The Bible: Homeland / Kingdom

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Reviewed by Sam Robinson

Airing Tuesdays 9:30pm on the Nine Network. Rated M.

Have you managed to strike up conversation around The Bible yet?

The series continued last Tuesday on Nine with two episodes spanning from Joshua taking on the leadership of Israel, to the birth of Solomon.

It was interesting to see that the promo line had changed from ‘bloodier than Game of Thrones’ to ‘the greatest love story of all time’ – which is, as it turns out, Samson and Delilah. But there was still plenty of violence.

Again, each episode packed so much into an hour. And much detail was lost along the way.

And just like the previous week each episode focused on a central character. For Homeland it was Samson. For Kingdom it was David.

Homeland

The first episode, Homeland, could easily have been titled 20% Joshua / 80% Samson.

I had just been at a Bible study looking at Joshua 2 and it was great to see the spies and Rahab portrayed in visual form, albeit with creative license. The show picked up on Rahab’s new allegiance to the God of Israel but not so much on her faith (which we see fleshed out in the books of Hebrews and James).

We see the Israelites swiftly take down Jericho and cry ‘IS-RA-EL! IS-RA-EL!’ with pumped fists. It seems the producers were attempting to mirror patriotic Americans chanting ‘U-S-A!’

But that’s all we saw of Joshua – before cutting to an ad break and, hello Judges! I guess divvying up land doesn’t make for brilliant television.

Samson appears with dreadlocks – a pretty cool idea. He tells us what things are like in this pre-kings period – ‘everyone must do what he thinks is right’. Yep, Israel is pretty all over the shop in this time, which is a good reflection of the book of Judges.

Samson goes mad with the donkey jawbone – perhaps one of the most powerful scenes of the episode – and he falls for Delilah. We finally meet Samuel and hear how rubbish his sons are (as do they… awkward) and, of him, a king is requested.

Kingdom

Kingdom begins with manic Saul. As viewers we’re made to feel really uneasy with this king, as we witness all that Samuel warned would happen with an earthly king start to unfold.

But before long we meet David. Bearing a sheepskin cape, he is the one who we’re really keen to see on our screens. Samuel anoints him and states ‘You will be king once Saul dies’. It’s a bit of clunky dialogue that does spell out the story but sort of feels like: ‘You will be king… terms and conditions apply’.

David takes down Goliath, cuts off his head, and makes Saul awfully jealous, and crazy to the point of putting his own sword through his chest.

The terms and conditions come into play and it appears that Israel now have the king they wanted.

Oh, hang on…

Enter Bathsheba. David commits adultery with her and arranges Uriah’s death. Nathan tells David that his sin has great consequences, and the episode closes with the birth of Solomon.

The Bible And … The Bible!

While Homeland and Kingdom weren’t quite as engaging or enjoyable as Beginnings or Exodus, they kept fairly loyal to the overall Biblical story. I’m not sure if there was that much need to spend so long on Samson, but I figure his story is well-known enough to draw in an audience.

The first two episodes of The Bible were focused on God’s promises and these episodes seem to explore the effects of the spread of sin. Israel is just quite happy doing their own thing and living their own way.

1 Samuel 8:4-5 –

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and went to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him “Look, you are old, and your sons do not follow your example. Therefore, appoint a king to judge us the same as all the other nations have.”

The people of Israel didn’t realise that their God was more powerful and perfect than any earthly ruler.

They wanted a king. And they got Saul. Then David.

While these kings are different in the way they followed God, both are corrupted by sin. Sin is such a big problem that not even God’s anointed kings can live up to God’s standard!

I couldn’t help but feel heavy tension as these episodes finished. There is sin everywhere and still no solution. Who will come and deal with sin once for all?

The Bible has copped a bit of flak on social media. But it’s a great way to start discussion and get people thinking.

Why not take time to talk to people during the week? Have they seen it? What did they think? Do they recognise that the God of Israel still reigns supreme?

I’ve been really encouraged to see students from my campus get together to watch it each Tuesday night and invite their friends along.

Next episode we’ll meet Solomon as king and encounter the exile.Then we’ll see Jesus enter into the story in the flesh – fulfilling God’s promises and taking away the sin of the world.

Now is the time to make plans with your mates!

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