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Breaking Bad

Millions tune in each week to follow Walter White’s descent into the abyss on AMC’s Breaking Bad.  In the show’s initial season, White learns he has advanced lung cancer and will probably die soon.  He is married, has a teenage son with a disability, and a second child on the way.  He is a high school chemistry teacher.  He has nowhere near the resources he needs to pay for expensive medical treatments or provide for his family in the event of his death.  In desperation, he turns to manufacturing methamphetamine.  Soon he and a former student (Jesse), have a highly lucrative business.
But that’s just the beginning of White’s breaking bad as he allows himself to be increasingly sucked into the vortex of evil.  His participation in the meth business means living a double life and his family is repeatedly hurt as a result of his choices and deceitfulness (he misses the birth of his daughter because of a drug deal).  He becomes increasingly involved in violence, which over time escalates to murder.  He leads others into greater evil (he has Jesse kill for him).  He is producing increasing amounts of a substance that wreaks ruin in the lives of its users, their families, and contributes to the breakdown of society.  His cancer goes into remission but it doesn’t matter --- White has gone from doing evil to being evil.

We see Breaking Bad on a societal scale as the fifth trumpet sounds against Rome in Revelation 9 and the judgment associated with it involves “a star that had fallen,” being given the key to the Abyss (v. 1).  It is opened and out comes darkness and swarms of locusts (which we'll return to in a moment). In v. 11 we learn that their king is the angel of the Abyss whose name means Destroyer. I think this is Satan --- his name (nature) is death and destruction (John 8:44). Since the star has the key to the Abyss (v. 1), this too is another reference to him. As a fallen star, he has no light and is darkness. So we have Satan, darkness, and destruction in this judgment. 
If we think about what is being depicted here, there is something more disturbing than the visual horrors.  Satan is granted power (i.e., restraints are removed), and the first thing that happens is that he brings darkness upon the world through smoke that obscures the sun.  It is not incidental that “out of the smoke” the locusts come to inflict their pain.  We like to think that sin is our own idea and choosing and we’re totally in control of what we do and the consequences that come as the result of our actions.  We’re entertained by a character like Walter White precisely because unlike us, he’s out of control.  But what we’re being told here is that there is more to the sin narrative than just the part we play.  As part of His judgment against it and us, God allows Satan to ramp up the spiritual darkness that results in further disobedience and destruction to people.  This is clearly taught  in passages like Romans 1:21-32 and 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12. As we think about different segments of our culture plunging further and further into darkness and wonder how long it will be until God brings judgment it’s possible we’ve missed the point.  The sobering truth is that He may be already doing that and the depth and pain of our plunge is part of God’s judgment as restraints have been removed. 
This was exactly what He was doing in His judgment upon Rome and history bears witness to the role moral rot played in their downfall. The lesson we must learn is that while evil might present itself as alluring and our servant (the locusts with their faces like humans, hair like women, and gold crowns), the reality is that it is a raging beast bent on our destruction (the locusts have tails with scorpion like stingers that torment people to the point that they long for the release of death but continue to suffer horribly).
It’s my hope that watching Walter White is more instructive to us than entertaining.
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