Monthly Archives: September 2008
Why do people writing Hollywood movies tend to pick on Gabriel? Have you noticed this? Take, for example, Constantine or The Prophecy; in both, he is portrayed as a kind of turncoat…often portrayed as an angel who doesn’t get along well with humans. I’ve actually seen people ask, “Did Gabriel really betray God?”
What we know for a fact about Gabriel is based in the Bible, there are other legends about him, including his inclusion in the apocryphal book of Enoch, but we’ll stick with the Bible. His name means, “warrior of God” or “man of God” (sometimes alternatively phrased “God is my Master).” His first appearance in scripture is in the book of Daniel.
Daniel 8:15 And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. 17 So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. 18 Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. 19 And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be. 20 The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. 22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power. 23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. 24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. 25 And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. 26 And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.
Also in Daniel:
Daniel 9:20 And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God for the holy mountain of my God; 21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. 22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
He doesn’t show up by name again ’til the book of Luke.
Luke 1:18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. 20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
So, Gabriel aided Daniel in understanding and interpreting his vision. Also notice that Gabriel, as other angels, sets men on their feet when they tend to fall down in front of them; God alone is to be reverenced and worshiped. In Luke we see that Gabriel was given the honor of two very important announcements; one to Zacharias about John’s conception, and the other to Mary about Jesus’.
Gabriel appears to be connected with prophecy surrounding Jesus; the prophecies are connected to the coming Messiah in Daniel, and in Luke. He seems to deal with humans just fine, as long as they trust his word, which seems important to him, not because of who he is, but because he stands in the presence of God.
We always need to watch out for modern tales that may influence how we see certain Biblical concepts and characters. I’ve already touched upon Angels in general, and Satan as well. Gabriel seems to be chosen for plot lines because he is one of a very few angels mentioned by name…something tells me he would not like his name to be used in such a manner, look at what he did to Zacharias for not believing his words…
Psalms 84:5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee…
It’s clear and straight to the point. Where should our strength be placed, and where should our strength flow from? The LORD.
Everything in this world of ours will fail; except for Him. Money, fame, power, governments, organizational churches, stock markets, other humans, our houses, cars, our minds, our bodies…everything. Everything that is not Him or of Him will ultimately fail.
There is no small print with God; if your strength is in Him; you are blessed. His blessing does not mean there will be no trials or tribulations here on this earth, in fact, if you are walking in faith, that is when you will be attacked the most by enemies. His blessing doesn’t mean there is no sickness or pain in this life; what it means is that you will overcome it through Him, if not in this life, then in the one to come.
Our happiness…our contentment rests solely in Him, and comes from Him. He is our LORD and Saviour, our King and High Priest. We also know that whatever we’ve been through He has been through it too; and worse.
God is a God of love, but also of strength. Ultimate and absolute strength rests with Him, and we are to rely on Him fully for our own strength. Trust in Him; He will never fail.
This post was meant for yesterday; on September 11th, but due to the weather knocking out my wireless, I’m posting it today. I believe the delay on my part was meant to be, because that delay made me realize my own point; we cannot forget what happened on September 11th, even when it is not the anniversary of that day.
People have psychological defense mechanisms for good reason; they help us cope with life. One of those mechanisms is repression. We can push thoughts aside that cause us pain, or distraction. Sometimes, though, it is helpful to override that mechanism for important issues; and the attack on our country on September 11th is one such issue.
We must never forget it, never become complacent, and never forget for an instant that there are those who wish to do this type of thing again. I do not advocate fear; far from it. We just have to have common sense, and a memory…
vid by Madgoat1621 over on youtube
When I was in graduate school, one of my areas of interest was homesickness. I was often surprised at the lack of journal articles and research in this area of psychology. Humans often suffer from homesickness, and it is on a continuum; from mild to severe.
I, as a Christian on this earth, suffer from another type of homesickness as well. This homesickness isn’t because I’ve dwelt in a physical location for a long period of time, storing memories there, interacting with loved ones. No, this homesickness is different because I’m homesick for a place I’ve not been to yet…and I know for a fact that I am not alone in this homesickness.
Michelle Tumes, in her wonderful song Untame Lion, sings: “I’m filled with longing for a place; A place I’ve never seen…” Does this homesickness have scriptural basis? Certainly.
Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
We know that Christ is preparing a place for us, and will someday come and get us (hopefully soon). If we arrive via death or rapture it makes no difference. This is why we are instructed to store up “possessions” in heaven, and let our hearts be there as well. This earth isn’t our home.
Are we to function in the world, doing God’s will? Absolutely. We were also originally meant to be caretakers, in some form, of His creation; so us longing for our heavenly home does mean we should destroy this one. But, it does mean we should have the idea of our heavenly home in our minds, and remember it. We do not belong here.
We are to be about God’s business in our lives, which will be different from believer to believer. We are to see to our earthly responsibilities; but always remember, this is only the beginning. For those of us who place our trust in Christ, there is a far far better world that awaits. Be of good courage! No matter what befalls us here, and things can get really hairy really fast, but no matter what; better times are coming.
If anyone reading this has yet to read the Chronicles of Narnia, by CS Lewis, you really should. Here is a quote from The Last Battle; the analogy is how I believe we will feel about this “old” earth and our old dwelling place, when we finally get to behold our new home:
The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can’t describe it any better than that: if ever you get there you will know what I mean.
It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then he cried: “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that is sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!”
And, for an extra; Here is Michelle Tume’s Untame Lion used in a YouTube vid featuring clips from Narnia (and yes, if anyone is wondering, she was inspired to write the song based on Aslan, who of course is a picture of Jesus). This vid was put together by scipio28cato34.
I’m giving a concrete example of another issue in Communion today. These words of Christ are indeed important ones. These words are part of the scriptural support that many from a Roman church background give in support of transubstantiation. They have a right, and a duty, really, to take these words very seriously; but are we to take them literally?
It’s possible. But, as always, we must look at other possibilities, such as figures of speech for illustrating purposes. Figures of speech are used in scripture; metaphors and parables quite regularly. In trying to explain why Christ used such strong statements; this is My Body, this is My Blood, I’ve always known precisely what I’m trying to get across, the question was what was a good example of this language when used in metaphor.
First, it is important to point out that I do indeed take His words seriously, but I believe context, and the whole context of scripture does not support transubstantiation; I touch on Jesus’ words here in my second part in my posts on transubstantiation. But do we, as humans and as “teachers” ever employ such strong words in non-literal, analogical language? The answer is yes we do.
I was pondering over what example would be a clear one, and then it hit me…a blast from my past. I remembered seeing these commercials on TV quite regularly as a kid. Note the language that is used, along with the visuals; this is meant to make a lasting impact and give people a visual cue to go off of.
Do we have visual imagery used in conjunction with Jesus’ words; This is My Body, This is My Blood? Yep. My last post was on the Matzoh used in this instruction from Jesus. Matzoh being a visual picture of Christ’s body. The wine, red wine, is a visual of His blood. When He said these words, He held up the visual symbols.
“This is drugs.” Is that literally drugs in that pan? Of course it isn’t; it’s sizzling grease. “This is your brain…” Is that literally a person’s brain? Nope; it’s an egg. The point is this shows a perfect example of this style of language, and also shows why it is used.
Humans are very visual creatures, and it is a lot easier for us to remember things when they are “attached” to visual images. Christ knew this very well, and so, taught His disciples what He wanted done in remembrance of Him, and to show Him forth in a visual, as well as verbal way…as in the commercial, they were not to be taken literally, but figuratively.
In Communion, The Lord’s Supper, the eucharist (meaning thanksgiving, not transubstantiation), we have two elements present; the bread and the wine. What kind of bread would the Lord have broken in “the last supper?”
Of course the answer can be found in the Jewish roots of our faith, and the time of the feast of Passover (and preparation for it, and the feast of unleavened bread) which Jesus and the disciples would have been in the midst of. Would He have had a perfectly round, white wafer, such as the RC uses in their celebration of Mass? Would it have been a big loaf of white bread, full of yeast as used in some churches? No; it would have been Jewish Matzoh (AKA: Matzah, Matsah, Matzo, or Matza).
It would have been Matzoh specially prepared for Passover. Matzoh is unleavened bread; bread with no yeast, or leavening agents. Why is this important? Well, first of all, yeast or leaven represents sin. During the time leading up to Passover, Jewish families would purge all yeast from their houses.
Why else? Because Jewish Matzoh paints a visual picture of Christ Himself, and it explains in more depth Jesus words; this is My Body.
Matzoh is unleavened, representing Christ as having no sin. It’s appearance is striped, bruised, and pierced; as His body would become for us. In the picture above, you can see the striped appearance, and the bruised appearance, and if you held a piece up to the light, you can see light coming through the piercings in the bread.
Within the Passover meal, there is a particular piece of Matzoh used (I’ll explain all the images in Passover a bit more at some later date), that is hidden, then taken out, and broken. It was this piece of Matzoh that Christ would have blessed and broken. The blessing would probably have gone something similar to this: Blessed art Thou, o Lord Our God, King of the Universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth. If you hear the resurrection in this blessing, you are spot on!
Notice that the bread was indeed broken. This bread is like a thin cracker and breaks quite dramatically. It was all a visual of what Christ’s own body would go through for us; He would be bruised, striped by the cruel whips of the Romans, pierced by nails, and a spear…His body broken (not His bones, but His body, His flesh); He is sinless, as the bread is unleavened. This bread is again, like a picture.
Now, does one have to use this bread in communion? No, I don’t believe so; it should not be a legalistic issue. However, it is a valuable lesson in our roots, and also why Christ chose that type of bread to represent His body. (I also think it shows a stark contrast with the RC’s white, unpierced, unstriped, unbruised, and unbroken hosts that they choose to use in their celebration of the Mass.)
I do think that using Matzoh aids us in remembering Christ’s sacrifice, as we have a picture, or a type of Christ right before us while partaking…and after learning a lot of this from Levitt Ministries I do prefer to partake of Matzoh in communion when and where possible. Again the aim of communion is to “keep our eyes” on Christ, and remember Him.
If you are interested in obtaining some Matzoh, either for your church, or for home communion, or just for studying/eating, you can find it at larger grocery stores, or if you are like me and live in a very rural area, you can find “for Passover Matzoh” online. Some Matzoh is cleared by Rabbi’s for Passover use, and some is not (just look on the box). The difference is in how long it takes to make. Often times you can only get Matzoh marked for Passover use around…well, Passover. However, I’ve been able to find it online all year round.
(For those that don’t follow lolcat humor; Ceiling Cat is, of course the lolcat stand-in for God; Basement Cat the devil)
According to an article over on JPost: “The remains of the southern wall of Jerusalem that was built by the Hasmonean kings during the time of the Second Temple have been uncovered on Mount Zion, the Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday.”
Also on JPost: Dead Sea Scrolls to be available online. It’s wonderful that these ancient documents are slowly becoming available to everyone and anyone! This is much like the Codex Sinaiticus release earlier this year that I reported on at the time.
I just rewatched The Nativity Story, which got me thinking about the history of Christian Movies (movies with a Christian theme) and the state of Christian movies today.
I grew up on movies like The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston as Moses, Ben-Hur, The Robe, etc… which my family collected and watched together. One thing that I do recall is that when I was growing up, there were no new Christian movies being produced, so I’d turn to the old ones, the classics, for entertainment of that variety.
I do realize now that during my childhood, and adolescence, there were Christian movies being produced, it just that they were so silly, cheesy, and poorly acted that no one cared to see them. I do think that that is starting to change.
Honestly, those of us looking for Christian stories well told in film owe a lot to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. While debate about this movie still occurs amongst Christians, there can be no doubt that it gave the movie industry a goose to start producing better Christian-themed movies. I’ve watched and enjoyed The Gospel of John (for all my fellow Lost fans; Desmond plays Christ, which is fun, and kind of hard to get used to) , The Nativity Story, The Chronicles of Narnia, Amazing Grace, One Night with the King, and even films like The Last Sin Eater.
Independents out there, like Sherwood Pictures are giving it a go with films such as Flywheel and Facing the Giants. Their new movie “Fireproof” is coming out. While they’re a bit more straightforward in their preaching (especially preaching at you, which can get annoying even for fellow Christians), and the acting isn’t Hollywood level, at least they make profit on their movies.
However, there are some Christian movies that keep the cheese alive and well in this day and age; I expected more from the first two Left Behind installments, but I enjoyed the third one better, though it still fell below expectations for me. Other shows try to tackle the end-times, but again, they come out “a bit” sub-par.
I also enjoy movies that borrow Christian themes that aren’t anywhere near scripturally accurate, nor particularly Christian; The Prophecy series, Constantine, and the like.
Now, what movies would I like to see made? Movies on the level (and even more scripturally accurate) of The Passion, and The Nativity Story. Movies about Old Testament happenings on an epic scale would be nice, such as David, Daniel, Noah, etc… Also a high budget movie based on Peretti’s angel novels; This Present Darkness, and Piercing the Darkness would be very nice indeed.
So, how ’bout it? Any Christian movies you love, hate, love to laugh at? Old, new, future? Any recommendations?