The Vision, pp. 299-309
So, Magdalene is dead, and we’ve moved past that. She might as well not exist now, for all that she is mentioned. Everyone is at TLP having some sort of Bible study meeting, talking about Revelation and using it as a roadmap for what is to come. It’s predictable. The passages were assigned and before the meeting, which is then led by Malachi, who positions himself as the final authority as others ask him questions. Malachi says all Christians will definitely be raptured before the tribulation.
But then he adds this, regarding the period after the rapture:
“God intends for the people who rejected Jesus Christ before the rapture to be deceived. God helps the Antichrist to deceive people by sending a strong delusion so that they might believe a lie.”
Yep, you read that right. The claim is that anyone who heard the gospel but did not become a Real True Christian before the rapture will be unable to become a Christian after the rapture, because God will deliberately deceive them specifically to ensure they don’t get another chance. This is definitely not what I was taught growing up.
Debi makes a big deal out of this, too:
Cheyenne could almost hear anew Julie’s scathing response to Bobbie Jo’s wild Bible story on the subject. Julie’s face was red as she stopped Bobbie Jo, saying she would quit her job before she would listen to someone accuse God of purposefully deciding people into believing a lie. The verses stating the fact only made Julie angrier.
Well. Yeah. It’s kind of a dick move.
Yancey Has a Question
Malachi explains as follows:
“All believers are taken with Christ before the beginning of the Tribulation, but some people who never heard the gospel will become Christians during the Tribulation. The final publishers … preachers … the 144,000 will be the ones who preach the gospel to them.”
Yancey jerked, making everyone look over toward him. He then leaned forward,d pressing his point with an intense look on his face. “So that means if a person does not get saved before the rapture, but knows about salvation—when he sees that the rapture has occurred—then he could get saved? Right?”
No, Yancey. That is literally the opposite of what he said.
And Malachi is not impressed. Not one bit.
Malachi’s gaze rested on Yancey. The old man’s face was stern. The group glanced around at each other, surprised at the absence of the Old Gent’s usual levity. Those listening had no clue that Malachi was remembering the video Omar had shown him on the internet a few weeks earlier. In the video Yancey was bowing before what the media referred to as ‘His Holy Mother.’ Malachi had hoped Yancey would open up to someone about this previous activities, but he had not said a word.
In other words, Yancey is worshiping the coming antichrist’s mother. Omar knows this, and Malachi knows this, but they’re hiding it from everyone else, including Julie, whom Yancey is clearly dating. And while they’re hiding this information, they’re allowing Yancey into their inner sanctum.
This makes complete sense.
As in no sense.
“No, Yancey,” Malachi declared emphatically, “anyone who has heard and rejected the gospel before the rapture will be completely deceived into believing in the antichrist, and will thereby be damned.”
This reminds me of some theology I latched onto after converting from evangelicalism to Catholicism years ago. As an evangelical, I’d believed that anyone who didn’t hear the gospel was automatically damned to hell. As a Catholic, I latched onto Catholic theology suggesting that those who didn’t hear the gospel but tried to live good, upstanding lives would make it into heaven (albeit possibly via purgatory).
Of course, this created a problem: what about those who did hear the gospel, but didn’t convert? Were they de facto damned? This seemed bad—and in fact it created an incentive not to tell people the gospel. After all, what they didn’t hear they couldn’t reject. I decided that those who “heard” the gospel but didn’t convert hadn’t actually “heard” the gospel—because it hadn’t been explained to them in a way they understood, or clearly, they would have converted. That got me around that problem!
It strikes me that you have a similar problem here: anyone who hears the gospel before the rapture and doesn’t convert is automatically doomed to hell, while those who don’t hear the gospel before the rapture can convert and be saved after the rapture. The rapture itself ought to be a pretty strong statement in favor of the validity of Christianity: it would be rather curious if all the Christians just … disappear. So you could argue that the best path is to not share the gospel now at all, and to write some sort of letter and broadcast to be sent in event of the rapture detailing the gospel, and then leave it at that.
Christian theology is trippy.
Anyway, Malachi is pissed at Yancey, and wants to make sure he knows that if he doesn’t convert now he’s damned to hell. So that’s fun.
“God has a plan that those two wait for evidence before believing will find evidence that the Antichrist is the true Christ. With God’s help they will believe a lie.”
Julie’s right that this is messed up.
All the Jewish Virgins
At that moment, Malachi looks up and sees Asher walk in accompanied by another man. Malachi concludes that this is probably Levi, but nobody else notices, and Asher & co stay in the back.
Meanwhile, Dusty asks about the 144,000. Malachi responds:
“Take note of the good numbers; chapter 7 and 14 are where we read about the 144,000. Look first at chapter 7 where it names the twelve tribes of Israel, telling us that 12,000 from each tribe are sealed. It tells us that no harm can come to them until they are sealed on their foreheads. meaning God providentially protects these 144,000 young, male, Jewish virgins.”
What what. Virgins?
Also, I’m pretty sure Jewish people today don’t keep track of what “tribe” they’re originally from. I guess God just sorts that out? What about people who can trace their ancestry back to multiple tribes?
“So,” Ben summarized, “The 144,000 will be young virgin men from the twelve tribes of Israel who love and honor Jehovah God.”
From the back of the room came a loud, clear bass voice. “Sounds like me to me!”
Everyone in the room startled. “Levi?” Malachi questioned.
The handsome young man standing beside Asher made a slight bow to the crowd. “The same.”
I am not making this up.
No. No to all of this.
Even if Levi were a virgin, why would he out himself as one? Especially when it’s very clear that they’re discussing Christian interpretations of the New Testament, and he’s already made clear to Asher that he’s not interested in anyone so much as mentioning Christianity to him?
This makes no sense.
There are a bunch of other weird things in this section, such as Yancey being there but Julie being absent, and another weird tidbit is that Bobbie Jo slipped out and reentered just at this moment, wearing an evening dress. We’ll find out the why of that next week, but for the time being:
Cheyenne’s jaw dropped in bewilderment. Sometime in the last few minutes Bobbie Jo had managed to slip out of the meeting and change into an elegant peach-colored, floor-length evening dress. Now she stood erect, her skin blowing with a blush, her glorious hair pulled high, yet hanging in curls down past her waste, and her eyes shining like lights.
Levi turned toward Bobbie Jo in polite acknowledgement. It was as if lightening struck. Everyone watching felt the jolt.
Bobbie Jo was aglow, and her eyes sparkled as she stared transfixed. Levi’s response was all male, embarrassingly so, as he stared back at the beautiful girl.
Uhhh … wow.
All. Male. What.
She stood unabashedly staring at Levi with such a tender newfound vulnerability. The effect struck Cheyenne as breathtakingly beautiful.
This book is so weird.
I’ve noticed this phenomenon, actually. Some fundamentalist Christian women are tight-lipped about sex and refuse to even mention it, but others are downright bawdy. Provided all of their jibbing points toward marriage—or sex within marriage—it’s all in good fun, and it’s godly and virtuous to boot. Debi clearly falls into this camp, with lots of sexual tension at a distance and secret-glancing moments between the young women characters she has created and virile, impressive specimens of manhood.
Although really I mean just Asher and Levi, who seem to be the only virile, impressive specimens of manhood available. Omar is married; Yancey is Yancey; and Ben and Dusty are too young.
Secret Ops in the Warehouse
After Asher and Levi leave the room, Omar slips out and follows them. He follows them all the way to the far warehouse, where he sees “strange men with military bearings” packing everything up. He about freaks out, but when he runs up to stop them a man grabs a pressure point in the small of his back, until Asher calls him back. “Don’t slip up on these guys unannounced,” he tells Omar.
Asher and Levi explain that Malachi told them they could do whatever they want whenever they want to if they deemed TLP security to be at risk, and that they’ve received a credible threat, so they’re packing up the whole compound in trucks that will arrive in a few minutes.
“Who are you people?” he demanded. “I thought you were some kind of volcano specialist, not secret agents. What do you think you’re doing coming in here and messing with our stuff?”
I’m with Omar. This is weird.
“One of my fellow militia members works for the government in counterterrorism. You guys are targets.”
Omar isn’t satisfied. Good on Omar.
Levi remained patient as Omar continued to glare. “Okay, Omar, a little background. When we,” he motioned to the people packing, “my friends from all over the world, started getting ready for a possible Yellowstone event, we also started organizing and planning as a private military. We are all experts in one area or another, some as scientists, like me, and others are special forces of some kind or another. We count ourselves as patriots.”
No no no, he does not get away with this. A patriot is someone who is loyal to or loves a specific country. Levi just said these are his friends “from all over the world.” Words actually mean things.
“We knew the government would not come to your aid, even if they suspect an attack—“
Hey wait a minute, why the heck not?
The feds came in after the Super Center bombing, and again to investigate a suspected honor killing, and a third time to clean up the local white supremacists. The feds spend an awful lot of time in this small east Tennessee town. So why exactly would the feds not come to their aid this time?
“—so we, our militia, voted to let this be a training exercise as well as a rescue. There are militia groups forming all over the country, and none too soon.”
This is a world with really good federal law enforcement, based on what we’ve seen thus far. But suddenly they need militias because law enforcement is inadequate? Since when?
To be fair, Levi does add this:
“Financially, many governments of the world are failing, including the U.S. With financial failure comes a breakdown in all areas of government, health, social, civic, and basic law and order.”
But it would be nice to actually see this, and it would have been so easy. All Debi needed to do was have the feds not come to the rescue after Magdalene’s death. Have the local white supremacists get away with it, because they run the place and federal law enforcement is falling apart. Then the need for militias makes sense. This book could have been so much more cogent so easily.
Omar asks how the government can “just let a bunch of regular guys organized into an armed militia,” as though the 1990s never happened. Levi says it’s always been legal and that “now it’s necessary.”
Cool cool cool.
Omar says he’s going to pack his own stuff, and Asher and Levi walk back to the hall where everyone is still having the Bible study. Except that it’s not a Bible study anymore. More on that next week.
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