Beliefnet
This story first appeared on Beliefnet in May of 2000.

The best-selling book of the 1970s was a religious title, Hal Lindsey's "The Late Great Planet Earth." It told of how the birth of modern Israel signaled that we were in the "end times," that the book of Revelation and other apocalyptic portions of Scripture predicted that the Antichrist's arrival was imminent, that Christians would soon be raptured (taken up to heaven by Jesus) before all the bad stuff started happening, but after seven years of "tribulation" Jesus Christ would return to Earth and usher in a millennial reign of justice and peace.

More on Left Behind

'Desecration': Chapter One

What is the rapture?

'I was saved by "Left Behind"'

Was 9/11 a sign of End Times?
An interview with Jerry Jenkins

The Insignificance of the Antichrist
For all those who think we have become much less religious as a nation since the disco era, please note: The Left Behind series, a serialized novelization of Hal Lindsey's end-times scenario by fundamentalist preacher Tim LaHaye and professional writer Jerry Jenkins, have sold more than 25 million copies. A complementary series for kids has sold more than 5 million. All told, more than 40 million Left Behind products have been purchased. The latest novel, "Desecration," number nine out of a planned 12, will appear on The New York Times bestseller list almost immediately after its Oct. 30 release. A Left Behind comic-book series is on its way.

In case you have been left behind by all the hoopla, here is what you need to know--skipping, for the moment, the elements of eschatological soap opera, the romances, births, murders, and nuclear explosions, the first nine books entail: Millions of born-again Christians and all children, from early teens down to those in utero, disappeared. Even their clothes lie around the sidewalks and stores--wherever their occupants happened to have been standing.

The world fears some alien attack or some apocalyptic natural disaster and never figures out the common denominator. So, appointing the newly installed president of Romania, Nicholae Carpathia, general secretary of the United Nations (because he made a moving speech about peace and disarmament) the planet's nations agree to give up their sovereignty, their weapons, even their names. Nicholae, as his friends call him, splits the world into 10 regions, orchestrates a seven-year truce between Israel and its enemies, moves the U.N. headquarters (renamed the Global Community) to the world's new capital, New Babylon, in Iraq. A new era of peace and prosperity has begun.

More on Left Behind

'Desecration': Chapter One

What is the rapture?

'I was saved by "Left Behind"'

Was 9/11 a sign of End Times?
An interview with Jerry Jenkins

The Insignificance of the Antichrist
But wait. Not all is right in this utopian village. A backslidden fundamentalist pastor who sees the error of his ways only after almost everyone he knows is raptured pulls together a ragtag group of new believers opposed to Carpathia. They call themselves the Tribulation Force, and they know who Carpathia really is: the Antichrist. And they know how to stop him.

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