Summary of "Left Behind" by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

by Bonnie Wood
The Left Behind series depicts one view of the time after the

The Left Behind series depicts one view of the time after the "rapture."

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The Left Behind series of books, written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, is about faith, heaven, hell and the "end times," which are the days, according to Christians, leading up to Christ's return to Earth. The 16-book series became wildly popular after the release of the first novel in the mid-1990s, selling roughly 64 million copies to become the best-selling Christian fiction series to date. The first book, called "Left Behind," kicks off the series with the early days of the apocalypse.


"Left Behind" is a fictional depiction of apocalyptic days, known by many Christians as the end times or "end of days," or, for the more scholarly, the "eschaton." There are many views about eschatology, the study of end times, and this book series fits into just one of those Christian theologies. This viewpoint, which is typically a fundamentalist Protestant one, involves the "rapture," which is when all professing (believing) Christians are taken to heaven, while unbelievers remain on Earth for a time to be judged and given opportunities for salvation before Christ returns.

The Rapture

The story begins with several characters. Rayford Steele is an airline pilot with a waning marriage. His wife, a Christian, devotes more and more time to her church, leaving Rayford desiring another woman, a flight attendant he works with named Hattie Durham. But on a flight to London, passengers suddenly and strangely disappear. When they finally touch down, they discover many people are missing around the world, causing these characters to start looking for answers.

Buck Williams

While Rayford tries to find what's left of his family and questions God and faith, a young journalist named Buck Williams is also looking for answers about the rapture. He does a report on an Israeli scientist named Chaim Rosenzweig, who has devised a groundbreaking formula for cultivating soil. Buck, however, believes there's more to the story when he learns the scientist plans to rise in power and global domination with the help of several wealthy individuals and his innovative invention.

What Lies Ahead (Spoiler)

As earth shattering as the disappearances are for these two main characters, there are darker days to come. Rayford and Buck eventually find one another, become Christians and prepare for the Tribulation, which is the seven-year period in which God rains down judgment on those left on Earth. These events take place in the next book in the series, "Tribulation Force."

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