A colleague asked me last week about the Bible verse in Fear the Walking Dead.
She and I regularly have Monday debriefings about Fear the Walking Dead—particularly if she finds any religious symbolism or content. I have to admit I really dropped the ball on last Sunday night’s episode (9/20/15). My niece and my colleague both asked me about the Bible verse that showed up in that one, and my response was, “Ummm….”
I did notice there was a Bible verse on a wall, but beyond that, it sort of zipped over my head. In my defense, I was very tired from a long road trip that day so wasn’t retaining things very well. Still, as I realized later, the verse showed up not just once in the episode, but twice—meaning the writers really wanted us to notice it.
So I looked online to refresh myself. The verse in question was Revelation 21:4:
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (NIV Bible from BibleGateway.com)
Now, one tricky problem for me when my colleague asks me for the “Christian” meaning of things in TV shows (she’s hoping for insight on where the writers are going with the plot) is that show writers may not be using or interpreting things the same way we would in church.
Here’s an example I found on a website called MoviePilot interpreting Revelation 21:4 in that FTWD episode: “Yeah that all seems pretty apt to me. No death, sorrow, crying and pain? These are all things that people no longer have after being turned into walkers. And ‘for the former things are passed away’ certainly seems to reflect how the world as the characters knew it is gone, this is a whole new way of life now.”
I felt like screaming, “No, no, nooooooo!!!!!!”
This reminds me of the scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Harry reads the verse on his parents’ headstone that reads, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (I Corinthians 15:26). Harry is upset this is written on his parents’ headstone because he interprets this as a Death-Eaterish idea of trying to live forever on Earth and avoid death. But Hermione reassures him that the verse is talking about living beyond death…the Christian concept of eternal life, in other words.
In the same way, the Revelation verse from Fear the Walking Dead is most assuredly NOT about settling for some earthly existence such as we have now…it’s not about rotting bodies shambling around with no personalities or minds, no way of relating to God, no emotions at all. That is NOT the new order of things that God offers us.
It’s always best not to take one Bible verse out of context, and even just expanding out a paragraph or so tells us that (as in the verse that Harry and Hermione discussed), the Revelation verses are talking about a very different eternity:
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev 21: 1-4, NIV, from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=revelation+21&version=NIV )
Life on this Earth—with or without a zombie apocalypse—is hard. And in many parts of the world, I have no doubt that it’s so difficult, the folks might as well be in a zombie apocalypse. In Christianity, we are always asked to hold onto the promise that this Earth and its decay are not all there is. Like Harry Potter, we are promised victory—over decay, over death…even over zombies.