I thought it timely, in light of the controversy surrounding another "End Times" story, to remark on this most remarkable of C.S. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles. This satisfying series conclusion illustrates Lewis' brilliant analysis of Biblical prophesy in a touching story children of God can all look to with anticipation ("...Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." Rev. 22:20b).
This is the story of Armaggedon; the conflict between anti-Christ (anti-Aslan) and the great masses of inhabitants of lost Narnia deceived by him and doomed for eternity versus the ultimate salvation of the few true followers of Aslan to eternal life in His Country, the True Narnia. The allegory to Scriptural truth is remarkable as illustrated by this most insightful, genius mind of modern-day Christian apologists.
The high point of the story occurs after the destruction of the old world and the lost souls who rejected Aslan, who are dispatched allegorically in Revelations 20, "lake of fire" fashion. The heroes of the story, including all the key players from the earlier Chronicles, are seen trying out their new "resurrection" bodies exploring the most beautiful place ever imagined, thrilled to have Aslan with them. They find after a while that the beautiful country is actually Narnia, the REAL Narnia. Though the Narnia they knew and loved was perceived most wonderful, it was a mere shadow of the perfect New Narnia, the one that would last forever, always with Him present and providing all the light in the never-ending Day.
For believers in Christ, Lewis has projected a clear picture mortal minds can comprehend of how it might be on that Day. It is shown through a children's story because that is how we must come to Him; like a child. "You must become just like a child to enter the Kingdom of God". Jesus said "let all the little children come to Me". In Narnia, those child-like believers were never lost once they found Him, by His grace. Those who perished were the lovers of the old, decaying, temporary Narnia and were deceived by what their own wills commanded, rejecting and hating Aslan and worshipping the god of their chosing, their own selves. This is a definitive picture of our fallen world and our fallen culture. Lewis' work is prescient in describing the condition of the world of today, one in which Jesus could return to at any time, as our prayer pleads from Revelation cited above (but if He tarries, one and all can be sure that He is coming soon; "soon" defined as the lifespan of the individual).
One last point on a most poignant scene from the story. It involves the fierce young Tarkaan warrior Emeth, devoted follower of the vulture-like god of the Calormens, Tash. As our heroes are exploring the Real Narnia, following Aslan "further in and further up", they discover this unlikely believer sitting perplexed under a tree, "surprised by joy". Emeth's story is one that demonstrates man's frequent inability to match his rational and correct thoughts with his often erroneous mental images of said correct thought. In this case this child of the Light lived bravely demonstrating the fruits of the Spirit in humility, submission and obedience to the true God of everything, the Self-Existant Great I AM. But his human error was in his vision of what God looked like and not knowing His correct name. Emeth is somewhat like Helen Keller, who, when "told" about Jesus by Anne Sullivan in the eternal darkness, quiet and aloneness of her disability, said "so that's His name; I know Him".
The story of Emeth's salvation by grace is much akin to the salvation of the thief on the cross, or like mine. It doesn't say that "being good" gets one into Heaven, as one mistaken reviewer opined. It does show that a totally surrendered heart turned toward the One true living God in obedience and love will not be turned away, no matter how mistaken one's mental images may be about God. It is a beautiful picture of salvation by faith through His grace and not by works. God does all the saving; the Holy Spirit teaches us about the true nature of God by His perfect, inerrant Word. Lewis' picture of Emeth is one all believers should take heart in, realizing it is not our purview to know who God has saved by His sovereign will. Of course, Emeth's works demonstrated his salvation, even though he was not recognized as a believer.
Emeth's conviction, humility and devotion in this passage continues to bring me to tears. As Aslan seeks him out in the New Narnia, Emeth is convinced he is about to die. He has seen Aslan in His Glorious Appearing and is convicted of his sins. He falls at His feet thinking "Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honor) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen Him." Read the book to see a most beautiful prosaic illustration of Christ's mercy and grace.
This is an ideal book to read either before or after reading the last of the Left Behind series, Glorious Appearing. The stories are very similar with the same outcome and the same great Hope. The self-possessed "intellectuals" of the world may guffaw at those who believe in "Whom" Lewis and other Christians have assurance. Most of these "intellectuals" are ignorant of Scripture, though some are over-studied yet deluded by their self-enlightenment, hard hearts or pride (see 2 Corinthians 4:4, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 for the bottom line, or if you can't get translation from that source, try reading Lewis' definitive study Miracles).
The Chronicles of Narnia are reading for a lifetime. They should be read by believers as a reminder of how we are to come into His presence. In Narnia we see the joys of serving Him in the trials and in the triumphs of this life. In The Last Battle we see the Genius of Revelation as given to Lewis on a plain that even great intellects can embrace if they are willing to "not harden their hearts" (Hebrews 3:12-15). If they are not willing they will get a clear picture of the consequences.