No Tongue Can Bid Me Thence Depart

“No Tongue can Bid Me Thence Depart”

How a 19th century Hymn (Before The Throne of God Above) enforces our understanding of Mark’s Gospel

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The song, “Before The Throne of God Above” is a great hymn written in 1863 by Charitie Lees Bancroft–originally entitled the hymn “Advocate”.   Charitie was the child of an Irish minister, born in county Dublin in 1841, the hymn had various musical tunes but was given the music now known as Sovereign Grace Music in 1997. Why is this important as we go through Mark’s gospel? I think this hymn especially, gives us a perspective on who Jesus is and why Mark has as an overriding theme, Jesus, The Son Of God.

Lets look at the first stanza:

Before the throne of God above

I have a strong and perfect plea:

A great High Priest, whose name is Love,

Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on His hands,

My name is written on His heart;

I know that while in heaven He stands

No tongue can bid me thence depart

No tongue can bid me thence depart.

In our messages on Mark we have seen Jesus as The Son of God, reaching out to the people of Israel healing and restoring them. In the Old Testament the people of Israel came to the High priest for a blessing in the Temple (Numbers 6:22-24). Today the Jewish people are preparing for the return of the Temple at Jerusalem and are preparing people to become “priests”1. All of these functions for a priest or a high priest will prepare that person to be a “conduit for God’s blessing”.

In the hymn “Before the Throne of God Above” the stanza before us reads :

A great High Priest, whose name is Love,

Who ever lives and pleads for me.

In Mark we see Jesus tearing away at the way the Law has burdened the people, a law that has been a chore instead of a joy. Jesus does not do away with the law, no he has not come to do that, he has come to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17-20). The law that the Pharisees are heaping upon the people is not the same law that God handed down to Moses, it is a man-made law placed upon God’s law. It is because this “keeping” of the law has become so burdensome, Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom of God you can’t keep the law, you must rely totally upon God for His saving grace and mercy. Our Hymn reminds us of that, telling us of the great love of God in giving us a “High Priest” who is there all the time for us. What a great act of love for God to give to us his “…only Son” so that we can be forgiven through him and not forgiven through another sinful human being.

We continue with our hymn onto another part of the song, “My name is written on his hand, My name is graven on his heart”. All of us whether we are saved through Christ or outside of that, are still known to God. God has complete control over everyone whether they are Christian or not, he is in control and he will judge everyone. Those of us who have been given the gift of understanding how sinful we are and then coming to faith; our names are written in the book of life and our names are known to Jesus. This is the amazing work of Christ, that as he suffered and died, he knew who he was dying for; the entire world, and he knew who would come to him through this sacrificial act (John 17:20-21; Ephesian 1:3-14).

The hymn continues to state that “…while in heaven he stands no tongue can bid me thence depart…” Jesus is our mediator, the holy one who receives our prayers and is our redeemer before the Father. Our needs and our earthly desires go to Christ as well as our repentance and our asking for forgiveness. Forgiving one another for their sins against us and asking God to forgive us is accomplished through the finality of the crucifixion. “It is finished” (John 19:30); Jesus speaks to all that will hear gathered around the Cross, that the work the Father gave him is now completed. Our sins have been forgiven, there is no other work for us to do, except come before Christ and acknowledge our sinfulness with a heart that is repentant. Jesus has completed the task, if we reject that forgiveness we reject the Cross and reject the Father. “No tongue can bid me thence depart”, there is no human being that can move us from our stand for Christ (Romans 8:1). The world may wag its finger at us, it may condemn us, even imprison us, maim us or kill us but we have been forgiven; and what a glorious way to say it, “No tongue can bid me thence depart”

  1. “The Temple Institute” 20160908 http://www.templeinstitute.org/red_heifer/levitical_priests.htm

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