Before the Throne of God Above

Before the Throne of God Above

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 heav’n He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless Righteousness
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God
With Christ my Savior and my God

I bow before the cross of Christ
And marvel at this love divine
God’s perfect Son was sacrificed
To make me righteous in God’s eyes
This river’s depths I cannot know
But I can glory in it’s flood
The Lord most high has bowed down low
And poured on me His glorious love
And poured on me His glorious love

I have attached a youtube link of this song as song by the group Selah for those not familiar with this particular hymn. This song has also been popularized by Sovereign Grace.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoPyLcY6Zv4

You can thank my wife for this week’s hymn. She reminded me of this song this week, and then made an interesting statement when we were reading the lyrics together. She essentially said “This has to be an old hymn because the lyrics really make you think.” I agreed with her, and me, being the “modern” guy that I am, grabbed my iphone, went online, and found the lyrics of this song. She was right. Verses 1-3 were written in 1863 by Charities Lees Smith. Verse 4, from what I can determine, was added sometime later.

Ms. Smith was an Irish Anglican, and wrote the words to this song at the ripe old age of…..22. This song was originally entitled “The Advocate.” I John 2:1 says “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Ms. Smith based her song on the passage of Scripture found in Revelation 14. The Bible says “These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.” I like how John describes “These” – these who “follow the Lamb.” “Redeemed.” “Without fault.” But we aren’t at the throne of God because of our own goodness. We aren’t “without fault” because of our own righteousness. We are there because of Jesus Christ – the Righteous. It is only by His grace and His sacrifice and His sinlessness that we can even approach the throne of God.

Couple of comments on the lyrics:
“My name is graven on His hands” – One of the criticisms of some modern Christians songs is their focus is on “me, myself, and I.” Many of these songs are more about what I have done for God, than what God has done for me. This particular line, if not read with a solid understanding of theology and the Bible, could come across as arrogant and self-centered. Doesn’t it sound proud to say God has “my name graven on His hand” and “my name written on His heart.” If one doesn’t understand that these thoughts are from Scripture, it might be interpreted very arrogantly. But in Isaiah 49:15-16, God is speaking and says “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;” The fact that God has written our name on His hands should not be a source of pride and arrogance, but a reminder to us of His great kindness, and mercy and grace.
“Who made an end of all my sin” – Once again, it is important to have a solid understanding of theology when reading the words of this song. At the point of salvation, the Bible does not teach that Christians will never sin again. It does not teach there will be an “end of all my sin.” We don’t have to look any further than I John 2:1 above that says “And if any man sin….” But Jesus has made an end to the punishment for our sin. He has borne the brunt of God’s wrath for my sin and for yours. From an eternal perspective, He has made an end of all my sin.
“To look on Him and pardon me” – This is an amazing thought. When God looks at me, He doesn’t see my unrighteousness, but He sees me clothed in the righteousness of Christ. He looks upon Him, Jesus, and pardons me. Jesus bears the punishment. I receive the reward. God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. In Romans 5, Paul writes “By one man sin entered the world and death through sin” and then he says in verses 17-19 “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” The righteous for the unrighteous. What an amazing grace!!

Do you know what an “Ambulance chaser” is? (Not trying to disparage those in the legal profession at all, so please stay with me). That term is a pejorative term used for an attorney/lawyer that advertises on TV for folks that have been in an accident or wreck of some sort. I remember seeing one of these ad’s with the attorney saying “Do you need an advocate?”

That commercial, and this hymn, made me think – “Did I need an advocate? Have I been injured? Have I been in a wreck? Do I still need an advocate?” Psalm 35:5-8 as interpreted in “The Message” says “The cuts in my flesh stink and grow maggots because I’ve lived so badly. And now I’m flat on my face feeling sorry for myself morning to night. All my insides are on fire, my body is a wreck. I’m on my last legs; I’ve had it, my life is a vomit of groans.” David was in a wreck. But thankfully Psalm 35 doesn’t end with David stuck in a mess. In verse 28 he writes “I’ll tell the world how great and good you are, I’ll shout Hallelujah all day, every day.”

I needed an “Advocate” too. I needed someone to fix what was irreparably broken. I needed the Lord to save me from my sin. You too needed an Advocate. You needed the Lord. As the old hymn says “All my life was wrecked by sin and strife.” But thank God for His Son, Jesus – our advocate. He is ever interceding for His children before the throne of God above.

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