Last weekend, I managed to con/convince a few friends into going to see the Noah movie with me. I had heard reviews on every end of the spectrum about it, and I wanted to form my own opinion. I sat down, trying to keep my expectations low and to just enjoy the movie as entertainment, and I got something else entirely.
The movie raised deep, theological, important questions inside of me so often that I wanted to be able to pause it and journal for a few minutes before moving on. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a notebook handy and the movie kept plugging along so quickly that I probably couldn’t have gotten a word written down without missing something else, anyway.
As a warning, I’m going to spoil the movie for you if you haven’t seen it yet. If you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading now. I won’t be offended. But if you’ve seen it, or weren’t planning on it because it offends something within you, these five questions are what I took away from the movie and what the friends I went with and I talked about for the entire ride home afterwards. They are compelling, important questions, questions that people reading the Bible have been asking for centuries, presented in a new way.
1. Am I not also made in your image?
As the rains begin to fall, the king of the Earth cries out these words, ” I am a man, made in your image, why will you not have words with me?!” It raises a valuable question. If all humanity is made in the image of God, should God not treat all of humanity as worth saving? He is essentially asking, “Am I not your child because of the sin of my ancestor, Cain?”
2. Is humanity worth saving?
This is, of course, the overarching question of the movie, and one that Noah struggles with from beginning to end. At the beginning, he believes his task is to save the animals and his family because they are righteous, but in the middle for a while he decides that humanity is not worth saving, and by the end he decides that it is. Noah’s mercy overpowers his judgment in the end, and we are left with the question: Is Mercy or Justice a more powerful force within God?
3. Isn’t there room?
As they are preparing to close up the ark, Noah comes face to face with his and his family’s sinfulness, and has a crisis that leads him to believe that God did not intend for humanity to be saved. He tells his wife, “Wickedness is not just in them. It is in us.” She replies, “Noah, there’s goodness in us.”
Who is right? Which one does the Creator see?
Noah essentially wrestles with the question, “Why me? Why us?” His sons wrestle with the same thing, exclaiming that not everyone on the earth can be evil, that there must be some who are innocent who will die anyway. Shem hears the screams as the floodwaters rise, the cries of humanity being wiped out, and says, “They cannot all be soldiers, father… they are just people, and there is room.” Noah’s wife cries out, “How is this just?” And we are left, squirming in our seats, wondering about the Justice of God.
Why was Noah chosen? Was he really the only righteous man on earth? How is this just?
4. Why won’t You speak?
Almost every character in the movie faces this question at some point in their crying out to God. The king of the Earth claims that, “Nobody has heard from him since Cain. We are cursed.”
As Noah cries out to God about his grandchildren and what he should do, he shouts, “Please, I cannot do this. Tell me I don’t need to do this. Please, have I not done everything that you asked of me? WHY DO YOU NOT ANSWER ME?”
The rock people things (I can’t remember what they’re called in English but in Spanish they were the Vigilantes), they tell the story of their fall and cries of repentance. “We begged the creator to take us home but he was always silent.”
Why is God sometimes silent? Even when he is enacting judgment on the world, he is silent to all but one man. Why?
5. What have we done with our second chance?
God promised to never destroy the earth again by water. We were given a new creation to protect and tend and we were given grace to start over. What have we done with this second chance? What should we do with it? Do we deserve any different than they?
In sum, I think Noah is worth seeing because it requires that the viewers engage with what they believe about these questions, and I think that is valuable both inside and outside the church.
What about you? Have you seen Noah? What did you think?
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