NRA: The miraculous pit stop

NRA: The miraculous pit stop April 22, 2014

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 234-238

Renegade ex-rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah summoned the wrong member of the Tribulation Force to help him escape from Israel. Think back to the first book in this series, in which Buck Williams struggled mightily over the course of several chapters just to travel from Chicago to New York in the days following the Rapture. Chloe Steele, meanwhile, managed somehow to get from Palo Alto to the Chicago suburbs in less than 24 hours. Buck — a sophisticated, jet-setting elite reporter — spent thousands of dollars chartering a private plane because all commercial flights were grounded. Chloe — a college student with only a bit of pizza money in her purse — covered twice the distance in half the time.

If Chloe had come to rescue Ben-Judah, he’d be finishing his third cup of Loretta’s tea at her home in Illinois by now. But instead, the poor man is crouching behind the seats of a dilapidated school bus, listening to Buck stammering clumsy cover stories in an attempt to outwit one of the Antichrist’s highway patrolmen.

This “Global Community peacekeeping force squad” member, inexplicably patrolling the one place on Earth where he has no jurisdiction, has just informed Buck that his friend Michael Rowtheboatashore is now in GCPFS custody, and that they have ways of making him talk:

“It will not take us long to find out where he has hidden our suspect. It will be in his best interest to tell us the whole truth. He has a wife and children, after all.”

For the first time in his life, Buck was tempted to kill a man. He knew the officer was just a pawn in a cosmic game, the war between good and evil. But he represented evil. Would Buck have been justified, the way Michael had felt justified, in killing those who might kill Tsion? The officer heard squawking on his radio and hurried back to the squad car.

Again, this scene falls apart because Jerry Jenkins can’t keep track of which country he’s in. The Israeli police have killed Tsion’s family and framed him for their  murder, so Buck and Tsion are trying to get out of Israel. That means they’re trying to get into the Antichrist’s “Global Community” where Tsion isn’t being hunted by the police. But here we have the Global Community police referring to Tsion as “our suspect” — destroying the whole premise of this run-for-the-border subplot.

I suppose that’s why Buck thinks about killing this policeman rather than just knocking him out or tying him up. In variations of this scene in which the writers want us to see their hero as a likable Good Guy, the next step might be to overpower the patrolman, disable his radio, throw his gun and car keys into a nearby stream and steal his pants. That usually gives the heroes enough time to make their getaway, crossing the border to safety. But that can’t work if the one-world government’s police force squad already regards Tsion as their suspect.

Our man-of-action hero is still frozen in contemplation of which decisive action to take when the policeman returns from his cruiser.

“Our techniques have worked,” he said. “We have extracted the location of the hiding place, somewhere between Jericho and Lake Tiberius off the Jordan River. …

This is like saying you’ve narrowed the search down to near the Mississippi River, somewhere between St. Paul and the Gulf of Mexico. “Somewhere between Jericho and Lake Tiberius” is almost the entire length of the Jordan — about 150 miles.

“… But under threat of torture and even death, he swears you were merely a tour guest to whom he sold the vehicle.”

Buck sighed. Others might consider that mutual ruse a coincidence. To him it was as much a miracle as what he had seen at the Wailing Wall.

At the Western Wall, Buck saw Moses and Elijah returned in the flesh. He saw them deflect bullets with an invisible force field, he saw them strike a man dead with a glance, and he (eventually) saw them breathe fire. But to Buck none of that is any more “miraculous” than the fact that he and Michael are both sticking to the same cover story they’d agreed to earlier. That’s neither a miracle nor a coincidence.

“Just for safety’s sake, however,” the officer said, “I have been asked to search your vehicle for any evidence of the fugitive.”

“But you said –”

“Have no fear, sir. You are in the clear. Perhaps you were used to transport some evidence out of the country without your knowing it. We simply need to check the vehicle for anything that might lead us to the suspect. I will thank you to stand aside and remain here while I search your vehicle.”

OK, you know that thing at the airport, when they ask you if anyone else packed or handled your suitcase? Questions like that shouldn’t be a surprise at a border crossing. Buck has explained that he just now, very recently and very quickly, purchased this school bus from a man known to be trying to smuggle a fugitive out of the country. And he seems disappointed that this fails to completely allay all of the policeman’s suspicions.

“You don’t need a warrant or my permission or anything?”

The officer turned menacingly toward Buck. “Sir, you have been pleasant and cooperative. But do not make the mistake that you are talking with local law enforcement here. You can see from my car and my uniform that I represent the peacekeeping forces of the Global Community. We are restricted by no conventions or rules. I could confiscate this vehicle without so much as your signature. Now wait here.”

The authors here are so eager to reinforce the John Birch Society mythology of Tim LaHaye’s U.N. conspiracy theories that they don’t even seem to notice how this all destroys both Jenkins’ subplot and LaHaye’s “prophecy” timeline. “We are restricted by no conventions or rules,” is how the United Nations operates in their fever-dreams of black helicopters and blue helmets. Every time LaHaye or one of his Tea-Bircher friends gets a speeding ticket they’re relieved to look in their rear-view mirror and see only a state trooper or local cop and not the U.N. insignia of the global federation they’re convinced is constantly patrolling the highways of the entire world.*

The problem here, though, is not that this policeman is unrestricted by “conventions or rules,” but that he is emphatically unrestricted by borders or treaties. He’s patrolling on the wrong side of the Israeli/GC border, which derails Jenkins’ subplot. And he’s violating the Antichrist’s treaty with Israel, which is an inviolable centerpiece of LaHaye’s prophecy scheme.

We can’t overstate how essential this whole treaty business is in LaHaye’s Bible prophecy outline. For LaHaye, the seven-year Great Tribulation doesn’t start with the Rapture, but with the signing of the peace treaty between the Antichrist’s empire and Israel — the only remaining nation not absorbed into his one-world government. That treaty divides the seven-year Tribulation in half, with the Antichrist honoring it for the first three and a half years, then breaking it and warring against Israel for the final three and a half years.

LaHaye calculates all of that based on some kooky premillennial dispensationalist numerology, which he decodes from Revelation 11 (which mentions “42 months” and “1,260 days”) and from the “weeks” in Daniel 9. For Tim LaHaye, Daniel 9 is all about the Antichrist because, for Tim LaHaye, everything in the Bible is all about the Antichrist. So when he reads this, from Daniel 9:27 —

And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

— it seems to LaHaye a simple and clear presentation of his Tribulation timeline. The Antichrist must, according to Bible prophecy, “confirm the covenant” for seven years. And then the Antichrist must break that covenant exactly halfway through those seven years. Obviously.

But here on page 235 of Nicolae, those 42 months aren’t up yet. At this point in the story, the Antichrist is still supposed to be confirming the covenant, not sending his policemen into Israel to conduct warrantless manhunts unrestricted by local law. This GCPFS patrolman’s actions, then, aren’t just a violation of that treaty, but a violation of biblical prophecy itself.

That brings us back to one of the most basic, insurmountable flaws with the entire “prophetic” scheme on which these books are based: The Antichrist has to play along. This embodiment of ultimate evil and rebellion against God is expected and required to dutifully work his way through the entire prophecy checklist, never straying from the divinely ordained, prophesied script. That script calls for him to make a seven-year peace treaty with Israel, and then to break it after three and a half years. Why should he go along with that? He’s evil and in rebellion against God, remember?

In order for this prophecy to unfold as prophesied, the Antichrist will either have to be uncharacteristically devoted to gentlemanly sportsmanship and fair play, thus refusing to stray from the agreed-upon script of prophecy, or else the Antichrist will have to be wholly ignorant of that script. Such ignorance seems impossible, though, in part because of the sensational popularity of things like the Left Behind books. If any future Antichrist were to arrive in accordance with Tim LaHaye’s prophecies, that Antichrist would surely know all about those prophecies because of the best-selling books of Tim LaHaye. Any such Antichrist should therefore be expected to deviate from the script of prophecy described in these books, ensuring that those prophecies never come to pass.

Thus, yet again, there’s a sense in which the existence of the Left Behind series itself ensures that the events it claims to prophesy can never occur.

So the policeman enters the school bus, where Tsion is hiding and Buck springs into action to save the day:

Wild thoughts ran through Buck’s mind. He considered trying to disarm the officer and racing away in the man’s squad car with Tsion. It was ludicrous, he knew, but he hated inaction. Would Tsion jump the officer? Kill him? Buck heard the officer’s footsteps move slowly to the back of the bus and then to the front again. The flashlight beam danced around inside the bus.

For someone who hates inaction, Buck has gotten really good at it. Whenever trouble arises, we can count on him to consider thinking about pondering all kinds of wild possibilities.

The officer rejoined him. “What did you think you were going to do? Did you think you were going to get away with this? Did you think I was going to allow you to drive this vehicle across the border into Egypt and to simply dump it? Were you going to leave it at an airport somewhere for local authorities to clean up?”

That bit of misdirection might have been effective if the man’s references to Egypt and to “local authorities” weren’t also reminders that: A) There’s no longer any such thing as “local authorities,” and B) Less than three days ago, the Global Community Peacekeeping Air Force Squadron Force carried out an attack on Egypt with nuclear weapons, making his sudden anger over the possibility of an abandoned car seem a bit disproportionate.

Buck awkwardly explains that he intended to give away the bus once he arrived in Egypt and that satisfies the officer, who drives away, leaving Buck mystified as to how the man failed to find Tsion Ben-Judah hidden in the back seats.

“Had God supernaturally blinded him?” Buck wonders, and “his knees like jelly and his fingers twitching,” he rushes inside the bus to hear his friend’s account of this miraculous deliverance from evil.

But Tsion isn’t there. Another miracle! Had God supernaturally whisked him off of the bus? Had their mutual friend Elijah sent his fiery chariot to carry him away to safety? Perhaps God had miraculously turned the former rabbi invisible.

None of those, it turns out. It seems that when Buck got out to fix the radiator, Tsion walked off into the bushes to pee and then hid there until the GCPFS cop left.

Others might consider that a coincidence, but to our heroes, and to the authors, it was as much a miracle as what they had seen at the Wailing Wall.

“If you have ever wondered what the saying meant about the Lord working in mysterious way,” Tsion said, “there was your answer.”

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* With all this talk of borders, sovereignty, jurisdiction, U.N. conventions and international law, we should note here that Buck has just driven from Jericho to Beersheba. In our world — the actual real world — that would involve a long drive through the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, crossing the border into Israel just south of Hebron. And that crossing, in our world, would involve getting past a ginormous barbed-wire fence.

To be fair, the separation barrier between Israel and the West Bank had not yet been erected when LaHaye and Jenkins wrote this book in 1997. Normally, though, when we excuse authors for failing to predict such unforeseen developments, we say things like, “No one can be expected to see into the future.” But unfortunately for L&J, that’s exactly what they’re claiming to do in these books. Back in 1997, they offered some very specific predictions for what would “soon” unfold in Israel — not the construction of a barricade, but the peaceful annexation and friendly ethnic cleansing of everything from that border all the way to the Jordan and beyond.

That prediction was as utterly wrong as it was cheerfully monstrous. They are already, to use a biblical term, false prophets.

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