Friday, March 22. 2013
I was very pleased with Part III of the series. There were actually times when I was moved emotionally in this one, sadness when the people of Israel had to suffer for their disobedience and tearful appreciation for God's preservation of the nation against the back drop of incredibly harsh circumstances. Some of the scenes were uncomfortably graphic, yet clearly and powerfully representative of the evil that can be exhibited out of an unbelieving heart and the consequences of sin when believers are disobedience.
A clear example of a disobedient king and the consequences that result, not only for him and his family, but for all of the people of Israel. The removal of the people of Israel from the land after so much sacrifice had been made centuries before to secure it, was powerfully displayed in the sacking of Jerusalem by Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar.
I've always been moved by the ministry of Jeremiah. He was a preacher of God's Word, but very few people listened to him. His own people wanted to kill him because of the message he preached. But he continued to preach it in spite of the persecution he received. He looked a little ragged to me though. Guess we have our own ideas about how our heros in the Bible should look. It's a lesson again about the importance of the message over the appearance of the person. The series is doing a good job with this I think.
The realisitic character of Daniel is well presented. He was definitely a man who had great faith in God, but he is also presented as one who was very human, with his fears and questions at times. Watching his friends thrown in to the furnace and himself being thrown into the lions den had to envoke a whole series of human emotions. But through it all, he trusted in God and God delivered both he and his friends. I just thought this was a very realistic treatment of Daniel, yet true to the account in the Scriptures. I got chills when Daniel told of his dream of the coming Messiah and His eventual reign from Jerusalem. Some of Daniel's prophecies have been fulfilled. But there are still many yet to be. What a day that will be in the future when Jesus rules from Jerusalem!
What an apt depiction of this evil, grotesque, dispictable, brutal king. History describes him this way and they did a great job in the presentation showing this. The guy who played Herod deserves an oscar. His handling of the wiseman, the order for his scholars to search the Scriptures to find out where Jesus was to be born, the killing of all the male babies in Bethlehem, the beheading of John the Baptist, the execution of his own son, all this revealed what a completely godless man he was, yet given the title King of the Jews by the Romans.
John the Baptist
Not a whole lot depicted about him in the presentation, but the Scriptures account of his powerful presentation of his message, yet his humility when in the presence of Jesus, all came through. I was glad to see they had John baptizing by immersion. That is consistent with the meaning of the greek word for baptism and the details of the accounts in Scripture about where John baptized, "where there was much water". It's obvious this is the method he used. There could be some confusion about why the people were being baptized. The Scriptures indicate it was a baptism of repentance, meaning the repentance that was necessary for the Israelites to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. It was not a cleansing in the spiritual sense resulting in salvation. Like all baptisms in the Scripture, they are an outward testimony of what has already taken place in the heart. In this case, the decision that was made by the Isrealites was to be baptized as a testimony to what they believed in their hearts, that the Messiah was coming and that repentance needed to accompany that. This could have been made a bit clearer in the presentation I believe.
Joseph and Mary
This was the part that moved me considerably. The utter humanity of Joseph and Mary came through so well, their fears, their doubts at times, yet there faith in God when the truth was revealed to them. That journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem with Mary so close to delieverying Jesus, it just moved me to think of the power of God so consentrated in this young, scared, lonely, yet committed couple. And that manger scene, particularly when the wise men showed up, that was incredible. Oh, I know it's not like we envision it with all the depictions we are accustomed to at Christmas time now. It was probably much more like it was depicted in the presentation. I just thought it was so realistic and so overwhelming that the God who created the universe, humbled himself to be born in this way, yet recognized by so few. The reading of the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the birth of Christ was awesome. Do you realize that prophecy was made 700 years before Christ was born?! And when the wise men bowed down, the look on Mary and Joseph's faces clearly showed they were just beginning to realize the significance of who their baby was. Incredible what was going on in that manger that night! God was injecting Himself in the midst of a sinful world, to offer Himself and His grace to save us from our sins. If that doesn't move you, especially as a Christian, nothing will. This part was well done.
When it comes to portraying Jesus in film, I don't think anything would be adequate. But this was sufficient in my opinion. Jesus' humilty comes through in His baptism and His temptation experience showed he was fully human as well as fully God. His suffering in the wilderness was well depicted and the three temptations by Satan were true to the text of Scripture. Well done I believe. You're probably already aware of the controversy over who Satan looked like. I have to admit, there is sort of a resemblence to Barak Obama, but I want to believe this was not intentional. In fact, the producers of the series are admitted Barak Obama supporters, so make of it what you will. I think it is unfortunate that many critics and detractors of the series will use this to attack it. But in the end, I hope it does not interfere with the message.
Jesus and Peter,
Again, this encounter is not exactly as I pictured it in my mind's eye, but it was fairly accurate with regards to the basics of the Scriptural account. I thought it interesting that Jesus is shown examining a rock when he first confronts Peter. Jesus would later refer to Peter's statement of faith in who Jesus was as the rock upon which He would build His church. It should be interesting to see how Peter is portrayed in the sections to come.
Part III may have been my favorite part so far, although all has been good. Again, the birth of Jesus and the events surrounding it was powerful for me. As I have said before, I just pray that unbelievers who see this will be moved to find Bibles and open them to read the truth about the Person of Jesus and the salvation He provides. Part IV is this Sunday night. Only two parts left. Try to watch it if you can and watch for my blog next week. God bless.
Pastor Chuck Jarvis
Valley View Community Church
Saturday, March 16. 2013
Once again, I was pleased with the portrayal of the events in Part II of the series. All were very consistent with the record we have in the Bible. While some of the drama is speculative, I did not find any of it to be out of line with what we might expect, given the specific accounts of the events recorded in the Bible. Also, once again, much of the details of many of the events are left out. But that is understandable given the enormity of information the Bible gives us. The series would have to me much longer for all these things to be portrayed. Over all, I believe what is presented is sufficient to do justice to the account in the Bible without altering or changing the record in any way. This is a good thing, and unusual I believe, when it comes to TV presentations or depictions of events in the Bible.
The account of the exploits of Joshua, in particular, the battle to take Jericho were very consistent with the text of the Bible. It was interesting that the implication was made that what brought the walls of Jericho down was an earthquake of sorts. While that may or may not be true, I think it was made clear that it was God who cause whaever to happen to happen. In other words, the power of God brought the wallls down. Whatever means He used really doesn't matter. He could have used nothing but the power of His word and/or His hand. God doesn't have to use "natural" means (earthquakes) to do His will, be can if He chooses to. The point is, the destuction of the walls of Jericho was a miracle. God did it.
I was intrigued by the stature and size of Joshua. He wasn't very big and physically impressive as I had always pictured him in my mind. But that's ok. These things don't matter to God. What matters is our faith in Him and our faith in His promises and power. And Joshua clearly had that kind of faith. I was a bit dissappointed in the protrayal of the "Captain of the Lord's Army". I believe this to be another Theophony in the Old Testament, that is, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. They did portray it this way in Part I when the angels came to Abraham about Sodom. One was clearly Jesus Christ. But it didn't seem they took the same position in this event. This appearnce to Joshua is probably my favorite passage in the entire book. The message is so powerful here. While Joshua seems to be worried and is trying to figure out the strategy he needed to employ in order to take this seemingly impregnable city, Jesus Christ appears to him and simply tells him to take off his sandels for he is on holy ground. In other words, Joshua was not to be concerned with how to win the battle, he was just to humble himself before the Lord and go to battle. The Lord would fight the battle for him and the Israelites. I just wish this was made more apparent in the presentation.
The account of the life of Sampson was also significantly consistent with the text of the Bible. For me though, the whole thing seemed a bit small. Due to costs of production, I'm sure that it was not feasible to create a picture of the size of these events, but given the descriptions in the Bible it just didn't seem big enough. Case in point would be the last event of Sampson's life when he pushed the pillars of the temple down. The temple just seemed too small and the number of people in the temple at the time seemed small as well. But nonetheless, the description of the life of Sampson, both with it's triumphs and failures, was pleasingly accurate.
I know probably many had questions about the ethnicity of Sampson as portrayed. Was Samson a black man? I personally don't think that matters. Samson was probably not black since the Bible tells us that his parents were from the Israelite tribe of Dan. But as with anything, the color of skin does not matter. It's about the condition of the heart. And the condition of Samson's heart was portrayed consistently with how the Bible portrays it. He was at times a man used mightily of God when his heart was right with God. But when he allowed his heart to be lured into pleasing himself and his flesh, he failed miserably. I've always thought Samson's life is a great example of opportunity lost and a gifted life wasted. Even though he achieved great victories in his life, there were great losses as well. Even though his final triumph over the Philistines was a great and powerful one, Samson lost his life in the process. It seems he could have done so much more for the Lord had he been more obedient. I think it's a powerful lesson for Christians today.
I was extremely pleased with how Saul was portrayed. It was very consistent with how the Bible portrays him, a very self centered man, willing to obey God (in most cases partially so) so long as it didn't interfere with his plans and his ambitions. His relentless pursuit of power and position eventually led him to turn on his own family and reject the will of God, especially as it pertained to David. In the end, he chose to kill himself instead of accept the consequences of his disobedience, yet the forgiveness of God and God's will for His life. This was all extremely close to how the Bible describes him and the events surrounding his life. Another lesson for Christians to heed.
Again, the events of the life of David as prtrayed are very consistent with the descriptions in the Bible. I was especially appreciative of the fact that David's adultery was portrayed as it was, disobedience to God and, therefore, totally inexcuseable. No attempt is made in the presntation to soften what David did or give reasons that would absolve him in any way for what he did. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband, Urriah. Amazing that a man so blessed of God would be this disobedient, yet this is consitent with the sin nature of any man if not kept in check by yieldedness to God and His Holy Spirit. The consequences for David were severe and justifiablely so. His reign as King was never the same after this, according to the Bible. But the grace of God comes through as well in the forgiveness that David receives from God and the promise of another son who would rule Isarel after him, Solomon. Sin is horrible and the consequences are hard and lasting. But God's forgiveness and grace are available to those who humbling acknowledge their sin and turn back to God, no matter what the sin is. Again, this came through in the presentation making it very consistent with Scripture.
Another good night I believe for "The Bible" series. Part III is this Sunday night, March 17th, on the HIstory Channel. Try to watch it if you can and look for my blog on it next week. Continue to pray that God will use this series in the lives of many people to drive them to His Word, the Bible. And as a result, many come to truly know the God of the Bible through His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. God bless.
Pastor Chuck Jarvis
Valley View Community Church
Thursday, March 7. 2013
Here are some observations I have on the History Channel Series, "The Bible" which aired for the first time this past Sunday evening, March 3rd and then again last evening, March 6th.
Over all I was pleased with the presentation. I hope at the very least, people, particularly unbelievers, will have their interest peaked a bit to the extent that they will want to read the Bible and find out more about what they saw. And those of us who are believers know what can happen when a person takes the time to read the Bible, the Holy Spirit can draw them to the truth and to Himself. Here are my comments about aspects of the presentation.
At the very beginning, a written introduction appeared on the screen indicating that the depictions of various events described in the Bible in the series would reflect "the spirit" of the Book (the Bible). If by that, they mean they will use a bit of literary license to portray the events (particularly speculation about emotional aspects of each event) while maintaining a commitment to presenting the events as they are actually described in the Bible, I have no problem with that. I believe there is room to creatively, but reasonably, speculate about how people involved in any event described in the Bible may have responded emotionally. But this is permiisible, in my opinion, only if the literal description of the event is not violated. However, if they mean by "the spirit" of the Book (the Bible), they have taken license to alter the actual account of the event, then I have a problem with that. After seeing the first part in its entirety, I was not particularly concerned that this was happening, at least to this point in the series.
I like the way they began the series, with a portrayal of Noah and his family on the ark. Noah is sceen as comforting his family during the storm by relating to them the account of the creation of the earth, the heavens and all that is in them. It is pointed out that the reason for this terrible flood that covered the entire earth was because man had sinned and turned away from God after having been created sinless and placed in the beautiful Garden of Eden. God in his graciousness was now giving man a second chance through Noah and his family, while exercising His righteous judgment in cleansing the earth of all flesh, except those in the ark. An important point needs to be made here that I think many will miss, particularly unbelievers. The Bible clearly teaches that God is a holy God. By holy, it is meant that He is completed separated from sin. There is no sin in Him and He can have no fellowship or relationship with sin. Only if proper atonement for sin is made can He then have fellowship and relationship with sinners. As such, His holiness demands judgment for sin, thus, Noah's flood and the destruction of all flesh on the earth. Too often, man wants to define God in his terms, on the basis of his emotions, his exeriences and his knowledge. The fundamental problem with that is that man's knowledge is limited and his emotions and experiences are subjective, in that they are often based on and determined by man's own opinion, ideas, and feelings which are not only flawed at times, but flat out wrong at times as well. The Bible tells us that God defines man not the other way around. Furthermore, God defines Himself through the revelation of the Bible. It is arrogant for man, even blasphemous, to try to afix to God how we think He ought to act. His grace is seen is His provision for Noah and his family to survive the flood. His holiness is seen in His judgment of the entire human race by the flood because of the wretched sinfulness of man. Both are equally true and consistent with the character of God. In the series, many will be uncomfortable with the depictions of people drowning in the great flood and the killing of people opposed to the Israelites and, especially, the death of the egyptian children by the actions of the death angel. They will no doubt question why God would do this and why He should be worshipped because of it? The answer is that God is a Holy God who can not tolerate sin by His creatures. His holiness demands He deal with sin, particularly in this context in the Old Testament, the sin of those nations who opposed Him and defied His commandments. God must define us, not we Him. One final note, I was a bit displeased with the leaky boat Noah and his family were in. The depiction of its size was right on. But I think since God was the designer of the boat, its water tightness would have been considerably better that how it was portrayed.
I thought the account of Abraham's life was consistent with how it was recorded in the Bible. There were events that were excluded, but that probably do largely to the amount of time available in the series to deal with the life of Abraham. I thought they did a good job of depicting the faith of Abraham in the promises God made to him. I also thought they did a good job of depiciting his lapses in faith, particularly his relationship with Hagar. Abraham was just as human as you and I and struggled at times with being patient and staying mindful of God's promises despite the passage of time. In the caseof Hagar, he succombed to his own human reasoning and the influence of others, particularly Sarah, and took matters in his own hands. But the sad consequences of this action, particularly the way Hagar and Ishmael were treated were well portrayed in the presentation. The account of the sacrifice of Isaac was powerful I thought. It captured, to a significant extent, the emotional struggle that a father would have such a command made to him by God. My only problem with it was it appeared at the very moment that Abraham would have plunged his knife into the heart of his son, he missed, apparently on purpose, or so it would seem, indicating his ultimate unwillingness to do what God told him to do. The Bible actually says that he was stopped just prior to the plunge of the knife by the Angel of the Lord which indicates that Abraham would have gone through with it. He would have obeyed God in spite of everything because of his faith in God's promises concerning Isaac. This is obvious in his response to the question of Isaac earlier about where was the lamb for the sacrifice. Abraham confidently stated that God would provide a sacrifice, thus believeing that Issac would live (Genesis 22). Abraham's encounter with the three angels who had come to destroy Sodom was pretty good. Although this is the one place in the presentation where I believe certain parts of the account are left out, probably so as not to be offensive to some. Every thing is good until the men of Sodom come tp Lot to demand the men (God's angels) be turned over to them. There is no mention made to what the Bible clearly says the men of Sodom wanted to do. They wanted to have sex with the men, probably rape them if they resisted. Further, there is no mention made of the offer Lot made in response, to give his two daughters to them giving them permission to do whatever they wanted with them, primarily sexually, is the clear meaning of the offer. Again, this was probably done in deference to those individuals and groups who would be offended by the clear example of why God was going to destroy the city, their sin and depravity had gone beyond the tolerance of a holy God, particularly as it related to sexual immorality, sex acts contrary to God's design of sexual realtionships between only married men and women (Genesis 19). This was probaly the most disaapointing moment in the presentation for me. It's not so much that the account is changed, it was that part of the account was left out. Too often these days, we are quick to leave out the parts of the Bible we don't like to hear or reveal the true nature of sin. This was unfortunate. On a lighter note, I thought it was good that the angels of the Lord took on human forms of two distinct nationalites. God created us all in His image. We must be appreciative of the fact that all nationalities are descendants of Adam and Eve. We are equal in God's eyes and should treat each other the same way. I thought it was interesting that God might have "ninja" angels too. The third angel was depicted as a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. The was especially good because the Bible seems to indicate that this was the case.
I thought the account of the life and God's call of Moses was good. Again, because there is so much material in the Bible about this, there was much that was left out, but I think what was depicted gave a good overview of who Moses was and the important role he played in the movement of the nation of Israel twoard experience the ultimate fuflillment God's promises to Abraham. The depiction of the parting of the Red Sea was very good. The lack of faith shown by the people of Israel just prior to the event in spite of their previous experience of God's power in the plagues to bring them out of Egypt. It revealed, as I believe the Bibe intends to, the spiritual fickleness of many of God's people when uncertain and difficult situations occur in life. But God is still faithful and gracious to provide help and strength. One disappointment was the fact that the portrayal of God giving the 10 commandments to Moses left out what the 10 commandments were. It would have been nice if each of the commandments were read or allowed to be read on screen. But once again, maybe the content of the commandments, at least some of the contents, were thought to be offensive or maybe too controversial and therefore ommitted. Regardless of the reason, it was unfortunate they were left out. In my opinion, two other things were left out that I thought required at least some treatment or mention. One was the 40 year wilderness wandering of the people of Israel prior to Joshua leading them into the promised land. No mention is made of the disobedience and lack of faith of the people at Kadesh Barnea leading to God's jugment in the form of the wandering. Also, nothing is said of the promise made to Hagar and Ishmael and what it meant for their futures. It would have been nice if this was included to put in context the relationship, not only between Isaac and Ishmael, but between Jews and Arabs as well.
My hope, again, is that at the very least this opening part of the series will prompt many to turn to the Bible to found out more. And, in the process, by Holy Spirit, be introduced to more of God's truth, the trith concerning eternal salvation and the provision that Jessu Christ has made for anyone if they just believe in Him. I must say the beginning of this series on the Bible was a pleasant surprise. While there were some things that I had some issue with, I think in comparison to most other TV treatments of the events of the Bible, this one was pretty good. Next week, after the second part is presented, I will deal more with the responses to the series I have been reading about and hearing. Just a encouraging note here at the end, I don't know the exact numbers, but I am reading this first part was a tremendous hit in terms of numbers of viewers. People are watching! Let's pray that many will be moved by the Spirit of God to find out more about what the Bible is all about and what it reveals to us about God, ourselves, and eternal life.
Pastor Chuck Jarvis
Valley View Community Church
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