Monday, January 25, 2010

The Book of Eli

This weekend, I went to see the movie, The Book of Eli.  I was most curious to see this film because I heard it had Christian themes and rarely do we see a big Hollywood movie with Christian themes.  Hestitantly, I entered the theater, hoping that the movie did not, like most movies, make Christians out to be weak, annoying, oddballs who try to cram the gospel down people's throats. I was pleasantly surprised. Very pleasantly surprised, indeed.

Set in the post-apocalyptic future after a major world war that the characters describe as "the flash", the scenery is filmed in a sepia tone, very bland grays, blacks and whites, which perfectly portrays the mood of the story. Sorrow, Loss, despair. This is not a "feel good" type of movie, nor is it a romance, not is it a action movie. This is a movie about destiny and the Bible. This is a movie about the battle between good and evil, darkness and light.

Denzel Washington plays Eli, a man who has heard from God. God showed Eli where the last remaining copy of the Bible was buried and then instructed him to take it west. Eli is so convinced that he has heard from God that he immediately obeys and begins on a harrowing journey that will last him the rest of his life. A journey in which he will suffer from thirst, hunger, and the violent acts of men. We meet Eli 30 years into this journey. He has almost reached his destination. We soon discover that along the way, during those 30 years, Eli has made a habit of reading the Bible every night. We see hints of his knowlege of the Holy Scriptures when he quotes passages from the Bible at opportune moments. We see that he is moral man who hates violence and refuses to polute himself with the things of the world. He has a peaceful strength and confidence about him that draws people.

But Eli is no whimp.  When attacked by those seeking to do him harm or steal "The Book", Eli defends himself with great ferocity. He is a mighty warrior who dispatches the enemy with so much skill and strength that he leaves people in awe. But where does his strength come from? Might I suggest that it springs from his conviction and belief that he is doing God's will and that God has promised him that he will make it. Dare I also suggest that his strength comes from his knowlege of the Bible, for in those 30 years, he has no doubt read it over and over multiple times.

I must admit that throughout the film, I was tempted to believe he was a mighty warring angel.  But I was glad to find out he wasn't. He was just a man, just a human, like you and I.  Like Moses or Abraham, or Joshua or David. Just a man, but a man with a firm faith, a deep conviction, and the power of the Word of God on his lips and Holy Spirit in his heart.

The villian in the movie wanted the Book Eli had so much, he spent years looking for it. When asked by one of his henchman why, he said "Because it's a weapon."  He couldn't have been more right.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this story, but it left a deep impact on me. It gave me a glimpse into the spirit realm and into the power of one person who knows God and knows His Word.  And it also convicted me. They treated this one Bible so reverently, so preciously, it brought me shame. Even the bad guy when he finally got his hands on the Bible, kissed it and held it to his bosom. Do we do that? Do we cherish the Word like that? Or do we toss it aside after church only to find it in the same place next Sunday? When we open it to read, is it more out of obligation, or are we desperately hungry to read its precious words and hear from God Himself?

Might I offer you a challenge? One I intend to take up myself. I'm going to read my Bible more. Not just a couple of chapters a day.. I'm going to leave it open on my kitchen counter and every time I pass, I'm going to stop and read. And I'm going to start memorizing it too. As much as I can. I'm going to look at the Bible as a doorway into the house of God where I can meet with Him and hear His voice. I'm going to cherish it. I'm going to fill my spirit with its Words.  Why? What else is more important? The church needs to wake up! We all have such a short time here. I want to be an Eli, an Elisha, a David. When you stand before God, what you did with His Word and His instructions is the only thing that will matter.

(Warning: This movie is rated R and has some bad words and lots of violence.  Please do not let that deter you. Please, Christians, do not avoid this movie because of that. Its message is too good to pass up. And I, for one, hope that Hollywood makes many more movies like this!)


  1. I must say, that the commercial for this movie has caught me by surprise. Like you, I didn't think Hollywood would do a movie like that, let alone with Christian principles and morals. I have not seen the movie yet, but I do plan to in the near future. I believe that the whole world is at a most precarious moment in history and that most of the Christians has either dozed off, or melted into the conformity of the world. I read the Manhatten Declaration, and I fully believe and encourage every Christian to rubb the sleep from their eyes and pay attention to whats going around them!

  2. Very thoughtful review and post. Thank you. I was curious about this movie as well - it's good to see it has such a powerful message.

  3. I, too, was initially wary of this movie, but when I found out more about the plot and that Denzel Washington was in it, I knew it was going to be great. I haven't gotten to see it yet, but plan to extremely soon.
    I'll accept the challenge to read my Bible more! I used to read it just a couple of times a week, but ever since I literally forced myself to start a through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan, I haven't been able to get enough! It's like I'm starving! So I grabbed a bunch of Bible study books to read sections of throughout the day, and I think I'm also going to try leaving mine open.
    So thanks for that idea, and for the movie recommendation!

  4. I have not seen the movie, but I might now. It certainly has caught my attention. I read my Bible everyday, but it seems useless now. It has become more like something I forced myself to add to a list of daily chores, and not just a wanting to read and learn more. I will try to step up now. I need to read more from the New Testament. I think He has been trying to tell me that, and it is just like you just answered my question for me.
    -Abby Anne

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this movie. My husband had mentioned he would like to go and see it.

  6. That was a very interestinng review. I hadn't understood the plot from the commercials, and this contains a lot of info as well as personal insights. I love to read The Bible, especially the New Testament. The Old Testament--though not without great lyrical passages (Isaiah)--expresses a lot of anger and revenge-taking, I guess something like life and this book/movie. Dan Brown called The Bible the Great Mysteries, and so it is/are. Best, Margaret

  7. I just saw the movie...very intense. I too would like to read my Bible more, to carry it with me always as did Eli.

  8. My sister saw this movie last weekend and called me right away, stating that I just had to see it. I look forward to making it to the theater (or DVD if I wait long enough) to see it.

  9. Thank you for suggesting this movie, MaryLu. I will be looking for it. It is summer time here in South America and so I have been out of the loop with your blog for a while with all the schedule changes and special activities. I'll be getting on more often again now. Get to read your notes again!

  10. Hi Diane, welcome back. I hope you get a chance to see this movie. Beware of some bad language and violence, however. But the message is worth it.