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Theme:  The Revelation

"For God, unlike man, writes lessons not only in words, but also in events."
                                                                                         Peter Kreeft

Insights:  Three Acts

All stories follow a similar pattern.  A situation is set up, then it is upset, and finally it is reset.1  You can phrase this pattern in different ways, such as setting, problem, and conflict resolved or as situation, challenge, and response.  The basic format of three acts is there for a reason; for instance the Original Story, the God Story, History (His Story) has three acts, phrased as "Creation, Fall, and Redemption" or "generation, degeneration, and regeneration", or "Paradise, Paradise Lost, and Paradise Regained".

The film, The World Trade Center, is a three act drama.  It is a true story, not because it is about "real people" or "real events".  It is true because it is based on the true story of God's redeeming love.  The story of the divine descent into the rubble of a fallen world in search of lost men and women.

Act One - Life

The opening scenes of the movie are filled with images of life and light.  Morning dawns and the light begins to push back the darkness.  The beginning of a new day - creation.  People awaken and begin to move toward the city.  Soon the streets are teeming with life.  The tempo of the music increases, and we catch the lyrics to a Brooks and Dunn song2 ".......sun coming up over New York City......promises of the the Promised Land." There is beauty, and then the date September 11, 2001.

Act Two - Death

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for Thou art with me", so writes the Psalmist.3  The shadow of death is the shadow of the plane we see coming ominously low over the city.  After the shadow passes we hear the great thud of the plane's impact.  This is more than a re-creation of the plane hitting the tower.  The film maker could easily have shown actual footage, but that would have rooted us in that moment in time. He chose instead transcendent images.  This is an image of evil of the serpent striking, and the great thud is the fall of mankind.

We see results of this too in the images that follow: gray ash, paper rain, bodies falling, shock, fear, blood, and tears.  One man says, "The world is coming to an end," and he is right in one sense these are apocalyptic images:


Water turning to blood


Heavenly bodies falling from the sky


People covered with sores


Gigantic locusts that attack people 


Polluting the environment


Hailstone "heavy as a hundred weight" dropped from heaven


Vanishing islands and mountains

                                                The Revelation

A older, black police officer looks at the Rookie Jimeno and says with assurance, "You'll be alright kid."  He is the prophetic voice that begins at the moment of the fall (Genesis 3:15).  Yes, the serpent has struck a terrible blow, but there is hope.  One will come to undo with love what evil did with hate.

All human towers to heaven tumble, and all divine descents succeed.4 That is the message of the Bible, and it is the message of The World Trade Center.  The two men trapped in the ruins of the tower are a picture of fallen humanity.  Lost in darkness unable to save themselves with death creeping over their bodies, they have two choices - give up, curse God and die or call on the name of the Lord (Acts 2:21).  The men do the latter in the powerful moment of sheer panic when they cry out with the Lord's Prayer.

God answers that cry as He always does and comes for them.  He comes personally in Jimeno's vision of Jesus Christ the Living Water (John 7:37-38). He comes in the vision of McLoughlin's wife and her words of love.  He comes in a Spirit filled Christian who listens to His voice, puts on an old uniform and follows where the Master leads. He comes in the sacrifice of those who willingly lay down their lives to go into the depths of darkness in order to bring out the broken and dieing men.

Act Three - Resurrection

The scenes of the removal of the two men from the ruins are powerful and moving because they are images of resurrection - life after death.  When McLoughlin is finally extricated from the concrete rubble he has been buried under, his body is passed through a rectangular opening designed to look like a grave.  He literally comes forth from the grave out of what he himself called hell.  He is lifted by powerful hands; hands that have been broken and bruised and pierced in order to set him free.  The joy, the happiness, the tears, the love are indescribable because they are a glimpse of something eternal. Every heart is touched because they are seeing a heavenly homecoming (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Act Four - The Grand Restoration  

In Christianity there is a fourth act, and it is thought of as The Grand Restoration.  A time when all things will be made new (Revelation 21:5).  Death and the devil will have been destroyed (Revelation 20:10,14) and life will get back on track to what God intended before "The Fall". (Revelation 21:3)   

In The World Trade Center we see a glimpse of that joy at the Jimeno-McLoughlin Thank You Barbeque.  It is a time of celebration, joy, reunion and remembering together the great battle fought when the towers fell.  A time to celebrate with thanksgiving new life in all its beauty, especially in a little girl named Olivia.5

1.  All the three stages comes from Peter Kreeft - You Can Understand the Bible", pg 7 and The God Who Loves You, pg 114.
2.  Only In America 
3.  Psalm 23
4.  Dictionary of Biblical Images - The Revelation
5.  Peter Kreft - You Can Understand the Bible, pg 21
6.  Olivia means "Olive Tree".  In the Bible the Olive tree is a reference to God's people (Romans 11:17-18)

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