Adonai’s Endgame

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            So, a new “superhero” movie has just come out that has everyone talking. It’s based on the comic-book characters of Marvel Entertainment, LLC, titled Avenger’s: Endgame.

            It seems that so many people are in awe of this movie, including many people I know and consider good friends through mainstream Christian, Messianic, and Hebrew Roots circles. As I watch the way many of these people act, despite that a few of them actually do know a lot of biblical truth, I can’t help but think that I have not seen too many of them as excited about the things of God as they are about this movie.

            Yes, particularly in the Messianic and Hebrew Roots communities, there are those who get excited about certain elements of Torah like the Sabbath, the Feasts of Yahweh (Leviticus 23), and possibly even things like the biblical food laws (Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14). Then in the mainstream Christian circles, particularly the Pentecostal ones I have more of a connection with, many get excited about things like worship (though, try to tell most of them to obey The Bible in areas they have always been told no longer apply, well, you know where that ends up).

            So, all of this got me to thinking. Why are people who claim to be submitted to the God of The Bible more excited about some movie than they seem to be about their God?

            I am going to say some things in this short message that probably will not go over well with many, including a lot of my friends who are a fan of these movies. But then I have never really been one to care much what people think of what I say. I am more concerned with obeying the voice of the Spirit of God within me than the possibility that I might upset or offend people, including “my friends”. God told Jeremiah to speak the hard truth to people who wouldn’t listen to him and he obeyed (see Jeremiah 7:27). I have no problem doing the same, if it has to be that way.

            So with that, I want to take you on a quick journey that will consider God’s “endgame”.

No Other Gods

Endgame 1            Scripture is pretty clear. The first of the Ten Commandments, that all three primary Bible-based faiths (Judaism, Roman Catholicism, and Protestant Christianity) consider the foundation of all other biblical commandments, is to have no other “gods” before our God. Now, I know there are people today who are saying that there are no other gods. This has become one of the popular doctrines of the day. But you better be careful with that type of thinking. The Bible addresses other gods, even naming many worshiped during the time period particular portions of Scripture were being penned, so to make such a brazen statement that there are no other gods calls into question the reliability of The Bible itself.

            Here’s the thing. Like it or not, at least some of the characters in movies like Avengers: Endgame are directly connected to pagan religion. Marvel’s Thor character, who is listed as being included in the Avengers: Endgame movie is literally derived from Norse paganism. DC Comics has a character called Aquaman, and if you look at his character you don’t have to look far to find association with the gods Neptune from Greek paganism and Poseidon from Roman paganism (essentially the same god with different names). These are perhaps some of the most easily identified comic book characters with direct association to pagan religions, but there are certainly others.

            Now, I know what people are going to say. I can already see the messages coming in and hear the excuses in my ears.

That’s not what it means to me! 

You have your convictions, and that’s fine. I don’t share those convictions.

Are you really preaching against comic book characters? Seriously?

Even if what you are saying is true, in the movie they are just fictional comic book characters.

That’s a bit over the top, kinda legalistic, don’t you think?

(Sigh) Here we go again… everything’s pagan, everything’s bad.

            And to these types of statements I have some questions I would pose. What if you are wrong? What if it doesn’t matter what it means to you? What if God actually views this as idol worship? What if God sees this as a direct violation of the First Commandment (of the Ten Commandments, of course)?

            Some might ask: What about characters like Captain America or Iron Man, they are not based on the gods of pagan religions? I don’t see a major issue with that if you truly feel you must be entertained by such fictional characters and stories. But when you are entertaining yourself with the gods of pagan religions or embracing cultural idolatry in general, it would seem it’s time to pause and really think about how committed you are to Yahweh, the God of The Bible.

            Look, you can make all the excuses you want. You can ask all the questions you want in your attempt to justify these things in your mind. You can say that I am an extremist until you are blue in the face and smoke is coming out of your ears. It doesn’t change anything. If you are wrong, you are going to be wrong when you stand before God in judgment. And when that happens, this prophetic warning will not be able to save you. It will be too late. You will not have a chance to repent.

            Now look, if you went to see the movie, that’s fine. What’s done is done. But please, continue reading through this and consider what I am sharing here. The beauty of repentance is that you get to do it the moment you realize you were wrong. The only time it is too late to repent of something is the moment you pass from this life.

Does It Bring You Closer To God?

p15457030_p_v12_aa            It was the cry of the Prophets of old. It was the cry of the Apostles. It was the cry of John the Immerser. And it was the cry of Yeshua, our Messiah, Himself. REPENT! For the kingdom of God is at hand!

            You might think I am crazy for even writing a message calling people to repent of watching a comic book movie or some other culturally-acceptable thing. But I really don’t care what you think. I only care what God thinks. And knowing that The Bible is very clear about other gods I must conclude that God does not approve of His people entertaining themselves with these other gods. Even if it’s just one character among many other truly fictional characters.

            Sure, I could be totally wrong and if I am the only thing I missed out on in this life is a movie that most people will have moved on from a couple of weeks after it came out. So what? Am I really missing much? Guess what? You could be the one that’s totally wrong too. And then what?

            Let me ask you some more questions. Are these movies holy? Do they bring you closer to God? Are they a requirement for salvation?

            Clearly the answers to these questions are: No, No, and No!

            In order for something to be holy it would have to be set apart and sanctified by the Word of God. For something to bring you closer to God it would have to have something to do with God or Scripture, and clearly movies that include characters based on the gods of other religions wouldn’t exactly meet that category. And I hope I don’t have to tell you why watching a movie, any movie, is not a prerequisite to be saved.

            Now, I wouldn’t go so far as saying that a movie or anything else has to get a “Yes” from all three of those questions. After all, no movie should get a “Yes” from the third question, and really no movie is probably set apart and sanctified as holy through Scripture, though many movies are made about biblical events and you could push that, as such, in some way they are holy. But there are movies that can draw you closer to God, even many that are not really about some biblical story. Let me give you a good example.

            Another movie that came out recently is a documentary released by DisneyNature titled Penguins. My daughter has taken an interest in these peculiar natives to Antarctica, so we took a day to visit the theater and watch the movie. Probably the fifth time I have went to a movie theater in the last fifteen or twenty year, actually.

            Now, this was a documentary about a part of God’s Creation. If you have read some of my lengthier writings focused on the Genesis Creation record you probably know that, just prior to the fall of man, God charged humanity with the care of all Creation. Genesis 1:26 tells us to be responsible for the fish of the sea, over the flying creatures of the sky, over the livestock, over the whole earth, and over every crawling creature that crawls on the land. Then God planted a garden where He placed man and charged him, again, to tend to Creation, cultivate the garden, and watch over it (see Genesis 2:15).

            So, going to see a documentary about penguins can bring us closer to God. There are no demon-gods from other religions in the Penguins movie. There is only a story of the penguins and their life in the frigid region of Antarctica. It is a chance to observe and connect with something God made for us to care for. It is an opportunity to be inspired to make sure that such marvelous creatures always have a home on this planet, the Creation of our God, and a motivation to stand against those things that harm the planet and threaten to destroy God’s Creation.

            So if you are truly in love with the God of The Bible and feel the need to go watch a movie, perhaps you should consider one that can bring you closer to God and especially one that can help you further embrace the purpose you are here in the first place: To care for His Creation. It’s a much better choice than movies that include characters based on the demon-gods of pagan religions.

When You Stand Before God

Endgame 3            Regardless of what your particular theology or eschatology says, most people today still believe that all will stand before the Bema Seat of Messiah (also called The Judgment Seat of Christ) where they will give an account of the deeds done in this life.

            According to what seems to be the most popular Christian beliefs about end-times events, what we might call God’s Endgame, one of the most important aspects and perhaps the real beginning of the end is what is commonly called the Second Coming of Messiah. The popular passages of Scripture used to support this event are Isaiah chapter 66 and Revelation chapter 19.

            Generally this event is described or depicted in artist renderings as Yeshua riding on a white horse bursting through the clouds with an army of warriors following His lead. Whether this event will literally play out like that or these descriptions are merely metaphorical seems irrelevant—in general, if you are a Christian in any form you believe that our Messiah will come again (even if you shun use of the term Christian because of how unbiblical the beliefs of most Christians seem to be these days).

            As the eschatological events unfold following His return, there will come a point where you and everyone else who ever lived in this world will be judged. Consider this passage of Scripture:

So whether at home or absent, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Messiah, so that each one may receive what is due for the things he did while in the body—whether good or bad.
~2 Corinthians 5:9-10 (TLV)

            This is one of those portions of The Bible that should make even the most serious and committed Believer pause and evaluate their life. But getting back to what I said in the beginning parts of this message, how many in Christianity went and entertained themselves with a movie where I can tell you at least one of the main characters is based directly on a pagan god from some other religion? I actually know people, Christians, who told me they refused to watch the Noah movie, which premiered in 2014, because it was produced by an atheist who touted it as the most unbiblical Bible movie ever made, but those same people would see no issue at all with watching a movie that featured the gods of other religions. This is how messed up the thinking of many Christians is.

            In continuing his thought, Paul goes on to say: “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we are trying to persuade people, but what we are is known to God—and I hope it is known to your consciences as well” (2 Cor. 5:11, TLV). Think about it, Paul like myself was just trying to persuade people to live holy. I mean, that’s what we are supposed to do if we are really saved, right?

            Hebrews 12:14 says that without holiness you won’t get to even see God. But what is holiness? Most people today seem completely oblivious to what true holiness even is.

            In 1 Peter 1:16 the Apostle says in his letter that it is written “Be holy, as I [God] am holy.” Have you ever stopped to look at where this is written? The statement, attributed directly to Yahweh, comes from Leviticus 11:44 and 19:2. The first time it is directly related to following the biblical food laws, as outlined in the earlier part of Leviticus 11. One translation of this verse, the Contemporary English Version, says: “I am the Lord your God, and you must dedicate yourselves to me and be holy, just as I am holy. Don’t become disgusting by eating any of these unclean creatures.” Then in the next mention, the nineteenth chapter of Leviticus, it opens a segment sometimes referred to as the Holiness Code where some of the most contested commandments in the whole Bible are listed, such as not getting tattoos and not wearing wool and linen together in your clothing.

            Think about it. The Bible calls eating unclean things like pork and shellfish an abomination. I can show you a valid biblical argument that eating these things will cause people to be cast into hell. Holiness is directly connected to following these food laws. Do you really think I’m that far gone to be talking about movies that include pagan gods in them?

            I am not putting this brief message together to attack a particular movie or anything. I am, like Paul, simply trying to persuade you to think about whether or not what you are doing with your time is truly honoring to God.

            You may not like what I have shared here, but if you will take an honest look at the things you do and whether or not they are honoring to Yahweh, I think you will question many of your choices. And that is really the point. Instead of questioning whether or not something is a salvation issue or if someone will really go to hell for that, start asking yourself: “Is it holy?” If you do that, I promise you will find yourself doing a lot fewer worldly things and a lot more biblical things.

            If you can seriously go and watch movies that are essentially opposed to the ways of your God and the demands of Scripture, then by all means go and watch the movie. Just remember, if you are wrong judgment awaits you.

            This isn’t really about whether or not it is “wrong” to go watch a particular movie. I’m not writing this to attack the movie that I used as a theme for this message. My purpose is simply to try and get Believers to really think seriously and logically about things like this.

            Clearly movies like those put out by Marvel Comics will likely not bring you closer to God than reading The Bible will. What if every Christian who watched the movie spent those same three hours reading The Bible, praying, or sharing their faith with people? Neither is watching such movies a prerequisite for salvation, and they definitely are not holy—as something can only be considered holy if set apart and sanctified as such in The Word of God.     

            Exodus 23:2 says: “Do not follow a crowd to do evil.” Too much of the time I see Christians who do not ever read The Bible that will base their concept of what being a Christian is by what they see other Christians do—who themselves do not read The Bible. Even many who do read The Bible to some degree are accepting of the practices of the majority. I suppose the logic must be that if God does not strike someone down with a lightening bolt or cause the earth to open up and swallow them then whatever they are doing must not be that bad.

            It’s easy to follow the crowd, even the religious crowd. But it takes a real commitment to the ways of God to deviate from the crowd to truly walk in the ways of God. If that means not going to see a popular movie, so be it. If it means anything else, that’s what I want to encourage you to do.

            I know this will not be a popular message and most people will not receive it. After all, I did choose to use the most popular movie out at the time of writing this message, a movie that I understand had the biggest opening night in history on its opening night, to illustrate what I felt led to share. Very few people will want to consider the reality that watching a movie like this could have some effect on where they will spend eternity. Not because you will go to hell for watching it, but because your willingness to watch it may reveal a deeper heart issue.

            Are you absolutely sure you are right with God if you can go to a movie theater and watch a movie like this? I don’t think even the most liberal of Christians would dare answer “Yes” to that question. They might feel 99% sure, but if they are being honest they will know that there is a potential that watching it reveals that they are not really wholly right with God.

            I hope this quick and simple message has at least caused you to pause and think about where you stand with God and if there are things you should let go of to deepen your relationship with Him. Maybe it is not a salvation issue, but maybe it is. Certainly, however, not following the crowd to do secular or worldly things or things that might even push the boundaries of engaging with other religions and the worship of other gods will bring you much closer to Yahweh, the God of The Bible. As that great Patriarch of the faith Joshua said (as I paraphrase): Choose this day who you will serve, whether this god or that god or some other god, but as for me and my house I will serve Yahweh. Will you submit your time to some pagan god in a movie, or are you wholly committed to The God of Israel?

~Blessings and Shalom~

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