On this episode of Finding Christ in Cinema, we follow the Orcs, the Eagles, the Men, the Elves, and the Dwarves to the Lonely Mountain as we look for Christian themes in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. What can we learn from Bilbo Baggins withholding the Arkenstone from Thorin Oakenshield? Is it like God withholding judgment from the ones He loves? All that and more in 3, 2, 1!
The Arkenstone of the Covenant
Thorin and his fellow dwarves are searching for the Arkenstone, the capstone of the treasure under the mountain and the heirloom to the line of Thrain. Without it, in Thorin’s mind, all other efforts (including everything in the first two films) are worthless if they can’t find the Arkenstone.
Unfortunately, the dragon-sickness that lies upon the gold has crept into Thorin’s, and it has made him paranoid. He cannot trust his own people and instead trusts solely in Bilbo. It has, in a sense, created the difference between Thorin son of Thrain and Thorin Oakenshield; the latter being the ignoble shell of the former.
Bilbo, however, is playing a different game: he already has the Arkenstone, but he doesn’t want to give it up because, well – just as Smaug predicted in the cave – possession of it would turn Thorin into a type of monster.
Bilbo is only withholding the Arkenstone from Thorin because he loves him and doesn’t want him to turn into that monster.
Bilbo eventually produces the Arkenstone to the Elves and Men, and Thorin then feels betrayed and plays the victim (as he always does) and accuses Bilbo of breaking his covenantal promise (you know, the kind of promise with conditions…”if you do this, I’ll do that, but when you stop doing this, I’ll stop doing that).
But Bilbo isn’t breaking a promise with Thorin Oakenshield because he didn’t make a promise with Thorin Oakenshield in the first place; instead, he made his promise with Thorin son of Thrain. And, as Bilbo points out, those two Thorins are not the same. When Thorin son of Thrain became Thorin Oakenshield, it nullified any type of bond between Thorin and Bilbo.
Thorin finally realizes that he has become someone different, and over the course of the battle, changes back to his original, noble self and proceeds to slay Azog the Defiler. After this climactic encounter, Thorin is finally able to redeem himself with Bilbo. He wants them to “part in friendship” and he realizes that Bilbo only held back the Arkenstone because that’s “only what a true friend would do.”
Lifting the Veil
With this sequence of events in mind, let’s examine this passage in Brother Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians:
But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
Thorin’s veil was a combination of his own pride and the dragon-sickness brooding over the gold. Under this veil, Thorin underwent an identity change from the noble Thorin son of Thrain to the ignoble Thorin Oakenshield. And it ultimately took someone small and meek to stand up to him and withhold that for which he so dangerously desired.
God works with us in the same way. Whenever we’re blinded by our own type of “sickness” or “veil,” we can turn into a type of selfish monster and ultimately change identities. Thankfully, however, because of God’s love and grace, through some crazy example of His kindness by offering His Son as the propitiation for our sins, our veils can be lifted and we can walk in newness of life.
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Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.
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