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Treebeard: The Unhasty

     "A queer look came into the old eyes, a kind of wariness; the deep wells were covered over. 'Hrum, now,' answered the voice; 'well, I am an Ent, or that's what they call me. Yes, Ent is the word. The Ent, I am, you might, say in your manner of speaking. Fangorn is my name according to some, Treebeard others make it. Treebeard will do.'" (The Lord of the Rings)

Treebeard: The Unhasty

We come upon the most unlikely of characters in Fangorn Forest as we follow the escape of Merry and Pippin from the Orcs. For Treebeard is an Ent, a shepherd of the trees, is one way in which he describes himself. With him, as with all of his kind, conclusions are reached only after a long time of examining the issue. Such is there manner that even their names, in their own tongue, are so long that it would take more than a lifetime among men to repeat even one. That is why he is known as Fangorn, or as he prefers, Treebeard.

Treebeard's alliance to the Fellowship has nothing to do with the quest of the Fellowship, nor any particular love for any of the Fellowship, but rather because they share a common enemy, the wizard Saruman. As a shepherd of the trees, something we are expected to understand is not unusual, although actually finding and talking to one of these tree shepherds is, Treebeard is against Saruman and his Orcs. For Saruman has brought his Orcs to Fangorn Forest to cut down trees to build his machines at Orthanc, or to fuel the fires at the white tower of Isengard. We see then that it was not so much Treebeard who pitted himself against Saruman as it was that Saruman made himself an enemy.

I can see a few interesting things here. First there is the fact that Treebeard is slow in reaching conclusions. The Bible tells us to "Be slow to wrath," but this is only one aspect. We see a diligence placed upon making sure a correct decision is made. In this, perhaps, we can understand the patient forbearance of God towards us. For while we made ourselves enemies of His, still He withholds judgment while mercy may yet be received. When we receive His Mercy, that is the atoning grace providing in Jesus, His wrath against us is removed and we find we are more than just friends. Yet, when one refuses all mercy extended them, foregone all patience of God, they will find themselves at the mercy of His wrath. In that day there shall be no mercy. Like Treebeard and the other Ents, once God's wrath is released there is no calling it back.

There is something of a riddle in the Bible, although it is not stated as such, about the Pharaoh and the fact that God hardened his heart against the people of Israel. Ten plagues are launched against Egypt to gain Israel's freedom. People have asked me, and I have asked myself, "How did God harden the heart of the Pharaoh?" The answer I keep coming up with is that Pharaoh's heart was harden by his own rejection of each extension of God's love towards him. Ten times God, through Moses, requests that the Pharaoh release His people. With each refusal comes a plague. What would have happened if the Pharaoh had agreed to let them leave? I think a very different story may have been told. God knew how Pharaoh would respond, but gave the Pharaoh the chance anyway. In the end he and his whole army was destroyed. In like manner Saruman had made himself an enemy of many. He was an enemy of the Ents, of the Fellowship, of all free elves, men and dwarves. In fact he even made himself an enemy of Sauron, whom he unwittingly served, just as the Pharaoh made himself an enemy of Satan, whom he also unwittingly served.

May we be God-like in examining all things before jumping to conclusions. May we withhold our wrath and allow God to be the One who enacts any vengeance necessary. Instead may we, by God's Spirit, offer friendship and mercy to all. This is true love.

     "And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. (Acts 17:10-12)