Book Review: Kingdom Come by Jenkins and LaHaye
The subject of Kingdom Come is the much debated Millennial Kingdom, a prophesied 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ on earth. Satan, also known as the Devil, is locked up for the duration and is unable to tempt mankind. At the end of the Millennial Kingdom he is set free (or escapes) to once again tempt man to follow him instead of the One True God. It has always amazed me that, according to Scripture, at the end of those 1,000 years with God in the person of Jesus Christ physically and personally ruling the earth that people (and droves of them) would side with Satan for a final, climatic battle. What would motivate people to do that? It is a story I’ve always wanted to read.
Kingdom Come answers the question of why people choose the sides they do extremely well. Jenkins and LaHaye remind us that even without the temptation from Satan, our desire to be in control of our own lives and not surrender that control to anyone, not even God, remains a powerful force.
The book also continues to accomplish something that the previous Left Behind books did so well. For me, there is something about seeing the events prophesied in Scripture portrayed in such vivid, living detail that gives them a greater reality for me. This stuff is real and its really going to happen. It forces me to evaluate my beliefs and how those beliefs impact my life.
I found the ending was especially strong. The imagery of the earth being destroyed and new heaven and new earth created was exceptional.
The book helped me to once again see things ‘in the light of eternity’. It pointed me to a greater and deeper relationship with Christ. For that, I am greatful to the authors.
Conflict and Filler
[Minor spoilers below]
My major issues with Kingdom Come center on conflict and filler. According to LaHaye/Jennings interpretation, Old Testament heroes will be part of the population of the Millennial Kingdom. At various points in the story, three of these heroes give a detailed retelling of their story. While there are some interesting details thrown in, the vast majority of their monologues are taken straight (word for word) from Scripture. I understand the hesitancy to “put words” into these heroes mouths, but I have to imagine that the overwhelming majority of the readers of Kingdom Come will be people who are already strong believers. They will know these stories well. Quoting so much scripture through these three retellings felt like a bit of filler to me.
I’d be facinated to see how a non-believer would react to Kingdom Come. How would it come off to them?
My issue with conflict comes as intrigue begins to build in the story. Things start happening to the characters that don’t make sense. One such incident is a negative report about one of the characters that appears in an old style physical office inbox. When a second report also appears, the characters wonder who could be leaving them. They ignore the blindly obvious idea of putting a security camera by the mailbox so they can see who is dropping off the reports. I understand they have been living in a near utopia for approximately 100 years at this point in the story, but the characters in question still come from ‘our time’. I can’t image they forgot something as simple as a video camera.
When a main character is accused of serious crimes, it’s not only obvious that he is being setup, but it’s equally obvious who the real ‘bad guy’ is that is trying to frame him. The book lacks any twist whatsoever. I know to a certain extent that is difficult given the subject matter. There is little doubt the forces of Light will be victorious in the end.
“Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of the Father.” Philippians 2:10 – 11.
But even given that I thought more could have been done to make the investigation more interesting. I doubted the guilty party was who it turned out to be only because that would have been too obvious. I was wrong.
I readily admit (as do the authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins) that not all of the details in any Left Behind book are likely to be completely accurate when compared to the actual future fulfillment. Prophecy is rigorously debated among followers of Christ and always better (and more easily) understood after it’s been fulfilled.
For example, in the days before Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, I’m sure you could have found a Scribe or a Pharisee who could have spoken in great detail how Messiah would come and what His eventual kingdom (political and spiritual) would look like. He would have been wildly wrong on some points. It’s easy to see now that the prophecies looked ahead to two comings : his first at Bethlehem, and his second at some future date at the end of the seven year Tribulation.
We shouldn’t be too hard on that first century Scribe. The Bible has a first coming prophesy in the same scripture as a second coming prophecy.
For unto us a Child is born [first coming], Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. [second coming] – Isaiah 9:6
But that 1st century Scribe would also have been exactly right on many other points. Christ did come at Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), was born of virgin (Isaiah 7:14), and a massacre of children happened at his birthplace (Jeremiah 31:15). He spoke in parables (Psalm 78:2-4 and Isaiah 6:9-10), and he healed the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1-2). He was betrayed (Psalm 41:9 and Zechariah 11:12-13) and his betrayer used the money to buy a field (Zechariah 11:12-13).
It’s easy to see now that Christ came not to set up a political kingdom, but to establish a spiritual one. The political kingdom of Christ comes at the end of the seven year Tribulation which is prophesied in Revelations, a book that hadn’t even been penned when Christ was born.
The site http://www.raptureready.com/featured/funk/statistics-probability.html lays out the staggering implications of those prophesies being literally and completely fulfilled.
Professor Peter W. Stoner who authored “Science Speaks” stated that the probability of just eight particular prophecies being fulfilled in one person is 1 in 1017,i.e. 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000).
There are actually over 300 individual prophesies Jesus fulfilled – but let’s stick with just 8 for the moment.
This number has been illustrated as follows:
If we take 1 X 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas, they’ll cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one?