Marvel’s “Moon Knight” adaptation for the Disney+ streaming service is one of its most creative efforts yet for the small screen. Based on one of the Marvel catalogue’s more obscure characters (first appearing in 1975, with his own titled book in 1980), “Moon Knight” follows (SPOILER ALERT) the dizzying, reality-confused quest of Steven Grant, a British man who turns out to actually be Marc Spector, an American mercenary whose life was saved by the lesser-known (and lesser-revered) Egyptian moon good, Khonshu. In exchange for saving his life (his body suffering from a gunshot wound while laying in the deity’s lost temple), the bird-skulled Khonshu requires Spector to serve as his earthly avatar, a human host who can serve as the god’s “fist of vengeance” in a world of evil-doing.
But more fascinating than the origin story of this night-dwelling knight is how the show tackles the topic of supernatural or divine justice. In fact, the central conflict of the show focuses on two, competing views of divine justice/judgment: first, the justice that Khonshu hands out is familiar: it is for wrongs already committed. Second, in contrast, another Egyptian deity, the crocodile-headed goddess Ammit, seeks to prevent more human evil by pre-judging humanity based on the quality of their hearts, rather than choices already made. Disturbingly, her plan includes killing children as well, children whose hearts don’t pass her otherworldly appraisal.
Clearly, given the fantastical elements of a show like “Moon Knight”, many could write off this theme of supernatural judgment as irrelevant in the modern world. And yet most people, even today, carry with them a longing for ultimate justice in a world where not every injustice is answered, and sadly, where even justice that’s actually dispensed is too often lacking. In light of this longing, a show like “Moon Knight” is helpful in that it can drive us back to what the one true God has in fact revealed about divine justice.
Unlike the gods of ancient Egypt, gods long relegated to the ash heap of history, the God of ancient Israel (a people once famously enslaved by the Egyptians) continues to transform lives today through the Christian message of love and new life. And his voice is not trapped in the dusty tombs of Egypt or the dusty tomes of academic bookshelves. His voice continues to be heard powerfully in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures of the Bible. Here’s what they reveal about divine judgment:
Like the fictional goddess Ammit, the true God condemns the human heart as corrupt and promises a judgment-purged world to come. The God who created all people has also revealed that all people are inwardly, spiritually “dead in the trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) that characterize our fallen state, for the “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) This same God identifies himself as the one who will “search the heart and test the mind” (Jeremiah 17:10; cf. 11:20; 20:12), for “no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13) And what will be the result of God’s judgment against inwardly corrupt people like us? “…The heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly… But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (II Peter 3:7, 13) Of course, this must go hand in hand with the fact that…
Like the fictional god Khonshu, the true God will judge all people, not for potential evil, but for actual wrongs done, whether inwardly or outwardly. Over and over again in Scripture we find the refrain that God will “render to each one according to his works” (Romans 2:6; cf. Psalm 62:12; Jeremiah 17:10; Ezekiel 18:30; Matthew 16:27; II Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12; 22:12). While wrongdoing is often outward and visible (e.g., lying, murder, adultery, slander, etc.), the Bible also describes wrongs (or sins) committed inwardly (like lust (Matthew 5:27-28) or coveting (Exodus 20:17)). To be clear, men and women are not judged for temptations they experience, but for how they respond to those temptations; again, whether inwardly or outwardly. For example, instead of choosing to physically injure someone who is unkind to you, you may choose to despise them and subsequently feed that anger. But God identifies both choices (violence or hatred) as wrong, and both will be judged according to divine justice (Matthew 5:21-26).
It’s extremely important to note that unlike Ammit’s judgment in the “Moon Knight” series (first meted out through her avatar Arthur Harrow), no person could ever pass God’s test; no person will stand before the supernatural justice of the true God based on his or her own merits, “for no one living is righteous before you.” (Psalm 143:2) Indeed, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). As King Solomon asked 3000 years ago, “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin’?” (Proverbs 20:9). But even though we choose to live me-centered lives in a God-centered universe, God graciously offers us good news in light of our desperate condition. Wonderfully, He has provided us with a hero far better than Moon Knight. While the gods of Egypt (like so many other ancient gods) were depicted as petty, greedy, conniving, and selfish, the true God revealed in Scripture is a God of self-giving love. Yes, one day this God of justice will bring His vengeance (Romans 12:19). One day he will bring ultimate justice through the hero Jesus (Acts 17:30-31). But as Jesus, God’s own Son, himself declared, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)
Supernatural or divine judgment is not merely a fictional plot device. It is a coming reality. This fact should sober each of us, and drive us to the grace that this same God has revealed in Jesus Christ. For this God of judgment is also a God who rescues in love anyone who will come to him in faith, acknowledging their judgment-deserving wrongs and trusting in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Hero of heroes who, on the cross, bore divine judgment in our place (I Peter 2:24). Be encouraged. Even the greatest comic book rescue cannot compare to the real and eternal redemption Christ offers you… night AND day.
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