Today’s devotional is a secular review of the new movie Exodus and, as you can see, if you DON’T go and see it you will save both money and time. God bless you.
Because of Calvary,
Exodus 3:1-4:31 (ESV)
The Burning Bush
3 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
7 Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”[a] And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord,[b] the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. 16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, 17 and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ 18 And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’ 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.[c] 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go.21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”
Moses Given Powerful Signs
4 Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’” 2 The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” 3 And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. 4 But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5 “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” 6 Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.”[d] And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous[e] like snow.7 Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8 “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. 9 If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”
10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” 13 But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”14 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. 16 He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him. 17 And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.”
Moses Returns to Egypt
18 Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Please let me go back to my brothers in Egypt to see whether they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” 19 And the Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.” 20 So Moses took his wife and his sons and had them ride on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the staff of God in his hand.
21 And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’”
24 At a lodging place on the way the Lord met him and sought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses'[f] feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision.
27 The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which he had sent him to speak, and all the signs that he had commanded him to do. 29 Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel. 30 Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. 31 And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lordhad visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.
Meet Moses the Swashbuckling Israelite
The Biblical Moses is interesting because he’s timid and not a natural leader. The Moses in ‘Exodus,’ now slaying Egyptians in a multiplex near you, has no such problems.
Among the many inexplicably poor choices made by the producers of Exodus: Gods and Kings — a release date months from Passover, a subtitle that will surely discomfort some monotheists in the potential audience, a Red Sea crossing that, unadorned by special effects, resembles a huge clamming expedition — there is one poor choice that does, at least, bear explanation: The decision to give Moses, in the opening minutes of the film’s tedious two-plus hours, a sword.
Not just a plain iron sword but a gleaming, gold-hilted one that is foregrounded by the film almost fetishistically. In one scene Moses nearly caresses the sword, running a cloth down the blade — a gesture that seemed certain to sever fingers — and looking down its length as though drawing a bead on a target. It will not be long before he holds that sword, in perhaps the most egregious violations of plausibility, against the throat of his adversary, the Pharaoh Ramses, and even nicks the flesh of the famously hard-hearted tyrant (portrayed here instead as a gum-chewing lout).
The sword is only one of the film’s many efforts to recast Moses, a reluctant, self-doubting prophet in the Biblical story, as a military hero in the Gladiator mode. God, who here speaks through the voice of (or actually is?) a ten-year-old boy, addresses Moses as “general.” A profoundly implausible montage shows Moses turning Hebrew slaves into a band of insurgents by training them in archery and horsemanship. And, in a gratuitous show of homicidal prowess, Moses kills two assassins he meets while wandering in the desert of Sinai. Who sent these assassins is a matter better left untouched; they have been conjured up only to give Moses an opportunity for hand-to-hand combat, beyond that of the equally gratuitous Egypto-Hittite battle in the film’s opening scenes.
In its efforts to build up Moses’ military bona fides, Exodus (the movie) actually strips out a miracle assigned to God by “Exodus” (the scripture). Pharaoh’s army, driving its war chariots in pursuit of the fleeing Hebrews, was blocked, in the latter text, by a divinely sent pillar of flame. In the film, Moses creates the delay with a bold strategic choice: He lead his people through a mountain pass too treacherous for chariots. Ramses ignores the warning signs — abandoned Hebrew wagons at the entrance to the pass — and charges forward into what becomes a debacle. Logistics wins the day, and the Supreme Deity is, at this juncture, nowhere to be seen.
The mountain-pass stratagem is of course familiar from 300, where it was the central ploy used by an army of Spartans to defeat invading Persians. I hope I can be forgiven for finding this echo more than merely coincidental. Hollywood has developed a habit of relying on what worked best in the past, and 300 was hugely successful. So, for that matter, was Gladiator, the previous foray into ancient legend by director Ridley Scott. Motifs of military heroism appear to have been lifted from both movies and grafted onto this one, creating a weird hybrid of Judaic and Greco-Roman myth.
No sensible moviegoer demands fidelity to the Bible from a modern Biblical epic (though it should be noted that Exodus troubles to depict each one of the ten plagues, in order, even though this leads to numbingly repetitive scenes of screaming Egyptians fleeing affliction). But insight into character is perhaps not too much to ask. The scriptural Moses is defined by his frailties, his inability to act. God has to continually prompt and prod him, and puts his brother Aaron at his side to do most of the realleadership. He is no general, and—though he kills an Egyptian in anger after seeing the man flogging one of his kin—he never, to my knowledge, carries a sword. His deficiencies and self-doubts, amid his epochal mission of liberation, are precisely what make him interesting.
Exodus nods to this unheroic tradition at the shores of the Red Sea, where Moses, beset by remorse after somehow leading the Hebrews along the wrong escape route, flings his sword into the sea. I was waiting for him to pick up the plain wooden staff that he wields so memorably in both the Book of Exodus and in Cecil B. De Mille’s The Ten Commandments. But then the sword is miraculously returned to him, and he girds for battle once again.
Perhaps in this movie’s sequel, he will fight Hercules.
[James Romm, The Daily Beast, December 14, 2014]