Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

h1

Man on Fire

April 26, 2007

In compliance with a recommendation from my older brother, I watched Man on Fire a couple of weekends ago.  Because no one else in my family was really interested in or allowed to watch this movie, I watched it one listless Saturday afternoon by myself.

The movie was definitely entertaining.  I found it quite humorous (in a sad way) that there was so much corruption portrayed in Mexico’s government and authorities because I know that this is true.  But then again, Man on Fire is not light fare.  It deals with the very serious and sad subject of kidnappings and murder.  Man on Fire is the kind of movie that you watch to feel inspired or changed.  It’s a movie that really makes you think.

I’ve been wondering if what Denzel Washington’s character of Creasy did in the story is justifiable or not.  Basically, after the girl he was hired to protect gets kidnapped, Creasy goes on a rampage, killing most of those involved with the kidnapping.  Yes, the girl’s family tried to get her back lawfully at first, but when the man in charge of the operation turned out to be in cahoots with the kidnappers, it is the last straw for Creasy.  As a friend of my brother’s soberly remarked to him, it would almost seem that Mexico City needs a professional assassin to go through the underground and weed out the many evil people involved in murders and kidnappings, for up to this point the government has seemed unable to.

So does the fact that his bloody work is necessary justify what Creasy does?  Probably not.  But then, the Bible does command that kidnappers should be put to death, and if the government (which holds the sword to execute this judgment) is too corrupt to do anything, who will?  It is a question that is really worth pondering. Besides, I think the movie’s themes shows that it is not just mindless entertainment about killings and death.  Ultimately, while it deals a lot with both these subjects, the main themes in Man on Fire are about redemption and life.  The ending to the movie is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen.  Man on Fire isn’t a perfect movie, and it isn’t a lighthearted, fun movie either.  But it’s a movie worth watching because it reminds us that, no matter how dark our past is, there’s always a second chance to be found in love.

h1

Abel’s Predicament

February 6, 2007

To go along with our formal studies in textbooks, 17th century classic texts, and incredibly complex but enlightening scientific experiments for this school year, my family tries to have stimulating conversations during our family dinner times.  Well, during the first week of classes, my ever-pensive younger brother opened his mouth during dinner with a different intent than just putting food into it.  He asked the very interesting question, “Where did Abel go when his brother Cain murdered him?”  (This story can be read in Genesis 4).  After considering the question, my sister and I concluded that Abel must have gone to some intermediate place between death and heaven, a sort of “limbo.”  The reasoning behind this statement was that, since Jesus had not yet died on the cross, Abel’s sins (though temporarily covered by animal sacrifices) were not yet forgiven, for as Hebrews 10:4 says, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”  In other words, the blood of animal sacrifices was representative of the blood of Christ that would be shed on the cross, but animal blood itself had no power to forgive sins, and therefore, Abel’s sins at the time of his death were not forgiven and he could not enter Heaven.  In addition to this, before His death on the cross Jesus said to His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).  If there had been a Heaven before Jesus came to earth, He would not have so clearly stated that He was going to prepare such a place.  It would appear, then, that heaven did not exist before Jesus’ death, for no one would have been able to get in before Christ’s blood was shed for their sins.

Well, in light of this rather complex discussion on where Abel probably went when he died and why he went there, I asked my sister to illustrate this for me.  I know that there are those who better grasp difficult ideas through pictures and other visual stimuli, so I have decided to provide explanatory illustrations.  Anyway, without further adieu, I present to you “Cain and Abel.”

(Cain murders Abel…)

(To Abel’s dismay, he finds that Heaven will not open for a couple thousand years.)

DISCLAIMER:  This post, while presenting a very real Biblical story and situation, is somewhat tongue in cheek in nature.  Of course, the author of this blog does not believe that Abel was left stranded at Heaven’s gate for thousands of years — the situation is illustrated in that way simply to make a humorous statement out of a true fact (the fact being that Heaven did not exist before Christ’s death circa 33 A.D.).  There are differing views on what happened at the death of Old Testament saints, and this post does not offer any conclusive evidence for one view over another.  This post is meant merely to entertain in an intelligent manner.

h1

A Hole God Does Not Fill

December 19, 2006

When Christians are faced with the pain and aching in the world, I think it is safe to say that they usually blame it all on mankind’s fall into sin.  Indeed, had Adam resisted the temptation to eat the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6), there would be no suffering and hurt in this world, would there?  We would all live in a peaceful utopia, just as Adam did before he made his fateful mistake.  I must agree with the general conclusion that pain and sin are results of the fall and the entire world would be much better off if Adam had resisted the hideously beautiful fruit.  Before sinning, Adam had a perfect relationship with God.  There was no pride, hatred, lust, greed, envy — in short, no sin to separate God from His greatest creation.  In fact, the Bible seems to imply that Adam would walk throughout the garden with God during the “cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8).  Adam probably had the closest relationship a man could ever have with God; while Moses may have been the man closest to God after the fall, a post-fall relationship could not compare to the completely perfect relationship Adam had with God before the fall occurred.  And yet, even in this utopia and perfect relationship with God, all was not well.

The Genesis account is filled with God’s proclaiming His creation good, from the Seas and the Earth (Gen. 1:10) to the trees and plants of the field (1:12).  The crowning moment of creation, however, happened when God created man in His own image and then proclaimed His entire work “very good” (Gen. 1:31).  One can only imagine what it must have been like to be Adam, “born” into a perfect world with God as His Parent, walking with Him as one walks with fellow humans.  What more could one ask for?  God, in His wisdom, saw that all was not good.  Moses puts it this way:

And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (NKJV, Gen. 2:18).

Despite his perfect relationship with God and the wonderful world he lived in, Adam could not be complete until God made a helper suitable for him.  There was a “hole” inside Adam that even his perfect relationship with God did not fill.  When we’re feeling lonely or rejected, we’ve all heard the consolation from fellow believers that “only God can fill your heart.”  There’s truth in that statement — one will never find complete satisfaction in even the most wonderful love (a lesson powerfully illustrated in Sheldon Vanauken’s amazing book A Severe Mercy).  It is unreasonable, though, to tell people that God will fulfill their longing for another person to love and cherish; God, in His perfect relationship with the first man, recognized that Adam needed another human to love.  Granted, I’m sure God could (and sometimes does — see 1 Cor. 7:37) take away that desire, but He never fulfills it Himself, for another human was meant do to that.  I like how John Locke put it in his Second Treatise of Government:

God having made man such a creature, that in his own judgment, it was not good for him to be alone, put him under strong obligations of necessity, convenience, and inclination to drive him into society, as well as fitted him with understanding and language to continue and enjoy it.  The first society was between a man and wife…

Now, I realize that what I’m saying here could be misinterpreted to an extreme.  I’m not saying that we should first of all seek love — the Apostle Paul warns for him who is “loosed from a wife” to not seek one (1 Cor. 7:27).  In addition to this, God promises that if we seek first His kingdom, the rest will be added unto us (Matt. 6:33) and that the desires of our hearts can be found only be delighting first in Him (Ps. 37:4).  A tragic and horrifying (if somewhat extreme) example of what results when we seek love above God can be read in this recent story at the LA Times.  (Read the story at your own risk — it can get both sexually and violently graphic.) 

In the end, I’m not advocating the idea that we should seek love above God; that is making and idol of a good thing and will only lead to heartache and problems, as illustrated in the LA Times story above.  Still, it is untrue that God will “fill the hole in our hearts” for romantic love when He is the one who put it there in the first place.  We must seek Him first, certainly, but we must not expect Him to fulfill something He never intended to.  All we can do is trust that, if that emptiness is inside us, He will one day bring the only one who can truly fill it.