Our plan today was to visit the Kotel (Western Wall) and then go shopping. At least that was the general outline. Pete and I had other things in mind – activities which involved more walking and exploration, and less exchange of hard currency. It would be cheaper, of course, but more importantly, it would help vigorous teenage boys expend more energy and perhaps enjoy their time in Jerusalem a little more.
We are now veterans at navigating Jerusalem. Drive through Ein Kerem (hometown of John the Baptist) up to Mount Herzl, get on the light rail, and ride to the City Hall. Walk down to the Jaffa Gate, and wind our way through the Jewish Quarter to the Kotel. It was easy – aside from forgetting to remove my wallet from my pocket at the security checkpoint. Not a problem, other than embarrassment when the sensor announced my faux pas. The officer was patient and professional; he sees this a thousand times a day. Put the wallet on the table, go back through the sensor, and all is well.
This is my third time to the Kotel. It’s the first time for the young people with us. The women went to their side, leaving the six of us men to move through the crowds on our side. Tommy and Pete led the way, followed by Pete’s sons Jeremiah, Joseph, and Silas. I brought up the rear. Eventually we found space at the wall where all of us could touch the ancient stones and pray side by side. What I prayed recalled the words of the Son of David who dedicated this holy place above us:
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today: that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive. (I Kings 8:27-30 NKJV)
Why do we pray toward Jerusalem? That is why. It is His city, the place He has chosen from all the places on this planet. The one place where His visible glory appeared and remained for centuries – and will return one day.
What happens when an author combines the mega-conspiracy theories of Thomas Horn, the spiritual warfare depictions of Frank Peretti, and the science fiction apocalyptic vision of Larry Niven? The result is The Cooper Chronicles, Daniel Holdings’ End of Days trilogy recounting the adventures of physicist and inter-dimensional globetrotter Dr. Bryce Cooper.
Apocalyptic literature is fascinating to say the least, but such works are not necessarily encouraging or fun. If done with the appropriate touch of realism – as, for instance, Nevil Shute’s post-nuclear war drama On the Beach – the work is depressing and scary. The subject, after all, is the complete eradication of human life on planet earth. On the other hand, a Terra-über-Alles yarn like Footfall (co-authored by Niven and Jerry Pournelle) makes the human cost merely the backdrop of an adventure story featuring mankind’s technological prowess and luck in overcoming an invasion by a fantastic foe from deep space. The loss of all of India, for example, registers little to a reader certain that somehow the story will have a happy ending.
The challenge of balancing realism with readability takes on an added dimension in spiritual subjects. A writer of Christian fiction must remain true to the Bible, or at least to his or her interpretation thereof. The result can be dismally flat, contrived, and divorced from real life – which is why it takes a special gift to write such a work. C.S. Lewis comes to mind as the pioneer and first master of modern Christian apocalyptic fiction, a genre which Peretti further develops. Yet when it comes to End Times novels which try to tell the tale of the Great Tribulation from a realistic viewpoint, no one has done quite so well as Daniel Holdings.
It helps that Holdings approaches his subject with the understanding that no one is exempt from the trials and devastations prophesied to come upon the earth according to the Bible. This gives him an advantage over Christian authors who write from the belief that there is a “pre-Tribulation rapture” which will remove Christians to some heavenly safe haven. To such authors, the real prize is not being on earth when bad things happen, which means their interest is not really in figuring out how the bad things are going to happen.
Why should Christians care about the Temple in Jerusalem? Maybe because the Bible says it is in our future. Consider this:
Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months.” (Revelation 11:1-2 NKJV)