The reason why I recommend this novel is that it is written from a PreWrath perspective. This is the belief that the church will not be here for the eschatological wrath of God, but the church will be here for persecution, tribulation, and even the great tribulation. As such, the storylines contained within are focused on how freedoms in the United States will be stripped away, on the development of the antichrist and his confederacy of nations, and on how Christians (non-markers) will be systematically exterminated. We read in Matthew 24:22 that if the days of the great tribulation were not cut short then no flesh would be saved, and then we see this truth come to life in the lives of the characters of this book. The choices that Christians will have to make in this novel are in large part reactionary. Some have planned ahead and created the compound in order to hide when the great tribulation is unleashed. But for the most part, so-called Christians are ill-prepared to function when it comes to living in a world where non-markers have no right to do anything. Their heat/water/electricity is cut off, they cannot buy anything or collect a paycheck, their children are taken from them, and if they don’t comply with taking the mark, they get sent to a training camp to help them understand the importance of the new world order.
The demonic deception in this novel is taken to the next level. In the first novel, it was creepy. In this novel, it is still unnerving to see the power being flexed by Satan and his minions, but it is balanced with angelic activity as well. Noah Greer, one of the main characters, has a guardian angel whose part is written quite well. I’m not saying this is on the same level as Peretti’s writings, but the inclusion of this aspect reveals another side to the great tribulation, that of supernatural protection of specific individuals for purposes that only the Father knows.
The personal life of the antichrist, Alexander Magorum, is also explored in greater detail. Elise Orion is Magorum’s highly competent personal assistant who travels with him almost wherever he goes. Agent Yakov Vasiliev is the head of security whose mission at times seems to be bent on protecting Magorum at all costs, and at other times there is this hint that he has other allegiances. The intensity of the antichrist, someone who has been to the pit of hell and back, is not something that you’d sign up to experience first hand. However, as intense as he is, there are certain things that he cannot do, such as deal with these two old Jewish men who speak daily against him at the temple mount. They also do miracles even more powerful than Ferco Szabo, who has power to make fire come down from heaven when he is with Magorum.
Another interesting character is Wayne Durbin, the mayor of Creston, which is the town in Indiana where the majority of the story takes place. Through chain of command, he is responsible for making sure his entire town gets “marked up”. If not, funds will not be available for future projects. Of course, he could refuse to do his job and he would simply be replaced. That’s just how it goes with Magorum. But Durbin seems to relish this race to joining the new economic system. All of his time and talent goes into planning to make his town the first in Indiana to have 100% compliance.
The plot will make you think about life as the end of the age draws near. Is it okay to fall in love during the great tribulation? Should you discuss the mark of the beast with your children? What type of church should you attend? Which doctrines are the most important as our lives are on the line for Jesus? When public witnessing for Jesus is outlawed, how should Christians respond? How will Christians function in a society that is bent on exterminating them?
As far as the theology behind the story, I want to share two issues that I have just for clarification. First off, there is so much that Kristen and I have in common concerning eschatology which makes it a very pleasant experience to read a novel with which I can see so much scripture woven into it. But lest you readers read the book and think that I fall in line with everything contained therein, I write this portion sort as a disclaimer.
The first issue is that of the identity of the seventh head and the antichrist. Robert Van Kampen, one of the founders of the PreWrath position and also Kristen’s father, has promulgated in his prophecy books that the seventh head of the seven headed beast was Nazi Germany. Van Kampen further wrote that the individual antichrist will be a resurrected Adolph Hitler. Kristen writes these ideas into both of her novels. It is certainly interesting to see one of the most antichrist type personalities of our time to be the end times antichrist. I think it gives a certain je ne sais quoi to the persona of this ruler bent on destroying God’s people. However, I don’t believe the scriptures teach that Nazi Germany could have been the seventh head, and I don’t believe that a resurrected Hitler will play the part of an end times antichrist.
The second issue is a little more detrimental to me. I believe that the job of preaching the gospel belongs solely to the church until the end of the age. Kristen has the gospel preached through angels during the great tribulation based on Revelation 14:6. I believe the church should be prepared to give public testimony during this coming dark hour to the truths of God’s Word. The command in Matthew 24:16 is for those in Judea to flee to the mountains, but does that mean that all Christians are supposed to go into hiding when they see the abomination of desolation? Mark 13:9-13 shows that the gospel will be preached in the midst of intense persecution. Christians standing publicly before governors and kings seems to be the way that the gospel is preached during this time. I can understand the intimidation, but think of the honor. When the darkness reaches an apex, should we hide, or step out onto center stage?
I told Kristen that I would like to see her write one more novel. I would like to see the church portrayed as bold and powerful during the great tribulation. Perhaps some should go into hiding. But I think it is clear that we should not love our lives, even to the point of death, Revelation 12:11. Many of the heroes of Kristen’s two novels are motivated by a want to preserve their lives. They are willing to die if they are caught, but that is not their first choice. I would like to see some heroes and heroines that are bold to the point of lunacy. Revelation 3:8 tells of an open door for the church at Philadelphia which no man could shut. I believe this open door is the opportunity to preach the gospel because of their faithfulness and patient endurance. Imagine a group of believers able to preach the gospel and no one can touch them, I mean nobody, no matter how bad they want them dead. There is witnessing throughout the book by Christians, but it seems to take a second place to Christians planning to hide. I think the best planning we can do is to study the Word of God that we might preach the gospel better.
To end on a positive note, the study of God’s Word is one thing that is at the forefront of this novel. Thomas Larson is a Christian who loves the LORD, but has failed to study the scriptures as they relate to the end times. Charlie West is his close friend who talks to him time and again urging him to read the scriptures. Thomas considers this, but believes that any time the rapture will occur making the study of God’s Word on prophetic things to be of no consequence. Thomas is one of those who is ill-prepared to lead his wife and children in a way that pleases God during this time. Add in the fact that he has taken a back seat to his wife, Robin, in spiritual matters, and that he is a close personal friend of Wayne Durbin, and you have a plot that will keep you in suspense until the end.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman