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Author: kgreen20
Title: Lessons in The Lord of the Rings for Tribulation Believers
Rating: G
Theme: Nonfiction
Subject: Apocalyptic lessons found in The Lord of the Rings
Type: Opinion essay
Word Count: 2,403

In these end times, in these last days before the Rapture takes place, I see much in The Lord of the Rings that will be of immense help to people who come to faith in Christ when the Tribulation begins. Let’s have a look at some passages in LOTR, as well as some corresponding YouTube videos from the Peter Jackson movie trilogy, that have something to say to the future Tribulation believers (as, in fact, they already do to us, the Church).

Frodo sat silent and motionless. Fear seemed to stretch out of a vast hand, like a dark cloud rising in the East and looming up to engulf him. “This Ring!” he stammered. “How, how on earth did it come to me?”

“Ah!” said Gandalf. “That is a very long story. The beginnings lie back in the Black Years, which only the lore-masters now remember. If I were to tell you all that tale, we should still be sitting here when Spring had passed into Winter.

“But last night I told you all of Sauron the Great, the Dark Lord. The rumours that you have heard are true: he has indeed arisen again and left his hold in Mirkwood and returned to his ancient fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor. That name even you hobbits have heard of, like a shadow on the borders of old stories. Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.”

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all of who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. And already, Frodo, our time is beginning to look black. The Enemy is fast becoming very strong. His plans are far from ripe, I think, but they are ripening. We shall be hard put to it. We should be very hard put to it, even if it were not for this dreadful chance.

The Enemy still lacks one thing to give him strength and knowledge to beat down all resistance, break the last defences, and cover all the lands in a second darkness. He lacks the One Ring.” (The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, Chapter 2: “The Shadow of the Past”)

“There was more than one power at work, Frodo. The Ring was trying to get back to its master. It had slipped from Isildur’s hand and betrayed him; then when a chance came it caught poor Déagol, and he was murdered; and after that Gollum, and it had devoured him. It could make no further use of him: he was too small and mean, and as long as it stayed with him he would never leave his deep pool again. So now, when its master was awake once more and sending out his dark thought from Mirkwood, it abandoned Gollum. Only to be picked up by the most unlikely person imaginable: Bilbo from the Shire!

“Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.” (ibid)

“Tell me, lord,” he [Éomer] said, “what brings you here? And what was the meaning of the dark words? Long has Boromir son of Denethor been gone seeking an answer, and the horse that we lent him came back riderless. What doom do you bring out of the North?”

“The doom of choice,” said Aragorn. “You may say this to Théoden son of Thengel: open war lies before him, with Sauron or against him. None may live now as they have lived, and few shall keep what they call their own.” (The Two Towers, Book 3, Chapter 2: “The Riders of Rohan”)

Even though no one who is left behind in the Rapture will be glad to see such a time, it will still fall to them to decide what to do with the time that will be given to them at that point. They will have to decide whether to fight with Jesus or against Him; if they’re wise, they will choose to fight with him. That will mean accepting Jesus as their Savior, and it will also mean refusing to accept the Mark of the Beast or to worship the Antichrist’s image, even at the cost of their lives. That time is going to be black, and the Antichrist will be very strong. To paraphrase Gandalf, the Antichrist will beat down all resistance, break the last defenses, and cover the whole earth in darkness. A thick spiritual darkness will cover the whole earth until Jesus returns. Therefore, to paraphrase Aragorn, no one will be able to live as they have lived, nor will they be free to keep what they call their own. All the Tribulation believers are going to be very hard put to it until Jesus returns. It will help them to remember that even during the Tribulation, even though the Holy Spirit will no longer be restraining evil, there will still be other forces besides the will of evil. And those other forces will have the last word when Jesus returns to earth.

“I don’t like anything here at all,” said Frodo, “step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.”

“Yes, that’s so,” said Sam. “And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folks seem to have been just landed in them, usually—their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on—and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same—like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?”

“I wonder,” said Frodo. “But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.”

“No, sir, of course not. Beren now, he never thought he was going to get that Silmaril from the Iron Crown in Thangorodrim, and yet he did, and that was a worse place and a blacker danger than ours. But that’s a long tale, of course, and goes on past the happiness and into grief and beyond it—and the Silmaril went on and came to Eärendil. And why, sir, I never thought of that before! We’ve got—you’ve got some of the light of it in that star-glass that the Lady gave you! Why, to think of it, we’re in the same tale still! It’s still going on. Don’t the great tales never end?”

“No, they never end as tales,” said Frodo. “But the people in them come, and go when their part’s ended. Our part will end later—or sooner.” (The Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 8: “The Stairs of Cirith Ungol”)

Frodo sighed and was asleep almost before the words were spoken. Sam struggled with his own weariness, and he took Frodo’s hand; and there he sat silent till deep night fell. Then at last, to keep himself awake, he crawled from the hiding-place and looked out. The land seemed full of creaking and cracking and sly noises, but there was no sound of voice or of foot. Far above the Ephel Dúath in the West, the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master’s, seized to trouble him. He crawled back into the brambles and laid himself by Frodo’s side, and putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep. (The Return of the King, Book 6, Chapter 2: “The Land of Shadow”)

There, far away, beyond sad Gondor now overwhelmed in shade, the Sun was sinking, finding at last the hem of the great slow-rolling pall of cloud, and falling in an ominous fire towards the yet unsullied Sea. The brief glow fell upon a huge sitting figure, still and solemn as the great stone kings of Argonath. The years had gnawed it, and violent hands had maimed it. Its head was gone, and in its place was set in mockery a round rough-hewn stone, rudely painted by savage hands in the likeness of a grinning face with one large red eye in the midst of its forehead. Upon its knees and mighty chair, and all about the pedestal, were idle scrawls mixed with the foul symbols that the maggot-folk of Mordor used.

Suddenly, caught by the level beams, Frodo saw the old king’s head; it was lying rolled away by the roadside. “Look, Sam!” he cried, startled into speech. “Look! The king has got a crown again!”

The eyes were hollow and the carven beard was broken, but about the high stern forehead there was a coronal of silver and gold. A trailing plant with flowers like small white stars had bound itself across the brows as if in reverence for the fallen king, and in the crevices of his stony hair yellow stonecrop gleamed.

“They cannot conquer for ever!” said Frodo. And then suddenly the brief glimpse was gone. The Sun dipped and vanished, and as if at the shuttering of a lamp, black night fell. (The Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 7: “Journey to the Cross-Roads”)

Well, there you are: a hobbit amongst the Urukhai. Keep up your hobbitry in heart, and think that all stories feel like that when you are in them. You are inside a very great story! (Letter #66, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, by Humphrey Carpenter; J.R.R.T. to his son, Christopher Tolkien, who was deployed in South Africa during World War II)

These are all truths that the Tribulation believers will need to take to heart and hold onto. They will need to know that even though the world will seem accursed, even though it will indeed be the worst time in history at that point, and even though a thick spiritual darkness will cover the whole world, there is something to hold onto, something to keep them going. Believe it or not, like Frodo and Sam—and J.R.R. Tolkien’s son, Christopher—they will be inside a very great story! They will need to remember that, even during the intense darkness of the Tribulation, the Shadow is only a small and passing thing, and that there is light and beauty even beyond the Antichrist’s reach (and beyond the reach of Satan himself, who will possess the Antichrist during the latter half of the Tribulation). Even though the Antichrist will be permitted to conquer for a time, he will not be able to conquer forever, and neither will his master, Satan. It may be that God will use little things to encourage the Tribulation believers and give them the courage to keep going, as He, as Eru Ilúvatar in The Lord of the Rings, did for Sam when he saw that star, and as He also did for Frodo when he saw the flowers in the stone king’s severed head. The majority of the believers will not come to a good end; most of them will die. But their moral victories will gain them a resurrection after Jesus returns to earth.

And that brings us to a video from the Peter Jackson movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, that is not based on any particular dialogue in the book.

Since the vast majority of the Tribulation believers are going to perish during the Tribulation (only a minority will survive to see Christ’s second coming), this scene could well bring them at least some comfort.

In short, there is much in The Lord of the Rings that will, I predict, encourage the followers of Jesus who are fans of Tolkien during that dreadful time. Of course, it is the Bible that they will really need to rely on for their source of strength and faith, but The Lord of the Rings is full of Biblical principles that will be especially applicable during that seven-year period.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 9th, 2014 03:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this excellent piece on a topic that I've often pondered, but not in light of Tolkien. I've always felt that LotR is very applicable personally in striving to live a godly life, but this essay adds another dimension to it that I really appreciate. This one is going into my archive of Read Again Many Times pieces!
Sep. 9th, 2014 04:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad you find it helpful.
Sep. 10th, 2014 11:03 pm (UTC)
This is a focus I've never seen applied to LotR, but it is certainly food for thought.

I also like your choice to include the video clips!
Sep. 10th, 2014 11:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks, dreamflower!
Sep. 11th, 2014 05:15 am (UTC)
Interesting thoughts.
Sep. 11th, 2014 05:16 am (UTC)
And as Dreamflower said, some of my favorite quotes and video clips.
Sep. 11th, 2014 02:14 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you like it, Larner. And, hey, it does provide some food for thought. It certainly did for me.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


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