|Photo by Waiting for the Word, labeled for reuse|
A couple of years ago in Sunday School, I was explaining the importance of understanding eschatology (last things). I was showing from scripture that pre-Tribulation rapture is biblical and is the only stance supported clearly by scripture. It makes a difference, I said, because firstly, it gives us hope and a goal to look forward to the return of Jesus for His bride without the fear of going through the Tribulation, and secondly, it gives us urgency to witness to unbelievers because the Tribulation is going to be horrific.
And yet, people still say that “I can make it through, after all I love Jesus.” Or, “It won’t be so bad if Jesus is on your side”, or other foolish comments like that. People have no clue as to how bad the Tribulation will be. Gaining a clear understanding of it is essential as is knowing where the Bride fits in the prophetic timeline.
After I got done explaining, one man who is of the ‘go along to get along, if you love Jesus then that’s all that counts, doctrine doesn’t matter” kind of guy said, “I’m a pan-tribber. It will all work out in the end.” Everyone in class laughed, and the five minutes I’d spent urging caution and due diligence to these matters evaporated.
I thought his was a craven rejection of the importance of Eschatology, something JESUS feels is important or He wouldn’t have spent the longest discourse in the entire bible speaking about it (Matthew 24). I thought that was a terribly laid back attitude and a failure to study of all the scriptures, prophecy included, because ALL SCRIPTURE is profitable, says 2 Timothy 3:16.
I’ve read Revelation many times and the horrors of God’s wrath can’t be overestimated. It gives me
shivers even to think about His unleashing of His wrath upon the unbelieving and rebellious world. The best book I’ve read on Revelation is John MacArthur’s “Because the Time Is Near“, which made me love God and fear Him all at once, even more. My breath was taken away at the verses and the explanation of His wrath and what lay ahead for people who delay too long in repenting and believing on Jesus.
Sometimes I get interested in a movie or a documentary that visually depicts a post-apocalyptic scenario. Not the Hollywood movies, but docu-dramas like BBC’s End Day. So, this week I was reading a headline that reminded me of one of the most chillingly accurate depictions of the rise of and aftermath of a global pandemic. Except I couldn’t remember the name of the documentary.
The docudrama was about the beginning of a flu epidemic that gained traction to become a near-extinction event. A Los Angeles family led by a doctor dad, are shown dealing with their growing understanding of how much of an extinction event it was, while the action was interspersed with interviews with actual doctors, sociologists, and the like describing the likely scenarios that will occur along the way as the pandemic grew. The film started with a cough and ended a full generation after society had collapsed.
I was thinking of that movie because I’d read a headline that antibiotic resistance has grown to be a present danger. It is no longer a future threat. I’ve been worried lately about antibiotic resistance and how that will impact the prophesied plagues set to overtake mankind during the Tribulation. So I read the article, still searching for that elusive documentary title about the pandemic. The report is from World Health Organization: (WHO)
A new report by WHO–its first to look at antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance, globally–reveals that this serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country. Antibiotic resistance–when bacteria change so antibiotics no longer work in people who need them to treat infections–is now a major threat to public health.
I had seemingly forever forgotten the name of that pandemic docudrama about that Los Angeles family, and I kept searching for the title for a long time. During my search I came across the well-remembered US armageddon films, The Day After and Testament. The Day After was touted as a program likely to cause nightmares and counselors were standing by. In truth, even then, I thought it was pretty sanitized. Testament affected me greatly because it never showed a bomb but showed a family suffering anyway from nuclear fallout hundreds of miles from where the bombs actually fell. Normal life just sort of ended, slowly and agonizingly.
The main character, acted by the magnificent Jane Alexander, was part of the reason for the movie’s impact on me. She did a wonderful job as a mother watching her children and her way of life die in front of her eyes. Yet even that film was pretty sanitized also as to the effects of nuclear war. Nuclear winter in either film was never shown, and people appeared kind of grubby but were still pretty clean looking. Desperation was prevalent but despair was absent.
My search for the title of the pandemic movie set in Los Angeles finally yielded paydirt. It is called “After Armageddon” and it was on The History Channel in 2010. I recommend it. The link brings you to the full movie at youtube.
I came across two other documentary type films illustrating a societal collapse, this time, from nuclear war. They were “The War Game” (1965) (youtube link to The War Game here) which won an Oscar for Best Documentary, though the film is fiction. The summary of the film at Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com) says “It was intended as an hour-long program to air on BBC 1, but it was deemed too intense and violent to broadcast. It went to theatrical distribution as a feature film instead. Low-budget and shot on location, it strives for and achieves convincing and unflinching realism.” The War Game was never shown on the BBC until a full 20 years after it was made, and a year after Threads was shown first. Threads is the movie I watched.
Threads was shown on the BBC in 1984 and is considered the ninth best UK television show of BBC history. The imdb.com summary states, “Documentary style account of a nuclear holocaust and its effect on the working class city of Sheffield, England; and the eventual long term effects of nuclear war on civilization.”
I was a young adult in the 1980s and I vividly remember the nuclear fears. The aggressive USSR, President Reagan, the Iron Curtain, Strategic Defense Initiative (the space defense program dubbed ‘star wars’ by the populace). I thought positively that nuclear war was going to break out with the USSR and that was how I was going to die. It’s why the movies The Day After and Testament were so powerful. They fed exactly into the national psychosis about nukes. It was all the talk then.
When the Soviet Union collapsed and the Iron Curtain fell, the world drew a collective sigh of relief throughout the 1990s. Nuclear fears receded and after a short while seemed so distant and even silly. The stockpiles of nukes were forgotten as new fears arose: suitcase bombs and terrorists, and dirty bombs and pandemics.
I watched Threads last night. Before I watch any movie, I usually read up on the reviews. The reviews I could find were uniformly of the same opinion: it is the most accurate depiction of a nuclear war there has ever been put to screen. The external reviews and the internal user reviews (all 21 pages of them) uniformly said that the images stick with you and will give you nightmares. That the graphic nature of the life during and after nukes fall on Sheffield, Britain, are images that will stay with you forever. I thought I’d watch it anyway. Testament and The Day After had been manageable after all, and I was 30 years older than that now, to boot.
The film was done on a low budget but that just gives it a real feel. A young couple become engaged. She’s pregnant, and they buy a flat and begin planning their life together. Amid the backdrop of families meeting and wedding planning, pub visiting and family discussions ensuing, are newspaper, radio and television reports of a confrontation between the US and the USSR over Iran. The city is Sheffield, a target due to heavy industry located there at the time and a nearby military base.
The buildup to the moment the bombs drop was intense. In one scene, a low flying bomber almost buzzes the young man and his father who is outside gardening.
I needed a break and I decided to pause for a moment and see what the headlines were on Drudge. Imagine my shock when I saw this:
|RUSSIAN BOMBERS, FIGHTER JETS ‘SEEN OVER CRIMEA’
From the May 04, 2014 edition of the Drudge Report.
Russia then. Russia now. We had a brief respite in the 90s, but Russia is back and the headlines we are reading about Russia and the Ukraine, the Jews evacuating, and the Crimea, are eerily similar to the ramp-up in Threads the days before the bombs fell. Both were about tensions in the Middle East and/or the Baltics, Iran v. Ukraine. Thirty years apart and nothing has changed- just as prophesied, Gog will instill in Rosh an evil thought and the Bear will rise to begin a holocaust war (Ezekiel 38-39).
In the movie, as each tv talking head, radio announcer, or print headline is shown, one action leads to a reaction, eventually the bombs fly one fine spring day and the world is never the same. Devastation occurs and millions die in the first salvos. The film starts a month before the bombs fly and ends 13 years later with the first after-nuclear war generation coming into their teenage years.
Here is the TV Tropes’ summary of the cycle that led to the all-out nuclear war:
“The escalation scenario that leads to Armageddon in the first place. After a coup in Iran, the Soviet Union invades to gain a toehold in the Middle East. The Americans send in paratroopers and set a deadline for withdrawal, and when the Soviets don’t back down they send bombers after their main staging base in Iran. The Soviets destroy most of the aircraft with a nuclear-tipped air defense missile. The Americans then destroy the base with a single battlefield nuke. In return the Soviets nuke the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, the Americans blockade Cuba, and after that it gets kind of hazy…”
Threads is without a doubt the most relentlessly hopeless, harrowing, ghastly movie of the genre. It spared no scene, it was accurate and unrelenting. As the website TV Tropes says, “To any would-be viewers: if you’re looking for a story with a happy or hopeful ending this movie is not the way to go, and a strong stomach is pretty much mandatory. There are no jump scares, the Body Horror is tame by the standards of modern SFX, and there is little Gore despite the ample opportunities the setting presents. And yet it is one of the scariest films of the 20th century…”
Death on an incomprehensible scale, and dark hopelessness was prevalent. Think: TRIBULATION. In the movie, millions upon millions were killed outright and in the first few months, millions more died of radiation sickness. Millions more after that of starvation and/or disease. Just like the Tribulation.
I could not help but think of the verses in the bible saying that they will be building and marrying eating and drinking when sudden wrath comes upon them. How one day people are at the pedestrian mall pushing babies in strollers and window shopping or ordering ale at the pub, and the next, the world turns upside down.
Though there are humans in the movie after the bombs fall there is no humanity. After, any vestige of cooperation, community or even love becomes a hindrance to the simple act of survival. The movie showed this as a realistic reaction to the loss of food, shelter, clothing, and normal life. By a decade later, even language had been reduced to grunts and monosyllabic words, because of the energy it takes simply to talk. And, what is there to say? It is a world devoid of love. As Lamentations reminds us, the ones who die right away are the lucky ones.
THIS is as close to visualizing the Tribulation as one can come, and even this movie, bleak as it was, doesn’t show it all. The movie depicted “only” one issue, nuclear war and its effects and not the host of items the Tribulation will bring, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, fires, water as blood, etc, but… it shows enough. Nuclear war brings nuclear winter, famine, plague, societal collapse, and agricultural devastation. For two gripping and depressing hours, one can easily see the truth of Jesus’ words, “unless the days were cut short, no flesh would survive.” (Matthew 24:22). This is wrath. This is puny life, snuffed out under the mighty hand of God, who demands that sin be reckoned. As one film reviewer said, it is not a movie to be enjoyed, it is a movie to be endured. However, it is a necessary movie to watch.
I didn’t have nightmares but the movie did keep me up all night. The images and overall atmosphere in my heart kept me tossing and turning. Even today, a day later, I can see that it’s going to take a long time to forget the scenes. The woman at the pedestrian mall seeing the mushroom cloud and peeing herself, the husband in despair because he squandered the last bit of water, the foolishness of people protesting nuclear bombs when the war machine grinds on no matter what the populace says. The middle management local emergency guys with ties and clipboards buried under four stories of rubble, still trying to sort it all out. They died, entombed in their bunker, never having made one whit of difference. Desperation of the nurses at the hospital. The last scene.
Watch Threads, I dare you. It takes courage to stick with it. None of the people reviewing the film exaggerated. I’m not exaggerating. If you want to see what the people left behind will endure, this is as close as we can come cinematically to see the truth of God’s horrific wrath upon humanity’s sin and earth’s devastation as a result.
Sin is a terrible, terrible thing. God’s holiness and justice demands a response to it. We know that God is long-suffering and patient with His creation. One day, however, He will end His patience and determine that it is time to deal with sin on earth. He will rapture His bride first, but then, oh woes upon woes, He will unleash a holocaust that movies like Threads can only truly hint at. And the movie was bad enough. Praise our God for His patience and long-suffering. Praise Him that he brought you into the kingdom. Pray fervently for the lost and witness to them about the terrible effects of sin and the greatness of His forgiveness. Mercy and grace abounds in this present Messianic age. But it is ending, and fast. Please, please, consider these things.
The movie Threads is was on youtube.
This link brings you to one of 12 parts of the movie Threads.