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Monday, August 12, 2013

The Fellowship of the King

One King to rule them all, One King to find them, One King to bring them all and in the Light to bind them.

Okay, so maybe it's just a little cheesy ( some might say 'sacrilegious' ) to take Tolkien's inspired words here and use them for this purpose, or is it? Is this not what our Father, in His infinitely glorious Covenant, does and has done?! When Tolkien wrote his masterpiece, I'm sure he had no intention of writing a treatise or thesis on the greatness of God and  the utter futility of the efforts of men to strive against His Master Plan, or did he?! This is pretty much what this awesome piece of literature turned out to be, after all, cleverly disguised as arguably the finest work of fiction the world has ever known! He showed, among other things, that it is most often the case that God uses the smallest, seemingly insignificant ( even foolish ) characters to confound the seeming wisdom of the wise, or the over-powering might of the powerful and the mighty!

This amazing book picks up where The Hobbit left off, though about 60 years later. In the aforementioned volume, Tolkien introduces us to this diminutive, quiet and seemingly shy ( to Big People, anyway ) folk, a folk who had, in recent times especially, become so reticent and seemingly insignificant in the affairs of the Big, Wide World, that most Big People barely take any notice of them. Our first meeting makes us think almost of a silly, fun-loving little people, comical even, but by the time 'The Fellowship of the Ring' rolls of the presses, we are made to understand that, though these Little Folk can be quite comical at times, even silly and almost stupid and bumbling, they are anything but insignificant!

'I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.'
' So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.'

This famous exchange between the wizard Gandalf, who interestingly enough, plays an almost Christ-like role in the Story, and Frodo Baggins, the diminutive, yet toweringly fearsome hero of the Story, is but one of the great quotes in the Book. In fact, these words could almost be said to mirror those of Jeremiah in his prophecy ( Jeremiah 20:9 ). They should bring to mind one of the most comforting passages in the New Testament Scriptures, wherein the apostle Paul comforts his readers in their afflictions, telling them that 'all things work together for good to those who love God' ( Romans 8:28a ). You can almost hear Mordecai's warning to Esther ( Esther 4:14 ) in this conversation between Gandalf and Frodo.

The Law, as given an Mount Sinai through Moses could almost take the place of the Ring in this Story. The Law, as the Ring was favorable to its Bearers as long as they followed its will, or rule. As long as they held it, they were blessed with unnaturally long life, though it was, in the case of Gollum, or Smeagol, a miserable existence ( did Bilbo fare much better? )! Israel, as long as it followed and held the Law given on Sinai, though they led a troublesome existence, were blessed, for the most part, with a long life on and in the Land.

Although Tolkien was avowedly a Christian, and hints of his Christianity can be seen throughout the body of his work, especially his Middle Earth saga, it should be noted as a flawed theology, as is much of Christianity! All of the types and figures that those with keen eyes and sharp minds can see within these pages are imperfect types, much as those that we see in Scripture. Tolkien, Christian that he was, made clear to his fans that this was not to be viewed as Christian literature, and reportedly denied any similarity of his creation to that we read about in Scripture!

As one wends through this first volume all the way through to the final one in this 'trilogy' ( though it is actually six books ), ending with 'The Return of the King', it is notable that though with the return of the King, the defeat of the evil power of the Ring, and an ensuing reign of peace, there are still real dangers in the world, which we read of in the closing chapters of 'The Lord of the Rings' ( 'The Scouring of the Shire' ). Because of the defeat of the power of this Ring and its final destruction, peace flourished throughout Middle Earth, and though there were still factions that threatened to disturb that peace, it could not be done away with as long as the True King sat on the throne.

Though not in the aspect of being bound that we often think of today, we are bound to the communion of the saints, much as the 'fellowship' were bound to each other. They, as we, are bound by the bonds, the Law of Love, to each other. He, love Himself, in His sovereign Rule and Power, sought us, He brought us ( together ), and bound us with the Law of Love written on our hearts! 

In His Love, we can enjoy this fellowship that He our King has brought us into, and while there are still dangers in this world, 'snakes in the garden', so to speak, we can rest in peace, knowing that, since our King has returned, come down to us, nothing can sever us from His Love, His Life, ar alter His Purpose, which is fo our good and His glory!

Amen,
Charles Haddon Shank

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