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Alternate Endings

onenightwiththeking.jpgEsther 4:14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Alternate endings - What’s Hot - alternate endings are favorite of DVD fans.

If you didn’t like the ending of a movie you just saw, just wait a few months to find the closure you’re looking for on DVD. Alternate endings have become a favorite of DVD fans, and the studios are making them a standard part of bonus footage.

As of 2002, companies like Paramount Home Entertainment are altering the original ending of films that were dumped after a poor screening. “When they tested the film with the ending that was originally in the script, the audience just hated it, so they shot a new one,” said Paramount spokesman Martin Blythe.

“So the DVD will include the ending that films were supposed to have.” Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment pushed the envelope in March when it released a thriller on DVD with four alternate endings. Not satisfied to tack on a new closing scene to wrap things up, Fox included a new ending that’s 29 minutes long.

Alternate endings usually are reserved for thrillers with surprise twists, but now they’re showing up in just about every genre. A recent poll conducted by Blockbuster Entertainment showed even classic films could use a new closing scene. When asked which film they’d like to see with a new ending, 59% of respondents chose “Casablanca.” COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

Alternate or alternative endings have fascinated people for centuries.

What if…the hero would have died? Or, lived?
What if the guy and the girl at the end of the story had gotten married? Or, not?
Or married the other person?

Endless scenarios have been spun to speculate on the outcome if one or two events had been changed. Any change in the plot would affect the entire outcome of the story.

  • In the “Tale of Two Cities,” what if Sydney Carton would have escaped his executioner at the end of the story and married Lucie Manette?
  • In “Gone with the Wind,” what if Scarlett O’Hara would have married Rhett Butler?
  • What if Sam-I-Am would have eaten green eggs and ham the very first time he was asked? Either there wouldn’t have been much of a story or else he might have gotten sick and died over eating green eggs!

But all these are fictional characters. All of us wish for alternate endings for real life characters.

People from my generation remember a star baseball player named Denny McClain. McClain was the last major league pitcher to win over thirty games. He went 31-5 for the Detroit Tigers in 1968, the year that the Tigers won the American League pennant and the World Series. He was twenty-four years old.

Sometime during his wildly successful career, he started gambling and got mixed up with the world of crime. His pro career spun out of control. At twenty-eight, he pitched his last professional game. In the years since then, he has been in and out of prison, and ended up losing almost everything he had.

Anybody remember an Ohio State football star named Maurice Clarett?

“Clarett starred at Ohio State for one season, rushing for 1,237 yards (a school record for a freshman) and scoring 18 touchdowns, which helped the Buckeyes to a 14-0 record and the 2002 BCS National Championship. He scored the winning touchdown against the University of Miami with a five-yard run in the second overtime in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl (played January 3, 2003). Clarett was the first freshman to be the leading rusher on a national championship team since Herschel Walker of the University of Georgia in 1980.”

Today, this same Maurice Clarett who sat atop the world of college and professional football, and could be an NFL sensation in the current season, is incarcerated for a host of minor offenses like concealed carrying, resisting arrest and so on. Rumor has it that he is serving his time at CCNO.

In the Bible, we can engage in similar guesswork about people and happenings.

  • What if Abraham had actually slain Isaac on the altar?
  • What if Esau had not sold his birthrite?
  • What if Isaac had refused to be fooled by Jacob’s deceit?
  • What if Joseph’s brothers had not sold him into slavery?
  • What if Samson had not told Delilah the secret of his strength?
  • What if Goliath would have killed David?
  • What if…? What if? It intrigues us all, even though it seems to be a pointless exercise.

In fact, the Bible itself engages in some alternate endings.

Queen Esther: During the time when Israel was held in captivity by the Medo-Persian empire, a man named Haman plotted to massacre all the Jews. Mordecai, a servant to the king, heard about Haman’s plans. He went to his niece, Esther, the Queen, to put a stop to it. Esther was a Jewish woman, but she had hidden her race from the king.

Mordecai told Esther what she had to do. She had to go in before the king, without an official invitation, and plead the cause of her people. But her bold move might very well end in her death. She had to make a life or death decision.

Esther had an opportunity to take a completely different route than the one she chose. She could have refused to intervene on the part of the Jews and saved her life.

Esther 4:13-14 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. 14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this.

The fact is that if Esther had not stepped forward to go to the king, God would have found another way to deliver Israel.

We might speculate on who God would use or how he would bring it about, but the bedrock truth is that God would have delivered Israel by some means, regardless of the strategy.

Solomon wrote, “To everything there is a season; and a time to every purpose under heaven. Therefore withhold not good from them to whom it is due when it is in the power of thy hand to do it.”

“There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows, and in miseries.

SHAKESPEARE (from Adam Clarke’s Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

There are some things that we cannot speculate upon.

We cannot speculate on the vast redemption story of the Lamb which taketh away the sins of the world. The force of Bible prophecy held Jesus in its foreordained grip to bring about the only plan of salvation possible for mankind.

We cannot say, What if Jesus had refused to drink the cup?
We cannot say, What if Pilate would have refused to turn Jesus over to the Jews?
We cannot say, What if Judas had not sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver?
We cannot say, What if Jesus had died before he went to the cross?

All of these details of the passion and crucifixion of Jesus Christ were set in Bible prophecy before there was ever a Mary or Joseph or a Bethlehem or a star.

The moment Adam and Eve sinned against God, the power of the Logos came into force.
Understand that the heart of God was utterly devoid of mercy for the fallen angels.

2 Peter 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

But God loved man. There was always a plan for man’s redemption. Nothing stopped it. Nothing can stop it. Nothing will stop it.

Paul considers an alternate ending when writing about the resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:13 “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

But Paul assures the Corinthians that there is no alternate ending.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”

There is no alternate ending to the existence and the ultimate triumph of the church.

God will have a church.

Matthew 16:18 “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Eph 5:25-27 Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

The church is foreordained to succeed. The clincher is found in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 5:9-12 “ And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”

There are alternate endings, however, that you and I need to consider in our lives.

Why? Because each of us needs to know that the decisions an individual makes concerning his or her soul and relationship to God are not set in stone.

The church may be predestined to succeed, but you are not. Your salvation, and mine, are predicated upon our relationship to the church!

The rich, young ruler.

Matthew 19:16-22 “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” KJV

This rich, young ruler could have had an alternate ending.
Let’s freeze frame the moment when this young man heard the saying of Jesus.
We could remove that ending and leave it on the cutting room floor.
Let’s have him say something entirely different. Something like…

“Rabbi, you are right. I have become obsessed with my riches and vast holdings. My possessions possess me instead of the other way around. I don’t want to be a prisoner to things any longer. I want to be set free.”

But, he walked away sorrowful. He walked away from peace, joy and fulfillment. He walked away from an eternity with God.

The man given one talent. He could have had an alternate ending.

The man called Judas. He could have had an alternate ending.

Acts 1:16-20 “ Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. 17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. 18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. 20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.”

There are those of you here today who were looking at a very different ending than the one you wanted.

Jack Leazier. The doctors had his story all written out.  He was going to die.  But God rewrote the ending.
Clarence Condon. The doctors were in disarray and had written a depressing ending.  But God said, “I don’t like the way your story ends. I’ve got a better idea!”
Tom Whitmore. Headed for a tragic ending of drug addiction, crime, prison, death. But God said, “I’m tearing up that ending and writing one that will bring glory to me!”

What about you?

How is your story line progressing?
Do you think it is set in stone? Does the ending seem inevitable?
You don’t have to end up in jail, the divorce courts, a wilderness of rejection and fear. You don’t have to die lonely, racked with emotional pain and shattered dreams.
God has an alternate ending written for every person, according to his will.

1 Cor 6:9-12

9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

But God will do nothing against your will. You are not a fictional character that he can cross out and forget about. You have to be a willing participant in the story change.

Acts 2:38

Repentance: “I don’t like the way my story is going to end. I want to change.”
Baptism: “I need to have my past re-written to take away all my sins.”
Holy Ghost: “I need God’s power in my life to keep me going the right way.”

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