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During the month of July, the SWC Ministry Staff watched four recently released movies to examine current cultural issues being addressed in these poplar movies. I struggled with “War for the Planet of the Apes” more than any of the other newly released movies that we watched together as a ministry staff this summer. Honestly, this is not the genre of movies that I typically watch. As I was watching this cataclysmic epic with violence, blood, and some incredibly dark scenes with a graphic story full of symbolism, talking animals, end of world undertones, references and images that appeared to be a part of saga that I really didn’t understand. I honestly found myself a bit bored, confused, and seriously considering walking out of the theater about half way through the movie … Now how is that for a “Touching Movie Review!”
Yet, all of a sudden … two things happened… First of all the symbolism and story line all began to click for me and suddenly I became energized and hooked as I wanted to see how this story unfolded… and secondly I began to wonder … How many people feel that way when they start reading a similar book in the Bible, the Book of Revelation?
You see just like honestly, I have to admit I had a bit of an attitude going into this movie … thinking … now why in the world did the ministry staff pick this movie to include in the series … why not Wonder Woman or the Emoji Movie?! And I wonder how many people have a preconceived notion of what the Book of Revelation is all about? … And that they aren’t going to understand it?
So let’s jump into a brief overview (or snapshot) of this most fascinating book of the Bible. One of my personal goals during the next 10-12 years is to try to systematically work our way as a church through the entire Bible, so we can make sure that at Southwest, we are doing our best to teach the whole “counsel of God!” You see we are very intentional in our ever increasing biblically illiterate culture to truly provide an opportunity for people who are serious about following Jesus to learn about the entire Bible.
As we have talked about this goal within our ministry staff, I have shared with them that probably one of the last books that we will teach our way through the book will be the book of Revelation … partly because I don’t feel like an expert on the book, but also because as I share more and more my understanding of the book, I fear that many of you will be disappointed as it won’t fit your preconceived notions about the book. Let’s examine together … just a brief snapshot of this incredible book in the Bible … The book which we believe was written toward the end of the first century by the last remaining initial followers of Jesus, the Apostle John, and it begins this way …
The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John. Revelation 1:1 NIV
A couple of observations: this book was written to not conceal from us a scary message from God, but instead further reveal the Good News that is available in Jesus Christ!
I believe that a key to understand this fascinating book is to understand the style of writing that it represents.
As one commentator noted … “Another key to the interpretation of Revelation is an acquaintance with a type of Hebrew literature known as apocalyptic literature … Patterned after the Old Testament books of Daniel and Ezekiel, along with parts of Zechariah, this style of literature was intended not to obscure a writer’s message but to make it the more vivid and impressive though the use of dramatic figures” (Rubel Shelly, The Lamb & His Enemies).
It was fascinating to me to see how many times the word “apocalypse” showed up in the movie “War for the Planet of the Apes.” And even as that word “apocalypse” is thrown around … it is amazing to me how few people understand this type of writing. As one author described …
“Apocalypses tended to appear in times of extreme difficulty in order to convey an optimistic message. The general theme of all such writings may be summarized as follows: God is in ultimate control of history and fully capable of bringing men and events to his desired ends” (Rubel Shelly, The Lamb & His Enemies).