The Book of Eli


I recently watched The Book of Eli. I don’t want to spoil the story, but it is about a man who has been wondering the world for thirty years following a catastrophe that caused civilization to collapse. Two things that are very scarce in this dystopian future: water and books. And one book in particular was blamed for the fall and purged from the Earth. It was a powerful book, some might have believed it to have magical incantations that could control the minds of an uneducated generation of men who had lost the ability to read. NB: The story was a bit tainted by that fixture of modern cinema, profanity. I guess it was necessary to reflect the vulgarity of a fallen, barbaric culture, but the story would have been just as powerful without it. 

So what was this book? It was a copy of the King James Bible, and I agree, it is the most powerful book in the world. In this story the world was dying of thirst, both spiritual and physical. Men guarded their sources of physical water with all their might. Eli guarded the source of spiritual water with his life.

So the question is begged, what if there were only one copy (or few copies) of the Bible left on Earth? Would we protect it with our lives? Would we memorize it like John, and metaphorically eat the whole book? Would we stand for the Word, even if it mean martyrdom, like Stephen, or would we turn away sorrowfully, like the rich young man?

In real life, as in this movie, the Word of God has survived through great tribulations. We are told in the second book of Kings that there was a time when the people of God had been without His Word and it was found:

8 And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found ithe Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. 9 And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.

11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”

If we were to hear the Word of God for the first time, would we respond like King Josiah or the Ethiopian Eunuch and recognize the power of the Word? Or would we respond like so many of our time and disregard it or outright hate it?

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