By Jerry B. Jenkins & Dr. Tim LaHaye
Left Behind is the first book of the Left Behind series written by Jerry B. Jenkins and Dr. Tim LaHaye. Jenkins is a skilled and prominent writer. His writings can be found in Time, Reader’s Digest, Parade and Guidepost among numerous other publications. The second author of the Left Behind series is Dr. Tim LaHaye. LaHaye is an expert on Bible prophecies and has written the New York Times best sellers Babylon Rising and The Secret on Ararat.
Left Behind takes place in the future in Chicago and New York and allows the reader to walk through the “beginning of the end” according to the prophecies recorded in the Bible. In order to be able to cover the world wide political happenings as well as personal controversies during this period, the authors cleverly chose two main characters, world-renowned journalist Buck Williams and airline pilot Rayford Steele.
These two men who are strangers to each other are on the same flight when Christ returns to rapture His church, and millions of people around the world disappear leaving behind everything material and a very frightened population. Buck and Rayford’s paths continue to cross throughout the story as they search for answers. When Rayford visits a local church and meets Pastor Bruce Barnes, he discovers the truth behind the vanishings, finds faith in Christ, and shares his findings with his daughter Chloe and Buck. Under the teaching of Pastor Barnes, they begin studying the Bible prophecies about the end times and watch as the pages of history unfold before their eyes in exact accordance with the ancient text.
While the world is in an uproar, Nicolae Carpathia, a relatively unknown leader in Romania, quickly rises to power declaring that the world must come together in peace during this time of crisis. Most of the world sees Carpathia as a hero, but Rayford and Buck quickly realize his true identity, the Antichrist, who is prophesied in the Bible. The new Christians are the only ones who are able to see past his schemes and avoid his brainwashing and manipulative powers. The next and final seven years of human history are called the Tribulation Years and will be like nothing humanly imaginable. They realize that they must share the truth about Carpathia with as many people as possible before time runs out and trust God to protect them from his power.
Because it takes place when the world is broken and chaotic, Left Behind is filled with unexpected action and suspense. Bombings, burglaries, military attacks, and supernatural acts of both God and the Antichrist made the book extremely interesting and kept me on the edge of my seat.
The characters were all incredibly believable and easy to relate to. They each had their own faults and areas that they struggled with. Rayford’s daughter, in particular, caught my attention as being someone who seemed to accurately portray many college-age students. She listened to her father’s new convictions and beliefs but was skeptical about making any decisions of her own. She had to hear of his new faith in an indirect way before the importance of his discovery finally hit her.
During the disappearances, both Rayford and Buck lost close loved ones. Rayford’s wife and son disappeared, and Buck’s sister-in-law, niece, nephew, and nephew vanished. Both men felt deep sorrow, pain, and emptiness at having lost people that they were so close to. After having also lost relatives over the past few years, I felt that this part of the book was definitely something that I could relate to. I understood the pain and emptiness that they experienced as they went through the healing process.
One of the things that I liked most about this book was the way in which the authors weaved and intertwined the lives of Rayford Steele and Buck Williams. The authors switched back and forth between the characters every scene. Although they did not even meet each other until about three quarters of the way through the book, they had similar friends and acquaintances who often spoke of them. This technique kept the book at a fast pace and allowed me to see two different perspectives in a very creative and ingenious way.
One of the scenes that I disliked the most about the book occurred close to the end. Buck is in a meeting with the chief political leaders of the world when Carpathia commits two murders. Everyone in the room except Buck was brainwashed by Carpathia and claimed to have witnessed a suicide. In addition to this, they all claimed that they never saw Buck at the meeting. Although this scene demonstrated the manipulative abilities of the Antichrist and was a major contributing factor to the book’s ending, it seemed rather confusing and difficult to follow.
I found Left Behind to be extremely engaging, inspirational, and motivating. For these reasons I would jump at the opportunity to read other books by the same authors and would definitely recommend this book to others, as well. On a scale of one to ten, I would give Left Behind a solid ten. Whether you are interested in end time Biblical prophecies or just ready for the adventure of a life time, this book would be a fantastic and rewarding read. As it covers the trials and difficulties of a shattered world, this book demonstrates the power of love, faith, and perseverance. Left Behind is an incredible story that shows that even in the most trying and frightening of circumstances, there is hope.