Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman wrote the bestselling Yiddish with Dick and Jane and How to Raise a Jewish Dog. Now they are back with another comedic book. Only this one is not so funny.
It’s called How to Profit from the Coming Rapture: Getting Ahead When You’re Left Behind. The fictional authors, created by Weiner and Davilman, are Steve and Evie Levy. The premise is that the Levys actually believe what the book of Revelation in the New Testament says about the end of the world. Revelation, as well as the Hebrew Scriptures (which the Levys also acknowledge) talks of a seven-year tribulation period that culminates in the return of the Messiah. The rapture is a term used by Christian scholars to describe the event in which believers in Jesus, both living and dead, are taken up in the air to meet him and to be with him forever.
So why don’t the fictional Levys, who have obviously done their Bible homework, acknowledge Jesus and make sure they are not left behind”?
“We can’t. We’re Jews,” they explain in the foreword. “We just don’t believe He was the Messiah.” The Levys say that their fate is sealed, as if God had predetermined that they and all the Jewish people should suffer through what the prophet Daniel described as “a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then” (Daniel 12:1).
So, the Levys reason, as long as they (and all the other Jews and gentiles who have not believed in Jesus) will be left here on earth, they should make the best of it financially.
For example, Revelation 6:6 says that a quart of wheat will be worth a day’s wages, describing a world in which basic goods will be sold at highly inflated prices. So the Levys recommend that you start stockpiling cans of tuna, peanut butter and beans now so that you can sell them at a profit during the tribulation.
Since the Bible predicts that the Temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem, the Levys recommend opening a Chinese restaurant near the Temple, because Jews love Chinese food. They also advise you on “what real estate to unload when the sun turns black and mountains start shifting.” Since the world as we know it will end after the tribulation, the Levys also tell you “how to maximize your short-term returns (when there will be no long-term returns).”
All of this might be funny if the events they describe were as fictional as the Levys. If you are a skeptic or agnostic, then none of this is really going to happen. But if the Bible is true, the things the Levys want you to laugh about are pretty scary. Even the Levys are hedging their bets. They claim that if they are still alive at the end of the tribulation and all the predicted events come true, they will then accept that Jesus is the Messiah.
“Think about it,” they say. “How many islands have to move about and rivers turn to blood before you have to admit that Revelation is right and The Origin of Species is wrong?” This is a writing ploy so that the Levys can continue their parody and joke about the post-tribulation events the Bible describes. Nevertheless, say the Levys, “We’ll really mean it.”
There will be a chance for people to truly turn to God during the tribulation. Many will. The Bible says that Messiah will come at the end of the age. The prophet Zechariah writes, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child” (Zechariah 12:10). Just as God has preserved our people from our enemies throughout history, the Messiah will permanently deliver the Jewish people from the evil planned against us.
If you’re not sure about how the world ends, you might want to read this book. But don’t follow its advice. It might whet your appetite for the real thing, the Bible. It’s like watching a movie in which Hollywood has taken a great work of literature, mangled the plot, made caricatures of the hero and villain, and butchered the ending. It makes you want to go back and read the book the movie was based on and see what it really says.
But I want to offer the same piece of advice that the fictional Levys offer in their opening chapter, “How to Read This Book.” They say it with tongue in cheek: “Because our financial advice will be predicated on events that will, without question, happen in the future, we urge you to read this book in order, front to back, and not ‘jump around.'”
Start at the front of the book (in this case the New Testament) by reading one or more of the gospel accounts—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You’ll learn a lot more about the protagonist in the final book of the New Testament, Revelation. Then you may really profit from the coming rapture—by not being left behind.