The Return of Jesus 'Could Be Any Time'
As their 'Left Behind' series comes to a close, co-authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins look forward to the end--of all time.
BY: Interview by Laura Sheahen and Patton Dodd
Our view has been from the beginning that we love everybody. Jesus loves everybody. We do believe the Bible says that Jesus is the only way to God. That's a divisive message in a pluralistic society, in a free society where people have the right to believe the way they want. We tell it to inform, not to offend. If people still scoff and disagree, or even feel offended, all we can do is apologize for offending them, but not for telling what we believe is the truth. We still love them. We still care about them. We still pray for them.
For the characters in our books that are devout of other faiths, some come to faith in Christ and then are ushered into the Millennial Kingdom, and some are not. Now, what happens to them, I don't know. I don't know how God judges them and where.
I do know this: He doesn't send anybody to hell. If hell is the antithesis to Heaven and that's the only other option, they may go to hell, but it's certainly not because of the sentence of God. His offer is life and hope for everybody.
God is really the great Hound of Heaven, seeking to bring men to a saving knowledge of his son. People ought to remember--and we share this vision--when it comes to heaven, God is not going to be there trying to keep people out. The loving God we find in the Bible is there trying to bring people in. There's any excuse to get someone in, dry-cleaned or otherwise. Just get them in. But, always, they have to put their personal faith in Jesus. He's the way, the truth and the life.
If you were living right now in the Millennial Reign, what would you like most about it?
There are many, many things I would love about it. One is visiting with all of our friends, like David and Job and Malachi and Daniel, one of my favorites. And of course Caleb, admiring his faith.
But, I think most of all--and I don't say this to be pious--to stand before God and thank him for forgiving me of my sins and accepting me into his family and for sending his Son, Jesus.
I look at it from probably a much more pedestrian viewpoint. But, first of all, I'd like to make the Millennium without dying, so maybe that would prove that all this happened during my lifetime.
But I'm fascinated by politics, and yet I grow weary of it, too. I mean, both sides of the aisle seem to be involved in shenanigans all the time, and everyday you're saying, "I can't believe what this or that leader did or said." You're not going to say that in the Millennium unless you're an unbeliever. Jesus is on the Throne, David is his Prince, and you won't find yourself reading the paper and saying, "Can you believe what that guy tried to pull today?" You [will] just admire and respect and love and be in awe of the leader, because it's God.
You said you hoped that you reach the Millennium without dying. Do you think these events might happen in the next 30 years?
That's an interesting question we get asked all the time, and we were actually forced on television the other day to say yes or no. In your lifetime, yes or no? And Dr. LaHaye said yes, and I said no. It isn't that I don't want it to happen or don't believe it could happen. I believe we're told to look for the imminent return of Christ. It could be any time. Could be right now.
But, I also believe and hope that God in his mercy waits one more day, and scripture says to him a day is as 1,000 years. If he waits one more day, that many more people could come to Christ in the meantime.
Dr. LaHaye will be 81 this month. He'd like to have it happen in his lifetime, which means it has to be soon, but I'll let him speak to that.
Oh, it's true. I'm expecting the Lord. In fact, my wife and I have enjoyed almost 60 years of wedded bliss. We've had a wonderful marriage because we were both Christians and committed to God to begin with, and we'd like to see it perpetuated in the Millennium without interruption, be taken up in the Rapture. And we've prayed that way. It's going to happen to some generation. Why not ours?
The best is yet to come, and I can't wait to get into this marvelous experience. It's going to be better than we ever dreamed.