Q&A with Donna VanLiere, Author of The Time of Jacob’s Trouble
By Crime HQApril 6, 2020
You are most well-known for your bestselling holiday fiction writings such as The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Town, but what inspired you to move in a different direction and blend fiction with biblical prophecy for The Time of Jacob’s Trouble?
People are wondering, “What in the world is going on?” I heard a poll a few years ago taken among college/university professors around the world and although they couldn’t put their finger on it, they sensed that the world was escalating toward some sort of conclusion. Many people feel something in the air; something doesn’t feel right. I grew up going to church and hearing the pastor or visiting pastors talk about the “end of the age” and the return of Christ, but when I became an adult that message became lost. No one was talking about what the Bible calls “the end of the age” and the return of Christ. Several years ago, I sat in church and thought, “I’ve heard this same message since I was five.” Sunday after Sunday I would think the same thing, but would then think, “Someone here hasn’t heard that message.” Although I didn’t know what was missing, I knew that something was missing. It dawned on me one Sunday that it had been decades since I’d heard a pastor talk about the return of Christ and “the end of the age” and I started studying it on my own. I never read any fiction or non-fiction books on the subject; I just dug into the Bible and researched on my own and was amazed over and over again. God says in Isaiah that He tells us “the end from the beginning.” What we see happening in the world today is in the Bible because God wants us to know the signs that will be prevalent before the return of Christ. Pretty amazing! Billy Graham once said that he has the headlines in one hand and the Bible in the other because what’s happening now is right there in the Bible.
Because The Time of Jacob’s Trouble deals with real biblical prophecy, how does its message relate to the world’s current challenge of dealing with and overcoming Covid-19?
The first three-quarters of the book is a novel and then the last one-quarter is endnote teaching. The message of the book is that things are looking up to Christ’s return. We see the signs from the Bible increasing in frequency and in intensity and are actually all happening at once. When I was a child a major event would happen and then there’d be a break before another major event happened, but now things are happening every day. They’re happening so fast that’s it hard to keep up with them. The advancement of technology in all areas has created an explosion in the frequency of signs. For example, the Bible talks about people from around the world being able to see two dead bodies in Jerusalem. When my parents were kids that verse would have seemed absurd. They only had a radio growing up. How could people around the entire world see those bodies? Now, it’s not even a question. We’d look on our phones or computer. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24 that deception will increase, and false prophets will rise. Deception has been around since the beginning of time as have false prophets, but with the advancement of technology, we can easily deceive or lead hundreds, thousands, or millions away through social media, podcasts, YouTube, television, etc. Through everything, even through scares like Covid-19, God says in the Bible, “Don’t be afraid. I am with you always. My peace I give to you. Cast all your anxieties on Me.”
What inspired your vision for the main characters in The Time of Jacob’s Trouble?
I wanted to focus on ordinary people who were busy living their lives and follow them around in the time that is the beginning of the end of this world in its current form. A new world is coming, one without disease, murder, hatred, bigotry, racism, sex trafficking, greed, etc., one that is free from what the Bible calls sin, and it will be more beautiful than we can ever imagine: sights, sounds, smells, tastes, relationships… everything will be beyond our wildest imagination. So, in the book, the characters will be living in the final days of this world. Some of them will be in New York City, some in Israel and also Rome. Two of the characters will be part of what is called the 144,000 in the Bible, Jewish men who are sealed by God so that nothing and no one can harm them in those final days as they preach salvation in Jesus around the world. I think they’re some of the most fascinating people in the Bible and can’t imagine what they’ll witness or live through at that time.
What is your process when developing storylines for your books? Have you always had the same creative process, does it change book-to-book, or is it always developing and changing?
I’m a good listener and I listen for characters as I observe people. I listen for storylines. That process is always the same, but with this particular plotline I turned to the Bible for what would be happening in the time prior to the return of Christ. I do that for the second book as well and will do it for the third and final book in this series.
The Time of Jacob’s Trouble is the first book in its trilogy. Is there any inside scoop you can give us on what’s to come in books two and three?
The Day of Ezekiel’s Hope will begin with a massive coalition of enemies coming against Israel and will feature the two witnesses from Revelation 11, world leaders who come together to lead during an unprecedented time of chaos, death and destruction, along with the main characters we met in The Time of Jacob’s Trouble. Think of how people reacted in fear inside grocery stores because of Covid-19, shelves were emptied in a hurry! Imagine what will happen when the world is upended in the earth’s final days. Apocalyptic movies will never be able to represent that time. The Bible actually says that men will die because their hearts will fail them. I certainly can’t portray that kind of terror in a book; I’m not that capable of a writer and I don’t believe anyone could be. We just can’t imagine the horror of those days, but the Bible says that all who are “in Christ” will be rescued. Jesus says, “When you see all these things begin to happen, look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near.” Things are looking up!