The Peaceful Sword

This is one of the most important blog posts I will ever write.  It contains within it the seeds of truth that can cause peace to flourish upon the earth.  It contains the power to disarm misunderstandings of who God is and what His plan is for the earth.  It contains the power of context and the reality to understand the Bible with clarity compared to all the seemingly contradictory ideas contained within its pages.  Finally, it has the ability to lead us to know who God really is and who He really isn’t.

Within the Bible’s pages there is a deeper story going on that is often best understood when standing outside of it.  It is a story full of language and meaning that cannot be read by assuming everything that is written in it is literal or that the manner in which things appear is correct.  I want to give you an example.  If you take this example to its full conclusion you will be greatly empowered to see God for who He actually is as a God of Love and Peace.

Jesus was and is still known as the Prince of Peace (See Isaiah 9:6).  It is recorded that He often talked about God’s desire for people to be peacemakers, reconcilers and lovers of their enemies.  This was a radical diversion from much of the way His original audience had understood their Scriptures and thus a radical departure from how they had understood God. In their ancient writings, God was often depicted as a God of war and violence but Jesus who was sent from God was redefining and transforming their understanding of God’s nature.  In fact, within their own Scriptures it was foretold that Jesus was a man whose mouth had no deceit and in whose nature there was no violence (Isaiah 53:9).  He often told the people who rejected Him that they were of their father the devil who WAS about violence and deceit (See John 8:44).  They had listened to his lies about who God really was and became deaf to God’s actual nature.

At one point Jesus tells people that God, the true Father, was abiding in Him and if they didn’t believe that, they should believe Him based on the works that Jesus did (John 14:11).  What works was Jesus doing?  He was proclaiming with his lips the reality of God’s ways and demonstrating with His life that He was anointed to bring freedom and healing to the oppressed.  He was proclaiming Good News.  He did all of this without killing a single person, nor using violence to prove a point.  His non-violent Love was much different from what many of his hearers  understood about God’s law and nature, which usually condoned the killing of “sinners” who broke the law.

So out of Jesus’ mouth where there is no deceit comes a teaching and a revealing of God as being much better than the people had realized.  He was putting to rest their understanding of a vengeful and violent God.  But this understanding also ripped open the hidden veil of deception in people’s hearts who wanted God’s wrath and justice to be like their own warped nature.  This same message of wrath is trumpeted today by misguided people who mistake their own wrath for God’s; their own bitterness for God’s and their own hate for God’s hate.  They make a god in their own image in the name of God’s holiness or justice.

So this is why we also see in the Scripture that Jesus’ ideas about the God of Peace was greatly opposed.

This became quite clear when Jesus stands up in the temple one day to read from Isaiah 61 and He says it is fulfilled in their midst, yet He stopped short of quoting the full text.  This is often where people fall short of the glory of God because Jesus intentionally omits the next phrase after proclaiming this is the favorable year of the Lord.  He omits their idea of God’s vengeance. (See Luke 4:18-29 and Isaiah 61:1-2)  This was the vengeance that many people longed for in order to separate their enemies and do away with them forever.

After Jesus read his part and omitted the part they longed to hear, He tells them a proverb & a history lesson that reveals the power of loving their enemies, which would expose the wrath in their heart along with inviting them to leave that wrath to Love like God.  But this story further fills his audience with wrath even though the One standing in front of them could deliver them from the thinking that their own anger was righteous.  After this they tried to kick Jesus out of their city.  We see here they rejected the God of peace who came to deliver them from the wrong spirit in their own hearts.  They would not allow Jesus to free them from their false understanding of who God was.

Later on we see Jesus weeping over their city and reveals a striking reality of what happens when people reject God’s peaceful ways and choose to live by their own wrath, which still happens today.

Luke 19:42 records Him saying:

“If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.”

Jesus goes on to share about the destruction that was coming upon their city because they rejected the ways that made for peace.  In fact, this is the type of vengeance God talks about. (See Luke 21:22)  It was not God’s vengeance, but it was the peoples’ own wrath that caused wrath to be reaped by what they sowed.  The blood of the people they had rejected and murdered in the name of God, along with the blood from their traditions would be upon their own heads.  Basically, they requested this to happen by their violent rejection of the Way to forgiveness and peace (See Matthew 23:32-38).

They would even be responsible for killing the Prince of Peace Himself in whom no violence was found.

Their interpretation of God’s justice and wrath is striking compared to Jesus’ version of God’s justice.  Jesus loves His enemies unto death and invites them to be saved from their wrath, but His enemies love their own lives unto the death of others.  Their anger directly exposed their misguided view of an angry God, while Jesus’ view revealed His true nature of Love.  He revealed the true nature of God that is passionate about injustice, but does not sin in order to bring justice.  He does not kill, steal and destroy people.  He seeks to make whole those who are lost.

God is not the one who separates Himself from people; people are the ones who separate themselves from God (Luke 11:23, John 6:66).

THE SWORD OF PEACE

This then brings us to the reality of Jesus’ sword of peace.  Often people point to the book of Revelation to say that Jesus has a literal sword in His mouth (See Rev 19:15, 1:16) and that He will come again one day to literally kill His enemies. The problem with this is that it clearly rejects Jesus’ nature of the One in whom there is no violence or deceit. It rejects His clear revealing of God that was demonstrated by His teachings, life, death, resurrection, ascension and rightful crowning to be King of the earth.  But here we must understand the power of language, otherwise we are in danger of becoming blind and deaf ourselves to what God is actually saying.

This is why Jesus said, “He who has an ear let Him hear.”

This is because language taken as literal from His mouth in some places and symbolically in others can actually miss the point of what He is saying.  Remember, there was no deceit found in His mouth, yet He constantly spoke in ways that, if taken literally, would be deceptive.  He only spoke in seemingly contradictory ways in order to heal people’s ears, not to prevent them from hearing.  He was trying to cast down their arguments and speculations that exalted themselves above the true knowledge of who God was, of which, the Apostle Paul later picked up on (See 2 Cor 10:4-5).  Both Jesus and Paul used violent imagery in parables that their audience was all too familiar with in order to transform them from their violent understanding of God.  This was not being deceptive, but it was using what their audience knew in order to renew their minds.

This brings us to Matthew 10:34 where Jesus says He has not come to bring peace to the earth but a sword.

Wait a minute?

So Jesus is teaching all about peace and all about the reality of destruction that comes upon those who live by the sword (Matt 5:9, 26:52) and now He is saying he did not come to bring peace but a sword?

What a liar!

Maybe, as men accused, Jesus is actually the one listening to the devil and not them?  But remember, no deceit was found in His mouth.  Jesus was using language to make a point; to strike the heart of the matter; to use His mouth as a sword to penetrate the very depths of people’s lives with a double edged sword that revealed reality (See Hebrews 4:12).  This is purity at its finest.  This is a man seeking to set people free.  This is Jesus using the sword of peace, which is His mouth.

Jesus’ Sword is His mouth!

So Jesus tells them that He has come to bring a sword, to set households against each other, to call for people to love Him more than their own parents and that whoever does not follow Him is not worthy, and that if you really want to have life you have to lose it (Matthew 10:34-39).

Lose your life to find it?

I think we can agree that many would have said here that Jesus had already “lost” His mind.  But we see again the striking reality that He is painting for those who reject the ways that make for peace by rejecting the God of Peace Himself.  He is stating that if you do not follow the Way of Love, your own wrath can consume you and set you against the way of peace.  He is stating that the Way of Peace will naturally bring a sword of division against those who reject it, but it will also bring restoration life to those who embrace it.  Blessed are the peacemakers!

This is the double-edged word of God cutting into the depths, penetrating lives and revealing intentions, thus naturally separating the real from the false.  This is the sword of His mouth revealing what happens when you seek or do not seek His ways that make for peace.

This all comes to its finality in the events shortly before Jesus is led to slaughter by the religious and political system that believed in the power of death and violence above the power of God’s ways.  We have already seen that Jesus clearly teaches against living by the literal sword and is calling people to live like Him, the Prince of Peace, in the ways of peace that lay down “literal” swords that “literally” kill others.  In Matthew 26:51 we see one of Jesus’ unfaithful followers named Peter (He later proved faithful) take up a literal sword to chop a guy’s ear off as he tried to prevent Jesus from being taken by a mob of people who were carrying swords and clubs.

Jesus rebukes Peter and tells him to put the sword away with the famous line,

“Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.”

He is asking Peter to put down the very self-protective nature that leads to throwing stones of judgment so that Peter can continue to be built upon the Rock/foundation of Love that reveals who God really is (Matt 16:17-18).  He is asking Him to use the Sword of Jesus’ mouth and not the literal sword that cuts off peoples ears.  He is asking Peter to put away the nature of human justice/wrath and become a divine partaker of God’s nature of Love.

Let me use the power of Jesus’ sword here if you have not been cut by it already.

When we use literal swords as if we are protecting God’s name and think God is a god of violence, we cut off peoples ears from hearing the truth.  We make them go deaf and dumb to God’s ways.  We promote our own wicked understanding of God’s wrath and justice and project them onto God making Him something He is not.  This has detrimental effects on the rest of the world.  This leads people to death.  This breeds nations training for war in the name of God because they think God is a God of war.  They misunderstand the entire revealing of God in Jesus who exposed the way of sin and death on the cross.

Jesus, who did not live by the literal sword, died at the hands of those who lived by the sword.

Jesus, in whom was no deceit or violence, died at the hands of deceptive and violent men.

Jesus, who reveals the God of peace, is killed by those who believed in a God of wrath is the way that true peace comes, but this false view of God was exposed by their very reasoning that killed God’s Son!

Yet we are invited to see the power of God in all of this foolishness.  It is still foolish to those who choose to live by the power of the literal sword because they think the sword of Jesus’ mouth (His teaching) is foolish and unattainable.  And it is unattainable in a way.  It is unattainable because apart from Jesus you can do nothing, yet if you abide in Him, it is attainable because you are then filled with His Spirit of love, joy, and PEACE (John 15:5,11,16:33).  You are filled with a love that casts out all fear…

 Even the fear of death itself.  (Heb 2:15) 

Jesus’ life and teaching was vindicated by God when He raised Him from the dead.  It was vindicated when His warnings for those who lived by the sword would die by the sword literally happened in Israel in 70AD, of which if you remember, He tried to prevent.  But back to the vindication revealed in His resurrection!

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead proved for all time that the way of the literal sword is not the most powerful way.  He proved the way of ruling through violence is not a powerful way of ruling.  It is not the way of God.

Jesus proved the way of LOVE IS STRONGER than death.

The One who had died by the sword without living by it, revealed the power of resurrection life as the way, the truth and the life for all who want to know God.  Thus, the obedience of Jesus crowned Him the King of the world, whose ways are slowly gaining ground throughout all the earth as His people serve and love the world with His love.  Remember Jesus did not come to rule “over” people, He came to be the Servant of All.  That is how Gods Kingdom rules.  Not by oppressive force but by radical love.

MAKING GODS WAYS OUR WAYS

Isaiah said of God:

“My thoughts are not your thoughts nor my ways your ways.”  (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Isaiah’s words reveal that those still conformed to the patterns of this world do not yet understand God’s loving ways.  (Romans 12:2)

Yet we see in Jesus, His ways can be our ways and His thoughts our thoughts because we can have the mind of Christ (See 1 Cor 2:16).  We can have His Spirit of Peace and non-violent Love flowing in and through our lives.  We can know the mind of God!  Just look at the life of Jesus!  Oh the foolish things that shame the wise and learned who learn the ways of violence in the name of God.  But oh the depths of wisdom in the little children who reveal what Gods Kingdom is really like!  Children naturally do not want to go the way of the literal sword unless they are taught it.

This is why Jesus made it clear that it was not good to cause children to stumble because it is in their basic nature to be innocent of bloodshed.

It is essential we understand the nature and manner of Jesus’ peaceful sword.

You have heard it said that God is a God of violence and war but I tell you God is a God of peace.  A Kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.  We are to put on the full armor of God, which does not entail picking up literal swords and putting on literal armor to fight the good fight of faith.  It entails putting on Christ and being clothed with the power He gives that enables us to love the world with His life of peace, thus continuing to reconcile the world to Him.  It is to love the world and especially our enemies.  Jesus made it clear that love is no good if we only love those who love us (Matt 5:46).  His love for enemies and friends alike may lead us to literally giving up our lives in our enemy love because we have given our lives to Jesus.

But we are to have already lost our life so that we will have found it because neither death nor life can separate us from the Love of God.

So when people come into the supernatural love of God through believing in and living out Jesus’ teaching, the world will continue to be made whole as it moves towards God’s ways manifesting on earth as it is in Heaven.  The narrow way of peace slowly grows until the earth is full of the true knowledge (experience) of God.  Nations will eventually no longer train for war because they have been trained by the Sword of Jesus’ mouth.  Jesus brought the true nature of God to the forefront of history over 2,000 years ago.  He declared that if you want to follow the Prince of Peace you have to start living in a manner that no longer trains for war and instead lives in the reality of God’s love.  This is to live as an ambassador of His ways.

Here is a striking reality.

Isaiah 2:2-4 literally happened 2,000 years ago and its fruit continues in our midst until it will ultimately reach its fulfillment in the whole world covered in the ways of peace. It reads,

“Now it will come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills and all nations shall flow to it. Many people will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and He will teach us His ways so we can walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations and rebuke many people; they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”

Jesus, the Word made flesh, brought the sword of His mouth and sent God’s law of love (Mark 12:30-31) from Zion as His word went forth from Jerusalem (See Luke 24:47-53, Acts 2:1-5).  He judged the nations who ruled by violence and political greed and then He called them to the ways of God.  He taught people how to walk in the ways of the God of peace.  Those who had believed in His name exchanged their swords to be tools of righteousness that could be used to repair the earth and thus they put down the desire to train for literal war. We can see the fruit of this everywhere in the New Testament church and we can see it all over our world today if our ears have not been cut off by believing the lie that the literal sword is stronger than Jesus’ sword.

How do nations no longer train for war?

They do so when they actually believe in Jesus and His ideas, thus receiving His Spirit of empowerment to proclaim the Good News of Peace to the nations.  The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead (vindicating His life of love and peace) can live in you to reconcile the world back to the non-violent and restorative ways of God.  This is supernatural love and it can only be accomplished by abiding in the Prince of Peace Himself.  Apart from Him it is easy to react to violence with violence because you are left to your own natural instincts of survival and protection.  In Him, it becomes easier to respond to evil with love because you know whose power is greater.  You trust God and lean not on your own understanding that was once patterned after the violent rulers of this world.

It is of extreme importance we know who God is.  It is of extreme importance we know His thoughts and ways.  If we don’t we will continue to perpetuate ideas about God that leave the world broken.  We will create ideas from a fallen nature. Ideas that say God kills people.  Ideas that say God sends disaster.  Ideas that say Jesus is returning one day with a literal sword to kill our enemies.  Ideas that reject the reality of God’s ways that are clearly revealed in Jesus.  Ideas that live in unbelief in the name of truth because the things of the Spirit seem foolish or hard.

Speaking of Jesus’ return, bad eschatology has done untold damage to believers and non-believers alike.

It has perpetuated unnecessary wars and created rumors that wars must happen in order for Jesus to return.  Bad eschatology has perpetuated an “us vs. them” mentality, yet Jesus wants to break down any teaching of “us vs. them” that still exists in people’s view of God and others.  This mentality rejects the true nature of God and holds fast to a god made up of one’s own image that is separated from the true image of God.  It perpetuates a god who does not love his enemies unto death but instead longs for a day of vengeance.  A god who makes things right by killing enemies just as many in Jesus’ day thought He Himself would do.  A god who rejects the teachings of Jesus and looks more like a terrorist killing everyone who does not submit to his ways.

But God’s ways are not these ways.

Yet Jesus’ love is available.  It continues to work with people like Peter who denied Jesus over and over until the reality of putting down the literal sword wins out.  Jesus continues to ask that we come and die.  That we die to the fallen nature of greed, violence, death and destruction so that we can live in the power of love, peace, life and restoration.  That we give up our life in order to find it. That we learn the ways of God that make for peace.

That we are born again so that the entire earth can be born again and restored to its rightful place of a peaceful garden where life flourishes and nourishes Love.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they are the children of God.  They no longer train for war.  They call out to people and say, “This is the way, walk in it.”  They do this with the sword of their mouth and the fruit of their life until the reality of God’s presence, nature and ways are exalted above every hill and until the knowledge of the glory of God covers the entire earth like the waters cover the sea.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they are the children of God.

Love is the Answer

Christ Himself is our peace that gives us full access to our heavenly Father (Eph 2:14-18). He gives us full access to live a life of love that directly enables us to love the righteous and the unrighteous alike.  In order to be perfect like our heavenly Father we must seek to love our enemies like He does.  To pray for them.  To bless them.  To give our lives for them.  So let’s end with these words from Jesus that has the potential to release new beginnings for people and nations.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the people you hate do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Peace be with you,

-Preston

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