One of the major American television networks recently ran a short series they called “Revelations.” I did not see this series. It ran on Wednesday nights at a time when I was on the way home from gathering with others to read the original true story, and not to watch the fictional teleplay. I did see enough of it, and read enough about it, to know that like many movies it had no similarity to the book on which it claimed to be based. I first knew there was something wrong when the producer said it was based on the biblical book of “Revelations.” While the whole Bible is truly a book of revelations, he was referring to the final book of the Bible, whose title (keeping in mind that the names of the books are added by men) is the “Revelation” in the singular.
My second clue was that I didn’t see any ancient Romans in the previews. One of the first rules of interpreting prophecy is, if a prophet sets a time for his prophecy to come true then there is no reason to expect it to occur at any other time. When Moses told Pharaoh that the plague of hail would come “tomorrow about this time,” (Ex 9:18) there is no reason to suppose that this plague of hail will come in 2006. One may say that the plague of hail that came the following day was the one he was predicting. In like manner, when God tells John (Rev 1:1) that these are things that are “soon to come to pass” there is no reason to believe that it will take over two thousand years for the events to happen. Admittedly, to God “one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Pet 3:8) However, when he speaks to man, he speaks in terms man understands. When he tells John something will happen soon, then one can reasonably expect to see Roman soldiers in the vicinity of the events.
Clue three that this fictional play had nothing to do with the book of the Revelation was that one of the main characters was called “The Antichrist.” Whenever anyone talks about “THE” Antichrist (with the definite article and the capital “A”) he shows that he is not talking about the Bible. I say again, any time anyone talks about “The Antichrist” he is not talking about anything from the Bible. In fact, he is showing his ignorance of the Bible. Never once does the book of the Revelation mention Antichrist or antichrist. Granted, the term is unique to John’s writings. He never uses it in the Revelation, though. Further, he says there is no such thing as “the” antichrist. He certainly doesn’t predict a future coming of antichrist. Instead he says there are many antichrists, and that they existed even in his own time. . “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4:3) “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” (1 John 2:18) If anyone is waiting for the antichrist to come, they are about nineteen hundred years too late.
The fourth clue that this work was only loosely based on the book it purported to represent is its selective use of symbols. The book of the Revelation is primarily, if not exclusively, symbolic. Granted, as far as I know this show did not include a literal ten-headed dragon. On the other hand, it did include natural disasters that, in the book, were symbolic of spiritual conflicts. The Revelation is about spiritual things, using symbols in spiritual ways. Choosing which symbols to take literally and which to take figuratively betrays an agenda not based on understanding the book.
These arguments and others can also be used against certain books or series of books. They may be good fiction. They are bad theology. Does this mean people should not view these movies or read these books? Certainly not. When one chooses to view such material, though, he should keep in mind that it has nothing to do with what the Bible says. Read it or view it as one would any other fiction. Just don’t fall for the propaganda that it is closely based on the real story.