Your students are obsessed with the apocalypse. You know this because you hear them talking about The Walking Dead and Interstellar. Your students are not only fascinated with post-apocalyptic films and TV shows, but many of them love to explore digital post-apocalyptic worlds in video games like Fallout 4 and Tom Clancy’s The Division. While these apocalypses that are predicted in these games are far different from the Bible’s, apocalyptic games do get something right about the end of the world, something that can encourage your students as they seek to live for Christ.
Most post-apocalyptic games are not truly apocalyptic in the biblical sense. They do not depict the literal end of the world. They let players explore worlds that have been radically changed by cataclysmic events (nuclear fallout, zombie outbreak, etc.) that have killed much of earth’s inhabitants and radically changed life for those who survived. There is, however, another meaning for the world apocalypse—it can also mean “the revelation of knowledge through profound disruption.” In this sense, post-apocalyptic games like Fallout 4 and The Division actually have much in common with Revelation.
Tom Clancy’s The Division asks players to enter New York after a plague has ravaged the city. Tension in the game arises as the plague turns the city into a war zone as people selfishly vie for the city’s remaining resources. The Division lets players feel this tension personally by giving them the option to attack other players and steal their resources. Fallout 4 places players in a world that has been ravaged by nuclear war—similar to The Division, this post-apocalyptic world is chaotic and treacherous due to various factions at war with one another. These factions claim to be working to restore the world to its pre-apocalyptic state but each continues to fail because they see the others as their enemies. Mad Max presents an even bleaker future as mankind has so wrecked the world through war and consumption that it has become a barren desert in which genocide and human trafficking run rampant.
In each of these games, apocalyptic events reveal people’s hearts and true character. Like man prior to the flood, it is made clear to players that the thoughts and intentions of people’s hearts are selfish, set on evil continually (Gen. 6:5). In the flood story, it was too late for humanity, save for Noah. These revelations of character in digital apocalyptic worlds, however, might just be a form of mercy. For some it might just cause them to consider their own hearts. Just as these game worlds reveal man’s brokenness, there is coming a day when our hearts will be revealed (Luke 12:1-2). Help your students to see that those who trust Christ should not fear that day because we know that God has transferred us by faith from spiritual death to new life (Eph. 2:1-7).
Christ is going to return, not to destroy the world, but to redeem it (2 Pet. 3:1-13). There are, however, destructive elements to Christ’s work of redemption (2 Pet. 3:11-12) as all sin and evil in the world will be removed (Rev. 20:7-10; 21:1-5). Knowing this, however, should not paralyze your students with fear. As those who have been redeemed, these realities should move us to ask the question Peter posed to his readers in light of the end: “since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness”?
This post was written by Drew Dixon, Editor of Explore the Bible: Students