C. S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, the final installation of his seven-part series The Chronicles of Narnia, revolves around these themes. The book, which is said to have biblical parallelisms, is reflective of the events depicted in the Book of Revelations—the coming of the Anti-Christ, the last judgment, and the end of the world. In The Last Battle, the kingdom of Narnia is under grave threat and its small band of protectors—the loyal followers of Aslan the lion, the creator of Narnia—must defend their kingdom and their God.
Narnia at this time is governed by King Tirian, a descendant from Caspian and Rilian of earlier times. Into his world come a cunning ape named Shift, and a donkey named Puzzle. Puzzle finds an old lion-skin, and with the influence of Shift, the two plot to deceive the Narnians by dressing up Puzzle to look like Aslan, and having him pretend that he is Aslan. They also strike an alliance with Calormen, the antagonistic nation last featured in The Horse and His Boy, to join them in bringing Narnia down.
The fate of the kingdom lies in the hands of Eustace and Jill, the children of the Earth, and together with King Tirian, they must find the real Aslan and restore peace in Narnia. It is indeed a trying time for Narnia. Dissent and chaos are brewing among the inhabitants. The Narnians are looking for answers that no one seems to know. Until that time, they begin to question Aslan’s authority and judgment. And it did not help that the Lion seems nowhere to be found. The ensuing events that took place as a consequence of the ape’s self-serving interest all contribute to the realization of “The Last Days” or the “End Times” for Narnia.
In Christian theology, study of such events as the second coming of Jesus Christ, Judgment Day, and the establishment of a new heaven and earth is called eschatology. According to Knowledgerush. com, eschatology (from Greek word eskhatos, meaning last), is the study of beliefs concerning final events and ultimate purposes. It concerns “the things hoped for, yet to be revealed. ” In The Last Battle, the ape is likened to the image of the Antichrist, who, although not particularly mentioned in the Book of Revelations, is the source of all things evil.
In the Revelations, the Antichrist figures as the Beast, the False Prophet, and the Whore of Babylon. In Christian understanding, according to Dr. Erwin Ransom (Narniaworld. com) the Antichrist may be an individual or an organization, like an evil government leader or an influential religious leader who sets up false worship in place of the worship of Christ, under the dominion of Satan. Shift, the ape, is such character. He is a conniving plotter who wants to defeat Aslan, the creator and the protector of Narnia.
In all his evil and conniving ways, he managed to trick the Narnians into believing that he is Aslan’s sole messenger. That whatever Aslan has to say, he will tell it to Shift. Therefore, whatever Shift instructs, the Narnians must follow. Shift manages to convince the donkey, Puzzle, to pretend to be Aslan. Yet another parallelism to the prophecy mentioned in the Revelations—the rise of “false Christs. ” The Bible warns that during the end times, “false Christs” and deceivers will appear, claiming to be the returned Jesus Christ.
Only those who know the real Christ, and in the case of Narnia, the true Aslan, and those who know his teachings by heart, can determine the real from the imposter. In reality, when the world faces a similar situation and encounters a false Christ, will the people know the real from the pretend, as Eustace and Jill, who remain faithful to Narnia and Aslan, can detect that the Narnians are believing in and taking orders from a false Aslan? Who will remain loyal, despite being under threat, coercion, and assurances of false hopes?
Who will endure to reap the benefits of salvation when the real Christ comes? The tests may indeed be very difficult; the trials may be very heavy, especially to Christ’s loyal followers. But as Aslan is more powerful than the ape, Christ is more powerful than Satan. And in due time, He will cast his wrath to the false Christ and throw him into a bottomless pit. The world will witness His power and His great love, especially to those who believe in Him. Aslan’s power has been established in Narnia, but during that time of dissent and chaos among the inhabitants, he seemed to be holding back.
Aslan could just have showed the Narnians that he is mightier and more powerful than Shift and Puzzle, and even the Calormens, but he did not do so. Freedom of choice. This was what Aslan gave to the Narnians when he created their kingdom, and he honors that promise even when the Narnians seem to turn their backs on him and did not believe in him anymore. He wanted the Narnians to believe in him not because they were forced to, but because they see in him a great leader and a great protector, their guardian and source of hope in time of need.
In Christian beliefs, salvation is given through faith, that those who would simply believe would be saved. Belief in God is not imposed; men are given the freedom to choose and to believe. The ultimate price of faith is salvation, and a guaranteed place with Christ in heaven. As in The Last Battle, Narnia was destroyed; its once glorious kingdom was shattered. However, in its place, Aslan showed his faithful and loyal “friends” a new kingdom beyond the Shadow lands. A place where there is eternal sunshine. A place of peace.
Aslan’s followers have earned their place in heaven. In Revelations 21:1, St. John wrote “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away: and there was no more sea. ” As with the teachings of Christianity, heaven is the ultimate destination for the faithful believers. Every one will be judged, not by his works but by his faith; and those who are saved will be rewarded and given a place in heaven. The unsaved, the idolaters, the whoremongers will not earn a place in heaven but will be thrown into a lake of fire.
For Christians, this is the ultimate price to pay for forsaking and not believing in God. The Last Battle, or The Chronicles of Narnia for that matter, may arguably be the more palatable version of the Bible—the creation of the world, and how it will end. The events which occurred in Narnia may very well be a reflection of the events that took place and will happen in the real world. In the book of Revelations, we read about the persecutions of an unbelieving world. Nonetheless, much like the last installment of the C. S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles, the book of Revelations also present to us hope through the times of despair.
Read with an open mind, it also gives comfort to those who are suffering in the present times. It presents a promise that one day, if we remain faithful even in times of hopelessness, we will be freed. In Aslan, we see an image of Jesus Christ, who sacrificed himself for the world and for His people. Despite his love for the Narnians, and being their constant defender, most of them turned away easily. Only a few remained loyal and faithful to him.
But despite that, Aslan still honors the freedom of each Narnian to choose for himself—to believe in him or to challenge his authority. Therein lies his greatness, a mark of a true leader. In Narnians we see the image of ourselves, of an individual’s capacity to judge and believe based on his values and the thing he holds dear to him. In Eustace and Jill we see ardent believers who, like loyal Christians today, do not easily believe in false promises. They were deceived, and they were tempted, but in the end, their faith led them to the truth.