Smeagol is Free!
A hermitudinal view of...stuff...



When Israel heard the fiery law,
From Sinai’s top proclaimed;
Their hearts seemed full of holy awe,
Their stubborn spirits tamed.
Yet, as forgetting all they knew,
Ere forty days were past;
With blazing Sinai still in view,
A molten calf they cast.
Yea, Aaron, God’s anointed priest,
Who on the mount had been
He durst prepare the idol–beast,
And lead them on to sin.
LORD, what is man! and what are we,
To recompense Thee thus!
In their offence our own we see,
Their story points at us.
From Sinai we have heard Thee speak,
And from mount Calv’ry too;
And yet to idols oft we seek,
While Thou art in our view.
Some golden calf, or golden dream,
Some fancied creature–good,
Presumes to share the heart with him,
Who bought the whole with blood.
LORD, save us from our golden calves,
Our sin with grief we own;
We would no more be Thine by halves,
But live to Thee alone.

Written by John Newton for the congregation at Olney, these words, with comforting warmth, illuminate the true heart of the Christian. Newton reminds me that my weakness is no surprise to the God of Israel, that others before me have done just as I, casting an idol within my heart while my eyes are still full of the glory of the LORD. Can anything be more frustrating, more devastating? The manifestation of God's awesome and holy glory at Sinai could not have stood in greater contrast than with the immediacy and magnitude of Israel's sin, save than the meeting of the two at Calvary.

The heart of the Christian cries out for salvation. Israel, in melting down their gold and worshiping an idol, sought to create salvation for themselves, sought satisfaction in worshiping something they themselves had made. They forgot the promises of Sinai with its glory still in sight. No new husband ought ever to have to deal with his bride's unfaithfulness on their honeymoon, yet this is how fresh and dark is the stain of Israel's sin! They knew the shaking of the mountain, they knew the brilliance of the mountaintop. Their sin is as unfathomable as it is abominable.

Or is it?

The sin of Israel is indeed abominable, and more than we can fathom. Yet fathom their sin we can, for their sin is as ours: irrational, grievous, damaging, shameful. It takes virtually no imagination at all for the seasoned believer to place themselves near the golden calf, near the manifest object of their shame.

That said, what is difficult to recall is that while we can place ourselves at the scene of our shame, we also are there where our shame became Christ's shame: the cross of Calvary. God unashamedly glorifies Himself by pouring out His wrath upon His Son, there declaring sinners to be free of all our guilt and shame, that which was placed upon the glorious Son. What does this mean? Though we ourselves feel the half-hearted reality of life lived this side of heaven, the constant tug of temptation even with our gazes fixed upon Christ, the LORD sees us not at all half-heartedly, for He sees us with the full righteousness of His Son, the full rights of adopted heirs, the full liberty of those who bear His Spirit.

Do you, dear Christian, feel as though you belong to Him by halves? He does not, for He would have you be fully His; the cross has made it so.

posted by Bolo | 12:23 PM
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