Ok, if I’m honest, I would tell you not to waste your money on this one…it just wasn’t all that good. BUT—if you do see it, or know anyone who does, like any movie that has Greek (or Roman or Egyptian…) gods in it, there is actually plenty of opportunity to have some great discussions about the nature of God and his relationship to man. Honestly, I didn’t have to see this movie to know some of the themes, but having seen it, I can offer specifics that relate to this particular movie, which I guess makes me more informed, but doesn’t change the conversation much. So, whether you have seen it or not, let’s chat about some of the big ideas that any movie dealing with ancient gods will naturally bring up.
The nature of the gods vs. the nature of God.
In ancient mythology, the gods are essentially humans with greater power. This means: they are selfish, they make mistakes, they have daddy issues, they get jealous, they take revenge, they are often elitists and snobs, and they have the potential to grow and change. Like humans, some are better than others. The problem is, they have a lot more power than humans, so they can do a lot more harm. When power is given to someone kind, loving and benevolent, it’s a good thing. But when that power is given to someone selfish, jealous, evil…it’s a bad thing. In ancient mythology, though some are better than others, none are truly good. We see this in Gods of Egypt. The gods are generally good and kind, one is evil, and another is selfish but becomes a better god throughout the story.
The thing is, we are just talking about super-humans or meta-humans here—beings who are bigger and more powerful and lived longer than the average human—but we aren’t talking about God. God is different than man. Man is made in His image; He is not made in man’s. He is all good. All knowing. He has no beginning or end. He is all powerful. He is also unchanging. He does not grow or mature. He is never jealous. He is never in competition with any other being.
God’s relationship with man.
Because the ancient mythological gods were essentially suped-up humans, they related to man the way any privileged, elitist type group might relate to the plebes beneath them. Some were compassionate and kind, but for the most part, it was a patronizing kind of kindness at best. They were not friends. There was not a genuine self-sacrificing kind of love for mankind. That was at the best. Often, the gods were indifferent or even hateful towards man, using him as pawns towards their own ends. The gods didn’t use their power to serve man, but rather used man to serve their power. Certainly, this is not how the Christian God is portrayed in the Bible. God so loved mankind that He sent his son, Jesus, to die for them, to save them from their sins. He is never patronizing, always loving.
In Gods of Egypt, while the gods were in no way loving like GOD is, the main characters actually struggle with trusting in the gods in a very realistic way. Zaya believes in the gods, especially in Horace, the heir. Her boyfriend, Bek, does not. She believes they are her only hope. She believes they can be trusted. She believes the gods care about them. She believes they supply everything man needs… and she is constantly encouraging Bek to trust in them. Her faith is beautiful, but it’s easy to understand Bek’s skepticism. The thing is, her faith was more like the faith we might have that the next president might turn out to be a good thing for our nation. Our faith in God is different. We aren’t hoping that a temperamental, selfish being might turn out to be wise and self-less in the end and use his power for good. We are trusting in a perfect, all-powerful God. Our trust is in His nature and in His promises.
When Set took over power of the universe, he told mankind: “My brother thought the afterlife was a gift. I think we should have higher standards. From now on, you have to earn your way in.” This is how most people think the afterlife works—you have to earn your way, either with money (in this case) or with good deeds. This is not what the Bible says. God says no one is good enough to earn their way into salvation, so Jesus made a way for us—it’s a gift. As John 3:16 puts it, “For God so loved the world that He sent His only, begotten Son, that whoever should believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.”
This, to me, was the gem of the movie. Set and his father are fighting. Set finally reveals why he is so bitter and angry: “I was cursed to be walk in the hot sands of the desert alone, while my brother walked barefoot by the Nile.” He was jealous of his brother. His brother had a wife and children. He had a cushy life in a beautiful place. He was honored, respected adored, and he was a ruler. Set, however, had never been able to have children (which he knew was a result of his father’s will). And, his father had placed him in the hot desert. He was lonely. Life was hard. He felt he’d been cursed and his brother blessed and he was angry at god…his dad.
As they argued, his dad gave a different perspective. “I spared you children, a gift, so you wouldn’t miss them, because I want you to take my place….a burden and an honor.” Not having children wasn’t a curse, it was a gift. Living alone in the desert, again, a gift, not a curse. Everything was preparation and training for the honor and responsibility he had hoped to give to his son…to take HIS place. An even higher honor than the one given to his brother. He had been seeing things all wrong. Unfortunately, by the time he learned the truth, he’d been eaten up with jealousy, killed his brother and a lot of other gods…things he couldn’t take back. The problem with Set is that he never understood his dad’s heart towards him, or his plan for his life.
This is us with God, so much of the time. Rather than trust that God loves us, the moment something bad happens we blame Him, get bitter, and assume we know why He’s doing what He’s doing. We have no sense of the long-term perspective God has. We don’t realize that often the hardships He allows are simply to prepare us for greater honor and usefulness in the future. If we don’t understand God’s heart towards us, His great love for us, or his plan for our lives, then we don’t know how to interpret the hard things that happen in our lives.
Anytime you watch a movie with mythological gods, be reminded of how different the triune God of the Bible is from the gods much of the world has believed in….and be SO grateful!
Questions for Discussion:
- What is the nature of the gods in ancient mythology? How would you describe them? In what ways do they differ from the God of the Bible?
- How does the nature of God affect the kind of relationship He has with man?
- What kind of relationship do you have with God? How would you describe it? What kind of relationship with God does the Bible say you can have? Would that be better or worse than what you have with God right now?
- Do you feel like you have to earn your way into Heaven in any way? Why do you think God would let you into Heaven? What does the Bible say you need to do to get into Heaven? (See John 3:16)
- Have you ever been mad at God? Why? When life seems unfair, how do you feel? Set blamed his dad without understanding his dad’s plan or his heart—and it hurt him. Have you ever done that with anyone, or with God? Assumed you understood something, and then found out you were wrong, and you judged them unfairly?