“His Loving Plan for You in the End Times”
Tim LaHaye is co-author of some the best-selling novels of all time, those in the Left Behind series. In The Merciful God of Prophecy, however, LaHaye approaches the idea of biblical prophecy from an angle different from those in the fiction series, a non-fiction angle that takes the God of prophecy—generally understood to be wrath-filled and judgmental—and focuses on His mercy, the mercy of the True God, Jehovah. Throughout Merciful, LaHaye develops the character of the God who, while pronouncing coming judgment, always displays His mercy in two ways. First, He makes the pronouncement, a warning that He has never been obligated to give, but one that He chooses to give out of a heart that “is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). In fact, LaHaye writes that “[God] would rather have us read about judgment than experience it.” Second, He offers an alternative. Though God has promised vengeance and wrath against all sin and all sinners, He has also prepared a Way of salvation (John 14:6) and has made that Way available to anyone who receives it, for at the crucifixion, God poured out His wrath on Jesus Christ, His own perfect and holy Son.
LaHaye’s book is certainly evangelistic in its intent, but that by no means suggests that the book is for unbelievers only. Believers in Christ need to be reminded daily of the wrath from which we have been spared, for otherwise we will fall into the trap of thinking that our sin, since it’s been paid for, is meaningless and petty to God. Jesus died for that sin you committed this morning, Believer! Own up to it, acknowledge it, and praise God that His wrath has been diverted from you and to His Son.
Beyond its evangelistic nature, Merciful is also quite educational in developing and explaining many of the prophecies from the Old Testament, those local prophecies that have already been fulfilled many thousands of years ago, those Messianic prophecies that were fulfilled in Christ, and even those prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled in these last days. Beyond this, LaHaye also writes of the hope that awaits those who have accepted God’s free gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of His Son, for his admittedly favorite verse in all of Scripture is Revelation 7:9, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”
LaHaye writes of those prophecies that are so hotly debated in Christian circles, but concludes that “in Heaven, all our ideas about eschatology and prophecy will get straightened out.” While some may take this as a defeatist’s attitude, I would disagree. I would take it as an admission that, though LaHaye and his buddy Jerry B. Jenkins have built a career off selling one view of the End Times, some of their ideas are merely guesswork, and no one will really know the actual development of the End Times until they arrive and complete…by which time none of will care who was right and who was wrong, for all believers will be too busy “crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'” (Revelation 7:10).
I would recommend this book to anyone, Christian or non, interested in prophecy. Though parts of the book are thick and somewhat tough to trudge through, the benefits of learning to see a God of mercy amidst those passages of wrath is truly worth the effort.