Tag Archives: death

The Sword of the Lord

blue sword 25
On all the barren heights in the desert destroyers will come. Indeed, a sword of the LORD will devour from one end of the land to the other. There will be no peace for any person (Jeremiah 12:12, ISV).

Whenever the sword of Lord is mentioned in the Old Testament, it is a literal sword. Even when the use might be metaphorical, the sword means death and destruction. The method might be a plague or some other form of death. The people of Israel understood that the sword of the LORD was an instrument of death.

The Apostle Paul dramatically changed that imagery for New Testament believers. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Ephesians 6:17).

The book of Hebrews uses the same imagery. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, as it judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12, ISV).

This imagery is continued by John in the last book of the New Testament, the Revelation, written about 95 AD. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword. His face was like the sun when it shines with full force (Revelation 1:16).

The power of the tongue was not a new concept, but it is somewhat difficult for us to understand. Solomon said, “The positive words that a man speaks fill his stomach; he will be satisfied with what his lips produce.” (Proverbs 18:20, ISV). In our culture, which emphasizes the positive, this is not too unusual.

But the very next verse says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; and whoever loves it shall eat its fruit.” (Keil and Delitzsch commentary translation) Even metaphorically, we do not think of a tongue as an instrument of death.

Jesus said, “Again, you have heard that it was told those who lived long ago, ‘You must not swear an oath falsely,’ but ‘You must fulfill your oaths to the Lord.’ But I tell you not to swear at all, neither by heaven, because it is God’s throne, nor by the earth, because it is his footstool, nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the Great King. Nor should you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. Instead, let your message be ‘Yes’ for ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ for ‘No.’ Anything more than that comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:33-37).

We understand that we are to be truthful, kind, and honest with our words; words that we write as well as speak. But we have difficulty equating the Sword of the Lord with life and death. David understood this very clearly. David asked the young man who related the story, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” The young man who had been relating the story answered, “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa and there was Saul, leaning on his spear! Meanwhile, the chariots and horsemen were rapidly drawing near. Saul glanced behind him, saw me, and called out to me, so I replied, ‘Here I am!’ He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ So I answered him, ‘I’m an Amalekite!’ He begged me, ‘Please—come stand here next to me and kill me, because I’m still alive.’ So I stood next to him and killed him, because I knew that he wouldn’t live after he had fallen. I took the crown that had been on his head, along with the bracelet that had been on his arm, and I have brought them to your majesty.” On hearing this, David grabbed his clothes and tore them, as did all the men who were attending to him. They mourned and wept, and then decided to fast until dusk for Saul, for his son Jonathan, for the army of the LORD, and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen in battle. Meanwhile, David asked the young man who had told him the story, “Where are you from?” He answered, “I’m an Amalekite, the son of a foreign man.” At this David asked him, “How is it that you weren’t afraid to raise your hand to strike the LORD’s anointed?” Then David called out to one of his young men and ordered him, “Go up to him and cut him down!” So he attacked him and killed him. David told him, “Your blood is on your own head, because your own words testified against you! After all, you said, ‘I myself have killed the LORD’s anointed!'” (2 Samuel 1:5-16).

Each of us has the same responsibility. I saw the dead, both unimportant and important, standing in front of the throne, and books were open. Another book was opened—the Book of Life. The dead were judged according to their actions, as recorded in the books (Revelation 20:12). One of our actions (works, KJV) are the words we speak. Just like the internet, our words are never deleted. And they will be presented in judgment if they are not covered by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Wisdom Says, “Can You Hear Me Now?”

Proverbs Chapter Eight is absolutely amazing. We try to read through Proverbs day by day each month and this one just stops me in my tracks every time.

Why does God say that wisdom is a woman? I don’t know. A friend commented on the fact that Proverbs is mostly advice from father to son. Yet we have this personification (a literary device where an abstract concept is treated like a person) of Wisdom in many places as a woman. She’s stretching out her hands, she’s going around to the high or chief places, she’s standing at the crossroads, and here in Chapter Eight, she’s shouting at the top of her lungs right in front of the city gates. You can’t miss her! Or can you?

She is talking to men, apparently, like most of Proverbs does, but I think we women can listen in. As long as we can handle being called simple and fools like the men. Our culture today tends to depict women as smarter than men, but only this woman, Wisdom, really has the right to call men fools, and I think women better humble their hearts and listen up as well.

“Be ye of an understanding heart!” She cries in verse five, after calling her audience fools. Boy, these listeners better gather the shreds of humility the “I’m OK, You’re OK” secularist world has left them. Do not get all hurt and walk away from this, men and women alike. “Excellent things” are coming. “Right things.” Wisdom is going to speak truth, and her lips can’t stand wickedness. She also promises that what she says is going to be “plain,” and “right.” She’s going to speak righteousness only. The only catch is that you have to “understand” it. It might seem contradictory that Wisdom calls you a fool in one verse and then expects you to understand her in another, but that’s the way it is with believers sometimes. We’re still struggling with that sin nature, but the Holy Spirit still lives in us to teach us and give us understanding if we let Him. You don’t need silver. You don’t need gold. You need instruction straight from the mouth of Wisdom herself. In the ancient world rubies were the most valuable gemstone. You don’t even need them. No comparison. You need this.

When I get to heaven, I want to ask what “witty inventions” are to make sure, but I think for now I’ll settle for understanding that phrase as the ability to come up with good ideas.

People complain about the very thought of “fearing the Lord.” God is a God of love, isn’t he? He is to be loved and feared, like a dad who would do anything for you but is not going to let you get away with being a fool. So stop complaining and listen. Hate evil, hate pride. What’s a “froward mouth”? One that says vulgar, crude, bad, wrong things. Especially when you say them just because it’s entertaining to vulgar, crude, bad people. Why exactly do you want to impress them again? You don’t.

You want to be a counselor. You want to be strong. You want to tell kings and princes and judges how to rule, how to be just. You want honor and “durable riches.” Wisdom has a revenue-sharing plan that can’t be beat. Her dividends are eternal. Those that love wisdom will “inherit substance.” Not talking about material wealth here. You might get that, or you might not, but what you get from Wisdom will last forever.

Who is this Wisdom anyway? What’s her authority for telling us what to do? How’s older than the oldest of God’s works strike you as a tried and true source of solid teaching? Wisdom predates Creation. She witnessed it all, and starting with verse seven she shares her view of it unfolding before her delighted eyes. Depths of oceans and canyons, fountains of water, mountains, hills, earth, fields, even dust gets a mention. She was before it all, and saw it all come to be. Wisdom saw how God arranged and organized things from the beginning, setting boundaries, defining limits. Wisdom is like God’s best friend, watching Him do it all, right there by His side all the way, rejoicing that God made a habitation for man, and, once again, delighted with that special, crowning creation of human beings.

So Wisdom’s got the right to speak to man, to call us her children, to say, “Listen up!” Don’t refuse her instruction. Yes, you’re struggling with sin, with the pride that says, “I don’t have to listen to you!” But that’s what she’s there for, to tell you what to do. She’s God’s best friend, and she’s yours, too. That’s why she’s yelling at the top of her lungs. That’s why you should be this guy (or girl).”Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.” The consequences of being too proud to hear Wisdom’s voice are severe. “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.”

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