Moses and Elijah from the Bible, or it’s Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.”

    I have trouble imagining Willie and Kris “barefoot” and wearing “ragged” robes (or, indeed, “robes” of any kind), but the smoke? Yeah, definitely…

  • Albanaeon

    Hollywood, do I have a pitch for you…

  • reynard61

    Willie Nelson’s had a longer film career than just The Dukes of Hazzard.

  • Different Eli, I think, but I laughed anyway.

  • reynard61

    Maybe they could revive the old Matinee thing of showing a cartoon, a newsreel (“Rapture News from Around the World!”), a featurette/travelogue (“Jerusalem: Rapturous Land — and the Non-Believers who are despoiling it by their very existence.”), and then the Main feature? Ah, the Good Ol’ Days…

  • reynard61

    I’m inclined to believe that Ray-Ray and Buck are animatronics — it’s just that neither they nor anyone else has *noticed* yet…

  • Loquat

    Or maybe the Tamarans, like the aliens in China Mieville’s Embassy who can’t speak of anything that isn’t factually true, will sometimes just hire people to act out interesting situations they want to be able to refer to.

  • Evan

    “… They were proclaiming the terrible day of the Lord.”

    “And if that made you think of this, then your brain works the same way mine does.”

    Nope. It made me think of this.