Kingdom come the final v.., p.2
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       Kingdom Come: The Final Victory, p.2
 

         Part #13 of Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye

  The group to Jesus’ left immediately fell to their knees again and began shouting and wailing, “Jesus Christ is Lord! Jesus Christ is Lord!”

  Jesus stood and walked to the edge of the platform.

  With anger and yet sadness, He said, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.”

  The millions began shouting and pleading, “Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?”

  Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. You will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

  “No! No! No!”

  But despite their numbers and the dissonance of their bawling, Jesus could be heard above them. “As the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”

  “We honor You! We do! You are Lord!”

  “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

  “But My Father has given Me authority to execute judgment also, because I am the Son of Man. I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.”

  “Jesus is Lord!” the condemned shouted. “Jesus is Lord!”

  Gabriel stepped forward as Jesus returned to the throne. “Silence!” Gabriel commanded. “Your time has come!”

  Rayford watched, horrified despite knowing this was coming, as the “goats” to Jesus’ left beat their breasts and fell wailing to the desert floor, gnashing their teeth and pulling their hair. Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and a yawning chasm opened in the earth, stretching far and wide enough to swallow all of them. They tumbled in, howling and screeching, but their wailing was soon quashed and all was silent when the earth closed itself again.

  Everyone on the platform moved back into place, and from the throne Jesus said, “Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand.”

  Gabriel came forward again. He said, “God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

  “Through Him you have received grace. You also are the called of Jesus Christ; grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. In His gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’

  “The wrath of God has been revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God was manifest in them, for God had shown it to them.

  “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes were clearly seen, being understood by the things that were made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

  “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

  “Amen!” the assembled shouted.

  “These who have been cast into outer darkness and await the Great White Throne Judgment a thousand years hence were indeed without excuse. God sent His Holy Spirit as on the Day of Pentecost, plus the two preachers from heaven who proclaimed His gospel for three and a half years, plus 144,000 witnesses from the twelve tribes. Endless warnings and acts of mercy were extended to these who continued to be lovers of themselves rather than of God.”

  It hit Rayford that all who were left were believers, worshipers of Christ, and that he himself was among those who would populate the millennial kingdom.

  Gabriel gestured that everyone should sit. When all were situated, he smiled broadly and pronounced loudly, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

  “The Mighty One, God the Lord, has spoken and called the earth from the rising of the sun to its going down. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth. Our God has come, and shall not keep silent; He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people!”

  With that Jesus stood, and Gabriel moved to stand behind the throne with the other angels. And Jesus said, “Gather My saints together to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice! Come forth!”

  From everywhere, from the earth and beyond the clouds, came the souls of those who had died in faith, whom Chaim and Tsion had often referred to as “the believing dead” and whom Rayford knew now also included Tsion himself—along with many more of Rayford’s friends and loved ones.

  Jesus began by honoring the saints of the Old Testament, those Rayford had only heard and read about. Rather than handling this the way He had the individual audiences with the tribulation saints—supernaturally dealing with them all in what seemed an instant—Jesus this time gave the spectators His strength and patience. The ceremony must have gone on for days, Rayford eventually decided, but he felt neither hunger nor thirst, no fatigue, not even an ache or a cramp from sitting in the sand that long. He loved every minute, knowing that when Jesus finished with the Old Testament saints, he would get to the tribulation martyrs. Waiting for his friends and loved ones to be recognized would be akin to waiting for Chloe’s name to be called when she graduated from high school, but the reunion afterward would make it all worthwhile.

  He glanced at his watch every few hours and realized how long it had taken to cover most of the Old Testament saints. Many he had never heard of—either he had not studied enough or these were some whose exploits had not been recorded. And yet God knew. He knew their hearts, knew of their sacrifice, knew of their faith. And one by one Jesus honored them as He embraced them and they knelt at His feet, and He said, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

  As they came to Him one by one, Jesus said, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to My Father must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

  There was Noah, humbly kneeling, receiving his reward. Jesus said, “By faith, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, you moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of your household, by which you condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”

  Hours later it seemed everyone roused when it was Abraham’s turn. Jesus said, “By faith you obeyed when you were called to go out to the place you would receive as an inheritance. And you went out, not knowing where you were going. By faith you dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with you of the same promise; for you waited for the city which had foundations, whose builder and maker was God.”

  Sarah was right behind him, and Jesus said to her, “By faith you yourself also received strength to conceive seed, and you bore a chi
ld when you were past the age, because you judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, your husband, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.”

  Jesus addressed the spectators. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore I am not ashamed to be called their God, for I am preparing a city for them.

  “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.”

  Later Jacob approached the throne, and Jesus said, “By faith, when you were dying, you blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of your staff.”

  And behind him, Joseph. Jesus told him, “By faith you, when you were dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning your bones.”

  All around, Jews began to stand. Soon everyone was on their feet. Moses himself was kneeling at the feet of Jesus with a man and a woman, and the Lord embraced them and said, “Well done, good and faithful servants. By faith, when your son was born, you hid him three months, because you saw he was a beautiful child; and you were not afraid of the king’s command.

  “And you, Moses, when you became of age, by faith refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasure of sin, esteeming My reproach greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for you looked to the reward. By faith you forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for you endured as seeing Him who is invisible.

  “By faith you kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

  “By faith you led My children through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.”

  A woman knelt before Jesus. He said, “By faith, Rahab, you did not perish with those who did not believe, because you received My spies with peace.”

  When all the heroes of the Old Testament, including Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also David and Samuel and the prophets had been honored, Jesus stood and said, “These through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

  “Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.

  “Still others had trial of mocking and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

  “And all these obtained a good testimony through faith.”

  __

  “It might be a little late to be asking this, Chaim,” Rayford said, “but what kind of a relationship will I have with Irene now? And Amanda. I know that’s the kind of question Jesus was asked when the Pharisees were trying to trip Him up, but I sincerely need to know.”

  “All I can tell you is what Jesus said. ‘In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age’—meaning this time period right now—‘and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage.’ I cannot make it any plainer than that.”

  “So only the people who reach the Millennium alive will marry and have children.”

  “Apparently.”

  Rayford also looked forward to meeting his heroes from the Old Testament. “We do get to interact with those guys, don’t we?”

  “Absolutely,” Chaim said. “In Matthew 8:11 Jesus says, ‘Many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.’ ”

  But for now the Old Testament saints were not mingling. They too had become spectators, because the multitude that no man could number was lined up at the throne, awaiting their rewards.

  “Those who were killed for the testimony of Jesus,” Chaim said, “which pretty much covers any believer who died during the Tribulation, will be honored. But those who were actually martyred will be given a special crown.”

  Gabriel stepped forward one more time and announced, “John the revelator wrote, ‘And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus, for proclaiming the Word of God, and who had not worshiped the Creature or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They had come to life again and now they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.’ ”

  Chaim’s assessment proved accurate. Somehow the Lord arranged it so that only those who knew each tribulation saint witnessed them getting their reward. So, rather than Rayford’s having to wait through the ceremonies for a million or two strangers to see a friend or loved one, as soon as the festivities began, Bruce Barnes approached the throne.

  “Bruce!” Rayford called out, unable to restrain himself, and he stood and applauded. All around him others were doing the same, but they were calling out other names. “Aunt Marge!” “Dad!” “Grandma!”

  After Rayford witnessed the honoring of many old friends and acquaintances and loved ones, finally there was Chloe, and right behind her Buck and Tsion. Rayford kept shouting and clapping as his daughter, son-in-law, and spiritual adviser received their well-done, their embrace, and their martyr’s crown. The entire heavenly host applauded each martyr.

  Of Chloe, Jesus said, “You too suffered the guillotine for My name’s sake, speaking boldly for Me to the end. Wear this for eternity.”

  Of Buck he said, “You and your wife gave up a son for My sake, but he shall be returned to you, and you shall be recompensed a hundredfold. You will enjoy the love of the children of others during the millennial kingdom.”

  Jesus took extra time with Tsion Ben-Judah, praising him for “your bold worldwide proclamation of Me as the Messiah your people had for so long sought, the loss of your family—which shall be restored to you—your faithful preaching of My gospel to millions around the world, and your defense of Jerusalem until the moment of your death. Untold millions joined Me in the kingdom because of your witness to the end.”

  Rayford enjoyed Jesus’ welcome to dozens of others whose names he had forgotten, underground believers in various countries who had worked through the co-op, hosted Trib Force people, and sacrificed their lives in defense of the gospel.

  Only by the miraculous work of God through Jesus, the honoring of more than two hundred million tribulation martyrs and saints was suddenly over. Jesus stood at the front edge of the vast platform and spread His arms, as if to encompass the mighty throng of souls, most with glorified bodies, the rest mere mortals who had survived the Tribulation.

  “I will declare the decree,” He said. “The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’

  “Now therefore, I say be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with tr
embling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

  “I welcome you, one and all, to the kingdom I have prepared for you. Rayford, welcome.”

  “Thank You, Lord.”

  How anyone found anyone else in the endless mass of souls was a miracle in itself. Rayford saw Chaim making a beeline to Tsion, who was already in the embrace of his wife and two children. Albie and Mac were laughing and shouting and hugging.

  There were Buck and Chloe running to Kenny as he ran to them.

  And seemingly out of nowhere, at Rayford’s elbow stood Irene. One thing he could say for the glorified body: She looked herself, and as if she had not aged. Indeed, she looked younger. No way could she say the same for him.

  “Hi, Rafe,” she said, smiling.

  “Irene,” he said, holding her. “You’re permitted one cosmic I-told-you-so.”

  “Oh, Rayford,” she said, stepping back as if to get a good look at him. “I’ve just been so grateful that you found Jesus and so thrilled at how many souls are here because of what you and Chloe and the others did.” She looked behind him. “Raymie,” she said, “come here.”

  Rayford turned and there was his son, suddenly full grown. He scooped him in a tight embrace. “Even you knew the truth that I didn’t,” he said.

  “I can’t tell you how great it is to see you here, Dad.”

  Rayford pointed to Buck and Chloe and Kenny. “You know who that is?”

  “Of course,” Irene said. “That’s my grandson—your nephew, Raymie.”

  They approached shyly, but it was Buck who broke the ice as Chloe gathered in her parents. “So nice to meet you, finally,” he said, shaking his mother-in-law’s hand. “I’ve heard so much about you.”

  As they laughed and hugged and praised God for each other and for their salvation, Amanda White Steele approached. “Rayford,” she said. “Irene.”

  “Amanda!” Irene said, pulling her close. “Would you believe I prayed for you even after I was raptured?”

 
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