There is a surprisingly beautiful message of hope, redemption, salvation, and courage in the newest Star Wars, The Rise of Skywalker movie. I know die-hard Star Wars fans get caught up in great controversy over story-lines and direction of the movies (myself included!). Still, I found myself moved by a couple scenes around a very biblical and needed message in today’s world. In its simplest form, that message would be: You are not alone; they are many others.
Without spoiling the movie too much for those who haven’t seen it yet (although if you haven’t yet, you must not be a true Star Wars fan anyway!), there are a few beautiful scenes where some of the main characters are at the very end of their own whit and resources and find themselves giving in to feelings of despair and loss of hope. This loss of confidence arises from feeling they are all alone. However, in those moments of despair, when all hope seems lost, one way or another, someone (or many) suddenly burst onto the scene, reminding these characters that they are, in fact, not alone. Others are with them, and together, they will overcome evil instead of being overcome by evil.
These scenes remind me of passages right out of the bible. But I am not talking about the ones where God himself tells us he is with us. I am not diminishing those promises at all, but what I want to focus on in this blog is the fact that not only is God with us, but so are angels and other saints, both past and present. We are part of a much larger community and spiritual family than we often realize or remember. And it is this message that we are not alone that I believe needs rediscovered today. Let’s start with angels and then move to saints.
In 2 Kings chapter six verses fifteen through seventeen, we find a story where the servant of Elisha faces a moment of great despair. But the prophet Elisha is used in this situation to help his servant see a reality beyond what the natural eye can alone see. Here is the story:
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
In our modern world, many people have reduced life to just the physical and material. However, some are beginning to rediscover the supernatural and spiritual in our post-modern world. This is a fantastic story that highlights there are realities beyond the physical. And the encouragement for God’s people is that there are more angelic beings for us of greater power than demonic or earthly powers against us.
This is like another story found 1 Kings 19:13-18, but on a more human level. The prophet Elijah is depressed and discouraged. Here is the story:
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
Notice, Elijah felt all alone in his passion for the Lord. But notice in verse eighteen what God says to him: Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
The message? Elijah: you are not the only one. You are not alone! There are others!
There is a powerful scene in the Rise of Skywalker, where one of the main characters has lost hope in the battle. He feels they are overpowered and all alone. Right at the point where he is about to give up and is apologizing to the few with him, one of the main characters from the original trilogy bursts on the scene with a massive following of other rebel fighters. The simple but battle altering message is a reminder that, in fact, he is not alone, and many from around the galaxy have come to help.
The last example I will give is found in Hebrews chapter twelve. In that chapter, we are reminded that we are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses” that have gone on before us and modeled for us a life of faith. I was reminded of this again in the Rise of Skywalker in a scene towards the end were the main character appears also defeated. However, as she lays there, she calls out for help, and suddenly the voices of many Jedi’s of the past start encouraging her to rise and assuring her they are with her. As she gets up, a particularly evil character tells this main character that “all the Sith live in him.” The Sith, for those not familiar with Star Wars, represent evil and the dark side. This character is trying to intimidate and place fear in her heart. However, with a sudden burst of strength and confidence from knowing she is not alone, she responds with, “and all the Jedi live in me!”
While in the literal sense, we can’t say the saints of past and present “live in us,” there is another figurative sense in which they do. Their example in Scripture is there as an encouragement for us. Their lives are meant to give us strength, confidence and courage. Their stories give us hope to press on. And besides the ones that have gone on before us; there is also the current community of God locally and globally sharing in the same struggle.
It is essential to know God is with us. But it is also biblically vital to know angels and saints are with us too. We are not alone. Our feelings are not the same as facts. Even what our physical eyes see does not always portray the full truth. You are not alone!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. -Hebrews 12:1-3