Customer Reviews: The Rapture: In the Twinkling of an Eye--Countdown to the Earth's Last Days (Before They Were Left Behind, Book 3)
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While I was a fan of many of the Left Behind series, I've not been as thrilled with the prequels. They almost seemed like an after-thought, a way to grab a few more dollars off the concept. The Rapture: In The Twinkling Of An Eye, Countdown To The Earth's Last Days by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins is the last one before the real start of the series, and it's the first of the prequels. that seemed to actually contribute (in my opinion).

The story tracks the deteriorating marriage of Rayford Steele, and his likely-to-happen affair with Hattie Durham, a flight attendant who works the trips that Steele flies. We also have Buck Williams, who was in Israel when the all-out war started, and witnessed the miraculous destruction of the attacking force by supernatural means. And finally, there's Nicolae Carpathia... He's taking the steps and scheming to make his move from Romanian government official to worldwide leader. The actual Rapture occurs about halfway through the book, and then the remainder is split between action on earth and events in Heaven.

This book could have easily been cut in half and been the real start of the Left Behind series. The characters undergo significant development which explains much of what was going on in the first installment. From a pure story perspective, the last half was a bit fluffy. The scenes in Heaven spend quite a bit of time reviewing the stories of Christians throughout the ages. While interesting (and inspirational for Christians), it didn't do anything for the storyline. That's not necessarily bad, depending on the reason you're reading the book. It's just not essential to the plot.

Of any of the prequels. this was the best. I'm glad that we're finally to the point where the series can be put to bed. It's been a great run, but trying to go anywhere else from this point on would be difficult to imagine...
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on June 7, 2006
The countdown to the Rapture has begin and though he doesn't know it will happen soon, Nicolae Carpathia, is making plans with the help of his spirit guide (Lucifer) to take control of the world. He blackmails the president of Romania using intimidation and threats to his family into stepping down from his post and the outgoing president declares to the people that Carpathia should be the next president. Raymond Steele, enamored of flight attendant Hattie Durham neglects his wife and his young son Jamie, thinking they are fools for being so involved in the church.

Days before Carpathia makes his speech to the United Nations, the Rapture occurs and his sprit guide shows him how to use the disappearances to his advantage. Raymond's wife Irene has almost given up hope that her husband will turn into the man who showered her with love. When the trumpet sounds, Irene and Jamie are lifted into heaven given new bodies and minds. There they are judged for how they lived their life after they received salvation. They see and explore heaven and interact with God and his son. Irene, happy at last still prays that Raymond and Chloe, her daughter, will seek salvation through the Lord.

THE RAPTURE explores in depth the characters of the protagonists and the antagonists of the Left Behind series. It is a fulfilling novel that answers many questions not covered in the other books in the series like why Raymond's first officer committed suicide and how Carpathia persuaded the president of Romania to step down. The authors have written another fascinating and revolutionary work in a series that most readers wish will never end.

Harriet Klausner
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on March 30, 2007
This is a very enjoyable book. I have read all of these books and enjoy them all(well, save for the Regime, which I thought was boring) It certainly fills in the gaps on Rayford's wife and his boy Raymie, as well as why Rayford and Cloe are so close. It enjoyed the the final 1/3 of the book when the church is Raptured and all of the wonderful things that happens. Man, if the Rapture is 1/10th this cool it will be a great day indeed.

Excellent writing, good flow, a real page turner. I went back and re-read Left Behind because I just enjoy the story.

You'll love it!
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on August 24, 2006
The Rapture is the third Left Behind Prequel novel written by the team of Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. Thus far, it is the fifteenth Left Behind novel written for adults. The main sequence was twelve novels and now the prequel trilogy has concluded. This trilogy has been giving the reader stories about what was going on with the major characters of Left Behind before the Rapture. To give a brief background, the Rapture is a concept of some Christians which states that at some point in the future Christ will return and claim those who truly believe in Him. There are two schools of thought on the Rapture, a Pre-Tribulation Rapture and a Post-Tribulation Rapture. In the Pre-Trib theology it is the Rapture that will start a seven year tribulation of the planet which is signally the End of the World as has been known. So, all of the Believers will have ascended into heaven before stuff gets really bad. In Post-Trib theology, the Rapture happens at the end of this seven year period. Left Behind (the first book in the sequence) began moments after the Rapture and works on the basis of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. The Rapture is the last of the prequels and moves up and through the event that began this entire series.

There are several storylines moving through this novel. First there is the story of Nicolae Carpathia and his rise to power. Nicolae is the man who will become the Antichrist. Second, the story of Rayford Steele, an airline pilot. Rayford is one of the heroes of the main sequence, but here he was not a believer and resented his wife and son trying to push "religion" into his life. Steele is on the verge of an affair with one of the hostesses on his flights. This leads into the story of his wife Irene, a good Christian woman who prays for her husband to believe. There is a brief chapter or two with their daughter, Chloe, also a non-believer. There are sections with Cameron "Buck" Williams, an acclaimed reporter who is central to the main sequence as well. The Rapture serves to bring all of these characters to the beginning of Left Behind. What will interest readers most is that this novel actually moves past the rapture and we get to see the vision of heaven and meeting Christ and God and judgment and reward as imagined by Jerry Jenkins. I have been skeptical of the previous two trilogies as they were disappointing in terms of telling a story and expected more of the same, and since I found the end of Glorious Appearing disappointing as well I expected the vision of the Rapture to be as disappointing as the vision of the true Return of Christ. As a Christian, that is an odd thing to have to write.

A valid criticism about the prequel trilogy would be that there is no real conflict in these three novels because we know exactly where Jerry Jenkins is bringing the story: the Rapture. Jenkins is simply bringing the characters along, showing glimpses of their lives and prior motivations before the Rapture changed everything. This much is true, but my personal criticism is that this is a book (and trilogy) that cannot stand on its own without the main sequence of Left Behind novels. All of the interest in the characters and reasons to care about the characters is entirely based on who they later become after the Rapture. What comes before is background and backstory and these events were covered in the main sequence, but now we have novels further exploring the backstory...except Jenkins is attempting to cover too much ground. There are too many characters which do not interact with the other primary characters until some time after the Rapture. Another criticism is that if the prequels are read before the main sequence then the sense of discovery of who Nicolae is completely eliminated because now the reader is simply waiting for Nicolae to declare his true allegiance rather than finding out along with the rest of the world the true nature of Nicolae Carpathia.

Now, with that criticism stated, The Rapture is the strongest of the three prequel novels. Jerry Jenkins has done an excellent job in describing the Rapture and the subsequent judgments of the "saints" and what the first moments of heaven may be like. This surprised me because I thought the return of Christ in Glorious Appearing to not live up to the hype. The description of those first moments in heaven and the how the resurrection of the soul changes a person is remarkable, and the joy of the saved in hearing the stories of the other saints and feeling/experiencing their lives of faith are very well written and well described. Jerry Jenkins often is criticized for his simplistic style, but in some instances it works very well. He may spend a bit too much time in heaven, and not enough telling a story, but Jenkins is very effective in communicating the story he is trying to tell.

The Rapture should be very popular with its intended audience: Christians and fans of the Left Behind series. Those readers will be pleased with this novel and for the intended audience this novel has to be considered a success. As a novel, it must be taken in consideration with the rest of the series because it is incapable of standing on its own. The prequel trilogy should be read after the main sequence because of the spoiler effect it would have for several of the early Left Behind novels. Overall, The Rapture does not truly tell a story in sense of having a plotline, but instead moves characters from point A to point B so they can be in the places they need to be. It is a weaker novel than it necessarily needs to be, but I believe it will reach the intended audience.

-Joe Sherry
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on July 10, 2006
If you've never read the Left Behind books, it seems to defy explanation how audiences can be sustained through 15 installments (12 for the main series). THE RAPTURE marks the third novel to explain what was going on right before the Christians were suddenly taken into heaven. Ten years ago, when I read LEFT BEHIND, I was skeptical but then fell in love with the characters. With each new volume my fascination only increased, and now with the 15th book, it's like settling into a comfortable chair and picking up a conversation that was stopped months earlier (when THE REGIME released). Each novel weaves threads of several different stories going on at the same time, which always creates a page-turner for the reader.

THE RAPTURE reveals the distinctions between the Christians and the non-believers. Rayford Steele, a Pan-Continental Airlines captain, is deliberately spending his time on the golf course instead of going to church with his family. His wife Irene and young son Raymie increase their love of Christ yet regularly conflict with Rayford about spiritual issues. While Rayford never has an affair with Hattie Durham, the flight attendant, he certainly "arranges" to drive Hattie home and spend time with her away from his family.

Nicolae Carpathia continues to increase his connection to the spirit world, and he grows in his political power as a member of the lower house of Parliament in Bucharest, Romania, to become the President of his country.

Toward the end of THE RAPTURE, the Christians are called to heaven. Through the eyes of Raymie and Irene, readers experience the joy and excitement of watching the life work of key figures of the modern church such as Ken Taylor, translator of THE LIVING BIBLE; Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ; and William Franklin Graham, better known as Billy Graham. They also see key figures from the New Testament such as Mary, mother of Jesus, John and Paul.

Cameron "Buck" Williams, the senior writer for Global Weekly magazine, creates another thread of the plot, which is followed throughout the novel. A familiar character from previous Left Behind books, Buck is on the 747 traveling across the ocean to London where Rayford is the senior captain and Hattie is the senior flight attendant. The lives of these three characters intersect when the Christians are called to heaven during this flight. Their clothes remain in their seats but their bodies are gone, which causes chaos to erupt on the plane.

Abdullah "Smitty" Ababneh, a fighter pilot in the Royal Jordanian Air Force, is another key character carried from THE REGIME. Smitty's nominal faith in Islam is in stark contrast to his ex-wife, Yasmine, who has become a Christian.

Like a fine tapestry, the final pages of THE RAPTURE draw the characters right to the moments of the opening of the first book in the Left Behind series written more than 10 years ago. Whether you are returning to this series and reading about familiar characters, or meeting them for the first time, THE RAPTURE is a well-done story that you will not want to miss.

--- Reviewed by W. Terry Whalin, writer and editor in Scottsdale, Arizona. His latest book is Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success (Write Now Publications). [...]
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on November 5, 2015
It seemed strange to me that they would make a prequel involving the Rapture, considering that this was covered quite thoroughly in the original Left Behind book. Indeed many parts are taken directly from this with some parts left out, and some new scenes added. If you read the original Left Behind right after this one, you may want to skip the first chapter or two. But unlike the original books, not all of the scenes are centered on Rayford and Buck, this one covers it from the point of view of several other characters, so there are new parts.
The Rapture occurs about halfway into the book, but unlike in the original book, only part of the story actually involves those who are left behind. Much of it actually involves the characters that go to Heaven, mainly Irene and Raymie. A great deal of the story actually takes place in Heaven, mostly involving them and many other real people throughout history at the judgment seat of CHRIST receiving their rewards. In fact the rapture itself is actually a relatively small part of the book. It seems like the authors may be pushing things a little too far to have a fictional story going on in Heaven. But I guess there’s probably nothing wrong with this, and it actually does have an effective purpose- to make us want to do serve GOD as well as possible while we’re still here. I can tell that this was definitely the main goal the authors had in mind for this book, and they did it quite well. This is a very unique item not really found in any of the other books. This also gives it a very different style, significantly different from the other books.
Strangely, there is also one major character and event from the “Left Behind Kids” series that is briefly seen in this book. In the “Left Behind kids” series there are countless events and characters from the main series that are seen from time to time. But this is the only time in the entire main series in which a character and event from the Kids series is seen (actually this same character is heard very briefly in the first “Left Behind” book, but is unnamed, because it was written before the kids series was started). I was very surprised (almost shocked) to see this. Actually I wish that there were more times like this. I actually kind of wish they would combine the two series into one because the kids series was usually just as good (and violent) as the main series, sometimes even better.
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on November 29, 2014
Good book, I think some some of the parts in heaven were hard to follow along with, but I have yet to find a book that can put into words really well what we will see when we get there. I loved the events of the first book from other perspectives like Chris and Hattie, and my favorite part was the fire judgement where he showed the testimonies of several real people throughout church history. I was also excited to see a small blip featuring Lionel Washington, from the teen parallel series. I had hoped the characters from that series would cross over more than this one time. Overall, good book in a great series!
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on June 24, 2006
This book, much more than the others in the series, takes you to a time and place you wonder about but probably don't dare to imagine -- heaven. You are projected into what it might be like after the rapture when so many are taken to heaven. You are there with those who have entered into the mansion and you experience the wonders they do as they stand before God.

This one was much easier to follow and held my attention. I enjoyed it very much.
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on June 13, 2016
Though the story itself is fictional, it is written from factual biblical references. It is the best apocryphal account I have ever read. This is the second time I've read the prequels of the Left Behind series. This time I read the prequels first and am now reading the Left Behind series, for the second time. I love it and feel that anyone who is searching for Christ will indeed find many answers in these books. I also feel that any Christian who reads this book will become amped up over what will happen in a "twinkling of an eye."
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on April 9, 2015
wow. makes you rethink your own life. things are building to a climax of what is to happen. more people are turning to God and there are those who think they are religious fanatics. then suddenly, everyone is gone who truly believed and the rest are Left Behind. this was a build up of letting you see major characters and what they are fixing to experience while questioning What Happened?
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