Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 1989 —Volume 2:2
Grace in the Arts:
The Coronation of The King
An Annotated Work of Fiction
Frank D. Carmical*
And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall he one thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.1
The past forty-four days had been some of the most momentous in history. After seven years of unprecedented worldwide cataclysm,2 King Jesus had returned from heaven, conquered the assembled armies of the nations, and established His kingdom on earth. Accompanied by tens of thousands of His saints,3 the King had entered earth's atmosphere riding a white horse,4 and touched down at Mount Olivet near Jerusalem.5 The world dictator, known as the Beast, and his false prophet had been summarily sentenced to imprisonment and exile in the fearful Lake of Fire—the magmatic depths of Earth's eternally benighted core.6
Immediately after arriving from outer space, vast troops of these windborne saints, now the ruling aristocracy of a vanquished planet, had taken flight across the globe like snow-white doves. Some aristocrats now ruled as kings or queens over entire nations, others as governors over states, still others as mayors—some over ten cities, some over five, and some, alas, standing by idly and bitterly, while a few ruled over eleven cities.7
At last, the forty-fifth day had dawned. Today, millions of human beings would be judged to determine their qualifications to enter this kingdom.8 This day would also see the official inaugurations of the aristocracy who would co-reign with the King for the next one thousand years.9 finally, this would be the day of the public coronation of King Jesus as Sovereign over the Kingdom of God ruling all nations of Earth for the coming Millennium.10
Rudy left his mansion early this morning, washed in the River of Life, grabbed a piece of fruit from the Tree of Life, and was flying from the New Jerusalem for his last day of inspections when he heard the call for help. Once it would have been called a distress signal. Believers called it prayer. Unlike the old days, Rudy could help answer this prayer request.
The scene was a familiar one over this past month and a half: a city reduced to rubble by nuclear and extraterrestrial blasts during the war, people trapped beneath some ruined edifice (gone forever were the Eiffel Tower, the Sears Tower, the Taj Mahal, the Palacio de Bellas Artes, St. Peter's, and the Capitol in Washington11). Also, as usual, a member of the aristocracy was ready to rescue.
Rudy was the nobleman nearest to the site, so he immediately headed in that direction. When he arrived, he found that a lady of the aristocracy was on her knees finishing the prayer he'd heard just moments before. After he touched down, Rudy helped her stand up.
"Thanks for coming," she said, as she brushed the ashes and dust from her white robe. "Hello. I'm Sarah. This was more than I could handle alone."
"Hi, I'm Rudy. What can I do to help you get them out?"
"Well, from what I can tell with my new ability to see and hear through solid objects, there's a little girl down there, and about five cubits away is a man. They're both injured quite badly. The only reason they survived at all is because of an airspace under this area here." Sarah pointed.
Rudy surveyed the remains of the highrise hotel much as a three-year-old might look at a pile of building blocks. "How deep are they buried?"
"I'm not sure, but I estimate about fifty cubits. That's why I wouldn't proceed alone. I was afraid the lower section might cave in on top of their airspace while I was excavating the upper section.
Rudy smiled to himself at what would have once been his macho attitude to such a feminine display of know-how. Then he decided to go one step further than merely recognizing her ability. He'd give her a compliment. "Excellent precaution, Sarah. Where did you learn that principle, engineering in the old days?"
"No," she replied tersely. "Just common sense."
Rudy smiled at his own attitude, but then grew more serious. After he'd studied the situation a moment more, Rudy spoke. "Let's work together. I'll clear the debris, while you support the airspace underneath so it doesn't collapse."
"Excellent solution," she replied. "Did you learn that in engineering?" Rudy threw up his hands in mock surrender, realizing she'd been reading his mind all along. He really must get used to this mind-reading thing. She'd read that thought too. They burst out laughing together.
Then, moments later they both dropped to their knees and began to pray. Using only his mind, a mind which not much more than seven years before had only an average IQ, Rudy prayed in faith, believing.
A half-ton section of flooring levitated slowly, clumsily into the air, kicking up a gray cloud of ashes and concrete dust. The piece of concrete, steel, and carpeting wobbled through the air—Rudy hadn't quite perfected this new art form—and then suddenly crashed it to the ground a safe distance away as gravity took over after prayer.
"If I practice long enough, I might just be able to move a mountain!"
"Me too!" Sarah laughed, but not in unbelief like her Old Testament namesake, nor as she herself would have once laughed at the thought of lifting ten tons by prayer alone.
When half the rubble had been cleared to one side, Rudy turned to Sarah. "How much farther are they?"
"I think about twenty cubits. Just keep going. I've got their crawlspace protected. You won't injure them."
When the last slab of concrete that had buried the pair was out of the way, Sarah was the first to fly down into the pit where the little girl and the man were lying. Rudy followed immediately.
Seeing the condition of the girl and then the man, Sarah instantly knelt down again to pray. Just as she heard two pairs of feet touch down in the pit behind her, Sarah cried out, "Dear Lord Jesus, send us medics fast."
She turned around and to her stunned surprise, there were Dr. Luke and Dr. De Haan,12 still practicing medicine in their glorified state. They had appeared out of thin air one second before her prayer."13
Dr. De Haan walked quickly to the little girl and knelt beside her. Dr. Luke did the same with the man. Both patients were as limp as ragdolls, their bodies covered with horrible radiation burns and their clothes badly soiled with blood and filth.
"How bad?" asked Rudy.
Luke was inspecting the forehead and hand of the man, leaving De Haan to answer. "Bad, but no longer incurable."
"Thank You, Lord," breathed Sarah.
De Haan continued. "Do you realize what has happened to these people? The nuclear radiation that bombarded their bodies after the blasts is the molecular equivalent of a bull in a china shop. Without the healing power of the Lord, these people are doomed to death or permanent disability. They've had their bodies' cells ripped apart from the inside."14
Luke stood up, his face ashen. "We need higher assistance before we can treat this man." Looking up, Luke said aloud. "Lord, send one of your angels from Heaven."
In a moment—a moment noticeably slower than that required to bring the doctors—an angel appeared, nine feet tall and more muscular than any NFL linebacker Rudy had ever seen a decade before when Monday nights were devoted to one god only—football.
The angel took one look at the man and seemed to understand. He took one step back and waited for the others to do their part before his part was necessary.
The two doctors invited Rudy and Sarah to join them in prayer. De Haan and Sarah knelt by the girl, taking her little hands. Rudy and Luke did the same with the man a short space away.
When the four saints opened their eyes, the little girl opened hers. Her body was completely restored, every trace of the horrible disfigurement caused by the radiation was gone, every cell in her body restored to its pre-tribulation normality.
Sarah picked up the child in her arms, holding the living ragdoll close to her heart. "I'll take her to the refugee camp myself, if it's okay."
De Haan nodded. "Take her by the hospital first. The Lord won't mind if we double-check His handiwork."
Turning to Rudy, Sarah smiled. "Thank you for helping."
Rudy tipped an imaginary hat. "My privilege entirely."
The man who had been healed opened his eyes just as Sarah flew away with the girl in her arms. Rudy felt a chill in the air as Luke put a gentle hand on his shoulder and pulled him away from the patient. De Haan, Luke, and Rudy all stepped back in disgust at what they saw. The angel walked forward to take over.
The man who had been burned was looking up at them. His face and hands were restored to normal. There on his forehead and on his right hand were laser-tatooed the telltale, inverted triangle with the Roman numeral six on each point.15
The angel spoke to the three men in white, his voice like the sound of a thundering waterfall: "Leave this place and don't look back. Whatever you do, don't look back!"
Immediately Rudy and the two doctors flew up out of the pit and said their farewells. As Rudy sped away through the air to his original destination, he thought how such a command would have affected him just a few years back. No longer did he even have a desire to disobey.
The words of the King came quickly to his mind. "Remember Lot's wife!" Rudy thought for a moment about all the blessings that could have been his all those years if he'd only practiced simple, instant obedience!
The angel looked at the man with eyes as pure and piercing as bronze that had turned mirror-like in a blast furnace. "Do you repent of your fornications, idolatries, and scorceries?"
The man with 666 on his forehead and wrist at first looked up at the angel with an expression of absolute terror, but that expression changed to one of cynical defiance, as if someone had turned a switch. The angel read the Beast-worshiper's mind even before the obscenity could reach the man's lips.
Instantaneously the man's eyes began to melt in their sockets; his tongue began to shrivel in his mouth; his skin began to dissolve on his body; and in seconds, there was a bright burst of flame; then it was over. Like the empire of the Beast, only ashes remained.16
Having completed his part of the rescue, Rudy was about to resume his last day's inspections when he remembered his promise to Joe. It wasn't really what you'd call a promise. It was one of those passing remarks that he'd made a thousand times in the old life, just a casual, noncommital commitment," in this case, a promise to take Joe with him for a day's inspection. But when he thought of Joe sitting down there in the Zone of Darkness, and when he thought of their friendship in the old days, he changed his mind. These days, Rudy was taking his own words much more seriously than he ever had before.
Instead of flying up to the Moon as planned—actually, it was out to the Moon from the earth—Rudy hung a midair U-turn and headed south where dense cloud-cover enshrouded the entire South Pole in thick darkness. For now, this was Joe's home, what the Bible called, "the Outer Darkness."17
Rudy flew over what had once been called South America, the whole continent now moved and rehooked, puzzle-like, onto its original spot next to Africa. Totally out of curiosity, Rudy took a quick nose-dive to see if the reports he'd heard were really true. Cruising low over Texas-sized sections of rain forest that had been burned or blown apart, he finally climbed in altitude up to the escarpment where the discoveries had been made.
After circling in the air for a couple of minutes, he spied first one species of dinosaur and then another, playing and splashing atop the giant escarpment as though the time of Jacob's trouble, indeed, as though time itself, had never happened. Sure enough, Job's behemoth and leviathan still existed!18
After this harmless diversion, Rudy resumed his journey south. The bright millennial-blue skies grew darker with each passing furlong. As the skies turned to night, Rudy began to hear the most unhappy sounds outside of Gehenna.
When he arrived, Rudy was startled by the bleak, vegetationless landscape of Antarctica minus its ice and snow. The horizon was dotted here and there with Christians mourning their loss of rewards.
It took a few minutes of searching through the darkness to find his friend. He walked up to the lonely figure curled up on the ground. Rudy deliberately tried to sound cheerful. "I came back like I said I would."
Joe didn't even acknowledge him. Rudy repeated what he'd said and stooped down to take Joe's hand. Joe flinched and pulled away.
Rudy still tried to sound upbeat. "Come on, Joe. I told you I'd take you with me on the inspection tour someday. I have some extra time today and some fascinating places to visit. Thought you might like to come along."
At last, Joe looked up at Rudy with the eyes of a frightened child, half pleading that the invitation was not a lie. Understanding even what Joe was thinking, Rudy gently but firmly lifted Joe to his feet. "Look, I want you to come with me right now. I won't accept no for an answer."
Finally, Joe spoke, faltering as if it had been years since he'd last spoken. "But…but what about…."
Rudy smiled, reading Joe's mind easily. "There's no law that says you can't come with me on an inspection tour. Now let's get going. I don't have all day."
Joe looked around absent-mindedly, as though he had forgotten something. "I guess I'm ready…but you may have to help me a little. I don't do much flying…and well, I need a lot more practice…."
Rudy smiled. "So do I, brother."
After a couple of failed takeoff attempts, Rudy finally grabbed Joe by the hand and they took off together. As they flew north out of the Zone of Darkness, Joe slowly began to act and talk more like himself. After a little while Rudy let him fly solo.
But soon Joe began to fall behind. Rudy looked over his shoulder and saw Joe wobbling in midair. He called out. "Are you okay?"
Joe had difficulty talking and flying at the same time. "Yes…I still haven't…got the hang of it."
Rudy slowed down and allowed Joe to catch up. When they were side by side again, Rudy reached out his hand. "Here, let me help for a while. Besides, I know where we're going."
"Where did you say we're going?"
Rudy smiled. "I didn't say, but we're going to the Moon."
Joe didn't smile. "I was afraid you'd say something like that."
The inspection of the Moon took only long enough for Rudy to scan a couple of reports. Rudy had done none of the work on these inspections; his job was to make sure others had done their work. Joe preferred not to land on the lunar surface, but wait out in a protective, stationary orbit.
Rudy returned jubilantly. "Joe, I tell you, in a few hundred years no one is going to recognize this place with the addition of a blue-green atmosphere and white clouds, clear rivers and sparkling lakes, tall trees and green grass, even tawny cats and black-and-white dogs! And the Lunar University is going to be unrivaled in educating a generation of millennial college kids. Imagine having the Prophets teaching the Old Testament and the Apostles the New; Anselm, Augustine, and Aquinas doing seminars in theology proper; Luther and Calvin lecturing on soteriology; not to mention Edwards, Scofield, and Chafer—what a faculty!"
As they began the journey back to earth, Joe glanced back at the lunar surface and sighed. "I'm glad they've mopped up the blood from all the battles that were fought up here."
Rudy ignored Joe's depressing tone. "Actually, most of the red color19 will go away when earth's atmosphere is fully cleansed of all the dirt and poisons suspended in the air from all the explosions. In fact, that's our next stop."
"Mid-air—you know, the atmospheric teams. They're about to knock off for the holiday."
The atmospheric cleaning crews turned in their reports to Rudy after he and Joe had taken a brief tour of the skies above Europe, one of the areas hardest hit during the war. As they were about to leave, Joe asked his first question of substance. "What exactly have they been doing?"
Rudy was encouraged by what seemed to be his poor friend's interest. "It's an enormous project, Joe. Not only does the entire atmosphere have to be filtered and cleaned of smoke, carbon dioxide, poison gas, brimstone, and radioactive fallout,20 but in conjunction with the ocean-cleansing projects and the melting of the polar ice caps, the entire hydro-vapor canopy is gradually being restored to its pre-Flood state. It will take several generations to balance the world's climate, temperature, hydro- and bio-cycles.
"Once the new systems are in place, I guess the earth will become a very beautiful place."
"Like the world before the Flood.21 We have to wait another thousand years to turn the clock back to Eden. We're the overseers of this reconstruction project. God Himself will be the Architect of the New Earth."
"What about the Zones of Darkness at the North and South Poles? Will they clear up any during the next few years or will it always be so dark?"
"Joe, I really don't know. I don't know how much those areas will be changed. I know there won't be any more pollution left anywhere on Earth. But how much light there'll be or other changes, I just can't say."
"Is there someone you can ask? Would that be too much trouble?"
"No trouble, Joe, but I can't promise you anything. Guess where we're going next?"
"We're going to visit one of the most exciting of all the projects, the ocean-cleansing units."
There was almost eagerness in Joe's voice. At last, thought Rudy, at last.
At the Pacific Ocean Project—the only real ocean left in the world since the repair of the Atlantic-Ocean-sized rift between North America and Europe and between South America and Africa—Joe and Rudy witnessed the tail end of what had been an amazing operation. Aided by millions of members of the aristocracy, the entire ocean had been skimmed and scanned in a matter of a few weeks. Trapped or shipwrecked crews had been rescued. Whales, sharks (now as harmless as goldfish), and other sea creatures that were injured or dying had been captured, healed, and then turned loose in cleaner waters.
Most dramatic of all, huge cleanup units had been working night and day to filter out blood, wormwood, toxins, and other poisons,22 and even reducing the high degree of salt in the ocean while at the same time evaporating tons of water from the melting polar ice caps. The water vapor collecting in the atmosphere began to disperse worldwide, recreating the canopy that had enveloped the earth in the days of Noah and Enoch.
After looking over the reports, Rudy called out to one of the teams that was working with a group of dolphins, a species particularly hard hit during the judgments of the last seven years. "You've all done a splendid job!"
One of the team members called back. "We've only just started. It's going to take three or four generations to clean up the whole thing."
At that moment, a final group of hundreds of dolphins was released from their hospital holding-tanks to return to the sea. "Ee-ee-ee-ee, Ee-ee!" they cried in chorus, which was now perfectly understandable in dolphin language as "Thank you!"
"You're welcome!" called most of the team members.
Rudy laughed. "They've always been talking to us and we were too selfish to listen and too dumb to answer back."
Joe twisted his mouth and looked away. "There are more important things in life…."
Rudy shook his head, more than slightly perturbed. "Come on, Joe. Can't even a talking dolphin make you smile?"
"Would you smile if you were in my shoes?"
"Joe, I don't understand. You're seeing all these wonderful things and they don't even faze you! I thought it would be encouraging for you to come along, and you seem to dislike it at every stop!"
"What encouragement is it to know all this? Here you are gallivanting around the globe, while I'm doomed to sit in a dark corner thousands of miles from everything."
"But that's why I invited you."
"To show me what can't be mine?"
"No. Don't be ridiculous! Are you crazy? I want to share it with you."
"Share it? None of this belongs to me."
"But Joe, it doesn't belong to me either. The earth is the Lord's…."
"Don't you know how it tears me to pieces to see what I'm missing out on?"
Rudy should be feeling anger or hurt, but now he had an infinitely stronger and finer fabric of self-control woven within. "Are you sorry I invited you?"
"No." Joe hung his head. "…I'd hoped you'd remember your promise."
"I remembered. Come on. We have a few more stops before we arrive in the Holy Land. I know these will make you feel better."
The Himalayas were still the tallest mountains on earth, shoved skyward into even more jagged spires by the buckling of the crust and the tremendous tectonic forces unleashed before Armageddon. Rudy's inspection took longer than he'd anticipated and the work was made even more tedious because of his growing concern that it was a mistake to have ever brought Joe along.
This feeling was confirmed when Rudy returned to find Joe, Ancient-Mariner-like, stooped and staring forlornly at what had once been the tallest mountain in the world. Rudy had hoped the grandeur of Everest might inspire his old friend.
But when he returned, Joe's greeting was: "What great earth-shattering report do you have to 'share' this time?"
"Did you ever see photos of these mountains before the Tribulation, back when we were living in the United States?"
"Sure. What about them?"
"Look at the mountains now. What's different about them?"
"Is this supposed to be an elementary school exam? I guess the obvious answer is that they're taller."
"Right. What else is different?"
"I don't know. I can't read your mind as easily as you obviously can read mine. You'll have to stoop to my level and tell me."
Joe looked, but he didn't see.
At last, Rudy answered. "Where's the snow? The ice? You know, the white stuff?"
Joe looked down. "Not much of it left…like the South Pole."
"With the Earth's temperature so much hotter, the ice and snow are disappearing, but they're leaving behind a wonderful bonus. Thousands of new streams and rivers are springing up all over this part of the world that we once called Asia. The water is washing the land, picking up tons of garbage and pollution left from the wars. It's all being carried out to sea."
"Do you remember the Levitical ceremonies in the Old Testament with running water and scarlet and wool and hyssop? The cleansing of the lepers?23 Don't you see it? Even the earth is purifying itself from the cancer of the past decade and the natural elements are cooperating. For the first time in history since Eden, the Earth is responding in the way it was created to respond. It's washing up, sprucing up to get ready for the King!"
Joe looked at the mountains a long time before he spoke. "I've heard that Pilate still looks for water to wash his hands with in Hell…. Some things can never be washed away…."
After a long silence, Rudy spoke abruptly. "Are you ready to go?"
Joe looked a last time at the Himalayas and nodded.
Rudy finished his next assignment quickly to make up for lost time. The Sahara had bitten the dust forever and what was once called North Africa was blooming.24 The irrigated life that had once been the sole domain of the Nile was now continent wide. But roses in the desert brought no cheer to Joe.
Rudy had to almost drag Joe through the air to his last stop on the inspection: Israel. Rudy stopped first at the refugee camp near Tel Aviv to check on the little girl he'd helped rescue that morning. She had been released from the hospital and was playing with a number of other children. These children were without families to take care of them, but would be adopted by families entering the Kingdom following today's judgment.
Rudy walked past the greenhouses and vegetable gardens as he left the camp: tomatoes were growing the size of watermelons and clusters of grapes were big enough to carry on a pole between two men. Outside the camp, Rudy saw Joe seated by the road at an air bus stop, weeping.
Rudy ran up and put his hand on his friend's shoulder. "What's wrong, Joe?"
"I can't go on any further. I can't see any more. Take me home."
"But we're in Israel now. This is the most exciting part of the inspection. Everything is shaping up just as God said it would in the Prophets."
"Rudy! I can't think about Bible prophecies, when I'm the fulfillment of one of them! I always thought the Outer Darkness was Hell. I thought it was for lost people, but it's for me—a Christian!"
"I'm sorry." Only now was Rudy beginning to see the true anguish in his friend's soul.
"The worst part is that I deserve it! Do you realize what I did?"
Rudy turned away. He didn't want to listen to this confession. He didn't want to hear it all over again. But something inside, something new, gave him the strength to turn around, look into Joe's tear-drenched eyes, and listen.
"Do you realize what I did? I steered many away from the door of eternal life. I told them that they'd never make it with their simple childlike faith in Christ, and oh…I'm the one who barely made it with my self-righteousness! Most of the "easy-believism" converts I mocked really made it. And what is worse, I so clouded the Gospel that many of my congregation, those in my church, my radio listeners, and the readers of my bestselling books—they didn't make it at all."
"Don't be harder on yourself than He is," Rudy said, with a gentle touch of irony in his voice. "A large number of your converts were saved after all—not by your works-theology, but because God's grace found a core of true trust buried in their self-reliance. Don't forget that we were all sinners saved by grace."
"But few sinned as I did."
"All right. You sinned. So did I. So did Paul. But all our sin was atoned for long ago."
"But nothing will ever change my failure!"
"Nothing will ever change His grace to you either. Right now, He's being gracious to you and you can't see it, just as you couldn't see it then."
"Grace? Now? How is He gracious now? I'm not even invited to the coronation of the King! I suppose you'll quote Job's comforters and tell me my punishment is less than I deserve."
"No, Joe. We deserve nothing. Everything is His gift, even our rewards—the public offices to which we are about to be inaugurated. It's all of His grace."
"I guess I'm like Esau, begging for a lost blessing. Oh Father, bless me too! Is there not still some grace left for me?"
Rudy thought back to his old days, before glorification, those days of impatience when he would have desired to throttle a guy like this, but now he felt only compassion and patience. Once, his old nature would have desired to gloat over this brother, to boast in having had the true theology and the genuine converts. Now, seeing Joe's sad state, Rudy could not feel such sentiments; no, he didn't even want to feel such things.
"Joe, He is gracious still, but you can't see it. After seven years of God's wrath turned loose on Earth, His mercy has come to stay for more than a hundred times that long. It took the worst of God's judgment in order for Him to release the floodgates of blessing held back for centuries. He was gracious to millions during the Great Tribulation—millions who wouldn't have been saved any other way.25
"This is a day of grace to the Earth itself and its creatures—their groaning voice has at last been heard and answered. Their travail is over and they're rejoicing in the glorious freedom of the sons of God—our freedom!26
"But most of all, this is a day of grace to His Son. If God could be gracious to us, to the vilest scum, doesn't He now also have a right to be gracious to the One who became our Servant and died in our place?
"We lived in the days of grace to sinners. This is the day of His grace to the sinless Sin-Bearer. Forget yourself and think of Him. Even if you can't be happy for your own situation, be happy for the Lord Jesus. How He suffered for us! How He earned this hour! How He deserves it! This is His hour!
"Through His death we were justified. Now is the hour of His justification—not from sin, but because of our sins. Don't you see? The Father's grace to us ruined the reputation of His Son publicly in front of this world and now this is the hour of His public vindication in the same arena in front of all men."27
Almost out of breath, Rudy stopped. In a few minutes Joe spoke. "It's fitting that I'm not invited. I of all people helped to ruin His reputation…."
"Joe, you never committed adultery or cheated on your taxes or embezzled the church's money."
"There are worse spots on our love feasts…. I perverted the most precious thing He ever gave me. I took my most sacred trust and trampled on it. I preached…a different gospel."28
Joe broke down into sobs and Rudy started to say more, but he stopped. Yes, he could hear another call for help. This time it was the distinctive call of an angel. Grabbing Joe by the hand, Rudy shot up into the air and flew to the edge of the camp where he'd heard the call.
Even as they approached, Rudy could see the situation. A refugee from the camp had stolen a helicopter and flown it over the wall in a desperate escape attempt. An angelic guard had flown up and grabbed the helicopter, the spinning blades slicing through his angelic body like a food processor dicing a boiled egg. Unharmed, the angel set the copter gently on the ground. The frantic man jumped out of his escape vehicle and ran for his life into the ruined city beyond, with the angel, Rudy, and a reluctant Joe all flying fast behind him.
*Mr. Carmical is an evangelist and a writer. He has a special interest in reaching the Hispanic people. His first novel, The Omega Reunion, is published by Redención Viva (Dallas). This story is a work of fiction rather than a theological treatise, and should he read as such. We have put the author's notes at the end so as not to mar the story by breaking up the pages with footnotes. The notes are important, however. They show that this fiction story has a factual basis in Scripture and theology. Ed.
1All Scripture references are taken from the New King James Version, Copyright © 1984, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville.
After all the theologians have put forth their best arguments against a literal interpretation of these words in Dan 12:11-12, there is still no grammatical, exegetical, historical, logical, or sensible reason for not taking Daniel's words at face value as forty-five calendar days. (These forty-five days constitute the difference between thc 1,290 days of v 11 and the 1,335 days of v 12.) Literal interpretation in no way destroys poetry or symbolic language; on the contrary, behind a poetic image or prophetic symbol lies the most concrete reality. In most prophecies of a person, place, thing, date, or event there is a union of the literal and symbolic. For example, a flag is both a literal object as well as a symbol of a nation, as the 1989 U.S. flag-burning controversies have shown. Likewise, biblical prophecies can all be understood as a union of the symbolic and the literal: a specific number of days or years; a winged, flying angel; a savage, beast-like dictator; or a floating satellite city constructed of clear gold. It is the belief of this writer that most controversies in eschatology could be avoided if this simple principle of the literal/symbolic union were adopted by interpreters. This principle is used consistently (even if sometimes a little too overtly) throughout this short story.
For two good defenses of a premillennial, pre-tribulational approach to the prophetic Scriptures, see Charles C. Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1953) and The Meaning of the Millennium, edited by Robert G. Clouse (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977).
2See Dan 9:24-27.
3See Zech 14:5; Jude 14-15; Rev 19:14.
4See Rev 19:11.
5See Zech 14:4.
6See Rev 19:20. For a discussion of the exact, geographic location of literal and eternal Hell, see J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Co, 1964), 555-561. The location of Hell is presented here fictionally as the interior of the Earth. In defense of this interpretation, the characteristics of Hell (fire [Matt 25:41], worms [Isa 66:22-24; Mark 9:42-48], darkness [2 Pet 2:17; Jude 13], and a Lake of Fire [Rev 20:15]) correspond to the characteristics of Earth's top soil, crust, mantle, magma, and core.
7There is no reason not to take Jesus' parables, such as Luke 19:11-27, as a direct prophecy with a literal fulfillment involving the saints during Christ's reign on Earth.
8See Joel 3:1-2; Matt 25:31-33.
9See Luke 12:32; 1 Cor 6:2, 3; Rev 20:4-6. The use of the terms "ruling aristocracy" or "administrative staff" in reference to the rewarded saints of history is found in Erich Sauer's From Eternity to Eternity, trans. by G. H. Lang (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1954), 72-73.
10The public coronation of Christ as King of the nations will involve the literal fulfillment of such poetic prophecies as Psalms 2,24, 110, and 118.
11The destruction of the cities of the world is predicted in Rev 16:19.
12I wish to acknowledge my deep gratitude to God for Dr. M. R. De Haan, whose writings influenced my early years of studying God's Word. I can think of no higher tribute to one of this century's great Bible teachers than to place him, fictionally, in the company of Dr. Luke and in our Lord's millennial service as a physician.
13This scene is a fictionalization of the millennial promise in Isa 65:23.
14For an excellent discussion of these ideas, see "Living With Radiation," Charles E. Cobb, Jr., National Geographic (Vol.175, No.4, April 1989), 403-37.
15See Rev 13:16-18.
16See Rev 14:9-11;Zech 14:12.
17The term "outer darkness," used in Matt 8:12; 22:13; 23:30, has generally been interpreted as referring to the final place of punishment of unbelievers, also known as the Lake of Fire (for example, see Pentecost, Things to Come, 555). However, a minority interpretation refers this term to the state of Christians unrewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Rom 14:10-12; 1 Cor 3:12-15; 2 Cor 5:10). See, e.g., Michael Huber, "The Concept of the 'Outer Darkness' in the Gospel of Matthew," (Th.M. Thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1978), and Zane C. Hodges, Grace in Eclipse (Dallas: Redenci6n Viva, 1985), 83-95. Hodges, however, views the "outer darkness" as completely non-literal and as purely a part of the symbolism in the passages where it occurs. The view used in this story is for fictional purposes.
18See Job 40:15-41:34. For the interpretation that behemoth and leviathan were dinosaurs still living in patriarchal times, see John C. Whitcomb, The World That Perished (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1973), 28-29.
19Joel 2:31; Acts 2:20; and Rev 6:12 predict the turning of the moon into blood, which has been interpreted to mean not literal blood, but a blood-like color. This story furnishes a fictional scenario of how literal blood could be referred to as well as a crimson color.
20Pollution of the atmosphere will be a logical consequence of the judgments described in Joel 2:30; Rev 8:7; 9:18.
21The vapor canopy theory (as described in John C. Whitcomb, Jr. and Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood [Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1961]) that explains conditions in the antediluvian world (Genesis 3-8), is taken by many to explain how similar conditions can be restored in the millennial earth (Isa 35:1-10; 65:17-25; Ezek 40:1–8:35; Zech 14:6-21).
22One of the major tasks early in the millennial reign of Christ, I believe, will be the cleanup of the oceans and the rescue of surviving human and animal life after the tribulation judgments described in Rev 8:8-11 and 16:3-7.
23See Leviticus 13-14.
24See Isa 35:1-7; 51:3.
25An often overlooked purpose for the seven years of tribulation on Earth is the conversion of millions who would not otherwise be saved (Rev 7:9-17). Thus, even during the greatest outpouring of God's wrath in history there is an equally grand outpouring of His grace!
26See Rom 8:19-23.
27A lesser-known argument for a literal Millennium on Earth is that Christ deserves it. In the very city in which He was spit upon He will be crowned and will reign in absolute splendor. See Hoyt Chester Woodring, "The Millennial Glory of Christ" (Th.M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1950).
28Although it may seem inconceivable to some that the curse of Gal 1:6-9 could fall on a Christian, it is important to note that Paul includes himself in the list of those capable of preaching a "different" (Gk., heteron) gospel (v 8).