While watching Disney’s latest version of Beauty and the Beast, a question came into my mind. Are you a beauty or a beast?
Prince Adam was surrounded by all things beautiful. Yet there was no room in his heart for love. Because it was filled with vanity, selfishness and unkindness. Whenever he threw a ball he never invited the nearby villagers. He only invited those he considered to be the beautiful people.
It was during one of these balls that a haggard old lady entered in uninvited. Because she wasn’t beautiful in his eyes, he refused her simple gift of a single rose not once, but twice. Then scoffed at her. She warned the prince not to judge things by the way they looked—but he didn’t get the hint. The word of God teaches us “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” (Hebrews 13:2 NIV)
When the enchantress revealed her true self Prince Adam begged forgiveness, but it was too late. She changed him into a hideous Beast, and his only salvation rested in someone loving him past what they saw, before the last petal on the forsaken rose died; sealing his doom. With this curse, for some years he and his kingdom were soon forgotten—buried beneath the snow.
Reminds me of the story of King Nebuchadnezzar, who in his vanity and boasting, proclaimed he’d built Babylon in his own power for his own glory…
Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.” Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. (Daniel 4:30-33 NIV)
Like Prince Adam, King Nebuchadnezzar also had the promise of salvation, but only after seven years. Now hold that thought— because we’ve got to work Belle and the antagonist into this story to have all the parts of the equation.
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint…
Belle, an only child, was raised by her father, Maurice. She loved and honored him dearly. Maurice, an inventor, would take trips to sell his mechanical creations, and upon return from those trips; would always bring Belle a single rose, at her request. Belle would be left alone to spend her time reading, creating inventions and teaching the village children to read. These activities were considered odd and unconventional to the villagers. Especially Gaston, who was nothing short of a narcissist. Gaston had his sights set on Belle, who unlike the other ladies in town, found him repulsive and rude. Belle’s vision saw far beyond the village, into a realm she’d created in her heart and would settle for no less. Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction. (Proverbs 29:18 NIV)
On this particular trip, Maurice got lost and wound up in the Beast’s castle as his prisoner. Because the Beast saw him pick a rose from his garden. The Beast’s heart was so hardened. The smallest things to him were a crime. Like King Nebuchadnezzar, the curse drove the Beast away from people causing him to act more like an animal—forgetting his humanity. When Maurice’s horse returned without him or the wagon, Belle charged on the trail, to find her father, and upon entering the castle, exchanges her life for that of her father’s. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13 NIV) Agreeing with the Beast, that she would stay there for the rest of her life. Thus setting in motion an opportunity for the Beast to find true love.
…because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Through a series of events, Belle and the Beast form a relationship—a surprise to them both. This relationship becomes threatened by Gaston, who plans to put Maurice in an asylum, if Belle doesn’t marry him. When Maurice found his way back to the village, he tried to convince them Gaston tried to kill him, and also of the Beast’s existence. But everyone laughed at him calling him crazy. When Belle and the Beast observe her father’s dilemma, through an enchanted mirror, he lets her go to save him. The Beast letting Belle go was proof he loved her. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (I Peter 4:8 NIV)
Upon her arrival, Belle explains to Gaston and the villagers the Beast exists. Then shows them the Beast in the enchanted mirror. Using fear as the catalyst, Gaston works the villagers into a frenzy and they all head for the castle to destroy the Beast. Who, at this point, is so wrought with losing Belle he doesn’t care what happens. However, the attack backfires, with Gaston falling to his death and the villagers running away. But, before his fall, Gaston shot the beast with a fatal bullet.
When Belle reaches the Beast, she cries in anguish, begging him not to leave her. To which he replied, “At least I got to see you one last time.” As his life extinguishes, she confesses her love for him and the last rose petal falls—all seems dead and lost. The enchantress sees Belle’s love and hears her confession. Compassion causes her to resurrect the fallen rose, thereby resurrecting the Beast and turning him back into a prince. The castle and everything in it was restored. The sun began to shine and the snow melted away. Many lost relationships were found and the villagers were invited to the palace to celebrate the prince and Belle’s happiness.
“At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” (Daniel 4:34, 36-37 NIV)
Are you like the Beast? Whose pride and arrogance almost cost him a kingdom and his life? Or are you like Belle who had the love, compassion and wisdom to see past the external to the heart of the matter thus seeing her vision fulfilled?
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