How To Read The Left Behind Series In Order (2 Ways)

The Left Behind series is a hugely popular apocalyptic book series, co-written by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Featuring 16 novels, this book series has taken the world by storm.

How To Read The Left Behind Series In Order (2 Ways)

Aside from selling millions of copies all over the world, Lahaye and Jenkins also saw their series adapted for the big screen. To date, the series has been adapted into 4 movies, with Nicholas Cage leading the series’ latest release.

The first book in the Left Behind series was released in 1995. Since then, 15 other books have been released, with the last one being published in 2007. As far as the story is concerned, the Left Behind series tells the story of the end of times.

Both the books and the movies explore the idea of what the earth would look like in the years that follow the rapture of the Church. The storyline follows themes and ideas surrounding events foretold in the Bible.

In this post, I’ll be showing you the best ways to read the Left Behind series, looking at two different orders.

About The Left Behind Series

Despite the books and the movies differing, both take place in the days and years that follow the rapture of the Church. The series tells the story of the end of time.

Set in an interesting contemporary era, the book follows the idea that the true believers in Christ have been raptured, leaving the world to fall into chaos. The series is based on an event foretold in the Bible in which all the world’s Christians are to be taken in an instant.

Millions of people suddenly disappear, leaving the survivors to fend for themselves, their friends, and their remaining family. During their fight for survival, the last people on Earth must try to find answers to what has happened.

Among the survivors are Bruce Barnes, Rayford Steele, and his daughter Chloe Steele. It is down to these three cleverly written characters to discover what the rapture is and why it happened.

Their journey takes them through a global crisis, war zones, and an action-packed adventure that will define who they are. When it comes to themes, this book series has a theme heavily focused on religion, the Second Coming, the Antichrist, tribulation, and the Messiah.

As you would expect, there are also strong themes of family, faith, salvation, and survival. Other themes you’ll find include violence, danger, and mystery.

Left Behind Books In Publication Order

There are two different ways to read the Left Behind series. The first and most popular way is to read the series in publication order.

Left Behind

Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days (Left Behind Series Book 1) The Apocalyptic Christian Fiction Thriller and Suspense Series About the End Times

The first book in the Left Behind series is Left Behind. Released in 2005, this book kicks Lehaye’s and Jenkins’ story off with a bang. Featuring mass disappearances, economic crises, political crises, and apocalyptic events, this is the perfect novel to start the series with.

The story starts with a Boeing 747 on its way to London. When passengers mysteriously start disappearing, those that remain are left in terror. The chaos quickly starts to spread as the unusual goings-on continue, culminating in a devastating plane crash.


  • Left Behind starts the series off brilliantly.
  • The story offers a unique perspective of the rapture.


  • This book moves quite slowly.

Tribulation Force

Tribulation Force: The Continuing Drama of Those Left Behind (Left Behind No. 2)

Tribulation Force is set two years after the rapture. In the years that followed the mass disappearance in which millions of people across the globe disappeared, global corruption, war, and crisis have erupted.

In Tribulation Force, the survivors are on a collision course with the rise of the Antichrist. Faced with plagues, famine, war, and natural disasters, it is down to Earth’s last survivors to fight for survival against unfavorable odds.


  • Tribulation Force is full of suspense.
  • The character development in this book is excellent.


  • Tribulation Force is more than 450 pages long.


Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist (Left Behind Series Book 3) The Apocalyptic Christian Fiction Thriller and Suspense Series About the End Times

The third book in the Left Behind series is Nicolae. Easily one of the most explosive books the series has to offer, this book faces the survivor’s battle against Nicolae.

After being left behind, the survivors formed the Tribulation Force to fight back against the Antichrist. However, things were never going to be easy. After a prophecy, Rayford Steele becomes the ear of the tribulation saints in the Carpathia regime.

Meanwhile, a daring rescue attempt through Israel is led by Buck Williams. You’ll find yourself holding your breath until the very end.


  • Nicolae is definitely more fast-paced.
  • This is one of the most exciting books in the series.


  • Readers don’t learn that much about the Antichrist.

Soul Harvest

Soul Harvest: The World Takes Sides (Left Behind #4)

Rayford Steele and Buck Williams both survived the wrath of the lamb, but they must now face the Trumpet Judgments and the soul harvest. After the global earthquake, both men head out into the world to try and find their surviving loved ones.

The Soul Harvest book takes readers from Iraq to America, underground to overground, from deserts and rivers to devastation, and hope. Like the characters in the story, readers find themselves desperately searching for the answers.


  • Soul Harvest sees the series explore other parts of the world.
  • Jenkins and Lahaye cleverly introduce more Scripture to the series in this book.


  • There isn’t as much character development in this book.


Apollyon: The Destroyer Is Unleashed (Left Behind Series Book 5) The Apocalyptic Christian Fiction Thriller and Suspense Series About the End Times

The 5th book in the Left Behind series is Apollyon. As thousands of the world’s survivors join forces in Jerusalem for a rally, the Tribulation Force faces a personal crisis. Forcing believers underground, Nicolae Carpathia continues his rise to power.

However, nothing is easy for Nicolae either, as nobody is prepared for the vicious locusts coming their way. Bringing extreme pain with them, the battle for survival and power just got a lot more interesting.


  • Readers learn more about Nicolae in this book.
  • Apollyon is an entertaining read.


  • Some readers find the theology in this novel quite bad.


ASSASSINS, Assignment: Jerusalem, Target: Antichrist, #6 in Left Behind Series

In Assassins, Tribulation Force faces their most dangerous challenge yet. Marked as international fugitives, finding supplies and somewhere to stay safe proves difficult.

Meanwhile, Rayford and Buck turn their despair into a plan to conquer Nicolae once and for all. They must try and expose his plan to rule the world. Thousands of believers want to stop him but will anyone be able to fulfill the Scripture and finally kill the Antichrist?


  • Many Left Behind fans think this is the best book.
  • The twists and turns in Assassins are amazing.


  • This is another lengthy read.

The Indwelling

The Indwelling: The Beast Takes Possession (Left Behind Series Book 7) The Apocalyptic Christian Fiction Thriller and Suspense Series About the End Times

Following the death of the Antichrist, Tribulation Force faces more challenges as some members are the prime murder suspects. Meanwhile, the other members test the fine line between being revealed and subversion.

Things get incredibly hard for Rayford as the news has him down as Nicolae’s killer. Buck does his best to learn the truth before things get any worse.



  • This book does drag on a bit.

The Mark

The Mark: The Beast Rules the World (Left Behind Series Book 8) The Apocalyptic Christian Fiction Thriller and Suspense Series About the End Times

Just as everything seemed to be getting better for those left behind, Nicolae Carpathia is back. This time, the devil himself has resurrected the Antichrist. As if things weren’t bad enough before, things are about to get a whole lot worse.

Tightening his grip as the world’s ruler, the beast brings terror to the believers in Europe. The people of Greece are the first people to face the GC loyalty mark application which comes with terror, pain, and more often than not, death.


  • The Mark gives readers the feeling the story is only just beginning.
  • The battle between good and evil is impressive.



Desecration: Antichrist Takes the Throne (Left Behind Series Book 9) The Apocalyptic Christian Fiction Thriller and Suspense Series About the End Times

In Desecration, the battle for the world intensifies, with Nicolae Carpathia looking like the most likely candidate to prevail. Believers must flee Jerusalem or face the mark. Whilst Nicolae has ordered every Morale Monitor armed as he travels along Via Dolorosa.

The lines between good and evil are being drawn as God inflicts the Bowl Judgement upon every one that’s been marked.


  • Desecration follows Bible Scripture brilliantly.
  • This book is incredibly thought-provoking.


  • A shocking death will leave you feeling sad.

The Remnant

The Remnant: On the Brink of Armageddon (Left Behind Series Book 10) The Apocalyptic Christian Fiction Thriller and Suspense Series About the End Times

Held at Petra, more than a million believers now face the wrath of Nicolae Carpathia, who has his enemies exactly where he wants them. Meanwhile, Tribulation Force are in a dire situation, with their safe house compromised and their whereabouts clear.

This forces Buck and Rayford to flee. The only way they can hope to stop Nicolae is if they can stay overt. The world finds itself hurtling toward the ultimate showdown between good and evil.


  • The Remnant moves quickly.
  • The writing is simply marvelous.


  • The first few chapters could be shorter.


Armageddon: The Cosmic Battle of the Ages (Left Behind Series Book 11) The Apocalyptic Christian Fiction Thriller and Suspense Series About the End Times

Including the Tribulation Force, the world’s armies are now drawn toward the Middle East. It is here that human history culminates in what becomes the biggest battle the world has ever seen.

Nowhere and nobody is safe and one way or the other, people must do what they can to help. In Petra, the Antichrist has turned up the pressure, playing a treacherous game with the world’s remaining survivors.

As the title would suggest, this book ultimately decides who will survive the armageddon.


  • Armageddon is full of twists and turns.
  • Readers get to learn more about Chloe Williams.


  • The Christian tones in this novel can be overbearing at times.

Glorious Appearing

Glorious Appearing: The End of Days (Left Behind Series Volume 12) The Final Book in the Apocalyptic Christian Fiction Thriller and Suspense Series About the End Times

After thousands of years of human life, stained by death, sin, and strife, things come to an end when the King of Glory makes a return.

A satisfying end to seven years of tribulation, this Left Behind book covers the return of Jesus Christ. At the peak of the battle between good and evil, Christ returns in both judgment and glory.


  • The interpretation of prophecy in this book is great.
  • The series reaches its climax.


  • At times, Glorious Appearing feels slow.

The Rising

The Rising: Antichrist Is Born (Before They Were Left Behind, Book 1)

The Rising is the first of three books that serve as a prequel to the Left Behind series. In the Rising, readers get to see what life was like for their favorite characters before they were left behind.

You’ll learn about what life was like for Rayford, Irene, and Chloe, find out why Viv Ivins plays such a pivotal role in Nicolae’s life, how Nicoloae became evil, and so much more. The main storyline focuses around Marilena Carpethia.


  • The Rising gives readers an insight into life before the Rapture.
  • This book gives the main characters a backstory.


  • Some readers would have been happy with the series ending with Glorious Appearing.

The Regime

The Regime: Evil Advances (Before They Were Left Behind, Book 2)

The Regime carries on in a similar vein, telling the story of your favorite characters and the different factors that made them who they are.

Readers see Nicolae’s influence grow as he turns into a successful businessman, whilst Buck and Rayford make a career for themselves. All three of them go about their daily lives, unaware of what lies ahead.


  • Again, readers learn more about each character.
  • The character development in this book complements what we learn throughout the series.


  • I can’t help but feel the authors are dragging the series out at this point.

The Rapture

The Rapture: In the Twinkling of an Eye--Countdown to the Earth's Last Days (Before They Were Left Behind, Book 3)

The final book in this short Left Behind prequel series is the Rapture. This is an interesting read which sees the story alternate between the events that happened after the rapture and the moments leading up to it.

What’s great about this book is how the readers are also told the story of what happened to the people that disappeared and how they now look down on the earth in chaos.


  • Learning more about the people that disappeared is great.
  • The leaps in time in this novel are brilliantly written.


  • The Rapture just isn’t as good as the main series.

Kingdom Come

Kingdom Come: The Final Victory (Left Behind Sequel)

Kingdom Come is a one-off sequel to the Left Behind series that reunites all your favorite characters for one last victory.

The tribulation is now over and Jesus Christ has created the perfect Kingdom for everyone on earth to thrive in. Believers enjoy their new relationship with their Lord, and the world is transformed to its former glory.

However, evil still lurks in the darkness, sparking one final battle in which good or evil will prevail.


  • This feels like a good way to end the series.
  • Readers are reunited with their favorite characters.


  • One more battle seems excessive and unnecessary.

Left Behind Series In Chronological Order

The other way you can read the Left Behind series is in chronological order. If you want to read the series in chronological order, I recommend reading the series in the order I’ve listed below.

  1. The Rising
  2. The Regime
  3. The Rapture
  4. Left Behind
  5. Tribulation Force
  6. Nicolae
  7. Soul Harvest
  8. Apollyon
  9. Assassins
  10. The Indwelling
  11. The Mark
  12. Desecration
  13. The Remnant
  14. Armageddon
  15. Glorious Appearing
  16. Kingdom Come

Final Thoughts

Left Behind is an extremely popular book series that continues to grow in popularity. To date, the series consists of 16 individual books that can be read in two different orders. In this post, I’ve shown you both ways.

The most popular and arguably the best way to read the Left Behind series is in publication order. This is the most obvious way to read the series. The other way to read the series is chronologically.

Reading the series in chronological order doesn’t change that much but it is an interesting way to read the series. Full of twists, turns, and thought-provoking messages, the Left Behind series is one that millions of people have already enjoyed.

With that being said, it’s now time for you to read the series too. Now you know how to read the Left Behind series, all you have to do is pick out the books and start reading. I already know you’ll love what the series has to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will There Be Another Left Behind Movie?

A new Left Behind movie is currently being worked on. The film will be called Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist but Nicholas Cage won’t be in it.

What Genre Does The Left Behind Series Fall Under?

The Left Behind series primarily falls under the Christian Fiction genre. However, it does also fall under the thriller, fantasy, apocalyptic, and dystopian genres too.

How Many Copies Did The Left Behind Series Sell?

The Left Behind book series sold more than 80 million copies. These copies were sold all over the world, making the series a huge success.

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Noah Burton