Many publishing moons ago, when I was a snot-nosed acquisitions editor, I was thumbing through a trade journal and saw the first ads for Tyndale’s soon-to-be-blockbuster series, “Left Behind.”

Having seen a fair number of “end times novels,” I actually laughed. I took counsel with myself and decided the book would be a huge failure, both for Tyndale and the co-authors, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

Isn’t honesty refreshing?

Of course, the book took off like a rocket and was followed by the series, which became a juggernaut.

I was careful not to pass judgment after that!

In the intervening years, I’ve seen another fair number of such novels, some good and some not-so-good.

I’ve just read another terrific one.

Bill Salus got on the publishing radar a few years ago with his debut book, “Israelstine.” I remember thinking at the time, here is a great title, cover and compelling Bible prophecy offering. In short, Salus’s writing and marketing combined to knock one out of the park.

Now, he has tried his hand at fiction – but that term is not quite accurate, given the current headlines!

“Revelation Road” is a truly unique novel, presenting a gripping story with an actual commentary, explaining terms and concepts that might be unfamiliar to many. This is one of the chief assets of “Revelation Road,” since I’ve long thought that Bible prophecy teachers fail to explain those terms and concepts that are now archaic to modern audiences.

Salus pens the story of a young man and his grandfather. As the world spins out of control – bringing into shape age-old biblical prophecies – the grandfather mentors his young grandson, explaining to him what is unfolding before their eyes. It’s one of the best fiction efforts I’ve ever read in the genre.

Salus weaves a story of a “suddenly” crumbling society, with the growing awakening of young Tyler and Grandpa George.

The Thompson family realizes that the world has changed permanently, and their chief priority now is survival. I somewhat identify with Tyler, since I came of age during the convulsions of Vietnam, Watergate, the Cold War, etc. I would argue we are now living in scarier times, and “Revelation Road” camps out on this premise.

Nonetheless, just one of the reasons I love Salus’ new novel is that he offers real, biblical hope.

He also, I think, has a flair for fiction; a sample: “Stuffing the classified dossier hastily into his brown leather attaché case, Mikhail Trutnev whisked suspiciously toward the back exit door of his office, startling his secretary. The middle-aged, silver-haired Russian receptionist that seldom wore a smile had set nearly every one of his appointments over the past decade, and Alena Popov was unprepared for his peculiar departure.”

Yet, as I wrote earlier, Salus doesn’t leave it to the reader to unwrap the sometimes confusing world of Bible prophecy. He provides a commentary section that identifies concepts and terms that would normally frustrate the “uninitiated.”

For example, here is a snippet from the commentary: “Lately the realization has set in among many teachers and students of prophecy that the Bible teaches the trib-period begins by the confirmation of a false covenant confirmed by the Antichrist with the nation of Israel, rather than the Rapture. Isaiah 28:15,18 and Daniel 9:27 are the scriptures providing details regarding this agreement. Because of Daniel’s prophecy the trib-period is more appropriately called Daniel’s Seventieth Week.”

The nice thing about the combined novel and commentary is that readers can devour the novel portion, then travel through the commentary at leisure. Being able to go back and re-read the commentary ensures that “Revelation Road” will have “legs,” as readers refer to it again and again. I must say, Salus is one of the best and most thorough researchers I’ve run across, and this project and its readers are the beneficiaries of that singular skill. I learned a ton.

The historical detail Salus provides in the commentary is rich and extensive. It’s not often one can purchase a book and get at least two books in the process!

Agree with him or not (Salus has bravely dived into a cauldron of debate and fierce disagreement among prophecy teachers and students), the author has fashioned an end times novel that will grip the reader and, thankfully, also instruct and exhort.

It’s the kind of triple play most authors couldn’t pull off. Bill Salus and “Revelation Road” have done it with room to spare.

A thrilling ride!

Discover how real and relevant Bible prophecy is to you with Jim Fletcher’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine): How to stop worrying and learn to love these end times”

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