It’s undeniable that the concept of the end of the world holds a strange fascination for many people. This fact has not been overlooked by the film industry as evidenced by the number of recent apocalyptic movies released such as: Knowing (2009), 2012 (2009), The Book of Eli (2010), and many others. There were, of course, even earlier films which attempted to portray the end times such as: On the Beach (1959), The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omen (1976), Mad Max (1981) The Terminator (1984), Armageddon (1998), and End of Days (1999). The premise being depicted in most of these films is that the world can or will end through natural means such as war, disease, climate change or some other natural disaster. Some films even go so far as to suggest extraterrestrials as the antagonists.
While some movies about the end times are entertaining and even plausible, others are just totally ludicrous such as the zombie apocalypse in the anti-Israeli World War Z or the laughable climate change disaster as portrayed in the anti-American 2012. Those who don’t believe in what the Bible teaches about the end of this age are left with nothing else but to fantasize about how man can prevent or even ride out the coming apocalypse. On the other hand, the Bible presents a totally different explanation for how and why these events will come to pass.
While war and disease are certainly strong possibilities, the notion of climate change bringing about the apocalypse is ridiculous from a biblical perspective. The Bible teaches that the laws of nature won’t be changed while the earth exists as recorded in Genesis, “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease.” (Gen. 8:22 NASB)
Even though it is certain that there will be severe storms; extremes in temperature; floods and droughts; earthquakes; and volcanic eruptions, another certainty is that God is in control of the weather and He has determined that the current order of things won’t be changed.
Climate change is the least of man’s concerns; there are many other things to worry about. We can see in our day the constant threat of war including terrorism—which is still a war whether you want to accept it or not. Jesus himself predicted there would be “wars and rumors of wars” (Matt. 24:6) (Mark 13:7) before the end comes. Wars have always been with us; as the poet has said, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
More troubling than wars, if that’s possible, are pandemics. Infectious disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent and deadly than they have been in the past. Worse yet, some diseases are difficult or near impossible to treat effectively including antibiotic resistant bacteria such as MRSA, VRE, and MDR-TB. The Bible predicts such things will exist in the end times. (Rev. 6:8)
So, how does Hollywood’s take on the end times stack up against Scripture? Let’s look at a few examples:
On the Beach
This film presents a post-apocalyptic scenario which depicts the end of the world brought about by nuclear war. In the movie, almost everyone has died from radioactive fallout except for those living in Australia and those serving on an American submarine. The end of the movie depicts the death of every human being. The movie closes with a warning to the viewer that “There is still time…brother.”1 implying that man can prevent the apocalypse whereas the Bible teaches that God is going to bring it about and no one will be able to stop it.
The Last Man on Earth
This is a creepy movie about a plague that turns those affected into vampire-like creatures. There appears to be only one survivor who is immune to the disease. You can almost make a case for this scenario from a verse in Revelation which states, “And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them.” (Rev. 9:6) Of course, in order to accept this possibility would take a stretch of the imagination and would certainly require reading more information into the verse than is given.
This film is about the birth and early childhood of the antichrist or beast which is mentioned in Revelation. Most people use the terms antichrist and beast interchangeably. The apostle John refers to the antichrist or spirit of antichrist as being anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ. (1 John 4:3) (2 John 1:7) On the other hand, the references to the beast in Revelation seem to indicate that he is a specific person. (Rev. 19:20) Since the Bible doesn’t give any information about where the beast comes from; his background; or his childhood, the events depicted in the movie are pure speculation.
Unlike what the title implies, this movie is really about an asteroid hitting the earth and has nothing to do with the biblical references to a major battle to be fought in the Valley of Megiddo. The movie is entertaining even though it’s one or two references to the Bible are inaccurate such as the quote made by the President, “The Bible calls this day ‘Armageddon’ – the end of all things.”2 If you read the book of Revelation in the Bible, you’ll find that the battle of Armageddon is not the end of all things; there will be survivors on earth who enter into the 1000 year reign of Christ. (Rev. 19:15) (Rev. 20:7-10)
End of Days
This film was obviously inspired by the Y2K (Year 2000) hysteria that was going around during the 1990s. The movie was released in 1999 in order to take full advantage of the uncertainty surrounding what would happen if all the computer software in the world couldn’t handle four-digit dates. The movie’s premise is based on a misinterpretation of the 1000 years mentioned in the book of Revelation. Again the premise of this movie is based on an amillennial interpretation of Revelation Chapter 20, verses 7 through 8. The term “amillennial” or “amillennialism” refers to a theological belief that teaches there is no literal 1000 year reign of Christ on earth. Hence, the year 1999 is the last year of a 1000 years, (1999 – 1000) +1 = 1000 years, so Satan is released to wreak havoc on the earth. The movie proposes that if Satan can find a bride before the Year 2000 arrives he wins; and if one man can stop him, it would be Arnold.
The antagonists in The Terminator are the infernal machines developed by Cyberdyne Systems Corporation and adopted by the U.S. Air Force in a global defense network called Skynet. Skynet becomes self-aware and through a bug in programming decides that all humans are a threat. This movie capitalizes upon President Eisenhower’s fear of the “Military-Industrial Complex” and its consequences. Obviously, the movie takes these concerns to an extreme. And it’s not surprising that almost every issue of the Journal of the ACM in the 1980s contained at least one article in opposition to the development of Skynet…I mean, the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). In this film, the antagonists are corporations and the military.
Most all the other films have themes that are similar to those I’ve just described. I won’t even mention World War Z and 2012 since they are just beyond ridiculous in my opinion.
It’s clear that Hollywood is convinced that the end of the world will be brought about by man’s actions, either through war or climate change or by some natural calamity such as disease or by some extraterrestrial event. In many of the movies listed above, there is always some individual or group of heroes that steps in to save mankind from himself; in The Terminator it was Sarah Connor; in End of Days it was Jericho Cane; in Armageddon it was NASA. But according to the Bible, there won’t be a superhero that comes along to save the world; neither will man’s attempts to reduce his carbon footprint prevent the end from coming. The only hope for mankind is the King of kings and Lord of lords. (1 Tim. 6:15)
“Synopsis for On the Beach (1959),” IMDb, accessed March 3, 2015, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053137/synopsis. ↩
“Armageddon (1998) Quotes,” IMDb, accessed March 3, 2015, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120591/quotes. ↩