angels and demons
Legion: Is God Still Angry?
By Craig von Buseck
CBN.com Contributing Writer
"I asked my mamma, 'why is God mad?' She answered, 'I don't know. I guess he just got tired of all the bull…'"
This is the opening line to the movie Legion, which I was asked to review. I left the movie feeling like I needed a spiritual shower, but it did raise many questions about angels and demons. The primary question that kept going through my mind after watching this anti-biblical film was, "What if Lucifer wanted to write a movie giving his side of the story?" I concluded that it would look very similar to this film.
Here's the basic plot: A group of strangers hold up in a lonely diner/gas station out in the desert to stage a gun battle for the survival of mankind. The archangel Michael (Paul Bettany), the lead character in the story, arrives on the scene to protect an unborn baby, who Michael declares is mankind's future hope -- though we're never told why.
This angel is protecting this small group from an army of people who are possessed, not by demons -- but get this -- by heavenly angels who have been sent by God to destroy mankind because of sin.
This confrontation comes as a result of God's anger at the sinful human race. Michael explains to the people in the diner that the coming attack is not only judgment, it is extermination. "The last time God lost faith in man he sent a flood. This time he sent the angels."
But Michael has disobeyed God's command to kill all the humans. There is an unwed mother named Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) who doesn’t want the child she is carrying. She explains that she went to the clinic to have an abortion, but couldn't bring herself to go through with it. Michael says of the child, "He will lead the way."
He sees hope for mankind in this unborn child and he declares of God, "I was a general in his army. I was given an order and I didn't believe in it. He lost faith. I didn't."
The diner owner, played by Dennis Quaid, exclaims that he doesn't believe in God. Michael turns to him and declares, "That's o.k., he doesn't believe in you either."
The son of the diner owner is Jeep Hanson (Lucas Black) who is in love with Charlie. In a conversation between Jeep and Michael, the angel tells him that he sees good in him. He explains that he understands that Jeep loves a woman who doesn't love him back, and how he loves her child, even though it isn't his.
Michael tells Jeep that he will need to raise and instruct this child. "Find the prophets. Learn to read their instructions." Later, as Jeep and Charlie are driving away with the new born baby, the tattoo that was on Michael was miraculously transferred to Jeep and he recognizes that these are 'the instructions,' though we have no idea what the instructions are or how he's going to learn to read them.
So instead of the Bible, the words of the prophets are in some hidden code in a supernatural tattoo. As my philosophy professor in college used to say, "How odd of God."
This movie not only turns biblical revelation on its head, but it even mixes Scriptural symbolism of the angelic and the demonic. As the tension begins to rise in the film, the owner of the diner looks out in the distance to see what looks like a sandstorm. Later, several people from the diner drive off in a van to take an injured man to the hospital. They soon discover that it is not a sandstorm they are driving into, but a mammoth swarm of flies. The symbolism here is a twist on one of the names given to Satan, or one of his chief demons, which is Beelzebub, or "Lord of the Flies" (2 Kings 1:2-17).
The people in the diner are confronted by an elderly woman who is possessed by an "angel". Before this foul-mouthed, violent "angel" is manifested, the seemingly kind old woman orders a steak. When the waitress serves the steak to her it is immediately covered with flies. Moments later, in a sweet, elderly voice, the woman tells the waitress that her baby is "going to burn." Then she declares to the people in the diner that "you're all going to burn." Another customer questions her and the elderly woman begins to curse her, using the most vulgar profanity. When this woman's husband rises to demand an apology, the possessed woman attacks and mortally wounds him, biting him in the neck before she is gunned down by another customer.
We know from Scripture that God's angels are holy and that they act as humble servants of the Creator. Only demons would behave in this vile fashion.
This movie is a classic case of good becoming evil, and rebellion against God being glorified as the right thing. Sounds like propaganda from "the angel of light", perhaps.
14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness… (2 Cor. 11:14-15a, NIV)
Later in the film there is a flashback of Michael being confronted by Gabriel (Kevin Durand) in heaven. Michael declares, "I knew He'd send you, Gabriel. You were always so eager to please Him." Gabriel responds, "Unlike you... the rebellious son. If you don't obey you'll anger him for the last time."
Michael justifies his decision to disobey God, saying, "They are lost. He taught us to love."
So, what does the Bible have to say about all this? Plenty.
There are some key concepts that the Bible conveys that help us understand who God is and His relationship with man.
God is Love
Concept number one is that God is love. Not just that God is a lover -- God is the embodiment of love.
You may respond, then what was all that death and judgment stuff in the Old Testament? Good question. Another word that could be used for "old" is "former", referring to the covenant that was made with God's people, the Jews. This was a covenant of law, specifically designed to show all of mankind that we are, in fact, sinners. Because the wages of sin is death, mankind is under judgment and desperately needs a Savior.
The whole point of the "old" covenant is that we need a Savior, thus the need for a "new" covenant (not that the old is done away with, but it is, instead, fulfilled in Jesus Christ).
The Jewish prophet Jeremiah declared that God intended to make a "new" covenant with His people (Jeremiah 31:31). That is why the Christian Bible has an "Old" Testament and a "New" Testament. The people in the "Old" Testament were under the penalty of their sins, and there was no Savior to stand in the gap for them. Thus the judgment that automatically comes upon sin came upon them. Under the "New" Covenant, all of our sin has been paid for by Jesus on the cross -- and if we receive His free gift by faith we escape this judgment.
Angels are Holy
The second point is to see that angels are God's holy messengers. Key word here: "Holy". Angels don't possess people, demons do that. Angels are not vile and vulgar, demons are. Angels don't disobey God -- that is what Lucifer and the fallen angels did, and they were cast out of heaven and down to earth as a result. (See Is. 14:12, Ezekiel 28:1-19, Luke 10:18 and Revelation 12:7-10)
God is Good, All the Time
The third point is that Scripture also tells us that God is a good God. The message of the recent Denzel Washington movie, The Book of Eli, is in stark contrast to the message of Legion. In "Eli", God loves man despite our flaws, and he sends "Eli" to protect His Word so that it can be preserved for all people, everywhere, for all time. At one point the bad guys says sarcastically, "God is good," and Eli quickly answers, "all the time."
Scripture makes it clear that God does not have any pleasure in the destruction of sinners.
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9, NIV)
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:4-5, NKJV)
For God So Loved the World
The fourth and the most important thing to recognize is that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for mankind to pay the price for our sins so that we would not be separated from Him any longer. Two of the most famous verses of Scripture make this point very clearly:
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17, NKJV)
The Bible makes it clear that when Jesus went to the cross, all of God's wrath for the sins of man was placed on Him, once and for all.
In other words, God's not mad any more.
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thes. 5:9, NIV)
The Penalty of Sin
But that does not mean that since Jesus died for the sins mankind some will not face the wrath of God.
This leads to the fifth point, that while God is good, and He sent Jesus to die for the sins of mankind, if you do not receive Christ as your Savior you are still under the penalty of sin -- and thus subject to the consequences of that sin. The Apostle Paul dealt with the question of sin and God's wrath in the book of Romans:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 NLT)
If you have not entered into the New Covenant by faith in the Jesus Christ, you are still facing judgment for your sins. The good news is that Jesus paid the price for your sin, and all you have to do to receive that free gift is to surrender to Jesus and make Him the Lord of your life.
Are You Ready for the Day of God's Wrath?
Having said that, for all who do not receive this gift of eternal life, the wrath of God is a genuine and present reality. And there is coming a final day of judgment at the culmination of all things.
So, yes, Virginia, there is an apocalypse.
Paul writes of this contrast between the goodness of God, leading to repentance, and the wrath of God that will inevitably judge sin.
Are you, perhaps, misinterpreting God's generosity and patient mercy towards you as weakness on his part? Don't you realize that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Or are you by your obstinate refusal to repent simply storing up for yourself an experience of the wrath of God in the day of his anger when he shows his hand in righteous judgment? (Rom. 2:4-5, Phillips Translation)
The New Testament calls it a day of “wrath,” a day of “visitation,” and the “great day of God Almighty”:
1 Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. 2 Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. (2 Thes. 2:2, NLT)
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. (1 Thes. 4:16a, NLT)
The good news is that the wrath to come at the end of days will be a relatively short amount of time. The Bible does say that they will be days of tribulation (see CBN.com's special End Times feature for more on this). But it is not the century of God's wrath, or even the year of God's wrath. Mercifully it is only the day of God's wrath. If you are one of His children through faith in Jesus Christ He will watch over you and give you His peace in this great and terrible time.
Legion, For We Are Many
In the Bible, the name "Legion" refers to the horde of demons possessing the Gerasene demoniac:
9And He [Jesus] was asking him, "What is your name?" And he said to Him, "My name is Legion; for we are many." (Mark 5:9, NASB)
Jesus promptly commands the demons to leave this crazed man, and as soon as they do he is restored to sanity. For you see, unlike the "angels" in the movie, real demons are evil, and they are subject to the authority of Jesus Christ.
This movie is full of biblical fallacies and twisting of Scripture, something Satan has done from the time of Adam and Eve. Satan tried to twist Scripture with Jesus in the desert temptation, but Jesus would have none of it, fighting the devil off with what Ephesians 6:17 calls the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.
The danger in this movie, and in Satan's temptation and trickery, is that we find ourselves rooting for the angel that is in rebellion against God. Later in the movie, that angel is restored, as if he convinced God that he was wrong in his anger and that Michael was right in his rebellion. Michael says to Gabriel, "You gave him what he asked for. I gave him what he needed." This is blasphemous -- and it is ridiculous if you know anything about what the Bible reveals of the nature of God and His angels.
We must remember, God is good, and loving, and holy, and all-powerful. Angels, demons and mankind are created beings -- and we are subject to His sovereignty.
In other words, Satan is God's devil. There is coming a day when evil will come to an end and Satan and his demons will be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity. Oh, and it won't be God who will bind Satan -- it will be a single nameless, holy angel, carrying out the bidding of a holy God.
1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit[a] and a heavy chain in his hand. 2 He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him… (Rev. 20:1-2a, NKJV)
10 Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur … forever and ever. (Rev. 20:10, NKJV)
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von Buseck is Ministries Director for CBN.com. Send him an e-mail with your comments. You can order Craig's book, Seven Keys to Hearing God's Voice, on Shop CBN.
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