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
I too thought it was pretty good. Maybe a little over dramatized but maybe not in some cases. It would be difficult to translate the emotion in those situations. I am skeptical and will keep watching because I want to be able to share with the folks around me if they are watching it.
Thanks for the Blog Chuck it is great!!!
Thanks Chuck! I loved reading your first blog! I enjoyed watching it and hope that this will be a great tool of enticement for others as well. We actually watched with our Bible open to follow along during the show and review each segment during commercial breaks. This could be a fabulous study tool! The 'ninja' angels were my favorite. I had some difficultly with the portrayal of the angels at first, not because the show was inaccurate, but simply because growing up we are taught that angels have wings all the time they are shiny, glow and have halos. We often forget that God doesn't always use shiny angels, glitz and glamour isn't always His thing.
I thought over all they did a good job. I thougt they would start with Adam and Eve, Hollywood would be all for the woman leading the man astray. I am just afraid that I am going to be disappointed. I am just waiting for that Hollywood twist.