Kingdom come the final v.., p.8
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       Kingdom Come: The Final Victory, p.8
 

         Part #13 of Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye

  “Such as?”

  “You know what I mean. Somewhere where people like this nursery guy won’t condemn you to hell if you do anything but worship.”

  “Remember where you are, guys. There’s hardly what you’d call nightlife in Israel.”

  Ignace laughed. “No dances at the temple, eh? No shows? No strong drink? Lothair here makes his own. Takes it right out of the foothills. Speeds up the fermentation process. Gives it a real kick.”

  “You don’t worry about messing with God’s wine?”

  “Lothair only makes it better, friend.”

  Kenny was too new at this. He could think of little else to say. He admired the young men’s suits.

  “Thanks. Custom-made.”

  “Nice.”

  But as he looked closely at the pinstripes, he noticed they were made up of a nearly microscopic pattern. Tiny letters. Row after row of LTO, LTO, LTO. The letters ran together, forming the distinctive pattern LTOLTOLTOLTOLTOLTOLTOLTO that from even two feet away just looked like normal striping.

  The three were trading contact information when it struck Kenny that maybe it wasn’t LTO at all. Maybe it was TOL.

  SEVEN

  IN MANY ways, Rayford decided, what had become known as the Cendrillon Jospin tragedy became a catalyst for good. Good that most in the kingdom did not even know was needed. Somehow, over the first century of the Millennium, the citizenry had taken for granted that what they were experiencing was merely a picture of heaven. Every adult was part of the fold, and the precious children who weren’t soon would be, largely due to the ministry of COT. People had begun sending their offspring there daily.

  Outside Israel, no similar ministries had sprung up—at least ones of that magnitude. So to learn that Cendrillon was only the first of many to die at age one hundred—and such deaths began the day after her funeral—spread alarm through Eden. If in the very capital of the world, where Jesus Himself ruled from the throne through David and where the greatest outreach to children was headquartered, there could be hundreds—yea, thousands—dying lost, what did that say about the rest of the world?

  “It certainly adds urgency to my call of God, Tsion,” Rayford said.

  “And Irene—how does she feel about all this?”

  “The same. We’re ready to go. But this will hardly be anything akin to what we used to see and hear from missionaries back in the day.”

  “No, I daresay it will not. I am intrigued, however, Rayford, as you do not qualify as a ‘son of Israel.’ You see, Isaiah writes of you as a stranger and the sons of Israel as priests and ministers of God.” Tsion opened his Bible. “The prophet is writing to Israel, not to Gentiles, when he says, ‘Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the foreigner shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But you—’ emphasis mine—‘shall be named the priests of the Lord, they shall call you the servants of our God.’ ”

  “So I’m not qualified?”

  “Well, I don’t know, especially if it is God putting this on your heart. As you know, as a Gentile you are an adopted child of God. I don’t suppose the Lord would preclude your doing missionary work, especially now. Zechariah prophesied that missionaries of the kingdom would find eager ears among the nations. He wrote: ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Peoples shall yet come, inhabitants of many cities; the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us continue to go and pray before the Lord, and seek the Lord of hosts. I myself will go also.’ Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord.” Thus says the Lord of hosts: “In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”’”

  “Well, again, Tsion, I am not a Jewish man. Perhaps I’ve intercepted a call that was intended for you.”

  “You know better than that. Seek the Lord with all your heart, and I know you will do what He asks.”

  Raymie, Kenny, Bahira, and Zaki met near the brook where Raymie and Bahira had walked and talked. They knelt by the rock, and Raymie prayed, “Lord Jesus, we sense that You are in this and that there is a great task ahead of us. Tell us each and all if we have misunderstood or if we ever stray from Your instruction.”

  He waited to see if any of the others spoke up.

  When they didn’t, he said, “I want to be cautious, but I’m struck by the makeup of our little band here, compared to the original Tribulation Force. You’ve all heard the stories. There were three men and a woman when they started too. My father and my sister and her husband were three of the original members.” He glanced at Bahira and Zaki. “Your father came along later and served several years. Who would have dreamed another effort like that might be needed during these times?”

  “The Millennium Force,” Bahira whispered.

  “Times have changed,” Raymie said, “but our mission would be no less important. It wouldn’t be as dangerous for us, because God has promised to preserve us until heaven. But still the souls of men and women are at stake.”

  Kenny bore the only nonglorified body among the four, and that had given him entrée to a world in which the others would never be welcomed without suspicion. “Ignace and Lothair Jospin are deep into the Other Light,” he reported, “but the underground nightclubs in Paris and elsewhere are merely a front. They are frequently raided and revelers arrested and imprisoned. Those who commit actual crimes have been known to be put to death by lightning, God dealing with them immediately as He did to Ananias and Sapphira of old.”

  “A front for what?” Zaki said.

  “The Other Light is, in essence, a secret society within our own. It is spreading worldwide, largely through computer technology and encrypted messages. The bushy-haired one, Ignace, and the redhead, Lothair, are slowly bringing me into their confidences. I feared at first they would make me prove myself by coming to Paris and engaging in some debauchery, but that—so they claim—is beneath them. Their current deal is a missive called ‘If It’s True . . . ,’ which they send to carefully selected dissidents. The gist of it is that if it’s true that the opponents of Jesus die at age one hundred, the efforts of all must be redoubled before they die off, in effect martyring themselves for the sake of the final effort at the end of the Millennium.”

  “That makes no sense,” Bahira said. “If it’s true that unbelievers die at one hundred—and we know it is—it proves everything we believe about Jesus, everything that is obvious. I don’t understand why this doesn’t spur them to repent and save themselves.”

  “I know what you’re saying, Bahira,” Raymie said. “But like my brother-in-law said at Cendrillon’s funeral, these people already know who Jesus is. They don’t doubt His deity. They don’t like it. They oppose it. That their comrades are dying at one hundred only convinces them of the rightness of their cause. So, Kenny, how do they plan to overcome the ultimate prophecy, the final reward for their leader at the end of the Millennium?”

  “Naturally, their biggest fear is losing all their forces at the end of every century. Eight more of their generations will die out before the final one, and that one will not even be born until nine hundred years into the millennial kingdom. They’re the only ones who will be alive to join Satan in waging his war against Christ. These people aren’t stupid, though. They recognize that each succeeding generation is way more populous. They expect billions of potential adherents to their cause by the end of the Millennium.”

  “This goes without saying, I know,” Zaki said, “but they don’t have a chance. And the deaths of their kind every hundred years should prove that over and over.”

  “Their plan,” Kenny said, “is to keep passing down their doctrines and arguments and plans and hopes so that the newborns become well versed and ready by the time of the final conflict. It’s lunacy, I know, and it’s destined to end as the prophets have foretold. I mean, we wouldn’t have to do anything. We could sit on
our hands and watch, and the result would be the same. But what about those who might otherwise have chosen Christ and are instead influenced by these monsters? That has to be the reason we still have work to do, even in the kingdom.”

  Rayford bolted upright in the night, the Lord speaking to him. “You are to be My witness,” He said.

  “Here am I, Lord. Send me.”

  “I would that you send others.”

  “I’m listening, Lord.” Rayford slid from his bed to his knees on the floor as Jesus laid out for him a plan to continue spreading the gospel throughout the world. He knew it was foreordained that Satan fail, but still the battle must be waged for the souls of men and women. The population was exploding exponentially, and it was clear that Jesus coveted every soul for heaven.

  The plan seemed to roll out before Rayford on a scroll in his mind. All the believers in his orbit were to redouble their efforts and mobilize. Irene, Cameron, Chloe, Kenny, Raymie, Abdullah, Yasmine, Bahira, and Zaki were to become proactive and aggressive with every child that came under their care through COT, for this was the future of the church.

  “We need another natural,” Kenny told the others. “Those of the Other Light can tell one of you GBers a mile away.”

  “Ideas?” Raymie said. “Anyone? Surely we all know plenty of naturals.”

  Zaki raised a hand. “I have a close friend,” he said.

  “How close? You trust him?”

  “I do. We discovered we are from the same area of Jordan, so we hit it off.”

  “Qasim Marid?” Bahira said. “I’m glad you trust him; I don’t.”

  “Qasim, yes. What’s wrong with him? I met him at COT when he was very young. Now that I have not aged in all this time, like Kenny he has grown up and caught me. Some ask if we are brothers.”

  “He is a brother in Christ?” Raymie said.

  “I think so.”

  “You think so? That should be easy enough to tell.”

  “He is full of mischief,” Bahira said. “That’s what troubles me. He reminds me of Cendrillon.”

  “He is streetwise; that’s all,” Zaki said. “But he is one of us.”

  “You don’t know that,” his sister said.

  “Sure I do.”

  “You waffled when first Raymie asked.”

  “Well, we don’t talk about it.”

  “That should make it obvious enough.”

  “But he often works at COT.”

  “Have you seen him ministering to the children?” Kenny said. “Has he led any of them to the Lord?”

  “I don’t know. I think so.”

  Raymie sighed and stretched. “You’re not making me feel comfortable about him. Kenny is saying we need another natural to be an infiltrator; aren’t you, Kenny?”

  Kenny nodded. “And it has to be someone strong in faith, who knows who he is and where he stands. The day may come when the people of the Other Light put us to the test. We have to be able to stand. I would hate to see an unbeliever or a weak brother try to face the worst wiles of the enemy.”

  Zaki shrugged. “We’ll know soon enough. He’s not far from his hundredth birthday.”

  “How far?” Raymie said.

  “A couple of years.”

  “We can’t wait that long. We need somebody who’s ready to go right away.”

  “I’m telling you he’s your man,” Zaki said. “He’s adventurous and brave. He’d love this kind of thing.”

  “Then you have to ask him flat out, find out where he is with Christ.”

  It was the fall of the year, and the Feast of Tabernacles had seen millions from all over the world descend upon Israel and the temple yet again. Jerusalem had been stretched to its limits for housing, and the Highway of Holiness had been packed daily as supplicants made their way to the ceremonies.

  The buzz throughout the Holy Land now, with the foreigners headed back to their homelands, was that Egypt had, for some reason, sent not one representative. That’s what Rayford was thinking about when he arose the next morning.

  Rayford was stunned when he emerged from his chamber for breakfast to find Bruce Barnes and Mac McCullum leaping from their chairs to embrace him.

  Irene watched with a smile. “We’re already caught up, Rafe. Nearly a hundred years in ten minutes. It’s your turn.”

  Bruce, who had been the first martyr from the Tribulation Force, told of his experiences in heaven, many of which naturally coincided with Irene’s and Raymie’s, though from his unique perspective. And since he and Rayford had briefly greeted each other after the sheep-and-goats judgment in the Valley of Jehoshaphat nearly a hundred years before? “I was immediately assigned to Africa, serving on a development team. It’s as rewarding a task as I’ve ever enjoyed. I worked myself to a state of refreshed exhaustion every day, if you know what I mean. The Lord gave me gifts I never would have expected, and He helped me exercise them to the fullest from day one. I built roads, helped construct buildings, even worked on power grids and helped neutralize and dismantle weapons. I can’t wait to see where He assigns me next.”

  “Me either,” Mac said. “I’ve been toiling away in my area of expertise all these years, living in what used to be Russia. We’re working on building airliners for the whole world.”

  “Excuse me, Rafe,” Irene said, “but a priest is at the door, looking for you three.”

  They looked at each other. “Send him in,” Rayford said. “By all means.”

  EIGHT

  THE SHORT and stocky priest wore a linen garment and trousers. When he bowed and introduced himself as Yerik from the line of Zadok, neatly trimmed hair showed from beneath his turban.

  “We are honored, sir,” Rayford said. “Would you join us for fried vegetables and fresh fruit?”

  “Thank you, no. Ma’am, have you ground your meal yet today?”

  Irene shook her head. “I’m sorry.”

  “No matter. You did not expect me. Nonetheless, I pray the Lord’s blessing on your house.”

  “Thank you,” Irene said.

  “To what do we owe the privilege?” Rayford said.

  “I bring you greetings from and an invitation to an audience with the prince at midday.”

  “King David?” Rayford said, the words catching in his throat.

  “You are to inform no one else, and you are to bring your two associates from the tribes. They are being summoned as we speak and shall meet you three on the causeway.”

  “Forgive me, sir,” Rayford said, “but there is another. Abdullah Ababneh?”

  “Hmm. You may take that up with the prince. To my knowledge, you and Dr. Rosenzweig and Mr. McCullum are the only naturals invited. May I inform the prince of your acceptance?”

  “With our highest regards.”

  Raymie didn’t know what to think of Qasim Marid at first, but it did strike him as strange that Zaki brought the young man without Bahira along and knowing that Kenny was already busy at COT. The three met at Raymie’s home.

  Qasim had a long, pointy face with a scraggly black beard, and while he was thin and of only average height, his robe was too short. It hung just above his knees, and the sleeves barely reached his elbows. He spoke quickly and explained that he liked it that way because it allowed him to move easier. “Especially when I have to run, which is often.” This was followed by a rollicking laugh. “So, how can I help you fellas?”

  Raymie cocked his head and studied the man. “We are a close-knit group,” he began slowly. “And we don’t apologize for being devout followers of—”

  “It’s not like I’m a stranger,” Qasim said. “Me and Zaki here have been buddies for ninety years.”

  “I must have seen you around COT. Why don’t I recognize you?”

  “The beard’s new. Plus I work in a different area. I’m in recreation.”

  “So you play with the children.”

  “Thousands of ’em.”

  “Have you ministered to them?”

  “Well, sure, yeah.” He look
ed to Zaki, who nodded. “I know all the songs and all the stories and all the prayers.”

  “The prayers?”

  “You know, I pray with the kids, know what to say—that kind of thing.”

  “He does,” Zaki said.

  “Pardon my saying so,” Raymie said, “but so did Cendrillon.”

  “This guy’s for real, Raymie. Trust me. We’ve been friends for—”

  “A long time, right. I got that. Let’s let Qasim speak for himself, shall we? Have you led children to Christ?”

  “Have I led them?”

  “Surely you know what I mean. Often we debrief late in the afternoon, and workers tell of children who saw their need for the Lord.”

  “Well, I’ve sure told them about Jesus. I mean, that’s what we do. Whether any have actually prayed with me or in front of me, I couldn’t say. Some people are better at that than others, you know.”

  “I know.”

  “But a lot of the kids I’ve worked with became believers, and a whole bunch of ’em are fellow workers now.”

  “That’s something,” Zaki said, and Raymie gave him a look.

  “Tell me about your own faith,” Raymie said.

  “My own?”

  Is there an echo in here? “How did you come to Christ?”

  Qasim shrugged and pursed his lips. “I hardly remember; it’s been so long. I mean, I don’t recall my life at all before I was a believer. You know, with Jesus being here and in charge and all that since I was a baby, that made it easy.”

  “But at some point you had to have—”

  “Seen my need, as my dad calls it? Sure. Born in sin. Separated from God. Needed a bridge. Prayed the prayer. Got saved.”

  That sure seemed to Raymie a passionless recitation of the steps to reconciliation with almighty God. “I’m going to have to pray about this, Qasim,” he said. “And the rest of us will discuss it. We’ll get back to you.”

  “Great! Because I’d love to become part of your little band and find out what those French guys are up to.”

 
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