Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Avatar and the Mark of the Beast

In the movie Avatar Colonel Quaritch is the character considered to be the villain in the story. The Colonel was a very decisive individual and had a clear vision of what he needed to do. He had been given his marching orders by Parker Selfridge and he was ready to do all to accomplish his task including sacrifice any thing that was in his way.

Colonel Quaritch had many admirable traits. He was clean, neat, kept himself in good shape. He was a stickler for detail and discipline and he would not hesitate to do the very things he was asking his soldiers to do. He had a vision, he was willing to pay the price, and he did not suffer fools lightly. He stated that “I take care of my own” to Jake and followed through with getting the corporation to ok the surgery necessary for Jake to get his legs restored. The Colonel was a man of his word and he had the fortitude and determination to make his word a powerful issue. The Colonel understood military issues and he was willing to get the information necessary to plan an attack and he was willing to implement the plan.

Colonel Quaritch also had a few unusual qualities about him. Apparently when he first arrived on Pandora he was attacked by a beast and the beast left a threefold scar on his head, and apparently on his heart as well. As a result of this encounter Colonel Quaritch had the opportunity to go back to Earth and have cosmetic surgery but he chose to stay on Pandora and kind of liked the marks on his head. He appeared to see his threefold scar as a testimony of his character and he approved of his character.

Another interesting, and symbolic, quality of Colonel Quaritch is that he employed the name of “Papa Dragon” when in combat. Not only did he use the name but his calm, cool, condescending behavior toward the Na’vi while in combat “And that is how you scatter the roaches”, signified that he was used to killing and saw it as a necessary evil especially to peoples that he did not respect nor like. Colonel Quaritch was a very powerful man and he used his power in a manner that fulfilled his visions of life.

Since we have been looking at the symbolism in the movie Avatar it appears that Colonel Quaritch has many symbolic applications. One of the symbols is that of the mark of the beast. Revelation 13-15 has multiple comments about the concept of a mark of the beast. This is some kind of symbolic quality that shows that an individual has joined the ranks of the people devoted to the great red dragon of Revelation 12 who gives his power, seat, and authority to a beast that comes up out of the sea in Revelation 13. This sea beast then enter into a relationship with a land beast in Revelation 12 who creates an image to the sea beast and then demands that everyone worship the beast that came up out of the sea. Revelation 14-15 then describes a group of people who refuse to worship the beast and instead they choose to worship God only. This contrast between the two groups of worshippers is differentiated by the symbol of the mark of the beast in their foreheads or hands versus the name of the Father in heaven written in their foreheads.

In the movie Avatar, Colonel Quaritch has the threefold scar on his head/forehead, and he also carries a special name “Papa Dragon”. Those who follow him have a spirit of cooperation with him, even if they do not think identically to him. So they have the spirit of the Papa Dragon even if they do not have the threefold symbol on their heads.

The opposing group, Jake Sulley and company as well as the Na’vi, have different markings including that of war-paint. The spirit and goals of the two groups have markedly different goals and different ways of going about accomplishing their goals. Colonel Quaritch wants more military might, and Jake Sulley is willing to submit to a spiritual path and seeks help from Eywa, the goddess of Pandora.

In the Bible the same issue is presented, two different groups with two different philosophies of how to accomplish their goals in life. The one group attached to the dragon and the beast is open to forcing people to agree and obey – worship, and if necessary they will kill to accomplish their goals. The other group, attached to the Heavenly Father, focus on following the Lamb of God – Jesus. They do not want to be involved with issues of force, but they clearly want to worship God and not the beast. The contrasts between the two groups is one of the major principles in the Bible and the primary focus on the issues of the last events in the history of Earth before the Second Coming of Christ occurs.

So one of the goals of the Bible is to determine what this mark issue is how to get the right one and avoid the wrong one. In Revelation 13 the central around which the mark of the beast occurs is that of worship. Worship is basically defined as understanding and respecting a powerful figure, or source, and then submitting to and obeying that figure or source. So to obey the commands of a powerful figure is a form of worship, especially if one loves and respects the powerful figure.

In the Bible the focus of worship is to obey the commands of God. God gave us a number of commands and humanity has played out its struggles regarding whether they want to obey God or not. All through the history of the planet Earth this struggle has been revealed in life. We have seen the results of evil that has been displayed in mankind. Most of the time humanity has been determined to rebel against such commands from God as “Thou shalt not kill” or “Thou shalt not steal” or “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. We all readily identify that it would be good to obey these three commands and if we did obey them much misery and suffering would be removed from the lives of people.

But as we all know there are ten of these commandments, not just three. Most of us can figure out, and agree with the benefits of the last 6 commandments regarding how we should treat one another. Whether we do them or not we can at least philosophically agree that the last six of the Ten Commandments would be good if implemented.

The part we seem to get into difficulty with is the first four commandments. These commandments are focused on the worship of God. In commandments one He commands that we do not obey any other powerful person out there that would attempt to counter one of His commandments.

The second commandment is not to make images of God and then worship those images. God does not want this because any image of God will not properly reflect the grandeur and magnitude of God and thus lessens our appreciation of how great He is. Any lessening of the wonderful qualities of God reduces Him in our minds and lessens our respect and adoration of His qualities. Many people state that God will understand that their heart is right and that they want to use images as a vehicle to keep their minds focused on Him. So they want to disobey Him and then want Him to accept their obedience as worship of Him. But God says that He wants their worship because they respect Him enough to obey Him out of love.

The third commandment is to not take His name in vain. Most of the time we think of this commandment as an issue of not swearing by using His name, but this is a bit shallow. While this concept is true the larger meaning is that we are not to falsely claim to be a follower of His when we won’t live in harmony with His commands. If we don’t live like a follower of God, but live like a follower of the dragon then we are violating this commandment. God wants us to live in harmony with Him and obey Him because we have had enough experience to know that His ways are better than the ways of the dragon.

God’s fourth commandment is the most interesting of them all. It is interesting because human logic and reason do not compute with this commandment. We have difficulty understanding a commandment based on arbitrary time. Often times we violate the 1st commandment by obeying our own thoughts rather than obeying God’s thoughts thus we place our own thinking higher than God’s thinking and we end up creating a god out of ourselves.

But the fourth commandment, the Sabbath commandment, is viewed by God as a “sign” or mark of our surrender to His ways of thinking. In Exodus 31:12-17 God views His Sabbath as a sign that God sets us apart for His personal use. This sign/mark is a statement that we will serve God and no other. This sign is also a mark that we think that God is the original creator of the world and the universe, including any potential planets like Pandora that might be out there. This sign has a visible quality to it that God arbitrarily assigned. He wants us to worship Him on the 7th day of the week or Saturday. It is interesting that in our culture almost everyone knows that Sunday is the 1st day of the week but they have difficulty determining what day of the week the 7th day is.

It is interesting to note that most of us think that any day of the week will do as far as God is concerned. However, when He personally expresses the idea that He wants us to worship Him on the 7th day of the week, in addition to our daily worship on every other day, we find that a bit demanding. We ask who does He think He is to command us to do something that we can not figure out in our own minds. God, of course, wants us to think of Him as God, higher than even ourselves, and He wants us to think of Him as our Creator and thus deserving of our respect and honor.

To clarify this point of worship God has given us many stories in the Bible to testify of how He thinks about the Sabbath and of whether it is important to Him or not. We find in the Creation story that God created the Sabbath while making the first week of Earth. He wanted His children to join Him in celebrating the completion of His works of Creation. Genesis 1:1-2:3; Hebrews 4:1-11; Exodus 31:12-17. By the book of Exodus we see that mankind has already forgotten this concept and God has to restore the concept to His people who will be priests and teachers to the world in Exodus 5:5. He refreshes their minds again when He gave the manna and gave them manna each day for 5 days, doubled the gift on the 6th day of the week – Friday, and then gave them no manna on His Sabbath, so they would have time to spend with Him on His 7th day. Then He pronounced His will to His people at Mount Sinai and proclaimed His law, and His Sabbath day, as a sign of obedience to Him.

In Jeremiah 17 God told Israel that if they insisted upon rejecting His Sabbath He would allow people to come to Israel and burn their cities down. This eventually happened because the people refused to worship and obey God and refused His protection from the powerful nations around them. I Chronicles 36. When God brought them back to Israel, after 70 years of captivity, God reminded them again of their need to refrain from disobeying Him and keeping all of His laws including the Sabbath day. Nehemiah 13.

But Israel had a difficult time with all of these commandments and by the time that the Law Giver Himself, came to earth in the form of a man, Israel had so altered the Sabbath commandment, with all of the other commandments, that they were offended when Jesus lived out His commandments on Earth. Jesus, Himself the Lord of the Sabbath, showed Israel, and thus all of the rest of the world, how Sabbath was to be kept in Matthew 12 and John 5 and 9. The Jewish leaders rejected Jesus’ testimony and chose to reject His Sabbath and thus His special sign and mark. By the time that Jesus had completed His mission they were ready and willing to kill Jesus, reject His authority and choose Rome as their king and thus they chose Rome’s mark as well.

After the time of Jesus the disciples kept all of His teachings and continue to live out all of the laws of God by faith in Him and His power through the Holy Spirit. They observed their surrender to Him by keeping His laws and displaying the sign of surrender to Him by obeying His Sabbath commandment. See Acts 13. By the time of Paul God was warning that people inside of the very church of God would seek to turn His people away from Him. Acts 20:27-31.

In a few hundred years there were two churches struggling to reveal the commandments of God. Both of them claimed to be in harmony with God and both of them claimed to be worshipping God by obeying His commandments. For 1260 years this contest went on and the only way to tell the difference between the two was by their obedience to the commandments of God and the presence of the spirit of the dragon or of the spirit of the Lamb. One group attempted to keep all of the commandments of God, including the Sabbath, while the other group new and improved God’s laws by substituting laws of their own making, including changing the Sabbath from the 7th day of the week to the 1st day of the week. This will be the identifying mark and test in the end as well.

God has said that the great issue in the Revelation 13 will be worship. One group will claim to be worshipping God, while changing His laws, and the other group will be claiming to worship God while maintaining and obeying the revealed laws of God. Colonel Quaritch revealed His character by how he treated those weaker than himself. He also had the three scars to testify of his toughness. Revelation 14 states that God’s followers will have the three angel’s messages to testify to their relationship with Him, and that they will keep God’s laws by faith in Jesus.

God will have a group of people who will follow Him to death if necessary. The Dragon, and the beast, will have a group of followers that will do the same. We know how Colonel Quaritch ended up. God states that His curse (Revelation 14:9-11) will be upon those who refuse to worship Him for they will have no protection from the deceptive miracles of power that the beast will do. Revelation 13:12-16. Just as the battle between the Colonel and Jake became inevitable so this last battle will happen on this Earth, and each one of us will have to take a decided stand. We know it will happen because of the ability of God to know the future. I hope all of us can learn from the experience of the Colonel and not be on his side. Choosing the side of the Colonel will lead us to acting like him and thinking like him. God would like us on His side but to do that we must decide to worship Him and obey Him. We get to decide which mark we will have.

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