“And the Oscar goes to . . . .”
The Academy Awards show is the Superbowl of Hollywood entertainment. Fans tune in to see what their favorite stars are wearing and who will be named the best actors and actresses for the year. I have stayed up late to watch the Oscars before – more so in the days when Billy Crystal hosted the show. Now I am content to read the list of winners in the newspaper the next day and watch the highlight clips on the morning news shows. I get a lot more sleep that way. Each year it seems I know fewer of the movies and actors. The only movie nominated this year for Best Picture that I had seen was “Toy Store 3”, on DVD. That should tell you a little something about my social life.
Movies are a great escape. For a couple of hours, we are transported into another world. We can watch a comedy, drama, sci-fi, love story, action thriller, horror, documentary, mystery . . . a wide range of choices. Some movies simply entertain us, while others challenge our minds and our perceptions. Good writing is at the heart of any good movie. I love seeing those words brought to life on the screen, because I am a visual person. Even when I am reading a book, I am creating a movie in my head.
As exciting as some movies and books can be, with unexpected plot twists and outrageous characters, I have not found one that can rival the Good Book – the Holy Bible. The Bible is full of wonderful true stories – dramatic and epic, sweet and touching, mysterious and amazing. Hollywood has tried to bring these stories to the big screen, with mixed results. How many of you still picture Moses looking like Charleston Heston from the classic movie, “The Ten Commandments”? How was your view of the gospels enhanced by watching Mel Gibson’s “The Passion”?
I understand that the Bible can be an intimidating read. The language of the King James Version can be off-putting, with “thee” and “thou” type wording. Many churches are also very strict about using this version in their teaching. However, in the real world we have low literacy rates. In the real world we have a new generation that downloads everything from the Internet and wants immediate information. We have to be able to reach people with the Word of God in a variety of ways.
First of all, to have a true understanding of the Word, we have to have the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It says in 1 Corinthians 2:11, “Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” If a person has difficulty with the language, there are many versions that you can turn to for help. The New International Version (NIV) uses more modern language, but sometimes it omits things that are in the King James Version (KJV). Sometimes even the NIV challenges me, so I look at a version called “The Message”, which puts it in a more conversational type language. That will then give me a little more insight, and I can go back to my KJV or New Kings James (NKJV) version for accuracy. I don’t own all these different versions. I go to a website that allows me to switch the versions with a click of a button. I can go back and forth and compare and it helps me to understand it better.
If you can’t read or don’t like to read, don’t let that stop you from enjoying the Bible. There are websites with audio that will allow the computer to read it to you. You can buy an audio version of the Bible – something like an MP3 player – with headphones that can go with you anywhere. You can get the Bible on DVD or CD. There are really no excuses for not receiving from the Word of God. If you are hungry for the Word, there is a way to get it.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
When I think about all the wonderful stories in the Bible, I get so excited. When I read them, I am seeing them as a movie in my head. They come alive for me. These are the stories of real people like you and me. They weren’t perfect. They messed up a lot. We can learn from them – we are supposed to learn from them. We learn so much better from example than from simply being given a list of do’s and don’ts. These stories are given to us so that we can know who God is, how much He loves us, what He expects and how we can live our lives for Him. If we are entertained in the process, that is just a bonus. The main thing is to get the Word of God into our hearts, minds and souls so that it can do the work in us. It’s not just reading. It’s reading with comprehension.
So, just for fun, these would be some of my “Oscar” nominees from the Bible.
Tamar (Genesis 38) -- for her portrayal as a prostitute. She seduced her father-in-law to become pregnant with a child that would gain her dead husband’s inheritance.
Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39) – for her portrayal as a supposed victim of sexual assault. She accused Joseph of attacking her when he refused to sleep with her.
Delilah (Judges 16) – for her portrayal as a loyal lover. She tricked Samson into revealing the secret of his strength, which allowed the Philistines to capture him.
Leah (Genesis 29) – for her clever portrayal as her sister Rachel. Jacob married her, thinking she was her sister. He then had to work for their father for another seven years in order to marry his true love, Rachel.
Abram (Genesis 12) for his portrayal as his wife’s brother. Fearing the Egyptians would kill him to take his beautiful wife, he told everyone he was Sarai’s brother. This brought a curse upon Pharaoh.
Isaac (Genesis 26) also for his portrayal as his wife’s brother. Like his father, he was afraid the Philistines would kill him to gain his beautiful wife, Rebekah.
Jacob (Genesis 27) for his portrayal of his brother, Esau. By posing as his brother, he was able to receive his blessing from their dying father.
Joseph (Genesis 41-42) for his portrayal as Zaphnath-Paaneah, second in command to the Pharaoh of Egypt. Even his own brothers didn’t recognize him.
Best Special Effects
The Burning Bush (Exodus 3) God speaks to Moses and calls him to lead Israel out of captivity.
The Plagues on Egypt (Exodus 7-11) A river of blood, locusts, boils, killer hail . . . and more.
The Parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14) God allows Moses to part the Red Sea, making a way of escape for the Israelites, who are being pursued by Pharaoh’s army.
Jonah and the Whale (Jonah1-2) Jonah tries to ditch his assigned task of prophesying to the wicked Assyrians. God sends a whale that swallows Jonah for three days and nights, before spitting him out and sending him on his way to Nineveh, lesson learned.
The Fiery Furnace (Daniel 3) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are thrown into the furnace for refusing to worship the king’s golden idol. The three emerge unharmed, without so much as the smell of smoke on them. And who was that fourth person the king saw in the furnace?
These stories are a very small sample of the wonderful adventures awaiting students of the Bible. I am going to skip any nominees for the Best Picture and go straight to the winner, Jesus Christ. His story is a picture of love and hope for all generations. It is full of drama, as He clashed with the religious traditionalists of the day and challenged the Jewish people to believe what the Word of God had already told them about the Messiah. It is full of “special effects” – God’s power and glory demonstrated through Jesus’ healings and miracles, and the ultimate miracle in His resurrection and victory over death. It is a love story – His great love for us and the sacrifice that was made so that we may be saved. Truly it is the greatest story ever told.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”
If you haven’t taken the time to read your Bible, I encourage you to start now. You can start slowly, taking in little bits at a time. Find a resource you are comfortable with, be it the KJV or an audio version. Join a Bible study group to help in your understanding and talk with others. Do whatever it takes to get that word inside you. It is a living word that will change your heart and your life. You won’t get an Oscar, but you’ll get a much better award when you believe on that word and put your trust in Christ. You will win eternal life.