Sunday, March 21, 2010

Avatar and the Resurrection

One of the interesting themes in the movie Avatar was how often Jake’s Avatar appeared to die in front of the Na’vi. If something happened to Jake’s communication chamber, interrupting his connection with his Avatar it would appear that Jake died and then he would come back to life when reconnected with his Avatar. To me this was very similar to the Bible concept of resurrection – the process in which God recreates the body and reconnects the individual – his thoughts, memories, and awareness, with his body. The resurrection is one of the major themes in the body and explains how a person can die and then come back to life to face the judgment scene – either for good or for bad.

The first resurrection story is in Genesis 22, where Abraham is to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Abraham understands from God that he is to take his son to Mount Moriah and there he is to kill his son as an offering to God. Abraham goes through the whole process and is fully prepared to offer his son. When he starts to put a knife into the chest of his son, God stops Abraham and Isaac is rescued from death and Abraham receives his son back from the “dead”. Hebrews 11:17-19 states the following:

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”

The second story of resurrection is told in the story of Joseph. Joseph becomes Pharaoh of Egypt’s right hand man and is responsible for rescuing all of Egypt from death by starvation during the 7 years of famine spoken of in Genesis 40-42. After saving all of Egypt Joseph predicts that God will deliver Israel and when that happens, even though it is many years after the death of Joseph, he asks that Israel will take is bones with them when they leave Egypt. Genesis 50:24-26 This is another figure of resurrection.

The first actual resurrection of a dead person is the story of Moses. God clearly describes the death and burial of Moses in Deuteronomy 34:1-7. He also comments into the process of Moses’ resurrection in Jude 9. We know that Moses was resurrected because he shows up in the story of Jesus, many years after his death, and is one of the two men that come to comfort Jesus in his time of distress in Matthew 17:1-4.

We know that the Bible states that when a person is dead he is unable to communicate love, anger, hatred, revenge, or any human thought or experience. The Bible says that “the dead know not any thing…” Ecclesiastes 9:4-10 Since the dead know not any thing, then in order to communicate with mankind the dead must experience a resurrection, a returning to the world of the living.

There are many more examples of the resurrection of the dead in the Bible. There are several in the Old Testament – II Kings 4:8-37; II Kings 13: 20-21 - and several in the New Testament writings – Luke 7:11-17; Luke 8:49-56; Matthew 27:50-53. Perhaps the greatest single resurrection is that of Lazarus in John 11. In this story John is dead for 4 days and has started to decompose, when Jesus comes to visit the family of Joseph and comfort them for the loss of their brother Lazarus. Jesus gives us the most detailed speech on the subject of the resurrection and then resurrects His friend Lazarus. This resurrection places a seal of God on Jesus

The next major resurrection is that of Jesus Himself. All four of the gospels discuss the various aspects of the resurrection and how God conducts His business. The Bible states that Jesus was able to lay down His own life and then to pick it back up. John 10:17-18

Finally God tell us that there will be two final resurrections – one for the righteous and one for the wicked. John 5:25-29 says the following:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. “

Each person will decide which resurrection he/she will be in. If they choose to accept Jesus as God, then they will be in the resurrection that comes about when Jesus returns for the second time. This resurrection is discussed in I Corinthians 15:51-58 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18. The resurrection of damnation occurs a thousand years later at the third coming of Christ. Revelation 20:1-15

James Cameron was kind enough to give us the symbolism of the resurrection in his movie Avatar. God was kind enough to give us the reality. I pray that as we evaluate these things we will choose the reality over the symbolism and the fantasy. The choice is ours; the gift of the reality is God’s. He longs for us to be resurrected to live with Him forever.

Avatar and Hell

In the movie Avatar, the name of the mining camp is “Hell’s Gate”. This apparently is a statement that when you leave the fenced camp you were entering into someone’s perceptions of hell – meaning a gateway to death. The basic understanding was that the planet'’ atmosphere was death producing to humans, the animal life was dangerous to humans, the plant life had some deadly components, and then the people of Pandora – the Na’vi were also antagonistic to human beings and would try to shoot them with poison arrows. All of these death-producing things were present on the planet, and thus the warning that the mining camp was the gateway to hell.

In the Bible there is a similar story with some major differences. In the Bible story there was no death in the Garden of Eden. Nothing killed, and nothing harmed in God’s kingdom. Isaiah 11:9. God put only one warning sign up and that was that Adam and Eve were not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If Adam and Eve left that tree alone, there would never be death of any kind. On the other hand if Adam and or Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, then death would come.

As the story unfolds Eve eats of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. She eats because she accepts the thoughts of a speaking serpent/dragon. See Genesis 3:1-7, 14; Revelation 12:9. When she eats of the fruit, she then becomes the medium of temptation to Adam. When he chooses to eat of the same fruit, he concludes that he is naked and would be ashamed to come into the presence of God with no clothing. God comes at His normal time to talk to Adam and Eve and finds that they are now afraid to talk to Him. God asks if they had eaten of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and they prove they had by their blaming one another. After discussing it, God offers them new clothing that is purchased by blood and death. Genesis 3:21 Thus, the first death that happens on earth is a symbol of the coming of the true Avatar – Jesus Christ.

After God clothes them with clothing that He made for them, He then informs Adam and Eve that they must leave the Garden of Eden and they must leave the Tree of Life. Thus death is inevitable for Adam and Eve for they no longer can eat of the tree that brings healing and life. In time Adam and Eve will die.

Shortly after leaving Eden, Adam and Eve come face to face with death again. In Genesis 4 death comes to their second born son at the hands of their first born son. Cain kills Abel over the struggle of whether to bring an offering of fruit and vegetables or to bring an offering that symbolizes the slain life of Jesus. Cain is upset that God did not accept his sacrifice while God did accept the sacrifice of Abel. This disagreement led to the death of Abel and the running away of Cain.

This process continued with increasing frequency until by the time of the flood people were thinking evil thoughts continually and when people think evil thoughts all of the time they get violent. One of the concepts from the Old Testament is that when Israel turned away from God they practiced human sacrifice in the sense of offering up their children to their heathen but non-existent gods. They offered their children as sacrifices by making them pass through the fire. II Kings 23:10; II Chronicles 33:6. After 120 years God sent a flood to wash away the sins of the world, but in the act of cleansing there was death to all of the animals, and people on the planet Earth except for those animals and people on the Ark that Noah built by God’s instructions.

After the flood, the same selfishness of people began to manifest itself again in the meanness of people toward one another. All of the things that people did before the Flood were repeated by their children after the Flood, which eventually led to God confounding the language of man. This would slow down the negative process but man still found ways to think of evil continually. Man seemed to love death while rejecting life. The selfishness of man seemed to know no bounds, yet God, through His people Israel, tried to offer man another way – that of life. Israel, as a nation, was raised up to show an alternate way of life through obedient connection with God. All who would, could, and eventually would live forever and return to a way of life that nothing was to die or to harm one another.

Yet Israel did not do a very good job of revealing the life of surrender to God. They most often left their post with God and went to worship other Gods. They often ended up practicing the same behaviors as those who hated God. This went on for hundreds of years until the time finally came where God Himself came to be among the people. God lasted a few short years on Earth until He was hung on a cross and died. After His death Jesus Christ became the First to be raised from the dead. By this I do not mean that Jesus was the first to be raised from the dead, but that by His resurrection authorization had been given for all of those resurrected from the dead in the Old Testament times and those in the New Testament times. God revealed that there was a solution to the death problem and that solution was God Himself.

This process of rebellion against God, as started by Adam and Eve, has continued all through time down to the year 2010. God has revealed that any rebellion against Him, and His law, creates death. With death comes the trip to the grave. But God’s goal is to remove death once and for all time. God plans to bring everyone to an understanding that to live means to surrender in love to God. To die means to enter into rebellion against God and the principles of life. God offers us freedom to choose, but all must choose and deal with the consequences of that choice.

One of the interesting concepts in the Bible is that of death. One of the odd things that death presents is that all who follow death must end up in the grave. All through the Bible the name given for the grave was hell. Psalms 16:10; 86:13 marginal reference; Proverbs 7:27; I Corinthians 15:55 marginal reference; Revelation 20:13-14. Thus, Avatar’s Hell’s Gate is a way of stating that all who go through this gate love death and want the grave, or are willing to go to the grave. In the movie all of the people who had come to Pandora were willing to die because of the high potential reward. Pandora was supposed to be a very dangerous place to be but all that came were willing to take the risks.

In the Bible the stakes are a little higher. God did not intend for anyone to die on Earth and He did not make anything evil or harmful. God says, “an enemy has done this”. Matthew 13:27-28. God did not want anyone to go to the grave. But when God warned man not to sin, He told them that in the day that they would sin then death would come to them and they would then go to “hell” or to the grave.

But God also had a solution for all those who would go to the grave. God promised to resurrect them to eternal life, if they wanted it. God does not want to be separated from us. He wants us to live forever and to be with Him. All who will choose Him can have the gift of eternal life and to be resurrected to heaven, and then eventually to return to Earth. But for this to occur each one of us must have a personal experience with God. If we choose to do this He will resurrect us from the grave, and eventually He will destroy death and destroy the grave, because no one else will ever go there.

This little study is a response to Avatar’s message of “Hell’s Gate”. God recognizes what hell’s gate means – that we have chosen to reject God and have chosen death over life. God wants us to live forever with Him, we can choose to reject eternal death today. Even though we may die, and go to the grave, yet the promise of God is available to us, He will come and resurrect us and we will live forever. What choice will you make today?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Avatar’s Dragons

In the movie Avatar one of the right of passage experience is to go on a strenuous climb to find a dwelling place for the smaller of Pandora’s dragon species the Ikran. Jake is told that he is to find one of the Ikran and he will know if it has chosen him by the attempt to kill Jake. If Jake can subdue his Ikran then he can connect with his antenna, the queue, and complete the process of Tsahaylu. When Tsahaylu is completed then Jake would be able to control his Ikran and become a successful member of the clan. He would have proved that he was a successful man and have passed the tests of manhood and be a functional member of the village. Jake, on completion of subduing his Ikran, would be thought of as a successful hunter and warrior. When Jake completed his growth tasks he would then be considered eligible to mate with one of the females of the clan. All of these things Jake accomplished and in a positive manner.

It is interesting that Mr. Cameron chose to use a flying dragon as one of the symbols of growth and maturity in the culture of the Na'vi. In the Bible a flying serpent, Isaiah 14:29, is used to communicate an evil messenger, someone to avoid if at all possible. The dragon, or the great serpent, is named Satan – the Adversary. Revelation 12:9. This adversary came to Adam and Eve and tempted them to rebel against the revealed will of God, and thus introduced sin into the world and opened Pandora’s box. Sin led to death and destruction.

The use of a dragon in Avatar is an interesting mix of symbols. In the movie Avatar, friendship with a dragon is a function of becoming an adult in the Na’vi culture. There is a greater dragon – the Great Leonopteryx – that is so deadly that few make any connection with this dragon. But there is an occasional hero that is able to make Tsahaylu with the Great Leonopteryx and when that rare thing happens the hero is called Toruk Makto and he is able to lead all of the tribes of Pandora together.

In James Cameron’s mind, the dragons of Pandora are used for positive purposes, to show maturity, courage, and to allow the warrior access to the air to be a greater hunter and thus a greater deliverer. In the Bible’s perspective contact with the Dragon is to open the door to being deceived and to be harmed in some way. God warns us to stay away from the dragon, in any of his forms, and to stay focused on Jesus. To not go through the rite of passage ceremonies by keeping your distance and not entering into a deep, personal, and emotional contact with a dragon would be good in the eyes of God. It would show a dependence upon God and trust in Him to care for all of the needs of the culture as well as the needs of the individual.

In conclusion, God warns us to flee from the dragon and we will be blessed. Avatar encourages us to have contact with the dragon and that this contact leads to blessings and social advancement. Each person has to make these decisions for themselves. God has revealed His holy will to man through the stories He has told us. We have seen the impact of sin on people and we have seen the destruction of peoples, cities, and nations through their disobedience to the will of God. The concept of uniting with a Dragon in the mind of God is to commit sin and to turn against God and against your community; this God warns of and encourages us to stay faithful to Him so that He can do great things for us. Stay away from the dragons, in any shape, form, or culture. The True, and real God, has warned us to flee from dragons and enjoy sweet communion with Him. Today we can choose the fantasy or to choose the real and the true.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Avatar and the State of the Dead

In the movie Avatar there were several presentations of the dead. In one scene a dead member of the Na’vi is shown being prepared for burial and a seed from the Tree of Souls is placed in the burial place. Apparently this seed was to be a connecting link to the soul of the dead family member.

In another scene Neytiri is presented as attempting to explain to Jake how the Tree of Souls keeps an account of each dead member of the tribe. The dead people, and their memories, are retained in the Tree of Souls and anyone can come to the tree and “connect” to this record of lives and thoughts. Apparently one could communicate with the record of the dead one but perhaps not to the person himself or herself.

In the Bible the state of the dead is a complex set of concepts. God tells us in Genesis 2:7 that God made a living soul out of the dust of the ground and then God breathed into the person the breath of life and he/she became a living soul. This formula requires to parts to be a living soul – a body and the breath of life. Without either of these to parts the living soul does not take place. In Ecclesiastes 12:5-7 God tells us that when death occurs that the body breaks back down into dust, and the spirit, or life energy, returns to God. Thus the living soul comes to an end.

Ecclesiastes 9:1-10 gives us some additional information as to what happens to us when we die. It says:

1 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.
2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
3 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.
8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.
9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labor which thou takest under the sun.
10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

In this text God tells us that we will all die, unless we are translated to heaven without seeing death. Death happens to all people and if the normal process occurs we all will experience this death process. When we die, the Bible says that our love, hatred, envy, knowledge, and wisdom all stops. There is no communication with the dead for all mental, and physical processing, is terminated. God even goes so far as to say that all our thoughts perish (Psalms 146:4) and that we no longer can praise God. Psalms 115:17 So from the Word of God all cognitive processing stops and ceases to function.

An interesting question comes up and that is many people claim to have communications with the dead, or tap into the memories of the dead, as in the Tree of Souls in the movie Avatar. If we use the Bible to guide our thoughts, since it is God who only knows all about life or death, then we are instructed not to seek wisdom from the dead. God wants us to seek wisdom and instruction from the living, He wants us to come to Him and He will grant us wisdom and truth. He does not want us to seek other avenues of information controlled by Satan, He wants us to come to Him and He will guide us.

“And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God, for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it I because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:19-20

“When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.
For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.” Deuteronomy 18:9-14
(Necromancers are people who attempt to communicate with the dead, and familiar spirits are the supposed spirits of dead people dwelling in animals to communicate their thoughts to Necromancers, Wizards, and Witches. God forbids all of this.)

God is aware that Satan has chosen to attempt to communicate his will through avenues that God has forbidden us. The reason He forbids this is because the information sent to us from Satan is based totally on deception, error, and sin. Satan attempts to use avenues that God has forbidden. All communication with the dead can not happen because God says that the dead do not think, feel, share, praise, or anything, for they are dead. The dead do not communicate. So any communications that supposedly come from the dead come from Satan, not from God. Therefore all “communications” with the dead come from Satan, not from the person that can not communicate until they are resurrected. God wants to communicate the truth, and only the truth, Satan wants to communicate error to prevent us from trusting in God.

So God’s answer to the dead is to allow them to “sleep” until Jesus comes to awaken them again. I Corinthians 15:51-58; I Thessalonians 4:13-18 When He puts the breath of life back into their bodies, they will then be able to communicate again. Until then they simply rest in God and are not aware of anything under the sun.

Satan, on the other hand, wants to communicate with us his thinking. He wants us to distrust God and to disobey Him. Satan communicated this thought to Eve and through her distrust in God, and trust in Satan, she opened the proverbial Pandora’s box and introduced sin to Adam and then they disobeyed God and ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Thus they introduced death to the Earth, something that God did not want to occur. So all communication with Satan will eventually produce death if accepted, for Satan always wants to do anything and everything that God forbids.

So, as in all things, God has given us a choice. We can obey Him and prosper or we can disobey Him and get into trouble. God wants us to have truth only. He does not want us to have error for error produces death. So leave the dead alone and allow God to watch over them until the resurrection takes place. Let us connect with God and get all of the knowledge we can possibly use and live a life that will help all around us.