Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Sharp (03/07/13)
TITLE: Beginning and Ending with the Blade
By Myrna Noyes
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Many flashing swords followed this one upon our home sphere, but these were man-made and human-held. Some were used for righteous purposes, but many more for unrighteous. I think of David and the taunting, too-confident Philistine. We know that David used a sling and five smooth stones to topple the giant who came well-armed against him bearing "sword and spear and javelin," but then we see the victorious boy cutting off the already dead Goliath's head with his own sword. Why this gruesome end to a wonderful victory given by God?
There is also the sad story of Saul. After being privately anointed by the prophet Samuel to be Israel's first king, the humble young man almost missed his own public coronation due to his feelings of inadequacy. As time passed, however, poisonous pride and a slew of sins turned his heart from God, and he met his tragic end on a bloody battlefield as his army was going down in defeat. Being critically wounded and not wanting to be tortured and mocked by his enemies, he chose rather to expire immediately by impaling himself upon his own sword.
As for our Savior and Lord, swords figured at both the beginning and the end of His earthly life. On the eighth day of his infancy, as Jesus was being consecrated before God in the temple at Jerusalem, the devout Simeon came up to Mary and Joseph. Cradling the Blessed Baby in his aged arms, Simeon first praised God for the child and then pronounced a blessing upon the little family. The pleased parents "marveled at what was said" about their son, but I wonder what their thoughts were after the delighted praise turned disturbingly prophetic. Simeon addressed Mary, saying: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul, too." Here was Mary's first hint, not a totally subtle one either, as to how her son's life might end. (Later, in His instructions to the Twelve on sending them out to minister, Jesus said that the message of His kingdom would cause divisions, even among close family members. "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword," He warned.)
In truth, the last hours of Jesus' life here were filled with swords. When He was arrested in Gethsemane's garden, He was surrounded by a "large crowd armed with swords and clubs." Immediately after that, Jesus' disciples asked, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" Evidently without waiting for an answer, Peter unsheathed his and cut off the ear of the high priest's servant. Jesus' healed the ear and then commanded Peter , "Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword." Soon after, on Golgotha's Cross, Simeon's earlier prophecy was fulfilled when a soldier pierced the side of Jesus' already dead body with a spear.
Post-Resurrection, the beloved Apostle John, banished to the lonely Isle of Patmos, had an amazing vision of the majestic, glorified Christ having "a sharp double-edged sword" coming from out of His mouth. In another end-time, apocalyptic vision, John describes the One mounted on a white horse, "whose rider is called Faithful and True," who wears "a robe dipped in blood" and whose name is "the Word of God," as having "a sharp sword" coming out of His mouth "with which to strike down the nations."
So our human existence on this planet both began and will end with swords. The first one mentioned barred us from the personal Presence of God because of the entrance of sin, but the final one will cause the door to close forever on earth's sin and open again to our face to face fellowship with God.
Scriptures referenced in order: Luke 2:25-35, Matthew 26:47-56, John 18:10,11 & 19:34, Matthew 10:34, Revelation 1:16 & 19:15
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