Avian Flu, Natural Disasters, War Spark Prophecy Interest

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Recent natural disasters and the threat of the avian flu has renewed interest in End Times prophecy, creating more chatter on the internet and sales of End Times books such as the Left Behind Series.

Whether this is an indication we are entering or already in ‘the Last Days’ no one knows for certain. But it could be a wake up call from God.

The devastating natural disasters this year, the threat of a plague like the avian flu and the ongoing war in the Middle East have people asking: “Are these signs of the End Times?

Tyndale House, the publisher of the apocalyptic blockbuster Left Behind Series, has seen dramatic world events stimulate interest in End Times theme products. Cheryl Kerwin, Tyndale fiction marketing manager, estimates that there has been a 25 percent increase in new visitors to the Left Behind Series website (http://www.leftbehind.com) over the last few months. Following Hurricane Katrina, Tyndale saw a nearly 50 percent jump in sales of the 1998 non-fiction title “Are We Living in the End Times?” by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. In addition, Tyndale’s apocalyptic political thriller The Ezekiel Option by Joel C. Rosenberg has sold more than 100,000 copies since July.

LaHaye and Jenkins, whose first Left Behind book debuted ten years ago, have watched the interest in End Times peak around new events but overall it has remain very consistent over the past decade. On November 15, they will release their fourteenth Left Behind® novel, The Regime, tipping series sales past the 43 million mark. Events such as Y2K, 9/11, the Iraqi war, and more recently the Malaysian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina spark internet chatter, news coverage, church sermons and even book sales but the underlying question remains. Could these be warning signs of the end?

“I believe that the frequency and scope of natural disasters recently is evidence that we are heading for something,” says Jenkins. “Jesus Himself said that when these things occur it is not the end but rather the beginning of the end. How long that beginning is to last, no one knows. If God is allowing these things to get our attention, it's working.”

LaHaye, a former pastor and prophecy scholar, agrees that recent events do look ominous but cautions it is not appropriate to predict a time and place for the end of days.

“In one of Jesus’ End Times prophecies, he warned that there would be an increase in ‘earthquakes, in various places, famines, and pestilences’ the fact that such phenomena are occurring today is a matter of public record.” LaHaye says. “Whether this is an indication we are entering or already in ‘the Last Days’ no one knows for certain. But it could be a wake up call from God.”

Oklahoma City pastor Mark Hitchcock, who is a columnist for the subscription site Left Behind Prophecy Club (http://www.leftbehindprophecyclub.com), advises in his most recent article that potential pandemics such as the avian flu are not direct fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. “But it foreshadows what is to come,” he says.

ABOUT THE LEFT BEHIND SERIES:

Based on the prophecies of the Book of Revelation, these apocalyptic thrillers chronicle the lives of those left behind after the Rapture to endure a seven-year period call the Tribulation. The Left Behind® products have been breakout hits for a decade, selling more than 63 million copies, changing how Christian books are retailed, generating intense media coverage and sparking debate on End Times issues. The last seven Left Behind™ titles have all gone #1 on The New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.

Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins are available for interviews. Press information, author bios and artwork JPEGs can be accessed in the media room at http://www.leftbehind.com. B-roll and review copies of The Regime are offered upon request.

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Beverly Rykerd
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