Before You See Exodus, You Need to Know These 3 Things

{By Lana Jackson}

Ridley Scott’s Exodus is an exhilarating and ambitious re-telling of the classic biblical narrative.

Note: This is a framework for how to think about Exodus or movies like it. If you’re looking for a more detailed review, I highly recommend Al Mohler’s review of the film.

The film does an incredible job of depicting the ten plagues, which were definitely hard to watch. The movie also gave an honest appraisal of the difficulty in exercising faith and trusting what you don’t see and what you can’t always understand about God’s will. Christian Bale’s Moses does not make it look easy in this film, and rightly so because FAITH IS HARD. Moreover, this film helps us as Christians to really visualize and emotionally comprehend what 400 years of slavery might’ve looked like for the Israelites.

christian review of exodus gods and kings

But anyway here are three things to consider when you watch Exodus.

1: Let’s talk about it!

Yes, there are some narrative flaws in the movie. But inconsistencies within the story provide opportunity for discussion in mixed company about what the Bible actually says in Exodus. As hard as it may be to watch an inaccurate view of scripture play out in front of us, first let’s remember that the writers are not Christ-followers. So, we can’t expect this story to complete the way it should. We need to lovingly accept this and not expect non-Christians to get it right—it will never happen.

This is because these writers are looking at the biblical account of the Exodus through the mechanics of storytelling and their own understandings (or lack thereof) of God or religion—they are not looking at scripture through the lens of the Holy Spirit like we do. When asked in an interview if he could elaborate on the challenges of engaging in Christian subject matter as an atheist, the film’s director Ridley Scott, had this to say:

“I simply don’t believe in this stuff . . . I had to convince myself every step of the way as to what did make sense and what didn’t make sense and where I could reject and accept. And therefore I had to come to my own decisions and internal debates.”

“So I have to part the [Red] Sea and I’m not going to part the [Red] Sea because I don’t believe it . . . So I was immediately thinking that all science-based elements placed come from natural order or disorder–or could come from the hand of God, however you want to play that.”

-Ridley Scott

Here we can see that the director’s own worldview affects his inability to believe. This helps us to understand why almost every plague depicted in the movie was given a natural explanation in the film. Ridley Scott is a naturalist—many people in our society are and they explain supernatural phenomenon away with nature and scientific facts, even when no scientific evidence is present. If, for example, you take a friend who holds a similar view of the world this might be a good connection point for conversation.

Because you can’t approach people with the Gospel if you don’t understand why they believe or don’t believe what they do. This is hard for all of us because sharing our faith isn’t one dimensional. Sometimes, you have to dig to know where to enter into the Story with people, to see where they struggle with God. And we have to be vulnerable enough to let people know that we understand their struggle. And the struggle is real . . .

You see, Ridley Scott’s younger brother Tony, to whom the film is dedicated, committed suicide in 2012 by jumping off a bridge in CA. According to onlookers he didn’t even hesitate . . . he just jumped. None of us can comprehend Scott’s loss. But what we can comprehend is that no matter how antagonistic a person may be towards the Gospel they still need it. Consider it. Do your research. Speak up.

2: Get excited about completing the gaps in stories with Scripture

When we find gaps in these kinds of movies we should be excited about the opportunity we have to fill them with Gospel-centered truth. Plus, Christians have the mind of Christ and so we have the privilege and the capability to go digging for gold in these narratives. 1) What can be re-purposed in a conversation to point someone to the Gospel, 2) What is convicting or can be encouraging for us, and 3) What needs be tossed out as just plain wrong. This is good apologetics practice for us.

Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.

1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (The Message)


3: Be honest with yourself and exercise grace to meet people where they are

We who follow Christ struggle to accurately live out the truths modeled for us in scripture by people like Moses, so we can have grace for a screenwriter’s inability to depict Moses accurately. Let’s remember that God’s word is inerrant in all that it says about everything and infallible even in the details of how something is said. Therefore, no movie adaptation of a biblical account is ever going to be that perfect—nothing can ever match up to the divinely-inspired Word of God that we hold dear.

However, the part of the film that I hold dear is the very last scene. The last scene shows a smiling, gray-haired Moses and thousands of Israelites walking on foot towards Canaan, carrying what appears to be the Ark of the Covenant. This is a beautiful picture of the Church. It makes you think: “we kind of look like this.” We are exiles and nomadic people on this earth. We walk faithfully. We walk together. We walk in anticipation of the next adventure, the next trial, the next encounter with God until we reach the Promised Land. The only difference being that he is not dwelling a part from us in a box, but he dwells among us thanks to Christmas.

Exodus: Gods and Kings is in theaters now. Watch to Discern.

What are your thoughts on Exodus: Gods & Kings? Comment below!