Kingdom come the final v.., p.26
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       Kingdom Come: The Final Victory, p.26
 

         Part #13 of Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye
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  “I’ll tell him, ma’am,” Rehema said, “but if he is with you, I likely will be too.”

  “Is that so?”

  “Oh yes. My career, my future, my very life depends on keeping him from that appointment. So if he makes it, it will be either with my help or with me under his protection against my former superiors.”

  Irene chuckled. “He has convinced you of the error of your ways, has he?”

  “Very nearly.”

  “We will welcome you warmly into the family of God, dear.”

  “What?”

  Irene could tell Rehema was overcome. “Did you not hear me?”

  “I heard you, Mrs. Steele. It’s . . . it’s . . . it’s just that no one has ever said that to me before.”

  “What is it?” Rayford said, noting that Rehema was fighting tears.

  The young woman merely shook her head and held up a hand as if she needed a moment before she could speak. Finally she said, “If I get you out of here, can we stop for my son?”

  “First things first,” Rayford said. “Do you understand what you are saying?”

  “Of course. I have more reason to believe in your God than you ever did. There is more evidence, more proof, more of everything than you ever had. I know who I am and what I am.”

  “And what is that?”

  “A sinner in need of God.”

  “Then you also know what you need to do. Do you understand the consequences?”

  Rehema nodded solemnly. “TOL does not lightly hold their own.”

  “And you also realize that I could not allow you to release me and go to find your son while other believers remain here.”

  “What are you saying?” Rehema said.

  “What kind of a zealot would I be to escape and leave others to whatever fate awaits? If we do this, we take everyone.”

  “That would require an act of God. There are more than thirty others, each with his or her own personal guard.”

  Rayford smiled. “You have heard every story I can remember. Where would you think such a miracle might rank on my list of supernatural events?”

  Rehema looked about. “I feel as if every eye is on me, every camera, every hidden microphone.”

  “I hope they are. I hope Ishmael and whomever else he wishes to enlist as a henchman has heard every word. The Scripture is clear that ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ ”

  As if on cue, the bureaucrats and other guards looked up as a cadre of armed guards rushed from every direction, joining in the middle of the compound and then heading, led by Ishmael, toward Rayford’s cell, weapons at the ready.

  “Surrender your rifle and sidearm, Rehema,” Ishmael said.

  As Rehema allowed them to be unstrapped and taken, she glanced in panic at Rayford.

  “You have one chance and one chance only to renounce all you have heard and said here,” Ishmael told her. “Proclaim your loyalty to TOL and be reassigned, or join the prisoners to whom you seem so sympathetic.”

  “You’re asking me to choose sides?”

  “Precisely.”

  “I choose the true and living God and His Son, Jesus.”

  Stripped of her weapons and ammunition belt as well as her boots, Rehema was shoved into Rayford’s cell and shackled both to him and to a steel ring embedded in the wall. She was shuddering, but he drew her close and whispered, “The better for us to be able to pray.”

  And with the withdrawal of TOL troops, they did pray, and Rehema became a child of God.

  “My son is in a TOL day care center six miles from here,” she said.

  “God knows,” Rayford said.

  Tsion Ben-Judah made the decision to keep the news of Rayford’s incarceration from the brothers and sisters in Israel. “They have enough to occupy themselves for now,” he said. “And besides, we know this is only a temporary setback. Have you looked out the window?”

  The others crowded around as Tsion raised the blinds. Marching resolutely down the road was a robust figure.

  Bruce Barnes whispered, “I don’t believe it.”

  “Of course you do,” Tsion said. “And you should not even be surprised.”

  “Anis?” Chaim said.

  “My man,” Tsion said.

  “He’s more than a man,” Bruce said. “And you, above all, know it.”

  Rehema knelt awkwardly with Rayford, their cuffs not only tethering them together but also pinning them to the wall, as he led her in prayer again. When they finished he asked her what time it was.

  Through tears she reported, “It’s 2200 hours.”

  “Two hours before midnight. We must soon be on our way. Does your son usually spend the night at day care?”

  She shook her head. “I pick him up on the way home.”

  “How many will your car hold?”

  “Four.”

  “We’ll need more vehicles and drivers.”

  “Assuming we can get the keys. How is this supposed to happen, sir?”

  “I have quit asking or even wondering. The Lord works—”

  “In mysterious ways. Don’t look so surprised. Even unbelievers have heard all the clichés.”

  The old man and the young girl turned carefully and sat next to each other, backs against the wall, manacled arms raised. “This is the best part of being on the right side,” Rayford said. “Waiting and watching to see what God will do when there seems no possible solution.”

  Rehema sighed. “And you never wonder, never worry.”

  “Not anymore. Don’t wonder; don’t worry. Just wait and watch. And obey.”

  “Obey whom?”

  “Whomever He sends. Whatever He does. Just be prepared to act in faith.”

  __

  Rayford found his head bobbing as he fought drowsiness when midnight approached. He was aware that Rehema remained tense and alert. That was understandable. All of this had to be foreign to her.

  “I’m scared,” she said. “Mostly for my son. What will become of him?”

  “Jesus is a lover of children,” Rayford said. “Trust Him. Obey Him. May I teach you a song?”

  “Are you serious?”

  Rayford began humming, then singing “Trust and Obey.”

  “When we walk with the Lord in the light

  of His word,

  What a glory He sheds on our way.

  While we do His good will, He abides with us still,

  And with all who will trust and obey. . . .”

  Rehema looked at him with what appeared amazement, but she listened until he trailed off and finally dozed.

  At the stroke of midnight, Rayford was awakened when Rehema struggled to her feet, yanking painfully on his arm.

  “Who’s that?” Rehema said, pointing with her free hand. “And how did he get in here?”

  There stood Anis in the midst of the chaotic compound, calm, serene, confident, authoritative. He raised both arms, as if directing a church choir, and Rayford noticed that all the prisoners seemed to know it was their cue to stand. Ishmael approached, brandishing his weapon and calling for aides to apprehend the intruder. But as others joined him, forming a half circle around Anis and demanding that he identify himself and surrender, the man of God did not even acknowledge their presence.

  Suddenly the screens on the walls and the computer monitors flickered and went dark, and a low rumbling began. It soon grew into a shaking and rattling, and the armed guards grabbed frantically for anything to stay upright. As the lights went out and emergency lamps came on, the foundations of the place rumbled and rattled, and as one the cell doors broke from their latches and swung open, chains and handcuffs falling from all the prisoners.

  Ishmael screeched that guards would shoot to kill any who even dreamed of leaving their cells, but Rayford noticed that all eyes were on the stoic Anis, who began directing the prisoners out one by one.

  “Shoot! Shoot!” Ishmael raged. “Fire!” But no one responded, and not even the man himself seemed able to raise his
weapon.

  Soon the prisoners were following Anis past guards who appeared paralyzed with fear. They moved into the parking area where the rolling stock stood, and Anis divided the freed men and women and young people into threes and fours, handing them keys and pointing them to various cars. Some guards tossed away their weapons and tore off their hats and shirts, joining the throng leaving the complex.

  Anis directed Rehema to her own car and assigned an older woman to join them, telling Rehema where to drop her.

  The caravan of cars slowly fell into line and snaked its way to the surface, where armed guards calmly opened the gates and allowed them out. They sped off in all directions, Rehema quickly reaching top speed and asking Rayford to sing his song once again.

  And as he sang, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey . . . ,” Rehema delivered the woman to her joyous, weeping family, then headed directly to the care center, where her son stood in the doorway, backpack full, eyes heavy-lidded. He politely met Rayford, climbed into his car seat, and fell asleep.

  Rehema drove directly to the camper, where Rayford introduced her and quickly recited the story. As the others welcomed her to the fold, it was decided she would accompany them to Siwa. Within another hour, they were on their way.

  The following evening, she became one of many formerly imprisoned believers who testified of the miraculous midnight prison break. Siwa enjoyed a revival unmatched by any other city in Ozase.

  Rayford and his team mobilized the local teams and finally set out for Israel and their long-awaited break.

  Qasim Marid was, of course, fired from the Children of the Tribulation ministry, and he died at one hundred.

  He was replaced by Abdullah Ababneh’s friend Sarsour, who endeared himself to the staff and Cameron Williams’s extended family over the next nine centuries.

  Ignace and Lothair also died at one hundred—as did Mudawar—and became the Other Light martyrs, still revered by billions of adherents more than nine hundred years later.

  Kenny and Ekaterina Williams’s wedding was performed by Bruce Barnes, and the couple produced eight sons, six daughters, and more than eighty grandchildren over the next two hundred years. The couple expanded the work of COT to Greece, as had been Ekaterina’s dream, until they grew too feeble to carry on.

  By the end, the ministry was maintained by the glorifieds, as the naturals finally saw the ravages of time catch up with their bodies. When the naturals reached ages higher than about seven hundred, they began to slow and notice the diminution of their senses, particularly hearing and sight.

  On his eight hundredth birthday, Mac McCullum was honored when it seemed that all his former friends and loved ones and associates were invited to celebrate with him at COT in Israel—and most showed up. He asked for the microphone and announced “what I believe is a brilliant idea. It probably came from the Lord, but until we know for sure, I’ll take credit for it. Let’s make a pact, all of us, that we find a way to move right back here to witness the end of the Millennium. If everybody can work that out over the next two hundred years, at my thousandth we’ll have us a mighty reunion, and all you glorifieds can help feed us naturals. How ’bout that?”

  The idea was met with laughter and high spirits and then forgotten for several years until Rayford raised it with Chloe and Cameron. “You’ve expanded,” he said. “And the earth’s population has exploded as we all knew it would. Let’s free up a building here where you young ones can keep an eye on us oldsters and keep us from having to be warehoused somewhere else. Kenny and Kat can’t walk without canes anymore. Mac and Chaim are in wheelchairs and I soon will be. Abdullah’s the only one who still has a little spring in his step, but we know that won’t last. What do you say?”

  Cameron apparently liked the idea, for when virtually the same crowd returned for Mac’s millennial bash, The “six oldsters,” as they had come to be known, were lined up in their wheelchairs, facing the horizon.

  “This here’s like a funeral where the dead guy won’t go,” Mac said, as dear ones from the past began a long procession past Rayford, Kenny, Ekaterina, Chaim, Mac, and Abdullah.

  Rayford had to have the visitors remind him of their names and their connection. His heart was full as he was greeted by Loretta, Bruce Barnes’s secretary; Floyd Charles; David Hassid; T Delanty; Mr. and Mrs. Miklos from Greece; Ken Ritz; Hattie Durham; Annie Christopher; Steve Plank; his own parents—looking centuries younger than he; Amanda and her first husband; Albie; Hannah Palemoon; Zeke senior and junior; the Sebastian family—George, Priscilla, and Beth Ann; Razor; Enoch Dumas; Leah Rose; Eleazar Tiberias; his daughter, Naomi; Chang Wong; Otto Weser; Lionel Whalum; Ming Toy and Ree Woo; and so many others.

  “You know what I want?” Rayford said.

  “Tell me, Dad,” Chloe said.

  “I want a picture of the original Tribulation Force.”

  Chloe rounded up Bruce and Cameron, and the three glorifieds posed behind Rayford’s chair.

  The instantly produced photograph stunned even Rayford. It depicted three robust young people frozen in the prime of their lives and a long, bony man with drooping jowls, liquid eyes, and no hair, weighing barely over a hundred pounds, veins prominent on the backs of his hands, bundled in a sweater despite the desert heat.

  THE LAST DAY OF THE MILLENNIUM

  THIRTY-THREE

  THE EARTH teemed with billions of people, and the end of the Millennium was vastly different from the beginning. That was no surprise to Rayford, who kept up with the news, often sitting before the television with Chaim Rosenzweig. “We don’t have one trained soldier,” he said. “And we don’t need one. Not a hair on the head of a believer will be harmed by the biggest fighting force the world has ever seen.”

  Daily for the past three years, the news had abounded with stories of millions of adherents to the Other Light, growing bolder by the minute. Their printing presses and electronically transmitted messages blanketed the globe, recruiting new members, amassing a weapons stockpile and training a fighting force a thousand times bigger than had been aggregated for the Battle of Armageddon a millennium before.

  Rayford was amazed that God allowed such a brazen, wanton act of defiance on the parts of so many as they symbolically thumbed their noses at Jesus and the earthly rulers He had chosen from the ages. Even in Israel, tanks rumbled through the streets, uniformed soldiers marched, and missiles and rockets were paraded before the faithful.

  Television broadcasts from around the world showed the same and worse—what seemed like entire people groups dressed in the all-black uniform of the fighting forces of the Other Light. Of course they were all younger than one hundred and thus relegated to the status of children—rebellious, articulate, passionate, defiant, furious children. But they were also brilliant and had written songs and poems and speeches anticipating the day their leader, the Other Light personified, would be—in their words—“foolishly released” by his captor.

  “The so-called God Almighty will rue the day He returns to us our leader, for it will mean the greatest comeback, the most decisive defeat, the most gargantuan victory of any foe over another in the history of mankind.”

  Warships, tanks, personnel carriers, bombs, rockets, launchers, and all manner of battle paraphernalia from tents to food and medical supplies had been arriving at Holy Land ports daily for months, vast encampments growing around the entire expanded city of Jerusalem.

  Rayford was stunned that even many of the faithful were outraged and terrified by this. Oh, it was awful, terrible and disconcerting to see the plains filled with warriors and their tools of war. But the only reason the government allowed it was because they knew—as did Rayford and his friends—the schemes of the marauding invaders were futile.

  “All this time, Rayford,” Chaim said, his voice weak. “All this waiting. And the prophecies are clear that this will be entirely anticlimactic. Think of the irony of that.”

  Rayford remembered when th
e airwaves had been full of praises to the Lord Christ, who ruled the earth from His throne. Now it was as if people on both sides of the conflict had forgotten that He was still there, still sovereign, still destined to triumph. Debates, speeches, charges and countercharges filled the airwaves now.

  And the enemy continued to arrive. Every nation on earth sent fighting forces. And while many believers fled the Holy Land, others vowed to fight the Other Light to the death.

  __

  The only question on the final day was the timing of God’s release of His archenemy of the ages.

  That became obvious soon enough when the countless followers of the Other Light announced that their centuries-long project to manufacture weaponry unlike anything that had ever been seen on earth had resulted in all that could be seen, blotting out much of the landscape of Israel and surrounding the City of David.

  For a thousand years there had been no wars or rumors of wars, no nation rising against nation; now TOL had emerged with a highly organized, trained, precision-tuned army of hundreds of millions. It finally became obvious that God had released Satan, according to the Scriptures, when the warriors from all over the world, “whose number is as the sand of the sea,” were finally in place, gathered for battle.

  For months they had been arriving, first in small groups and finally in great battalions, carefully following orders and surrounding “the camp of the saints and the beloved city.”

  As the entire world looked on—many by television, many from what they hoped were safe distances—the colossal fighting force suddenly came alive with a buzz of anticipation. Clearly Satan had been released and was in their midst, preparing to show himself and lead them. The cosmic battle of the ages between the forces of good and evil, light and darkness, life and death, was about to commence.

  Rayford and his friends gathered on the veranda of Cameron’s estate, where they were allowed to see this all unfold. And Rayford knew it was only by the supernatural grace of God that his thousand-plus-year-old eyes were able to see every detail. It was as if God Himself was revealing everything to the theater of Rayford’s mind.

 
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