I recently watched the third part of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
At the end of the movie the Eagles show up and decimate the Uruk forces. In the same way the Eagles show up at the end of the Lord of Rings to save the day.I have always thought “Why didn’t they just show up earlier and save everyone a lot of pain and suffering?” Or “Why didn’t Frodo and Sam just ride them to Mount Doom in the first place?”
Aside from trying to find plot holes in movies, we tend to have this type of thinking in our own lives. Why doesn’t God make this a little easier?
In similar thinking, after the last supper in the garden of Gethsemane, the disciples understandably try to save Jesus from the trouble of being captured and arrested. Who wouldn’t try to rescue Jesus from pain and torture? Jesus responds to them with more understanding of the situation.
Mathew 26 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
This verse always makes my the hair on the back of my neck stand up. In this statement is such a display of restrained power.
Jesus is saying look guys I am God, I can easily get out of this situation, but this situation is important to the biblical narrative. This is a pivotal moment in history that cannot simply be circumvented. Jesus came not to simply show us a way out of problems but for us to encounter God himself. This is a process, a journey. Encountering God is not something that can be rushed. It is not something that can simply be added to what we are doing at the moment. It is a process.
Developing a relationship with God takes time. This is one reason why we are all not immediately carried away to be with God the moment of conversion. This is also why deliverance doesn’t always immediately arrive. Of course God could do something in this situation but he must have another plan in mind. Yielding to and waiting for his plan and not our own is one of the hardest parts of faith in God
The solution may seem obvious to us but we do not have all the information. We think we can see the end result and we wonder why we can’t just go over to it now. It is like a solider trying to win a war by acting unilaterally. Soldiers are trained for battle and they act at the commands of officers. The commanding officers have the information and tell the soldiers where to go and what to accomplish next. The soldiers do not always see the big picture but have to deal with what is commanded of them.
With human nature we would naturally want to take the path of least resistance. We want the reward as quickly as possible. We want the pain ended as soon as possible. But stories are not told in this way or else there would be little to read. Without a little adversity characters would not develop and grow. There would be no inspiration for the reader. No story to retell down through the ages. There wouldn’t be anything to teach with the story or learn from the narrative or even reason to retell the experience. People do not remember the routine and mundane.
God may have a relationship in mind that he is developing with me. God may have a journey planned that I need taking. The problem is it may not look like what we would like, or may take longer than we were hoping it would take.
Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint
Maybe Tolkien had this verse in mind when writing about the eagles. Waiting on the Lord happens while we are on the path. It is as we walk, that the help comes so we won’t grow faint. It is after we are already running that the strength is given to not become weary. Waiting is not idling. The eagles are a reward for our faithfulness it seems, not a way to get around problems.
So…plot hole, or plot device? As much as we may want it, if in the beginning the Eagles always showed up to make life easier, we would learn very little. It wood also make a crap movie.