Welcome back! April has begun and our calendar is looking busy busy busy! Are you in the throes of preparations for Easter yet? Our schedule has a few things booked before then, but our pastor has been doing a few preparation messages for us these last few weeks… which had me musing…
Sunday, we spoke about Jesus’ arrest and Peter cutting off the ear of the soldier. Which had me wondering, did men in Bible days just indiscriminately carry around swords and swipe at each other randomly whenever the notion took them? Was it a simple dagger? A knight-in-shining-armour sword? What does it symbolize? Why didn’t the soldier fight back and chaos erupt in a full-on Narnian war in the Garden? Yes, my mind goes there.
I do love a good sword fight. The chink and clash of ancient battles. The courageous “charge” – full speed ahead into death and bloodshed for the sake of honour and justice and true love. Okay, maybe it is my romantic side and one too many movies speaking… but have you thought about biblical swords before?
Apparently, the word “sword” appears 424 times in the King James Version of the Bible. The context is somewhat varied… many times in the Old Testament the sword was referenced in war, where enemies were “smitten” in battle. It was a great symbol of power and defence. Think about the angels who wielded their firey swords at the gate of the garden of Eden when man was cast out. A deterrent. A symbol of strength and power.
The sword was also a symbol for anything that inflicted pain on another. The tongue or the actions of a promiscuous woman. Danger, danger! Be warned by such things. Or, let’s think about the double-edged sword. Extra sharp for the deep cuts to the bone… often needed when speaking about God’s judgement. How sharply are we cut down by our own faults and sins. God’s word (the sword of truth) is part of the whole armour of God as we go out to fight the spiritual battles before us.
“It is sharper than any two-edged sword and cuts as deep as the place where soul and spirit meet, the place where joints and marrow meet. God’s word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions”(Heb 4:12).
My studies tell me that a “two-edged sword” marks its own meaning. A double-edged sword is tricky, in that it is sharper and does more damage, potentially, but the damage is not only reflected towards your enemy, as one sharp edge is still pointing towards you as you wield it! (FYI, if you say that something is a double-edged sword, you may be referring to an Arabic expression that basically says if two sides of the same blade are sharp, it cuts both ways.)
So. A lot of info out there about ancient swords. And a lot of symbolic meaning behind such weaponry. And Peter’s little dagger? Yeah, a common tool used by the men of his day. The people Jesus spoke to would have understood about swords and their uses. They would have wielded them honourably in defence. Do we do the same with our sword of Truth? Do we use it as a defence against the rhetoric of today’s world? Do we say: “the Bible tells me blank in answer to your question or statement”. Perhaps Google is our go-to instead. Or Alexa before Jesus. I’m afraid I’m not like Peter coming to Jesus’ rescue when He is questioned.
Yes, indeed the sword is a powerful tool. We must learn to use it well in battle, my friends.