Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: covenant

TTE Advent Calendar Day Five – December 5th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Five – December 5th

Thank you for reading our fifth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Today we look at another prophetic claim of the messiah, that he would be a descendent of Isaac. As usual we will be looking at the Old Testament scriptures that predict this as well as the New Testament fulfillment of this prophecy. The first scripture I wish to look at is in the book of Genesis chapter 17…

Genesis 17:15 (ESV) And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”

As we read yesterday Abraham was 100 years old when he got the confirmation from God that he would have a son and he would be called Isaac. This is where we lose our Muslim friends who believe that Ishmael is the true successor.

Here we read God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah as a rememberence of the covenant that the God had promised to deliver. The key here is that God had promised and God delivered. He said the child would come from Sarah. (verse 16) This rules out Ishmael as his mother is Hagar. Abraham tried to verify if Ishmael was the successor, however God tells us who the child is and what his name is, it will be Isaac.

The great thing I have found about studying the Bible is that God will date and confirm things to the letter. In the seventh chapter of the book of Acts this is dated as before he left Ur.

Acts 7:2 (ESV) And Stephen said: “Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ 4 Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living. 5 Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. 6 And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years. 7 ‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’ 8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.

This is powerful stuff, this speech got Stephen stoned to death! (Acts 7:54-60) He goes on to give them a history lesson of the times of the Jewish people and a history of the Hebrew people. he concludes with this.

Acts 7:51 (ESV) “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

Stephen is a verifiable primary witness as he lived in the time of Jesus death; he was also so sold out as a believer that he knew that by saying these things in a religious melting pot like Jerusalem he was most certainly going to be harmed. He was willing to go on record, to be killed by stones and die to make sure that the link between the Messiah promised through Isaac was validated and verified as Jesus Christ.

Whatever happened to Ishmael?

Here is the deal, God promised a child to Sarai and Abram, Sarai thought God needed a helping hand and decided to have another woman birth an heir. But God showed more faithfulness to her than she did. God keeps his promises, even the ones that seem so impossible and out there that we do not see any way they could come true.

The lesson here is faith! Sarai did not have enough faith and patience to allow God to lay the foundation and do things in his time. I do not mock Sarai for this as I have much the same problem in my life. (Let’s be real here!) I have lost count of the amount of blessings I have lost because I thought God “needed my help” achieving what had been promised.

Look at this passage written by Paul to the Roman church that explains it far better than I ever could:

Romans 4:16 (ESV) That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

God’s faithfulness is not conditional on us keeping our end of the bargain; otherwise NONE of us would be blessed! We all fail in some way. God also gives a timescale that this prophecy will be fulfilled, it will be done within a year, let’s look to see if a son was in fact born. Also we have the question “what happens to Ishmael?” Let’s look at Genesis chapter twenty one.

Genesis 21:8 (ESV) And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. 10 So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” 11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. 13 And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” 14 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. 15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18 Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. 20 And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

So Ishmael starts the chain of events by mocking Sarah and Isaac, emotions are running high at this point with two women in the same dwelling having birthed children by the same man. (Could this be a warning about multiple wives or polyamorous relationships?)

Sarah rather unsurprisingly grew resentful of Hagar and Ishmael now that God has come good on his promise. Isaac was no longer a promise but a real tangible child in her arms. Things quite literally got real! Abraham knew that Ishmael would be blessed due to him; however he had the hard job of fulfilling the wishes of his wife and sending away Hagar and his son.

God however made provision for the boy, in true Godly compassion he made a place for him, gave him a nation. It would not be Israel but he would be that father of a great people. Ishmael knew what was going on being some 13 years older than Isaac. I understand this perfectly as I myself am 12 years younger than my older brother. Paul writes to the Galatian church using Ishmael and Isaac as an example; let’s look at Galatians chapter four:

Galatians 4:21 (ESV) Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” 28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

Are you a child of promise? Have you accepted the free gift of salvation that is only given through Christ Jesus our LORD? It is as real as this my friends. This is talking about where you will spend eternity!

The life of Jesus – Isaac’s descendent

Now that we have successfully shown that Jesus was the one promised through the line of Isaac we must look at the life of Jesus in the gospel of Luke chapter three.

Luke 3:23 (ESV) Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, 27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon, 33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Some of you may have skipped this verse a hundred times and dismissed it as a boring genealogy, I see a line of family but I see something more! A promise that was given to a faithful man and his wife which seemed impossible. God showed what a big God he is and made it happen. Nothing is impossible for God.

This has application for us all; regardless of what you face and regardless of where you are in your life God wants to use you. You must first come in complete obedience and surrender, but God is faithful and do what he promised. Don’t do what Sarah did and “give God a hand” he is faithful and more than capable of fulfilling his will in your life.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

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Noah way to treat a biblical epic

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Noah way to treat a biblical epic

(A non-partisan view on the Russell Crowe movie “Noah” I do wish to say, there are spoilers in this text so please if you plan on watching the movie, certain plot lines are revealed below, please take caution if you read below and plan to be “surprised” by the film)

I do not always toe the “party line” on Christian movie reviews

Let me say first and foremost that I do not subscribe to the many blogs and sites that are Christian based but bash Christian publications and movies because of reasons such as they do not fit what their finite view of something that is either biblical, spiritual, Christian or Jewish history. If they are discussing movies or motion pictures, most of the things they pick on really do not change the plot of the production or take away the greater meaning of what the director was trying to achieve.

However, that being said I sat down on Wednesday evening to watch Noah; I paid $1.39 at Redbox because although I wanted to see it, me and my family only trek to the movies for movies we really want to see. As stated previously I was free of most of the pre conceived notions that others of my faith had of this movie. I of course have seen headlines of articles that refer to the movie, some praising the movie, others slamming the movie. When i sit down to watch a movie about the bible I ask myself two questions.

1) Did the director stick to the story?
2) How misleading were any plot twists?

Obviously both secular and religious movies have had “Hollywood makeovers” and it is not picking on the bible to change the story somewhat to make the movie more “movie friendly” I have seen movies about historical hero’s that have had little twists thrown in, little historical embellishments or even a love interest that is not written in verifiable history.

Whilst that does annoy me as a “history buff” I don’t see myself writing 3000 word blog articles about those movies, and why is that? It is because I have never built my life upon a war journal from a dead general or sketchy history of Scottish clan chiefs or whether something actually happened the way it is portrayed on the big screen. Christian history, Jewish history and ones where we have biblical interest do have my interest to “get it right” and “nail the basics” because it has an impact of peoples view of a biblical story.

I and anyone who has a decent knowledge of the Bible will spot what is wrong with the movie almost instantaneously. However, someone who is watching this because they are curious about God and really don’t know what is going on theologically, they may have an issue and may put a barrier up based on unbiblical truths that they have seen on the big screen.

I plan to answer both 1) Did the director stick to the story? & 2) How misleading were any plot twists? Hand in hand in the next few points.

A) Creation – Fail

Not really, no – within seconds the film sets itself at odds with the biblical account by stating “in the beginning there was nothing” when Genesis 1:1 states the following:

Genesis 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

This lie is portrayed again when they are in the Ark, and Russell Crowe again repeats that “in the beginning there was nothing” and then we see a “creation montage and creation of the earth done in a fast forward motion which incorporates subtle but compelling ideas that creation and evolution go hand in hand, with fish jumping out of the sea, next second they are walking and birds doing likewise.

The idea that in the beginning there was nothing introduces the idea of a creator and a big bang working hand in hand and tries to fit science into a somewhat biblical account.

B) Noah has no idea why he is killing everyone

I have an issue with the way Noah comes off, he meanders through the film getting loose information that “the Creator” from memory, he is never actually called God is going to wipe all humankind off the planet, he does not know why and is guided by visions and dreams that the whole story is about God wiping us all out apart from the ones that Noah chooses to go on the Ark. Biblically this does not add up as we read in Genesis 6:

Genesis 6:5 (ESV) 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. 6 And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

In the biblical account Noah understood what God was doing because he spoke to him. Noah is told that “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.”

This leads to confusion as how did the Shemite and Hamite people populate? The only two other females would have been Ham and Shem’s two nieces? This is an important question as from the Shemite people the nation of Israel came into being. In all reality it is not biblical and makes very little sense.

D) The inhabitants of the ark (animal kind)

When we see the animals converge on the ark, we see many more than is stated in the biblical account. (Remember it only had to be “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive.” – Two of each kind, two cats, two dogs, two snakes) we have a scene where there are literally hundreds of snakes slithering into the Ark. It just does not make sense, the idea was to get the basic survival of the species onto a boat to allow it to continue post flood.

E) Where is the dove?

Genesis 8:4 (ESV) and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen. 6 At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7 and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. 10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.

In the movie the raven is set forth before they hit land, the dove is sent after and we learn that land is ahoy.

F) Where is the vineyard?

Genesis 9:20 (ESV) Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.” 28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died.

In the scene where Noah gets drunk, he is in a cave on a beach, it is inferred that he got naked after being drunk, we do not see Ham telling his brothers, but they come and cover him up as we read in the scriptures not wishing to expose his father’s shame.

G) Where is the covenant with God?

Genesis 8:20 (ESV) Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

There is no mention of a covenant with God; the closest we get is the passing on of a birthright in the last scene, inferred to be the serpent’s skin of the serpent that tempted Adam and Eve.

H) What was the point of the rainbow?

Genesis 9:13 (ESV) And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Again there is no mention of why the rainbow is there, it is just shown at the end of the movie. God is not mentioned and really has been removed in favor of a non-religious “Creator”

Curious moments in the movie that raised questions

In short the movie is very about the environment, the good people are vegetarians and the evil people are meat eaters and in one scene the stow away starts eating the animals (perhaps trying to account for missing species in today’s animal kingdom)

I wasn’t too happy with the way that Methuselah was present, as a somewhat pagan, magical old man that could fix Noah’s daughter in law’s barrenness by touching her, it is assumed that he dies in the flood also.

And the “Watchers” I am assuming that they were from the “Sons of God” but they state they came down and were punished by the creator, they were Transformer-lookalike stone creatures that limped around a lot and stood between the people and Noah’s family at the beginning of the flood and they exploded one by one and appeared to transcend into heaven, all very weird stuff!

What they did well

A) The fountains of the deep burst open

Genesis 7:11 (ESV) In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

In the scene where the earth becomes flooded, he water comes from above and below the earth; it was a decent visualization of how the earth became underwater very quickly. I was impressed by the visualization, it is up for debate whether it happened that way, but it is conceivable that it could, so that was well done.

B) Size of the Ark

Dimension wise, the Ark looked about as close as they could have got it, I was impressed by the fact that they did not buy into the myth that the Ark was a small boat and there was not enough room on the Ark.

C) Noah being drunk

Once Noah is found drunk, the actors who play Shem and Japheth cover Noah up and it was tastefully done, he then banished Ham.

D) Death and suffering

The idea of the death and suffering is evident and that was well done, when Noah is sailing off, we can see and hear people clinging to mountain tops and screaming when they are enveloped by the floods.

Should you see this movie?

That my friend is up to you. I would not promote or slam the movie. You will get as much theological insight by watching this movie as you will any other secular movie. Special effects wise, it is a decent movie. I just wish it did not fly in the face of something that I have built my life upon.

I would ask that you read the comments above, check out other reviews if you are still undecided after reading this, I would urge you that if you do watch it, keep your eyes and ears open for any errors. I reached for my bible at least 4/5 times to check things out. These are notes I made before I went to bed so there may be more issues than I remember. I certainly have not studied the film; I watched it once and felt neither closer nor further away from God for doing so.

I hope that this article finds you well, please prayerfully consider commenting, liking or sharing as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE