Tag Archives: fallen angels

October Bible Questions & Answers

Topics:  baptism of John, Christ “shedding” his blood, suicide, fallen angels, same-sex marriage, 1 Peter 3:21’s baptism

The latest Bible Questions & Answers session where I preach was held on Sunday night, October 26, 2014, at 6 pm.  Here is a link to the recording of that session.  Below are my written answers to each question.  I hope they are of benefit to you in your personal studies.

1.  Was John the Baptist ever baptized?

The Scriptures do not explicitly say that he was, but there are scriptural reasons to believe that he was.

The Bible does not mention immersion in water as a divine requirement for forgiveness of sins before John started baptizing people.

Mark 1:4 calls his baptism a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John obviously had sins in his life, and so would need to repent and be baptized in order to have them forgiven.

Jesus, being sinless, did not need to undertake a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John recognized that, and apparently stated his own need to be baptized when he said to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Notice that Jesus replied, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:14-15). Jesus basically was saying to John, “We both need to be baptized in order to stand completely righteous in the sight of God and men. We need to practice what we preach in order to avoid being a stumbling block to others.”

Therefore, I have no doubt that John himself had been baptized. By whom and when is a matter of conjecture.

2.  Is it wrong to say Christ “shed his blood” on the cross at the Lord’s table?  He did not shed any blood.

Actually, Jesus himself said that he did while instituting the Lord’s Supper in Matthew 26:28 – “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

“Shed” (ekcheo) is defined and translated as “shed,” “poured out,” “shed forth,” “spill,” “run out,” “run greedily,” “shed abroad,” and “gush out.” Therefore, any of these terms would be acceptable terminology to use during communion.

I recognize the legitimate and sincere need to not go beyond what the Bible says. However, let me ask us to consider that sometimes in our efforts to not go beyond Scripture we do exactly that and add laws which God never legislated. I’ve heard it said that one should never say that Christ “spilled” his blood, but here we see that the literal meaning of the Greek word translated “shed” includes the concept of spilling.

We need to heed the warning God gave us in 1 Timothy 6:4-5 about not being like those who, according to the verse, are “puffed up with conceit and understand nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth…”

3.  Saul committed suicide (1 Chr. 10:4).  Was he condemned?

The first thing that should be noted is that Saul would have been eternally condemned even if he had not committed suicide. The night before he died, 1 Samuel 28 records how Saul had gone to a medium, a witch, to get advice from her on how to defeat the Philistines. Under the Old Law, witchcraft was a sin punishable by death (Ex. 22:18), and it was explicitly forbidden for an Israelite to seek them out and turn to them (Lev. 19:31). Yet, that’s exactly what Saul had done. The reason he decided to commit this sin is also very telling about the state of his soul in the final days of his life. He would go to the Lord for guidance and the Lord would not answer him because Saul had unrepentant sin in his heart and had turned away from hearing God’s laws (Ps. 66:18; Prov. 28:9). The spirit of Samuel whom the medium had called up even said very plainly that the Lord was Saul’s enemy (1 Sam. 28:16). Therefore, Saul would have stood condemned even if he had not committed suicide, because the Scriptures give no indication that he, even in the final moments of his life, was penitent.

Is suicide a sin resulting in eternal condemnation? Sadly, more and more of the world doesn’t think so. In some societies going all the way back to biblical times and up to today, suicide is seen as an honorable way to die.

The Greeks considered it a part of man’s freedom. The Japanese consider it evidence of sincerity. In fact, when a Japanese mother decides to commit suicide she usually first kills her children. Believe it or not, Japanese society praises such an act because they consider children to be parts of their parents, and to leave them motherless would be cruel. In America, suicide is becoming increasingly popular, the 11th leading cause of death in recent years and the third leading cause of death in the 15-24 age bracket. There are reports of a number of suicides even among pre-teens. More and more of us tend to rationalize it, calling it “death with dignity” or even “patient-directed termination.” It’s becoming more popular due to humanistic, worldly influences that cheapen the value of human life. When abortion, euthanasia, human experimentation and the like become increasingly accepted, alongside atheistic, hedonistic philosophies and the belief that there is no ultimate judgment for us, then we should not be surprised that the suicide rate is growing. After all, it’s based upon the premise that self-murder will end all of your problems because, supposedly, there is nothing beyond death. Some false religions contribute to this also. For example, the notion of reincarnation, that one after death may return to this life in a new existence wherein he can “try again” to achieve happiness leads some to take their own lives. And of course, there is also the case of people with genuine mental illnesses who commit suicide, people who are therefore not accountable for their actions. (However, statistically only about 10% of suicides are done by those diagnosed with clinical mental illnesses.)

What does the Bible say about suicide? Well, it condemns it as a morally reprehensible act if done by a rational person.

First of all, the rational person who commits suicide is basically saying that he is autonomous, his own source of law. The Greek Stoic philosopher Seneca defended suicide as an aspect of man’s lordship over his own being. However, the Bible says that God made us and we are his (Ps. 100:3; Ezek. 18:4). He breathed the breath of life into us (Gen. 2:7). He is the potter and has the right over us, the clay (Rom. 9:21).

Secondly, the Bible teaches that life is a gift from God. Paul said to Athens and also to Timothy that God himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything (Acts 17:25; 1 Tim. 6:13). No one has the right to destroy that gift of life which God gives unless God himself authorizes them to do so, as he did from time to time in the Old Testament (Lev. 20:2) and also to governing authorities in the New Testament (Rom. 13:4).

Murder is basically any shedding of human blood which is unauthorized by God. Suicide thereby falls into the definition of murder. God calls murder an assault upon how man is created in God’s image (Gen. 9:6), and is condemned in both Testaments (Ex. 20:13; Rom. 13:9).

Suicide is also an act of selfishness. We were created for one reason: to fear God and keep his commandments (Eccl. 12:13). God is our Maker (Ps. 95:6), and because he is our Maker he is worthy to be served by us (Ps. 18:3). We were created to glorify him (Is. 43:7). One of the commandments God created us to obey is to help others. Jesus went about helping others and doing good (Acts 10:38), and we also are to do good to all at every opportunity (Gal. 6:10). None of us lives (or dies) to himself (Rom. 14:7). The rational person who chooses to take his own life purposefully avoids taking on these biblical responsibilities.

Finally, suicide is wrong because it violates the biblical principle of self-worth. When Paul told us to not think more highly of ourselves THAN WE OUGHT TO THINK (Rom. 12:3), he is implicitly telling us that we ought to think of ourselves highly to a certain extent. When Jesus told us to love our neighbor AS OURSELVES (Matt. 22:39) and that husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies (Eph. 5:28), he implicitly tells us that we ought to love ourselves. How is rationally, purposefully deciding to take your own life thinking highly of yourself and loving yourself?

(My thanks to the Christian Courier website for giving me some great insights into the answering of this question.)

4.  Why are the angels who sinned cast down to hell and delivered into chains of darkness (2 Pet. 2:4)…but Satan roams the earth (or at least is not chained) while tempting David, Job, Jesus, etc.?  (1 Chr. 21:1; Job 1:6-12; Matt. 4:1-11; etc.)  I also know that he accuses us daily before the Lord, but cannot recall the scripture.

First off, go to 2 Peter 2:4 and notice that most English translations say that the sinning angels were cast down to “hell.” The Greek word there is tartarus, which literally means “prison.” This is the only place this word is found in Scripture, so we have to go to how the Greeks used it in their contemporary literature back then to determine its true meaning. Homer, the Greek writer of the Iliad and Odyssey, used the word tartarus to refer to a murky abyss beneath Hades (the place where the dead go to wait for judgment) where the sins of the wicked immortals are punished. Peter was writing to Greeks here, so it makes sense that he would use this word which they were familiar with in reference to the condemnation of the angels. What is also interesting is that the Bible brings out how demons and even Jesus himself alluded to the concept of tartarus, that murky pit beneath Hades where the wicked are punished. When Jesus cast out demons, they pleaded with him not to command them to depart into the abyss (Luke 8:31). When Jesus gave the account of the wicked rich man being in Hades after he died, Luke 16:23-26 brings out how the rich man was not only in Hades, but specifically “in torment” (v. 23) and that there is “a great chasm/gulf” between him and those in Hades who were at rest, implying that he would be in that murky abyss of tartarus where the fallen angels were.

Next, notice that the passage asked about that says that Satan accuses Christians day and night before God is Rev. 12:9-10 – “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”

A deep study into the original language’s literal wording of what is rendered in English “delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” gives some insight into the actual meaning of the passage, a meaning which is probably quite different from the way we normally interpret the passage. As seen in the question and in how it’s worded in English translations, we read 2 Peter 2:4 and gather than God chained these angels in the darkness of tartarus, the abyss, where they are even to this day waiting for judgment. If God did that with these angels, why did he not do so with Satan, their leader? Why is Satan free to roam the earth and tempt us?

Look at the word “delivered.” It comes from the Greek paradidomi, which has several definitions. Here are a few of them: “to give into the hands (of another); “to give over into (one’s) power or use; “to deliver to one something to keep, use, take care of, manage;” “to permit, allow.” Granted, another one of its definitions is “to deliver up one to custody, to be judged, condemned, punished, scourged, tormented, put to death.” However, in light of these other definitions and also in light of the question, “Why is Satan roaming free while the rest of the angels are delivered into chains of darkness?”, perhaps we are using the wrong definition of paradidomi. Another interesting point is that the word “into” (“delivered into chains of darkness”) is not in the original Greek.

So maybe we ought to use these other definitions of paradidomi, namely, that instead of saying God “delivered them into chains of darkness”/put them in the custody of chains of darkness, maybe we should instead use the other definitions of the word so that the verse says that while reserving them for judgment, God “permitted them chains of darkness/allowed them chains of darkness/gave into their hands chains of darkness/gave these chains of darkness over to them to keep, use, and manage.”

The idea that God PERMITS AND ALLOWS AND GIVES INTO THESE FALLEN ANGEL’S HANDS THE POWER TO USE these chains of darkness tells us exactly HOW Satan had the power to tempt David (1 Chr. 21:1) and Jesus (Matt. 4:1-11) and us today. In fact, we see this played out very plainly in Job 1:6-12, where it plainly says that God gave Satan permission to torment Job and tempt him to sin. We also see it played out very plainly in Luke 8:26ff, where Jesus clearly had power over those demons and they recognized it and begged him not to cast them into the abyss.

God gave Satan permission to have control over the chains of darkness. He tempts us and torments us so that we will give into his temptations to sin and thus place ourselves in those chains of darkness. John 3:19 tells us that people who give into sin, whose works are evil, love those chains of darkness. That’s why Jesus warns us about the darkness overtaking us (John 12:35), and is the light so that whoever believes in him may not remain in darkness (John 12:46). Jesus wants us to cast off those works of darkness, those chains of darkness (Rom. 13:12) and recognize that light has no fellowship with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14). God wants us to remember that we were in darkness at one time, but now we are light in the Lord and need to walk as children of light (Eph. 5:8) by taking no part in those unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11) so that we will not be ensnared in those chains again. God wants us to remember that we are wrestling against – notice – ‘the cosmic powers OVER this present darkness” (Eph. 6:12). (Paul is basically stating outright that rather than being bound by the chains of darkness, Satan and his angels actually have power OVER those chains of darkness.) And if we give into his temptations, if we sin, if we hate our brother, we are still in darkness (1 John 2:9, 11). We are walking in the darkness. We do not know where we are going, because the darkness has blinded our eyes.

An even bigger question is WHY. WHY did God PERMIT, ALLOW, AND GIVE INTO THESE FALLEN ANGEL’S HANDS THE POWER TO USE THESE CHAINS OF DARKNESS??

Simply put, God wants us to love him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matt. 22:37). In order to truly love him with all of our heart, we can’t be robots. He can’t program us or force us to love him with all of our being. No, we have to choose him (Josh. 24:15). In order to make that choice, there has to be another option. That’s where Satan comes in.

By giving Satan the power to use those chains of the darkness of sin, by giving him the power to tempt us to willingly bind ourselves in those chains of darkness, God is giving us the power to choose, to choose either Satan or him, and thus the power to love him with all of our being if we choose him from the heart.

Before we go on to the next question, I want you to remember this. GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!!

Even though he gave Satan the power over chains of darkness, GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!! He has ALWAYS been in control!!

In the Old Testament, he would not allow Satan to do just anything he wanted to Job (Job 1:6ff). That encourages me.

What encourages me even more is that Jesus, by dying on the cross and being the propitiation for our sins, limited Satan’s power even more! Hebrews 2:14 says that Christ through his death destroyed the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil. That’s the real meaning of Revelation 20:1-3 where Satan is bound for a thousand years and thrown into the pit. Why was he thrown into the pit? “So that he might not deceive the nations any longer.” Remember what we read earlier in Rev. 12:9-10 about Satan the dragon being cast down? Verse 9 says that he was cast down. Look at verse 10. After he was cast down, a loud voice said in heaven, “NOW the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come!” When did salvation come? At the cross. When did Jesus receive all power and authority? After the cross? When did the kingdom come? After the cross. When did God limit the power of Satan even more? After he finally provided forgiveness to all through the blood of Christ shed on the cross!

Jesus promised that no one can snatch us out of the Father’s hand (John 10:28-29), and that includes Satan. Satan cannot force us to leave God. God will not allow it. He promised us that he will not let any of Satan’s temptation be strong for us to overcome, that he will always provide the way of escape that we will be able to endure it (1 Cor. 10:13). Praise him for that!

5.  What should our congregation do in light of the Supreme Court decision about allowing gay marriages in many states, probably including this one before long?

To review, on October 6, 2014, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear appeals on three lower federal court’s rulings to overturn bans on homosexual marriage.  Because one of these lower federal courts has jurisdiction in this state, by allowing their pro-homosexual marriage ruling to stand the U.S. Supreme Court has made it very likely, according to judicial experts on both sides, that our state’s current ban on same-sex marriage will soon be ruled unconstitutional and that ruling will be upheld.

Additionally, within the past few months various domestic businesses owned by people with Christian views (photographers, bakeries, churches that rent property to the public, and recently two ministers who own a wedding chapel) have been successfully fined and in some cases are facing jail time for politely declining to participate in homosexual weddings.  Denmark recently forced churches to allow same-sex weddings on private church property, and Canada’s Supreme Court recently ruled that any condemnation of same-sex marriage is deemed “hate speech.”  All of this has laid the groundwork for United States churches and ministers to be successfully punished for refusing to participate in homosexual wedding ceremonies.

n response to this growing persecution that is on the horizon, or perhaps has passed the horizon and is now approaching our front door, what are we to do?

Some of us might want to respond by softening the church’s stance on homosexuality and marriage. Some elderships and congregations are telling their preachers and Bible class teachers to do this. I know because some preacher colleague friends of mine in the Lord’s church from all over the country, including a few close by, tell me that’s what some of their elders and brethren are wanting them to do. Others are doing it, you know. The Roman Catholic Church made headlines about a week or so ago when a Vatican document was published saying that homosexuals had “gifts and qualities to offer” and asked if Catholicism could accept homosexuals and recognize positive aspects of same-sex couples. That’s on top of their current Pope recently taking a very “open posture” on gay issues, one of their top-ranking Italian bishops recently saying that the Church should be more open to arguments in support of same sex marriage, and one of the Pope’s closest friends who is a Cardinal in Brazil saying in a recent interview that he “didn’t know” whether Jesus would oppose homosexual marriage.

Well, here’s what God’s Word tells us. Here’s the thoughts of Christ the Word. God wants Christians to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), the truth being God’s Word (John 17:17). God says that we are to “preach the Word…reprove, rebuke, and exhort…for the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” The Bible says that there will be those in the church who are like this, who turn away from listening to the truth. Romans 16:17-18 says that they cause divisions, create obstacles contrary to the doctrine we have been taught, that they serve their own appetites rather than the Lord Jesus, that they deceive the hearts of the naïve by smooth talk and flattery, and we are to watch out for them and avoid them. Instead, we are to preach the truth, which is that homosexuality is listed among the unrighteous sins keeping one out of the kingdom, and that it can in fact be repented of when one obeys the gospel (1 Cor. 6:9-11). That message will bring persecution, slander, and lies upon us for the sake of Jesus; Jesus tells us we’re blessed when that happens, the kingdom is ours, and we’re not the first prophets who have had that happen to them (Mt. 5:10-12; 2 Tim. 3:12). God wants us to follow the example of the apostles, who when the government told them to stop preaching Jesus, replied, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Concerning homosexuality, we must stand firm on what God has actually commanded us to do: preach the Word of God in love, no matter what.

What about things which God has NOT commanded us to do?  I ask because the New Testament does not in any way give ministers and churches the divinely-appointed responsibility to officiate or host wedding ceremonies.  “The church wedding” with a preacher officiating is a tradition of men having its origin in Catholicism.  Certainly no scripture is violated by observing this tradition, but no scripture is obeyed either.

Most likely within the upcoming year, a judge will declare homosexual marriage legal in this state. When that happens, the likelihood will increase with each passing Sunday that this congregation will eventually be successfully sued and fined. Wives of preachers from different parts of the country have told my wife, who in turn has told me, that in recent weeks people have called the church building and talked to their minister husbands, asking for the church’s stance on homosexuality. From the types of questions asked, it seems that they were fishing for a successful discrimination lawsuit. They will likely find one here at this congregation if we do two things:

  1. Continue to preach God’s Word about homosexuality as he commanded us to do (2 Tim. 4:2-4; Acts 20:27-32 – the whole counsel of God; elders were warned about those among their own ranks rising to speak perverse things and draw brethren away after them, but Paul commended them and us to God and the word of his grace). We cannot stop doing that, no matter what lawsuits or jail time may come.
  2. Successful discrimination lawsuits will come if we continue to allow weddings to be hosted here on church property in which we, due to scriptural teaching, allow only scripturally qualified marriages to be started and celebrated in these weddings, namely, no homosexual marriages and only marriages between two heterosexuals who have either never been married before, been widowed, or have been divorced for the reason of their spouse’s fornication and are now remarrying. Again, the practice of a wedding taking place in a church is not a responsibility God gave to the church in the NT. It is a man-made tradition rooted in Catholicism. It’s an innocent tradition in itself, but the reality of the times we live in is that we are likely to be successfully sued for participating in a man-made tradition which God never commanded the church to do.

Therefore, to answer the question asked here tonight, my advice to our elders and this congregation is the following:

First, continue to stand firm in preaching the truth in love, preaching the whole counsel of God about homosexuality and every other sin. Do so no matter what. God has commanded that we do this. Our own eternal destiny, and the destinies of the lost out there who are dying in their sins, depend on it. That is worth any fine given to us, any lawsuit we lose. If we are kicked out of this building and have to meet in a dark alley somewhere under cover of darkness because we preach the truth, then so be it.

However, I would also strongly advise our elders and this congregation to not open the door to the risk of the Lord’s money being used to pay a fine, pay a lawsuit, pay legal fees, or forfeit our facilities here over defending something God never asked us to defend in the first place, namely, the man-made tradition of using a church building to host and participate in a wedding ceremony.

In my judgment, good stewards would not use the Lord’s money to defend something that he has not actually commanded us to do in general or specific command, principle, or example. One does not find the church of Christ in the New Testament being commanded to host a wedding in its meeting place, we do not find an example of it, nor is there even a general principle commanding it. It’s completely optional, completely a man-made tradition. Do we want to risk our weekly contributions going to pay off legal fees to defend our participation in a man-made tradition? In my opinion – and that’s all it is, an opinion – I don’t want the Lord’s money used to that purpose.

My advice was asked for in this question. I suggest that our elders and the men of this congregation and the board of trustees of this congregation get together very soon and make it official policy, even going so far as to put it in the by-laws of this church property, that these facilities will not be used for weddings or civil unions of any kind, for anyone regardless of their sexual orientation or preference. Doing so, in my judgment, won’t eliminate a discrimination lawsuit from occurring, but it might just lower the likelihood of a lawsuit coming on this front.

I also highly advise that our elders seek legal counsel immediately on how to further protect the facilities and funds of this church, without of course sacrificing this congregation’s mission to firmly, vocally, and lovingly proclaim and support biblical truth concerning homosexuality.

“Jon, is this a little extreme?” Yes, it is, but we live in extreme times. How many of you thought that you would see in the United States headlines that would make a conversation like this relevant? I say that we, as in everything else, follow the example of the early church. In Acts 8:1, when the first major persecution arose in the church’s history, what did they do? They took extreme steps. They scattered and left Jerusalem. They recognized that God had not given a command to stay in Jerusalem, and they weren’t willing to lose their freedom over defending something God had not actually commanded them to defend. So they were wise, and took the extreme option. However, notice also that verse 4 says that they never stopped doing what God actually had commanded them to do, which is preach the Word that brought that persecution to them in the first place. We can and must learn a lesson from them.

As for me, as a preacher I have recently decided to pursue two courses of action and ask for your support, understanding, and prayers.

First, I will continue to preach the whole counsel of God about homosexuality and will do so in love regardless of personal cost.

However, from this point forward I will not officiate any wedding ceremonies of any kind.  This is a very painful decision for me to make as it means that I likely will not officiate my daughters’ weddings, something I’ve always wanted to do.  However, as leader of my family I cannot in good conscience put my family’s finances at risk over something which God has not actually required of me.

6.  Please explain 1 Peter 3:21’s statement about baptism not being a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a good conscience.

“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 3:21)

Some say this verse teaches a person has a good conscience BEFORE baptism, thus indicating that salvation precedes baptism.  This is not what the passage is saying, for several reasons.

A good conscience, while in most cases a good thing, is not necessarily in itself proof that one is saved and in a right relationship with God.  Saul of Tarsus said he lived in good conscience all his life (Acts 23:1), which would include the time when he persecuted the church.

Therefore, even if it could be proved from this verse that a good conscience comes before baptism (which it can’t), even so that would not necessarily prove that baptism is not necessary for salvation.

Another point to bring out about a good conscience is that the term could be describing a heart that is sincere, a person who is earnestly seeking to obey God.  A person earnestly and sincerely seeking to obey God, after reading in the Bible the commands to be baptized, would obey the command to be baptized rather than question it as so many do.

Above all else, remember this. The verse starts out by saying something that a 10 year old could understand. Baptism now saves you. That’s very clear. So when we try to figure out the rest of the verse, any conclusion we come to is wrong if it contradicts that very plain statement: Baptism now saves you.

Baptism now saves you. How? It’s not the water. Not as a removal of dirt from the body. The water might cleanse the dirt from your body, but the water won’t cleanse your soul from sin.

Only the blood of Christ does that. Jesus said that his blood was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:28). Paul said that we have redemption and forgiveness of sins through his blood (Eph. 1:7). Is it any wonder that Ananias said to Saul that he would be washing away his sins if he was baptized? (Acts 22:16) In baptism one spiritually comes into contact with the blood of Christ that cleanses us from our sins. We are commanded to be baptized in water (Acts 10:48; John 3:5), but the water itself doesn’t spiritually cleanse us.

So how does baptism save us? We’ve already examined its connection to the blood of Christ. This verse gives us another way baptism saves us. Peter says that baptism is an appeal. Appeal in the Greek literally means a request, a craving. Baptism is an appeal, a request, a craving…for what?

A good conscience, a clear conscience, the kind of conscience you get when your sins are forgiven.

Baptism is an appeal, a request, a craving for forgiveness and the clear conscience forgiveness brings. The Bible teaches that God will always and immediately grant that forgiveness we crave to any penitent believer the moment he is baptized (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16)

Therefore, that good conscience that tells you that you are now saved and you are now forgiven comes only after baptism, because baptism is how we appeal to God for that forgiveness which brings about that good conscience?

Are you ready to appeal to God for a good conscience?

A Biblical Movie Review: Noah

WARNING!!  Everything you are about to read contains MAJOR spoilers about the movie Noah.  In fact, if you go to see this movie after reading my review, it will be highly likely that you will know what’s about to happen right before it happens; that’s how detailed I plan to get in my synopsis of this movie.  So be forewarned.  Want to see the movie not knowing what’s going to happen?  Go see it first and then come back and read my review.  Otherwise, let’s get started…

This is the first movie review I’ve ever written about any film, much less a film that is supposedly about events and people one reads about in the Bible.  Just to let you know right off the bat, my focus is not on critiquing the acting, the directing, the cinematography, etc.  If you want that kind of review, there are plenty of places to go on the web to get it.

Russell Crowe NoahTo comment briefly on such things before moving on, I did think Russell Crowe as Noah, Jennifer Connelly as Noah’s wife Naameh, Anthony Hopkins as Methuseleh, and Emma Watson as Ila all did fine acting jobs when it comes to portraying the characters as written in the Noah screenplay and as directed by Darren Aronofosky.  As you will see, I wish the screenplay and the goals of the director about the message of the film were very different so these actors and actresses could have done a fine job acting out scenes which are based far more on biblical truth, but as far as simply critiquing them on their acting skills alone, they did a great job.  Likewise, the special effects of the movie were top-notch in and of themselves, especially the flood scenes.  I can definitely see why the movie cost millions of dollars to make.  It was very well done from a cinematic standpoint.

But that’s not the focus on this review.  My goal concerning this blog in general and this review in particular is show biblical truths to you, the reader.  That being the case, I want to write about what this film got right and close to right (i.e., portraying events which while not technically described in the Bible could still be within the realm of biblical possibility).  I also want to write about what this film got wrong from a biblical standpoint (that is, what it portrayed which blatantly contradicts clear biblical truths.)

There’s a reason I want to do this.  With the exception of the film The Gospel of John (whose goal was to basically show on camera the entire gospel of John, verse by verse), I have yet to see any biblically-based film which remained 100% true to the Bible.  I don’t necessarily have a problem with this in most cases, per se, because the Bible does not go into great descriptive detail about many of the events it describes.  Therefore, if you are going to make a film based on biblical events you will by necessity have to take some degree of “artistic license.”

Take the biblical account of Noah, for example, as laid out in Genesis 6-9.  Read those chapters and you will see that there is no record of Noah himself or anyone else (other than God) saying one word to anyone about anything until chapter 9, after he has already built the ark, survived the flood, and put his feet back on dry land.  A film about Noah which remained 100% true to the Bible in terms of dialogue would be, for all practical purposes, a silent film.

So I have no problem with a screenplay writer imagining conversations Noah would have with his family about building the ark, or imagining a scene in which they cared for the animals inside the ark while the flood was going on and talked about how they would do so.  Likewise, I don’t have a problem seeing Val Kilmer’s Moses in The Prince of Egypt having conversations with Miriam about Pharaoh refusing to let the Israelites go, or the scene in Jesus of Nazareth which portrayed the death of Joseph with Mary at his side before Jesus began his ministry in which a dying Joseph talks proudly of the great things Jesus will do.  Scenes like that are not in the Bible, true, but they do fall within the realm of biblical possibility.  In other words, one could say that the events in those scenes COULD HAVE happened without contradicting in any way the actual biblical account.

Unfortunately, Noah strays so far from the Genesis account of the titular character and the biblical accounts and teachings of other characters and events which are portrayed in the film that I was hard-pressed to find any scene which was true to the Bible in any way, much less find a scene whose “artistic license” fell within the realm of biblical possibility.  There were a few, but they were FEW.  Few and far between.  Unfortunately, I will show you that the overwhelming majority of Noah not only was imagined in the mind of man, but imagined and portrayed in such a way that blatantly and repeatedly contradicts what the Bible says actually happened and also puts our holy God and his righteous servants in a bad light.

And that’s why I’m writing this review and biblical critique of Noah…so that the truth of God’s Word will be known.  The New Testament warns of false teachers, and also warns of how they will work: “…by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive” (Rom. 16:18).  People tend to watch films of historical events and walk away thinking that what they saw on the screen was how it went down…when the historical evidence recorded in historical documents reveal a completely different story.  Most people don’t know this, however, because most are very unfamiliar with actual history and also because what was portrayed on film was done so in a very believable and attention-getting way.  Such is the power of film.  In like manner, people tend to watch films of biblical events and walk away thinking that what they saw on the screen is how it happened, even if it is not.  They do this for the same reasons people believe Hollywood over actual history:  they are unfamiliar with what the Bible actually says, and they are “wowed” by the great acting, cool special effects, and the drama portrayed on the screen.  The “smooth talk and flattery” of film “deceives the hearts of the naive.”

People who are unfamiliar with the Bible will probably walk away from Noah thinking that God is very distant and uncaring, and that his righteous chosen servants are in fact not so righteous, but rather homicidal and genocidal.  They will also walk away having an even more warped and unbiblical view of angels than they had before, which is saying something because there’s already a lot of mistaken and extra-biblical notions about angels out there.

The truth must be known, so let’s open our Bibles and get right down to it…

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1.  The movie starts off by saying, “In the beginning there was nothing.”  To be fair, towards the end of the movie Noah is inside the ark during the flood telling the creation account to his family and he elaborates on that statement a bit more by then talking about “the Creator” and how he created the world.  (More on that in a bit…)

Here’s the truth.  The Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).  Not, “In the beginning there was nothing.”  Saying that there was nothing in the beginning implies that God was not in the beginning either, and thus implies that God is not eternal when the Bible says that he is (1 Tim. 6:16; Deut. 33:27; Rom. 16:26).  In so doing the film contradicts itself when Noah later repeats, “In the beginning there was nothing,” and then immediately starts talking about the Creator and how he made the world.  If there was nothing in the beginning, then the Creator wasn’t there either.  So where did he come from, if he is not eternal?  Who created the Creator?  Perhaps planting the seed of questions like that is what the director, a known atheist, had in mind.

2.  God is never mentioned in the film.  Instead, reference is continually made to “the Creator.”  I wish that was all there was to it, because if it were, I wouldn’t have a problem with it in and of itself.  After all, the name of God isn’t mentioned once in the biblical book of Esther, and yet his presence is continually felt in a very positive way as Esther shows his providence at work protecting his people.  Yet, as you will see, Noah really puts “the Creator” in a bad light in various ways, so much so that a small part of me is actually GLAD that the name of God is not mentioned in the film.  However, I also know that only people who have lived by themselves on a desert island all their lives will see this film and not associate “the Creator” with the God of the Bible.  That is unfortunate, for reasons stated below.

3.  The film portrays Cain killing Abel, which is biblically correct (Gen. 4:9), although no mention is made of God accepting Abel’s sacrifice and rejecting Cain’s (Gen. 4:1-7).  That’s okay, since the purpose of the film at that point is to give a quick backstory in flashback form.  However, the film then immediately gets off the biblical rails in a major way when it says that Cain was sheltered by fallen angels.  Yep, fallen angels protect Cain.

Here’s everything the Bible says about Cain (Gen. 4:1-17, 22, 24-25; Heb. 11:4; 1 John 3:12; Jude 11).  Read it.  See anything about Cain being protected by fallen angels?  I sure don’t.

True, God did put a mark on Cain in order to protect him from being killed in retaliation for Abel’s murder (Gen. 4:14-15).  However, nothing is said about what this mark is, or what it does.  Does this mark mean that angels would protect Cain somehow?  Without further biblical data, one cannot say so with certainty.  However, people tend to take things about which the Bible does not give the specifics, assign specifics to them, and then talk of those specifics as if they were fact.  That’s how the whole notion of “guardian angels” came into being.  The Bible doesn’t say a thing about guardian angels; it only says that angels serve Christians in some unknown way(s) (Heb. 1:14), and that children have angels who see the face of the Father in heaven (Matt. 18:10).  Do these verses leave open the possibility of angels guarding Christians and children?  Sure, but they don’t specifically say that angels do such things.  In like manner, does God’s mark on Cain leave open the possibility that angels somehow protected him?  Sure, but the Bible doesn’t say that such is actually what happened.  If we are to “speak the truth,” we shouldn’t either (Eph. 4:15).

But here’s another question.  Let’s say hypothetically that God marking Cain meant that he assigned angels to protect Cain.  Would he assign FALLEN angels to protect Cain?  Angels that DISOBEYED him?  That goes beyond the realm of biblical possibility in a big way.

4.  Let’s talk more about these fallen angels in Noah.  The film describes them as the “Nephilim” mentioned in the Bible, and also calls them “the Watchers.”  One of them gives to Noah their origin story, which goes as follows.  They were created on the second day.  Because they tried to help Adam and Eve in some way, the Creator (God) punishes them by making them fallen angels and turning them into rock-like creatures who move in ways very similar to the tree-like Ents in The Lord of the Rings series.  That begs the question of why God did this.  Did these angels help Adam and Eve before they sinned?  If so, why in the world would God punish them?  Did they try to help Adam and Eve after they sinned?  If so, their punishment would be understandable…but even so, the only biblical account of any angelic activity surrounding the events of Adam and Eve’s fall certainly does not lend to the notion that angels helped them in any way (Gen. 3:22-24).

Back to the film.  Over the years, these fallen Watchers made out of rock protected Cain’s descendants, but then the evil descendants of Cain turned on them and killed most of them.  Methusaleh rescued the few survivors of the Nephilim by performing a miracle in which he wiped out their pursuers by using a sword that made fire sweep out and consume them.  They apparently were banished or exiled themselves to this wasteland which had clear boundaries which Cain’s descendants were afraid to cross.  However, at one point in the film Cain’s descendants do so anyway because they are in pursuit of Noah and his family.  That’s when the Nephilim appear, wipe out Noah’s pursuers, take Noah and his family prisoner, and debate amongst themselves whether to let them go, or kill them or leave them to rot as punishment for mankind falling away from God.

One of them takes pity on Noah and his family because he somehow sees some good in Noah, lets them go, and becomes their traveling companion and guardian.  Later, the other Nephilim will catch up to them and start to punish this particular Watcher because of his kindness, but a miracle – supposedly from the Creator (although it’s never specifically assigned to him) – convinces them to lay off their fellow Watcher and actually decide to help Noah build the ark.  In fact, the film will give the impression that the Nephilim are the ones primarily responsible for building the ark as they are the ones seen doing most of the heavy lifting, etc.

Later, as the rain starts to come down and the evil hordes of Cain’s descendants descend upon the ark to try to overtake it and kill Noah’s family, the Nephilim fight off the bad guys and each of them are killed in the process.  When the first one dies, the light in the center of his rocky body (also seen in the rocky holes in his face which are his eyes) is released from his body and is revealed to be his soul, a luminous being which is immediately drawn back up into heaven.  Other Watchers, seeing this, conclude that “the Creator” has forgiven them and has taken them back, apparently to no longer be fallen angels anymore.  As each of them subsequently die, the lights within them which are apparently their angelic souls are released and fly back up into heaven.

Okay.  Where to begin…?

The Nephilim are mentioned in the Bible, in the context of the Genesis account of the flood (Gen. 6:4).  They are also mentioned to exist centuries after the flood during the time of Moses (Num. 13:33).  Nephilim is a Hebrew word meaning “giants,” which is how some English translations depict the word in Genesis and Numbers.  They are described as “mighty men who were of old, the men of renown” (Gen. 6:4), and later during Moses’ time are said to both be and produce “the sons of Anak,” whose large size made the Israelite spies think of themselves as “grasshoppers” (Num. 13:33).

Notice that both of these verses describe these giants as MEN, not ANGELS (fallen or otherwise), and definitely not creatures made out of rock.  They are giants, true, and the film at least got that part right in that the rocky Watchers are huge.  (Even so, a study of the description of the giant Goliath’s size as described in 1 Samuel 17:4 leads me to believe that the giant men of the Bible were not RIDICULOUSLY huge in size, like the giant of Jack and the Beanstalk or like these rocky creatures in the film, but rather were men of unusually large stature like we see today…say 9-12 feet tall, for example.)

Throughout Christendom, there is a common misconception of the Nephilim read about in Genesis 6:4, namely that they were the offspring of sexual unions between angels and men, which is itself an erroneous interpretation of the marriage of “the sons of God” and “the daughters of man” described in Genesis 6:1-4.  A lot of people understandably think that the term “sons of God” refers to angels in this text, as it does elsewhere (Job 38:7).  However, “sons of God” at other times in the Bible refers to righteous human beings (Gal. 3:26).  Considering that Jesus said that angels do not marry (Matt. 22:30), and that the Genesis text says that “the sons of God” did in fact marry “the daughters of men,” the only conclusion in keeping with the entirety of the Bible is that Genesis is describing righteous men marrying women.

A study of the previous chapters in Genesis (chapters 4-5) reveal that the descendants of Cain and the descendants of Seth are being described and compared, with Cain’s descendants becoming more evil while also more technologically inventive and Seth’s descendants becoming more righteous.  The film actually alludes to this several times in a clear and good way.  (More on that below.)  With that in mind, “the sons of God” (i.e., the righteous descendants of Seth) married “the daughters of men” (i.e., the unrighteous descendants of Cain) in Genesis 6:1-4.  What was the result?  Evil spreading more rampantly on the earth (Gen. 6:5; cf. 1 Cor. 15:33), which was the reason God decided to destroy mankind with the flood (Gen. 6:6-7).

Yet, as mentioned earlier, a lot of people in the religious world think that the Nephilim are giant offspring of the mating of angels and humans.  When I first heard the term Nephilim in the film and saw them described as fallen angels, that’s where I thought the film was going.  However, the film never did call them the result of sexual unions between angels and men, nor did the film allude to such things happening at all.  Instead, the film said that they were angels created on the second day who became fallen angels, rock creatures due to being punished for wanting to help man.  Here’s the biblical truth, though.  The Nephilim in the Bible are giant human beings said to exist both during the time of the flood and centuries later during the time of Moses.  That’s it.

As for the film’s allusion that these angels were created on the second day, the Bible nowhere mentions that angels were created on the second day (Gen. 1:6-8).  True, a case could be made that it is implied that angels were created at some point during creation week, at least by day 4 (Job 38:7; cf. Gen. 1:14-19, 31)…but nowhere does it specifically state that they were created on day 2.

As for the film’s notion that the Creator (God) actually PUNISHES these angels for wanting to help man by turning them into rock creatures destined to roam the earth for centuries, here’s what the Bible says.  Angels are actually assigned by God to SERVE those men and women who inherit salvation (Heb. 1:14).  The Bible also says that angels who sinned against God did so by “not stay(ing) within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling” (Jude 6), with nothing mentioned about sinning by helping man.

Noah says the punishment actually given to these sinful angels was to…turn them into rock creatures who roam the earth?  The Bible says the punishment God gave to angels who sinned was to  “cast them into hell [literally in the Greek, “prison”] and commit them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment” (2 Pet. 2:4; cf. Jude 6), at which time they will be cast into hell for all eternity along with Satan (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10).

And then it gets really confusing in the last scene with the Nephilim, in which they are being killed while HELPING MAN (specifically, Noah and his family) and are then REWARDED by the Creator who takes them back into heaven.  Let me work this out in my mind.  The Creator initially punishes these Watchers specifically for helping man…and then takes away their punishment because they died doing the exact same thing??  It seems like the Creator (God) doesn’t know what in the world he wants…which might be exactly what the makers of the film are wanting to convey.  But here’s what the Bible says:  “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33).

5.  Let’s talk about some positives about the film, the few things the film got biblically right or close to right, before moving back to the myriad of errors:

  • As mentioned earlier, the film alludes both vaguely and specifically at various times to the fact that Cain’s descendants grew more and more evil while also becoming technologically proficient, while Seth’s descendants were righteous.  A study of Gen. 4:16-5:32 reveals this to be the case.  The film shows at its beginning that the descendants of Cain were at war with the descendants of Seth.  This certainly could have been the case, considering the biblical implications of each family’s righteousness and wickedness (cf. John 3:20).  However, the Bible also teaches that the descendants of Seth and Cain started to intermarry at this time (Gen. 6:1-2), something which is also vaguely alluded to in the film but also would seem to contradict the notion that the two families were warring.  That said, the film also implies that by the time Noah was grown the line of Seth had all but become extinct.  Perhaps this is due partly to war and partly to intermarriage, although neither is specifically stated in the film.
  • Enoch is correctly said to be Noah’s great-grandfather, Methuseleh Noah’s grandfather, and Lamech his father (Gen. 5:21-32).
  • Concerning Methuseleh, he is correctly depicted to look extremely aged at the time of the flood, although there is no mention in the film of his biblical age at the time he died.  A study of the biblical chronology certain leaves open the possibility that the flood killed him, as is depicted in the movie (Gen. 5:27-32; 7:6).  However, the movie depicted him as a good man.  That being the case, the Bible teaches he would have been inside the ark when the flood came rather than outside of it, because the Bible teaches that only the righteous were inside the ark (Gen. 7:1; 2 Pet. 2:5).
  • Tubal-Cain, the villain of the film, is an actual character in the Bible.  As mentioned in the film, he is a descendant of Cain, and is said to be “the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron” (Gen. 4:22).  If I remember correctly, there is a brief scene in which we see Tubal-Cain actually beating out metal on an anvil.  The Genesis chronology certainly leaves open the possibility that Noah and Tubal-Cain were contemporaries, although nothing is said of them actually knowing each other, Tubal-Cain being alive when the flood began, or trying to overthrow the ark, as is the case in the movie.
  • In the film, the wife of Noah is named Naamah.  In the Bible, Noah’s wife is not specifically named, but there was a woman named Naamah who was Tubal-Cain’s sister and thus a descendant of Cain (Gen. 4:22).  I do not remember anything in the film which states or implies that Noah’s wife was also Tubal-Cain’s sister.  (That would have actually been a neat little twist if they had made it that way.)  What the Bible does leave open as a possibility is that Noah’s wife might very well have been a descendant of Cain’s, considering that it was at this time that “the sons of God” (Seth’s righteous lineage) intermarried with “the daughters of men” (Cain’s unrighteous descendants) in Genesis 4:1-2.
  • Tubal-Cain kills Lamech in front of a young Noah at the beginning of the film.  Both of these characters are shown in the Bible to exist and be likely contemporaries, although no mention is made of them knowing each other or Tubal-Cain killing Lamech.  In fact, the Bible says that Lamech lived 595 years after he fathered Noah and had other sons and daughters (Gen. 5:30), whereas in the film he dies while Noah is probably 11 or so.  (Compared to the other things the film gets wrong, this is definitely a minor error.)
  • Noah and his family are vegetarians in the film, while all the villains in the film are meat-eaters.  In the Bible, God originally made all of humanity vegetarian, as well as the animals (Gen. 1:29-30).  This would not change until after the flood ended (Gen. 9:3).  See my recent article for more information about this.  In the film, Noah looks down on meat eaters and says that they think eating meat gives them strength whereas they ought to be looking to the Creator as the source of that strength.  Later, Tubal-Cain will tell Noah’s son Ham that man was created in God’s image to rule over the world and in some vague way correlates that with eating meat.  While I applaud Noah for saying that one should look to the Creator (God) for strength rather than looking to meat and Tubal-Cain for biblically pointing out that man was created to rule over the world (Gen. 1:28), the Bible does not correlate the eating of meat and/or vegetables with either of those concepts.
  • The film did not give us very specific close-ups of the specs of the ark, but from what I could so from the panning shots it seemed that they followed the specifications the God of the Bible gave to Noah (Gen. 6:14-16).  I counted three decks.  The size of the ark certainly seemed like it would go along with the length of 300 cubits, bread of 50, and height of 30.  I saw one door on the side of the ark, various rooms within it, and the film showed Noah’s sons (and the Nephilim, sigh) covering it with pitch during its construction.  No mention was made of gopher wood.  It seemed to take 10 years to build in the film rather than the 120 implied in the Bible (Gen. 6:3).
  • In the film, the Creator (God) seems to miraculously bring all the animals on the planet to the ark, starting with birds, then reptiles, and ending with mammals.  The Bible has God assigning Noah the task of bring pairs of every kind of animal, both male and female (Gen. 6:19-20), and the case could be made from the wording of verse 20 that God had a hand in bringing them to Noah.  While at first no pairings of male and females seem to be taking place with the animals, Ham later talks of how there are pairs of male and female of each kind of them on the ark.  No mention in the film is made of seven pairs of clean animals and birds (Gen. 7:2-3).  In the film, the animals were put into some sort of hibernation state through some sort of miraculous smoke or incense waved around them by Noah’s family.  The Bible doesn’t talk of any of this, although in my opinion it leaves open the possibility that somehow God put the animals on the ark in some sort of hibernation during the duration of the flood.  Also, I didn’t see any dinosaurs around, either on the ark or outside of it.  This is probably due to the film’s implications of theistic evolution (more on that later).  Nonetheless, a biblical description of animals which fits the description of dinosaurs found in the book of Job, which took place after the flood, makes the case that dinosaurs were on the ark and survived the flood (Job 40:15-24; 41:1-8).
  • Noah is called a preacher of righteousness in the Bible (2 Pet. 2:5).  We do not know if this was before or after the flood.  If it was before the flood, the film VERY VAGUELY alludes to this when Noah condemns the evil of Tubal-Cain and his peers, although it seems that this Noah is more interested in condemning the ENVIRONMENTAL evils of his peers than any other kind of sins.  (More on this below…)  Unfortunately, any notions of righteousness in this Noah are completely offset by his misguided, homicidal notion which are given much more preference in the film (again, more on this below…).
  • The Bible describes the wickedness of Noah’s contemporaries in this fashion:  “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…And God saw the earth, and behold, it was very corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth…for the earth is filled with violence…” (Gen. 6:5, 12, 13b).  The film does an average job of portraying the wickedness of man before the flood.  A lot of emphasis is placed on environmental damage done due to man’s wickedness, which I believe is due to the goal of the film’s producers and directors to make a pro-environmental theme to the film.  Other types of wickedness are briefly alluded to in the film comparatively.  An animal is torn apart by a mob at one point.  Women are seen to be kidnapped and traded.  One young girl in particular is seen to be left in a trench filled with dead bodies.  Men from Cain’s family tree repeatedly try to kill Noah and his family throughout the film.  Noah himself alludes to the sinfulness of man a lot, although about halfway through the film he does so in a Calvinistic, “total depravity of man” mindset which, unfortunately, leads him to have the unrighteous, misguided notion that it is the Creator’s will that he kill his family even after they survive the flood.  (More on that below…)
  • The actual flood sequence looked pretty good and seemed to be mostly biblically accurate.  It started to rain, and it seemed pretty clear that a worldwide flood wasn’t going to happen simply from the rain, heavy though it was in the film.  But then water burst out of the ground in huge, violent geysers, huge tsunamis came in wiping people out, the water rose and was shown to rise as high and then higher than the highest mountains, and there was even a shot from space in which the entire planet was shown to be covered in rain clouds and hurricanes.  There is no indication of this being a “localized” flood, but rather a global one.  A character in the film talks of the waters in the heavens meeting the waters of the earth, or in the earth.  All of this is in complete accordance with what is stated and implied in the biblical account (Gen. 7:11, 17-24).  The only possible departure from the biblical text in this regard is that the flood seemed to end and the waters recede a lot sooner than is indicated in the Bible (Gen. 7:12, 17, 24; 8:3-6, 10-12, 13).
  • After the flood, Noah is shown to pick grapes, drink the wine from them, get drunk and pass out naked, and be covered by Shem and Japheth who look away from his nakedness, while Ham initially discovers him and does not avert his eyes.  This itself is in keeping with the biblical text (Gen. 9:20-23).  However, the circumstances surrounding it in the film are different from the Bible.  In the film, Noah has exiled himself in a cave due to his wrongful actions on the ark rather than “be a man of the soil (who) planted a vineyard” who got drunk and lay uncovered “in his tent” (Gen. 9:20).  The Ham of the film never told his two brothers outside of the tent about what he saw; rather, Shem and Japheth arrive shortly after Ham and they all observe Noah together, with the two brothers simply reacting differently than Ham.  In the Bible, Noah curses Ham’s son Canaan after awakening and learning what Ham had done to him, and blesses the offspring of Shem and Japheth (Gen. 9:24-27).  In the film, however, Noah gives no such curse or blessing to anyone, and instead talks of a vague regret that Ham had seen him in that way.  Compared to the largely greater and more numerous errors in the film, this is minor in my opinion.
  • The rainbow is shown at the very end of the film as emanating from the sun in an admittedly spectacular fashion.  It is implied that this is due to the actions of a silent Creator who vaguely is giving his blessing to Noah who had just quoted Genesis 9:1, 7, something which God actually said.  No mention is made of the rainbow being a sign from the Creator that he would never again bring a flood to wipe out humanity, as is the case in the Bible (Gen. 9:8-17).

6.  Now back to the major problems in the film, starting with the fact that the film’s makers want to promote a pro-environmental film over a pro-biblical film.  Noah (and by implication the Creator) is shown as being very pro-environmental to the extreme.  He rebukes his son for simply picking a flower for its beauty, and the Creator a minute later miraculously causes the flower to reappear in full bloom as his first “communication” with Noah.  Noah and his family live in a wasteland that is implied to be the result of the evil of mankind as a whole, specifically their irresponsibility to environmental awareness.  The only exceptions are the green mountain upon which the good Methuseleh lives (implying that good people are “green”), and later when the Creator miraculously turns the wasteland where Noah lives into a forest of greenery both as a way to provide wood for the construction of the ark and also as an implied pro-environmental message.  When Noah talks of the Creator punishing mankind with the flood for their evil, the message seems to be that men are being punished because of what they did to the environment rather than for their sin per se.

The biggest travesty this pro-environmental theme has brought to the biblical accuracy of the film is found in how the film’s Noah somehow comes to the conclusion that, even though he and his family are safe on the ark and all of evil mankind outside are drowned, the Creator wants him to lead his family to kill each other once the flood is over so that mankind will be completely extinct.  In this way the planet will be saved, he says.  This leads Noah to both say and do things which completely contradict his biblical description of righteousness and blamelessness (Gen. 6:9).  In fact, this Noah goes so far away from the path of righteousness for no apparent, logical, and sensible reason that I observed people get up and leave the theater on two separate occasions while this was occurring in the film.

While being environmentally responsible is a noble goal, the film attributes to it an extreme mindset that, for the sake of promoting that message, will completely change in a negative fashion the biblical message of Noah in the minds of many viewers, especially the ones who are not familiar with the actual biblical account.  This is extremely unfortunate.

7.  The Bible clearly says that eight people were in the ark:  Noah, his wife, and his three sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth) and their wives (Gen. 7:7).  However, in the film none of his sons are married by the time the flood comes and only one of them, the oldest Shem who appears to be his twenties, is romantically involved.  He is romantically involved with Ila, a girl barely in her teens who, a decade earlier, was adopted by Noah when he and his family came across her as an abandoned orphan who was seriously wounded in her abdomen.  This wound made her barren, which caused her as a teenager to initially resist Shem’s sexual advances (that’s right, two of the people in the “righteous” camp of the film have no problem making out lasciviously; see Gal. 5:19-21).  Her barrenness posed a question for much of the film.  If the only two women on the ark are her and Noah’s wife, and she is barren, then how will the family reproduce and repopulate?

Incest seems to be the only solution I as an audience member could come up with in my head, until a visit to the aged and wise Methuseleh changes that (thankfully so, although I wouldn’t have been surprised if the film had actually proposed incest as a solution).  Noah’s Methuseleh appears to have miraculous powers; he wiped out an army with a fiery sword as a young man, and later he put a young boy to sleep simply by touching his forehead (none of this is attributed to him in the Bible.)  When Ila visits him, he touches her abdomen and she suddenly is no longer barren and somehow recognizes it. 
 
What is her reaction?  She literally runs into the arms of Shem and initiates fornication with him.  All of this happens right before it starts to rain.  That’s right.  Two of the supposedly righteous souls God saves upon the ark are committing the same sexual sins the rest of evil man is committing, right before the flood.  Thankfully, no nudity was shown and fornication was implied rather than shown in explicit detail.  Still, not the best message given when it comes to biblical morality.  I wonder how many biblically illiterate viewers will walk away from the film thinking that God has no problem with sexual immorality since two of the righteous people, people to whom the film ascribes more heroism than Noah himself, are sleeping together outside of marriage?

8.  As a result of their pre-deluge fornication, Shem and Ila find out that she’s pregnant while on the ark.  Good news as far as repopulating the human race, right?  Unfortunately, no.  In his efforts to achieve the pro-environmental goals the Creator has somehow assigned him, the film’s Noah has decided that he and his family must die at all costs.  So he is prepared to do whatever it takes to that end, including murdering Ila’s offspring should they be female.

noah movieThis turns his entire family against him.  His wife denounces him.  Shem and Ila actually build a raft and are going to leave the ark and set out on their own, until Noah literally sinks that idea by setting the raft on fire.  Shem threatens to kill him and actually tries to do so.  Ham, jealous because Shem is in a relationship and he is not and upset already because Noah had earlier not tried to save another orphaned girl so he could also have a mate and had let her die, decides to side with Tubal-Cain (who had somehow stowed away upon the ark and remain hidden from Noah and his family all that time…yes, you read that correctly) and join him in his efforts to kill Noah.

While discussing Noah’s homicidal tendencies with Tubal-Cain, Ham attributes them to the Creator (God.)  I think that needs no further elaboration or commentary.

Because of his disgust over Noah, Ham actually gives killing his father serious consideration in the final climactic battle between Noah and Tubal-Cain, only to kill Tubal-Cain instead.  As the fight takes place, the ark crashes onto a mountain due to the waters residing, presumably the mountains of Ararat (Gen. 8:4).

While that is going on, Ila gives birth to twin girls with the help of Noah’s wife.  Instead of this being a joyous occasion, it’s a scene of terror and sorrow for all involved out of fear for the family patriarch and supposed hero of the film, Noah.  Earlier, Shem stood guard with a weapon to keep Noah from trying to kill her.  Exactly how you always pictured the family dynamic on the ark, wasn’t it?  Anyway, Noah hears about the birth, having just survived a fight in which Tubal-Cain and Shem try to kill him and Ham thinks about killing him only to then decide to save him by killing Tubal-Cain.  Does all of this cause Noah to have a change of heart?  Nope.  He goes after Ila and the newborn twins in her arms with a knife.  Ila begs him to at least let her calm the crying twins before he kills them.  He lets her, and she sings them a lullaby which he had sung to her years earlier and his father, Lamech, had sung to him.  This somehow causes Noah to change his mind and not kill the twins.  He later attributes this decision to love.  Yes, love.

9.  After all of this is done and they are safely back on dry land, Noah tells Ila not only that he decided not to murder her daughters because he suddenly loved them, but also that he decided to ostracize himself from the rest of his family because he failed the Creator, thus implying to the audience that his homicidal actions were the will of God.  In fact, he had actually looked up at the sky and says, “I can’t do it,” while walking away from the twins.  Ila is the one who tells him that the Creator must have given Noah the choice to kill or be merciful, and that Noah chose love.  She thus encourages Noah to be a father and grandfather, and help them start again.  Noah agrees, and goes to his wife where they reconcile.

How would Noah know for sure that it was the Creator’s will for him to kill those babies?  How would Ila know for sure that what actually happened was that the Creator gave Noah a choice and Noah made the right choice?  In fact, how would Noah even know in the first place that the Creator was telling him about the upcoming flood, or that he needed to build an ark, or that animals would come, etc.?

I ask only because “the Creator” (God) IS SILENT THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE FILM!!  He never says a word.  Ever.

Noah has a dream about a flood, and somehow attributes that to a message from the Creator.  He later apparently gets high from a hallucinogen slipped to him by Methuseleh and has a vision about the ark and the animals being saved, and somehow attributes that to a message from the Creator.  So from this he knows exactly how big to build the ark, that the animals will come, and what to do with them once they get there.

But then he decides somehow, without a vision or anything like that (certainly not ANY VERBAL COMMUNICATION), that the Creator wants him to kill himself and his entire family!  And then after he decides that he can’t obey the Creator in that (after almost doing so), his adopted daughter (daughter-in-law?  Did her and Shem ever actually get married?  I didn’t see it…) somehow knows that in reality all of this was a test from the Creator, and Noah passed.  How did she know that, without ANY ACTUAL VERBAL COMMUNICATION from said Creator?

Compare that with the actual biblical account in which God ACTUALLY TALKS to Noah and tells him exactly what to do and Noah does it and there are no apparent misunderstandings of any kind… (Gen. 6:13-22; 7:1-5; 9:1ff).

This is the problem so many in the religious world have, right here.  They have an actual message from God, the Bible, God’s Word, given to them in which it is shown in black and white exactly what God’s will is for them.

And so many are completely ignorant of it.  They hardly read it, if they do at all.  Instead, they go by feelings.  They say that the Holy Spirit somehow guides them through intuitions, feelings, visions, etc., all the while ignoring the fact that the Bible is the actual message from the Holy Spirit and they need to be reading that!!

Read Proverbs 14:12, Jeremiah 10:23, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 2:1-4, and 2 Peter 2:19-21 to see what I’m talking about.

This is what Noah is promoting.  Religion based on feelings and theories rather than on actual, real, communicated will from God.  And that’s probably the biggest disappointment of all…

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Well, I could go on.  I could tell you about how Noah fought off marauders OUTSIDE OF THE ARK even while A TIDAL WAVE WAS SUBMERGING IT.  I could talk about the mystical cloth of Lamech and the miraculous powers it somehow conveyed to various people throughout the film in a vague way.  I could talk about how it promoted theistic macro-evolution, a theory disproved by science and completely unscriptural.  I could talk about how Adam and Eve were portrayed as luminous beings somehow, and that the forbidden fruit had a heartbeat.  There’s probably more even beyond that which I could talk about…

But the above should be enough.  More than enough.

It took me six hours to write all of this.  That’s how much error there is in Noah.  I’m tired.  I think that’s it for now.

It’s up to you as to whether you want to see it.  If you choose to go even after reading all of this, I could see that as a case of wanting to see all of this for yourself rather than take my word for it.  I can’t blame you for that.  The only thing I ask is that you go home afterwards and read your Bible to get the truth of the matter.

If you choose not to see the film, well, I can’t say that I blame you for that, either.  I wish I hadn’t.

Either way, let me leave you with a challenge.  A plea.

Please study your Bibles more.  Please come to know the Scriptures better.  That is what will keep you on the right path when Satan throws darts of deceit like the film Noah to try to get you to stumble.

Psalm 1:1-3.  Read it.  Practice it.  Obey it.  Live it.

Thanks for reading.