“Come Thou Fount” is a Gospel song well known to many of us old timers. The first two verses exult over what God has done for the believer in Christ who is singing the song. The third verse is uniquely different from the first two verses and most other hymns or Gospel songs. It goes like this:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.
This verse immediately raises some questions:
- Why would a Christian, a child of the one true God, have a wandering heart? A heart prone to wander, an impulse that can be felt, a heart that is prone to leave the God one loves?
- Why does the rest of humanity have hearts prone to not wander, to not leave, their false gods?
Before we attempt to answer these two questions, we need to establish the importance of doing so. Was Robert Robinson, who authored the words of the subject Gospel song, just expressing his own isolated spiritual problem, or does the Bible treat this as a widespread danger to God’s people (Israel and the Church)? Let us review some passages of scripture and historical events to find the answer:
- The nation Israel reached its pinnacle under the kingships of David and Solomon;
- In the last half of Solomon’s reign, he had wandered away from God and had built shrines to the false gods of his many pagan wives and had joined them in worshipping those gods;
- At Solomon’s death, ten tribes rebelled (the northern kingdom, Israel) and fell into worshipping Egyptian idols and the Phoenician god, Ba’al. They continued without repenting for 208 years until God judged them by giving them into the hands of the Assyrians. Two tribes (the southern kingdom, Judah) remained and continued the temple worship in Jerusalem. They were sometimes close to God, sometimes far away, but finally sinned worse than Israel, and 136 years after the fall of Israel, Judah was conquered by Babylon and Jerusalem was destroyed;
- Seventy years after the fall of Jerusalem, the Jews were allowed to return and rebuild the temple. They didn’t return to idol worship, but found many other ways to displease God, the worst of which was to not recognize but instead to crucify their Messiah, Jesus Christ;
- So, as for God’s people, Israel, they have certainly been PRONE TO WANDER! What about God’s people, the Church?
- The Church began on the day of Pentecost in AD 29 or 30, so it is almost 2000 year old. Though the Church was healthy and fruitful for the fist 300+ years, heresies and schisms drew away professing Christians who were prone to wander;
- From the time of Constantine’s “conversion” in AD 312 to the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in 1517 the Church became ever more decadent and was described as the “dark ages.” It appeared that virtually all professing Christians, especially the Catholic hierarchy, had proven to be prone to wander;
- Under Martin Luther and the Reformers true salvation (justification by faith) was restored to the Church and millions became true Christians;
- Alas, because the Reformation had no Pope or iron-fisted hierarchy to bind it together, the prone to wander spirit was found to be still alive and resulted in the fragmentation of the movement into thousands of denominations;
- Nevertheless, during the late 1700-early 1900 period there emerged the great Protestant Missionary Movement, reaching to some extent virtually every nation, and bringing millions of true believers into the Church;
- Partially overlapping the missionary movement, from the late 1800s to now and continuing, arose modern science and the theory of evolution with their hostility to Christianity. Under this attack by Satan, the prone to wander spirit began to rear its ugly head again;
- Today the prone to wander spirit has brought the Church into the “perilous times” spoken of in 2 Tim. 3:1 and the “falling away” spoken of in 2 Thes. 2:3, making plain that we are in the end times;
- So, as for God’s people, the Church, they have certainly been PRONE TO WANDER also!
In contrast, those who do not worship the true God are prone to continue worshipping their false gods, even if our true God has proven Himself to be greater than their false god. Here are a few examples;
- God rescued Israel out of Egypt by multiple judgments, parting the Red Sea for Israel, and closing it over Pharaoh and his army. The Egyptians recognized that Israel’s God was greater than all their many gods, but did not wander away from their false gods or turn to the true God;
- When the Phillistines captured the Ark of God (Ark of the Covenant) they set it beside the image of their god, Dagon, in the house of Dagon. The next morning, the image of Dagon had fallen down on the floor before the Ark. They set it back on its stand. The next morning Dagon had fallen before the Ark and was broken in pieces, with the head of Dagon face down on the threshold along with the palms of his hands. This was followed by the judgment of a severe plague on the Phillistines, yet they did not wander from their false god or turn to the true God;
- King David, empowered by the true God, had conquered all of the nations surrounding Israel. Solomon, King of Israel after his father, took a number of foreign wives. He did not win them to his own true God, but they conned him into building shrines for all their heathen gods, and joining them in worshipping their false gods. Solomon wandered from the true God, but his heathen wives diod not wander from their false gods.Think of that!
Yes, history proves that the true God’s people are prone to wander, and the people of the false gods are prone to stay with them.
In Prone to Wander II, we will talk about why this is so and what to do about it.