In ancient culture, there was no weapon that had more significance than the sword. Having a sword meant the difference between life and death, victory and defeat. In ancient times, no one cared about how beautiful a sword was in battle, but how useful it was.
The sword is also a symbol of the Word of God. How much more fatal is it for a believer to be without a revelatory knowledge of the Word of God? By revelatory knowledge, I do not mean original language studies or an exegesis on particular versus, but a knowledge that comes from knowing the author – God . . . The kind of revelation the writer of Psalm 119 had.
“If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction”.
Throughout history the uses of the sword have ranged from war to sport, and in today’s civilized world, ceremony. A ceremonial sword was used to denote status and power and designed to be an “impressive sight”. They are made delicately for show, not for battle. They could not be used in actual combat, because they have no cutting edge, and their finish and decoration make them unbalanced for practical use.
I believe that the Bible in our Christian culture has in many cases become ceremonial.
This modern ceremonial sword (Bible) has a hilt adorned with beautiful stones denoting power and status, but possesses neither. It has in many cases become like a ritual blade, dulled with blurred morality, discretionary lordship, and decorated with man-centered theology. You may as well use this beautiful gleaming sword to butter your morning muffin. The best that a butter knife can do is smooth things over. It has no cutting edge to bear things open.
In essence, the body of revealed truth called the Word of God not only offers rest to God’s people, but also is able to penetrate beneath the ceremony and pomp we bring. This sword of the Word has 2 sharp edges – One that comforts, the other that cuts.
“When they heard that, they were cut to the heart,”
Its piercing quality goes beyond the physical and intellectual, touching the inmost parts of the heart and conscience.
Too many modern writers have attempted to place the Word in a test tube for study, later to prove their dearest penchants. Many Christians as well have only used it for its comforting edge, not its incisive properties. This has taken the edge off of the Word as we have studded the hilt with our own beautiful stones of meaning.
But I think of Joseph where “the Word of the Lord tried Joseph”. It seems to me that it is the Word who puts us in a test tube. We are the ones put through the paces. We are the ones who navigate the maze humbled by the disturbing truth that we don’t understand everything, can’t control anything, nor can we attempt to reduce to ceremony that which is living and active.