Kingdom come the final v.., p.6
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       Kingdom Come: The Final Victory, p.6
 

         Part #13 of Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye

  The next morning, as Cameron Williams lay on his back in his bedchamber, hands behind his head, he eagerly anticipated another day of service to his King. Beyond the heavy draperies that had been fashioned to keep out the glare of the sunlike moon through the night, not to mention the irrepressible morning sun, lay a delightful day to serve the Lord.

  Today was the day of the celebration in honor of the wedding of the Lamb. All were invited to the marriage supper, and as Cameron showered and dressed, he was compelled to return to the new temple by way of the Highway of Holiness. When he rushed to the front door, Chloe and Kenny waited, appearing barely able to control themselves. From outside came the cacophony of millions already on foot, talking, laughing, singing, dressed in their finest.

  Millions were on their way as part of the bride of Christ. The rest were companions of the bride or friends of the Bridegroom. The bride, of course, consisted of all born-again believers from the time of Pentecost until the Rapture. Tsion had explained that John the Baptist, for instance, was not part of the bride, for he died before the church was founded. John had referred to himself as a friend of the Bridegroom: “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

  Jesus Himself had said, speaking of His forerunner, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Finally that confusing verse made sense to Cameron. For the Kingdom of Heaven was finally at hand, and even the least here was a member of the bride of Christ, while John the Baptist himself was merely invited to the celebratory supper as a friend of the Bridegroom.

  The vast throng that eventually filed again into the temple courtyard spilled into the holy neighborhood created for the priests and Levites. They found miles of tables lined end to end, convenient for sitting or even reclining, laden with bowls and goblets to receive a feast unlike anything Cameron had ever seen or imagined. The aroma alone from near the throne seemed to transport him to heavenly places. Here he had lost his taste for meat and craved the fresh fruits and vegetables that weighed down every branch and vine in the kingdom, yet arrayed before him and the multitudes was that and more.

  Stretched from sky to sky were spectators, the angels, who in no way qualified as guests. In their bright robes they sang out praise and glory to the Lamb who was slain, now the Bridegroom who was honoring His own bride.

  Apparently the edict that men and women would find their sustenance somewhere other than in the flesh of animals had been lifted for this occasion, for as soon as Cameron found his place, the Lord Jesus Himself announced, “On this mountain I have provided a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees. See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. I have girded Myself and bid you sit to eat, and I will come and serve you.”

  Cameron had learned to stop using phrases that limited time, such as, “For as long as I live, I’ll remember . . .” because he was slowly coming to grips with the fact that he was now destined to live forever. Even with that caveat, he knew he would never forget this day, this feast, this celebration. For as Jesus had fed five thousand men and their families with a young boy’s small lunch more than two millennia before, now He served a sumptuous meal to millions, all at the same time. They sat or reclined and ate and drank and worshiped and sang and celebrated the introduction of the bride, her companions, and the friends of the Groom—including all of Israel who had been redeemed by their faith before the time of the church or who had become tribulation saints.

  Cameron ate his fill and closed his eyes, knowing that even without seeing he was always aware of the ever-present Savior, the Bridegroom, who had wooed him to Himself and loved him with an everlasting love.

  Rayford felt no sense of loss that both Chaim and Tsion had been assigned to build their own homes with their respective tribes, north of the valley where he had been directed. Many of his Gentile friends and family would be close by, and anyway, his dear mentors were only a few miles away.

  Already friends and acquaintances expert in the knowledge of technology had begun trying to find the resources necessary to rebuild infrastructures. And from all over the world came reports that citizens were determined to rebuild mass communications methods, airplanes, and computers, restoring all the modern conveniences.

  As for Rayford, he wondered how he was to build his own dwelling. Was he to hew newly created trees? It seemed a desecration. But when the day dawned that he felt compelled to begin his work, everything he needed was there, including the strength and knowledge to work with dispatch. Within days, toiling with dozens of like-minded men and women, he helped create lodging for hundreds of thousands of people in their lush valley alone, assembling the beautiful dwellings from raw materials.

  Meanwhile Rayford believed that one day his abilities as a leader and organizer would again be employed. For now he was to aid Chloe and Cameron in their ministry to children. At first this took the form of more building, constructing huge recreation and teaching centers to accommodate the hundreds upon hundreds that began showing up every day. There was no telling how large this number would swell to, as it seemed word of mouth brought more each day, and there appeared to be no competition. Rayford was delighted with the endless sea of young faces of all colors.

  They clearly loved Chloe and Cameron, and naturally Rayford had never seen his daughter and son-in-law happier. Daily, it seemed, children on the older end of the age range—around seven—were putting their faith in Christ. Irene shared Rayford’s wonder at how any child born during the Tribulation or the kingdom could make any other choice.

  But of course, those who did choose the alternative were not public about their intentions. Their fate and their true loyalties would be revealed only in time.

  Meanwhile, Abdullah and Yasmine and Bahira and Zaki seemed as deeply immersed in COT as Raymie and Irene were. Rayford would have been content to remain in an assisting role for the whole of the Millennium, but he was just as happy to do his Lord’s bidding, regardless.

  And so it transpired that he and Irene felt compelled by God to head a team that would supervise growth and development in Indonesia. It seemed that the goal and the task of such teams were to ensure that no nation fell behind but that all would enjoy the full complement of blessing and benefits extended in the Holy Land. Raymie was to remain to aid in Chloe and Cameron’s ministry.

  Representatives of all nations would make their annual sojourns to the temple, and it seemed apparent that Jesus wanted all the citizens of the world to enjoy the bounty of His new creation.

  Ninety-Three Years into the Millennium

  FIVE

  BACK FROM Indonesia for a week, Rayford sat in a rocking chair on the rear deck of Tsion Ben-Judah’s tidy estate in northern Israel. “I had always wondered what that prophecy meant, about God’s people moving about with walking sticks by the end of the millennial kingdom. But I’m over 140 years old now, and I’m beginning to feel it.”

  “Oh, go on!” Tsion said. “A man is still a child at one hundred here, so you’re just a young teen.”

  “I’m telling you, I’m not the man I once was. I can’t imagine what it’ll be like for me hundreds of years from now.”

  “Look at Dr. Rosenzweig, Rayford. He’s twenty-five years older than you.”

  “And you, Tsion, with your glorified body. You look younger than ever. Irene looks like she’s stuck at thirty-five and Raymie at twenty-five.”

  “Well, we had our chances at glorified bodies, didn’t we?”

  “Don’t remind me.”

  “And how goes the work?”

&nb
sp; “We’re almost finished, Tsion. The Lord put us together with some of the brightest minds I’ve ever worked with, and because we’re in charge, we haven’t had to do much but equip them, encourage them, and let them go.”

  “I hear wonderful reports out of Indonesia. Their technology rivals that of any nation, and you must take credit for that.”

  “It’s the Lord’s doing, of course,” Rayford said. “I believe that more every day. I just wonder what He has for us next.”

  “What is He telling you?”

  Rayford stopped rocking and sat forward. “It’s strange, but He has been impressing upon my heart an old passage from Matthew. It was one of the last things He told His disciples. ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ What do you make of that, Tsion?”

  “More importantly, friend, what do you make of it?”

  “If I didn’t know better, I’d pray about becoming a missionary.”

  “But you know better?”

  “Well, sure. I mean, here, Tsion? Now? In the kingdom? There have to be precious few to evangelize or baptize or even teach. We work with Chloe and Cameron in COT when we’re around. That’s where the real need is, of course. And it’s been most rewarding. Do you think He’s leading me to similar works elsewhere in the world?”

  “Have you asked Him?”

  “Of course, but you know how sometimes He doesn’t tell you everything—”

  “Because it should be obvious, sure,” Tsion said. “So you’re asking questions to which He implies you should know the answers.”

  “But I don’t feel led to children in other countries.”

  “Do you feel led at all? Or is He just bringing that verse to mind for no reason?”

  “Surely not. But if I feel a nudge, it’s toward adults.”

  “Remember, Rayford, anyone under a hundred is a child now.”

  “Excuse me, Tsion.” Rayford stood and moved away as the cellular implant in his inner ear sounded and Chloe spoke.

  “Dad?”

  She sounded sad. How long had it been since he could say that about anyone? “Hey, Chlo’!”

  “Could you come? Bring Tsion if you want. We have an issue here.”

  “An issue?”

  “We’ve been rocked, I have to say.”

  “Tell me.”

  “In person, Dad. Please.”

  Rayford asked Tsion if he wanted to come along.

  “Not unless you need me. Go and assess the situation.”

  __

  Rayford soon sat in Cameron Williams’s great room surrounded by Irene, Chloe, Cameron, Kenny, and Abdullah and Yasmine Ababneh.

  They all looked staggered.

  “Who died?” Rayford said, thinking he was being rhetorical.

  “Cendrillon Jospin,” Cameron said.

  “The French girl? She was a leader, with you since the beginning.”

  Chloe sat shaking her head. “You could knock me over with a fig, Dad. If I’m not mistaken, she had actually led others to faith.”

  “I’m not sure about that anymore, Chloe,” Cameron said. “She taught, yes, and she counseled. And it seemed she was an enthusiastic saint. But as I think back, I can’t say I ever knew of someone coming to Christ specifically through her leading. Can you?”

  Chloe fell silent.

  “The Jospins want me to speak at her funeral, Rayford,” Cameron said. “They know the truth, and yet still that’s what they want. Whatever would I say? She seemed a wonderful girl, and had her death been the result of an accident back in previous years, I’d have been able to rhapsodize about her. She was a dear friend, a valued coworker.”

  “And an unbeliever,” Chloe said.

  “How did the conversation go with her parents?” Rayford said. “What are they suggesting you say?”

  “They just want a simple eulogy,” Cameron said. “But a funeral is no place for me to tell the awful truth. Cendrillon is in hell, no longer with us because she never trusted Christ for salvation. Is that what I tell people? And would her parents forgive me? Perhaps they’re in denial, desperate to find some loophole, some reason why a believer might die at one hundred.”

  “Ask them, Cam,” Rayford said. “Because if they don’t permit you to be honest, there’s no point in doing anything but declining their request. The only benefit I see coming from this is if they allow you to warn other young people of the consequences of putting off the transaction with Jesus. I could go with you to see them and—”

  Rayford paused when he noticed Yasmine nudge Abdullah. “Tell them,” she whispered. “You know you should.”

  “What is it, Smitty?” Rayford said.

  “Well, it is most troubling. Our daughter—you all know Bahira—when she heard the news she was most distraught, as we all were. But she perhaps a bit more. Not that they were all that close. Cendrillon had wanted to be her friend, but our daughter rebuffed her.”

  “Because?”

  “Because of what we are talking about now. In front of Cameron and Chloe and the others, Cendrillon was a model leader. Behind their backs she was critical, a scoffer, a doubter at best.”

  “How long has Bahira known this?”

  “Just a few weeks, and she feels horrible for not telling us sooner. She worries that she is responsible, because she knew Cendrillon’s birthday was coming and that it was possible she was not a believer.”

  Rayford stood. “We need to visit the Jospins. Perhaps it should be only the three of us—Cam, Abdullah, and me. Is that all right with everyone? We’ll go to see about funeral arrangements and try to determine how much they knew and what they are thinking now. You know the saddest part about this, don’t you?”

  Irene nodded. “Of course, Rafe. She is only the first. Maybe some who follow will be less surprising, but as the children of the Tribulation come of age, this is only the beginning of death during the Millennium.”

  Raymie Steele knew that had it not been for the Rapture, he would have been long since dead. He had been twelve years old when Jesus shouted from the clouds and the trumpet sounded and he and his mother disappeared from their beds in the twinkling of an eye. He would have been nineteen at the Glorious Appearing, but his glorified body made him look more like a man in his midtwenties, and there he had stayed despite having now lived for 112 years.

  He retained a crisp memory of his childhood despite the intervening aeon. Simple, believing, trusting, naïve—that’s how he would have described his prepubescent self. He loved his family, adored his mother, and worried about and prayed for his father and sister. How he rejoiced with the angels when Rayford and Chloe Steele became believers.

  It was no stretch for Raymie to understand why one-hundred-year-olds would still be referred to as children now. People aged slowly and time seemed to pass quickly. Things he hadn’t given much thought to as a child—war, pestilence, disease, violence, crime—were virtually nonexistent, and he realized that this largely accounted for the longevity of the population. He had to chuckle. That and the promise of almighty God.

  How bizarre it had been to enjoy long, rambling, interesting conversations with his parents. He had gone from an obedient, sometimes challenging—especially to his irresponsible, promise-breaking father—youngster to an adult overnight, and most striking was that he suddenly enjoyed an adult’s intellect as well. It had been new to him to realize that practically every subject of discussion had intricate layers of meaning, things that had to be examined and ferreted out in order to understand.

  He enjoyed having become a favorite among the children who visited what he had come to refer to as Chloe and Cameron’s Cosmic Day Care Center. COT was a handy acronym for Children of the Tribulation, of course, but Raymie enjoyed teasing his sister about her recompense from the Lord
turning into full-time babysitting.

  Plainly, it was more than that. Because these kids showed up as blank slates and the only convert prospects in the world, Raymie considered his work as important as any in the kingdom. Nothing gave him greater joy than explaining to children old enough to understand that despite being born and raised in homes of believers and in a society where every adult was a follower of Christ, still they had to come to faith in Jesus on their own and for themselves.

  In his dwelling, not far from where his parents frequently returned from their efforts in Indonesia, Raymie portrayed on his walls photos of the hundreds of children he had prayed with as they trusted Christ for salvation over the years. He thought about also pinning up his prime targets, but he needn’t be reminded of them. God kept them at the forefront of his mind daily.

  While Raymie wondered what a normal life might have been like, with dating and love and marriage and parenthood, he found it convenient to not be distracted by such things while immersed in a life of service to Christ. As he prayed for the children under his charge, the Lord gave him the assurance that his efforts would nearly always be successful.

  So now, for the first time in nearly a century, Raymie was confused. Had life been way too easy? Certainly. Was this tragedy—the death of a former colleague—a glimpse of how things would be as the kingdom became gradually infiltrated by sin?

  Raymie was sad. He was shaken. He had been duped by a girl not much younger than he. And he knew the reason all too well. Nothing was automatic; nothing was guaranteed. While Satan was bound and thus could not tempt people to sin, could not fill their hearts with doubt and fear and questions, clearly the other two legs of the three-legged stool of evil—the world, the flesh, and the devil—were enough to lead one astray.

  __

  Raymie had stayed away from the impromptu meeting at Chloe’s when the news had spread, for he knew instinctively that his dear friend Bahira—daughter of his parents’ friends the Ababnehs—would need him. He met her near a favorite brook that skirted the foothills to the west, and they strolled in the cool early evening air despite the brightness of the sun.

 
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