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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Christ's Sharp Two-edged Sword

We've all heard the saying, "The pen is mightier than the sword." This adage suggests that the independent press is more effective in governing a people than direct violence. The idea has been expressed in various forms many times. This particular form, says Wikipedia, was coined by English author Edward Buller-Lytton in his 1839 play Richelieu. 

John's Revelation says that from Jesus' mouth "came a sharp two-edged sword" (Rev. 1:16).


The image has often been portrayed literally, but what does it mean symbolically? The phrase is found several more times in Revelation:
"And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: 'The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. ... Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. - Rev 2:12, 16 ESV
From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. ... And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. - Rev 19:15, 21 ESV
The prophet Isaiah speaks of the coming Messiah as a shoot from the stump of King David's family:
. . . but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. - Isa 11:4 ESV
How does the Christ strike the earth and kill the wicked with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips? And in Revelation what is this sword of Christ's mouth that strikes down the nations? The straightforward answer is that Christ has always done everything with His Word. John wrote of this in the beginning of his Gospel. There John speaks of Christ as the Word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. - John 1:1-3 ESV
That Word creates and redeems, but He also judges and condemns the wicked. When He speaks it happens. No one can resist the power of God's Word. Moreover this Word is both sharp and two-edged; it can cut in either direction. One day all will stand before Him to be judged by His Word. And His sword will bring vengeance and judgment upon those who dare to oppose Him.

Even Christ's apostles and disciples are permitted to wield that sword. Paul calls it the sword of the Spirit. It is part of the armament to be worn by soldier / disciples as they fight the devil to the death.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, - Eph 6:16-17 ESV
We believers find great security in the power of the Word. It is Christ's Word; Christ's creative Word. It is the Word that strikes down the nations and rules them with a rod of iron.

On the other hand, the believer is comforted knowing that Christ's Word accomplishes all that the Lord wishes. With His Word He called us to faith, confirms us in the faith and promises to guard us until we reach our heavenly home. The Word of our Good Shepherd brings forgiveness and the promise of life forever as well as His all-powerful and eternal protection.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. - John 10:27-29 ESV
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. - John 15:7 ESV 
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33 ESV