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God Speaking and God Silent


“The Ten Commandments”:  Talk about unanswered prayer:  the Hebrews cried to the Lord for 430 years before God decided to send deliverance.  This animated version of the life of Moses is quite serious and literal about the capricious Pharaoh, the slaughter of the innocents, the baby in the basket in the bull rushes, and Moses being brought up as a youngster in the Pharaoh’s house, raised as a stepbrother to the “real” Prince.  This, of course, qualifies him to “speak the language” of the Pharaoh and his court when he returns, many years later, to demand the release of all slaves, after the theophany at the burning bush.  Though several of the voices are “known” actors, this production seems clumsy, and the animation amateurish (especially compared with “The Prince Of Egypt,” produced by Dreamworks in 1998.)  And, because some liberties have to be taken with which parts to leave in and which to omit, this particular rendition downplays the conflict between Moses, Aaron and Miriam (well, Moses still gets mad about the golden calf, but doesn’t even smash the tablets), and also idealizes Moses’ glimpse of the Promised Land before young Joshua takes up the mantle of leadership.  Nevertheless, this one could be confidently shown to the Sunday School children without fear of the story being doctored beyond recognition.  But the believer would do well to re-read Exodus 1-20, and Deuteronomy 34.


“No Country For Old Men”:  Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) drawls, at the end, to his infirm Dad:  “I always thought, when I got older, that God was going to visit me.  But He didn’t.  I guess He just doesn’t care.”  His Dad replies, with a dismissive wave of his hand, “You don’t know what God thinks.”  Sheriff Bell had just quit.  He’d been in law enforcement all his life, but he’d never experienced anything quite like this case.  He admits to his Dad that he felt overmatched.  But it’s not exactly the life-goal of anyone, to match up with the violence and disregard for human life of a capricious drug lord.  Javier Bardem plays Anton Chigurh, “baddest” of hombres on either side of the border.  He shoots innocent people casually, with the same disinterest as flipping a coin.  Which is what he lets them do right before he kills them, to make them think that there might be a chance they would live.  He’s not only completely cold-hearted, he’s also immensely cruel.  And when some hapless local hunter (Josh Brolin) happens upon the aftermath of a drug-deal-gone-bad shootout in the desert, and finds the stash of cash, little does he know that not only is his life over, but so is the life of everyone he cares about.  Sheriff Ed Tom just chases along after the carnage, helplessly and hopelessly trying to prevent the slaughter from spreading to any more innocents.  God does indeed seem absent and silent, when evil appears to triumph like that.  But the believer needs to re-read Psalm 37.

Questions For Discussion:

1)  What is your unanswered prayer?  Do you think God is absent, or is the answer, “My grace for you is sufficient, for my power is made perfect in weakness”? (2 Corinthians 12:9)

2)       Are some people so evil that they cannot be rehabilitated, only stopped?

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas