Nuclear and chemical wars, meteor collisions with earth, cobra helicopters, invasions from Red China, electronic restrictions on buying and selling—these are things you will not find in author Lee Harmon's new novel, who insists the oft-misunderstood book of Revelation was written for a 2,000-year-old audience. "I wrote my story as a riposte to the sensationalism of popular works like Timothy LeHaye's end-of-the-world series," Harmon explains. "There's another side to the coin, a seldom-heard side. Christians deserve to understand the historical setting of this famous apocalypse, and the first-century events John was really writing about. So, alongside my fictional story, I simultaneously present the scripture of Revelation verse-by-verse, and also sprinkle in historical commentary. It’s a little like reading three books at the same time."
Some would call Harmon's a preterist perspective, a belief that much, if not all, of Revelation already happened in the first century. Preterists point to the war of 70 AD, when Rome overran Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, as fulfillment of Old Testament biblical prophecies (God's many promises of great suffering if Israel remained disobedient) and point out the eerie similarities between Revelation and this horrible war. But Harmon contends he is not really a preterist; merely a historian of first-century Christianity. "Christian struggles and beliefs were very different 2,000 years ago, with their expectation that the end times were just around the corner, and the turbulent decades following the death of Christ only accelerated this anticipation of an immediate return of Christ. You see that expectation in the Gospels and especially in Revelation."
Just what was it like for Christians of that long ago era? Meet Samuel and his thirteen-year-old son Matthew, two Jews living in Ephesus 50 years after the death of Christ, and share in their astonishment and horror as the prophecies of John's colorful vision are played out around them in the Roman Empire. Bare your teeth at the original beast of Revelation, his double the antichrist, and John's nemesis, the false prophet. Relive the destruction of the Temple, the fire-and-brimstone tragedy of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the expectation of horrible massacre looming on the horizon and, finally, the Christian dream of escaping all this to live with God in a new Eden-like Jerusalem after it floats down from heaven and settles atop the war-torn rubble of mount Zion.
Harmon's book may be purchased for $16.95 at local bookstores, Earth'n'book and Sunflower Books Etc., or online at his website, www.thewayithappened.com.