The Sword and the Cross: Are You Tired of Running From Surrender? 















Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah, and more specifically, begins with the twentieth verse of the forty-fourth chapter, and continues through to the fifth verse of the forty-fifth chapter. WHEN THE LORD GIVES THAT WHICH YOU TRUST IN OVER TO DESTRUCTION! WHEN THE LORD JUDGES THAT WHICH YOU HAVE TRUSTED IN! WHEN THE LORD GIVES WHAT YOU THOUGHT WOULD PROVIDE SHELTER INTO THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY! Consider if you will the final words of the forty-fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah concerning the Pharaoh of Egypt during the days of the prophet. “Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will give Pharaoh-hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, that sought his life” (Jeremiah 44:30). When you come to the end of the forty-fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah, you not only find the Lord giving the Pharaoh of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, but we also find the Lord punishing the remnant of Judah which journeyed down into Egypt there in that place. IN THE PLACE WHERE YOU SOUGHT SHELTER YOU WILL FIND JUDGMENT! IN THE PLACE WHERE YOU SOUGHT REFUGE YOU WILL FIND DESTRUCTION! It’s incredibly interesting that it was there in the very place they sought to escape the sword of Babylon that it would not only find them, but also consume them. As I am sitting here right now, there is a word that continues to race full force through my heart, mind and spirit. It’s actually more a question than anything—a question which I know beyond a shadow of a doubt has direct application to my own life. The question is simply this: ARE YOU RUNNING FROM SURRENDER? I’m sitting here right now and I can’t help but think of how many things we run from throughout the course of our lives. How many times have we laced up our running shoes and proceeded to run full force because we are seeking and have sought to escape from that which was present before us within our lives? How many times have we run full force from that which we know the Lord has either called us to, or that which the Lord has spoken unto us? The question that continues to ring loud and clear within my spirit is the question concerning how long I will continue to run from surrender. I am firmly and completely convinced there are a number of men and women who are presently running full force away from the surrender the Lord has called them to. There are men and women whom the Lord has called and instructed to abide and remain in a place of surrender, and such men and women have chosen to rise from that place and in all reality run away from it. I believe with all my heart there are a number of men and women whom the Lord has called into a very specific place of surrender and submission before Him, and yet those men and women are unwilling to remain and abide in that place. The Lord instructed those who remained in the land of Judah, and those who returned to the land of Judah to submit and serve the king of Babylon, and even promised that if they were willing to do so, He would bless and prosper them there in that place. Consider the word which the prophet Jeremiah spoke unto the remnant which had begun to dwell near Bethlehem with every intention of going down into Egypt. “Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before Him; If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I rep[ent me of the evil that I have done unto you. Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the Lord: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand. And I will shew mercies unto you, that He may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land” (Jeremiah 42:9-12). The more I consider the intentions, the motives, the desires, and ultimately the actions of the remnant which remained in the land of Judah, the more I am convinced that while they thought and believe they were running from the sword, what they were actually running from was surrender. They were fearful of the sword of the king of Babylon, and they thought that if they ran down into Egypt, they would avoid the unleashing of that sword. The truth of the matter is that while they thought and even believed they were running from the sword, what they were actually running from was surrender. YOU THINK YOU’RE RUNNING FROM THE SWORD, BUT YOU’RE ACTUALLY RUNNING FROM SURRENDER! YOU THINK YOU’RE RUNNING FROM THE SWORD, YET YOU’RE ACTUALLY RUNNING FROM SUBMISSION! YOU THINK YOU’RE RUNNING FROM THE SWORD, BUT YOU’RE ACTUALLY RUNNING FROM SERVING!

 The remnant which remained in the land of Judah grew fearful of the sword of the king of Babylon because a sword was unleashed in the land, as Ishmael had slain Gedaliah who had been appointed as governor of Judah. Moreover, it was this same Ishmael who unleashed the sword against the Chaldeans which remained in the land, all the men of war, and those four score men who came to the land to worship the Lord with their offerings at His holy sanctuary. It was because of the sword that was unleashed in the land against that one who had been appointed as governor by the king of Babylon, and even against those of Chaldea which remained within the land. The remnant which remained in the land of Judah were fearful of a different sword—a sword which they perceived was much mightier and more powerful than the sword which Ishmael wielded. I read this passage, and I find a people who were incredibly fearful, and it was from and out of that place of fear they sought to flee from the sword of the king of Babylon—a sword which they had in fact already escaped and been spared from. Consider the fact that those who remained in the inheritance, and even those who returned to the inheritance after hearing the report of a remnant had in fact escaped the sword of the king of Babylon. The sword of the king of Babylon had entered into and wreaked havoc in the midst of the inheritance, yet there was a people who were spared the fury of that sword. In all reality, there were essentially three groups of individuals who were spared the sword of the king of Babylon. The first were those who were carried away captive into the land of the Chaldeans; the second were those who were permitted to remain in the land; and the third were those who returned to the land upon hearing the report of remnant remaining within the land. It was those who remained and those who returned in the land, however, which would eventually grow fearful of the sword of the king of Babylon returning to the land and bearing down against them. If I am being completely honest, there might be those who read this passage of Scripture and think that the remnant of Judah which remained in the land were in fact running from the sword of the king of Babylon. The truth of the matter, however, is that they weren’t running from the sword of the king of Babylon, but were running from the surrender the Lord had called them to. The truth of the matter is that they were running from the place of submission and servitude the Lord had called and instructed them to remain and abide in.

 The Lord made it perfectly clear that those which remained in the land were to not only be unafraid to serve the king of Babylon, but they were to also be unafraid of the sword which he wielded. It is true they had already witnessed and experienced that sword being raised up and unleashed within and against the land of Judah, and the city of Jerusalem, yet the Lord was very clearly and very plainly declaring unto them they need not, they should not, they must not be afraid of the sword of the king of Babylon. When they sought to go down into the land of Egypt, they thought and believed they were attempting to flee from the sword of the king of Babylon, yet the sword represented surrender. WHEN THE SWORD REPRESENTS SURRENDER! WHEN THE SWORD REPRESENTS SUBMISSION! WHEN THE SWORD REPRESENTS SERVING! I believe with all my heart that the sword of the king of Babylon was more than a sword which was and could be unleashed any nation, kingdom and/or dominion upon the earth, but actually represented a place of surrender and submission before the Lord. WHEN THE SWORD IS AN INSTRUMENT OF SURRENDER! WHEN THE SWORD IS AN INSTRUMENT OF SUBMISSION! WHEN THE SWORD IS AN INSTRUMENT OF SERVITUDE! The remnant of Judah which remained in the land saw the sword of the king of Babylon as an instrument of death and destruction, yet that sword before the Lord was more than just an instrument of death and destruction ,but was an instrument to surrender and submit. WHEN THE SWORD INVITES YOU INTO THE PLACE OF SURRENDER! WHEN THE SWORD INVITES YOU INTO THE PLACE OF SUBMISSION! WHEN THE SWORD INVITES YOU INTO THE PLACE OF SERVITUDE! I would dare say that there might be times within our lives when the Lord may very well need to bring the sword of the enemy and adversary to the doorstep of our homes, the doorstep of our hearts, the doorstep of our marriages, the doorstep of our churches, the doorstep of our finances and careers as an instrument and invitation to surrender. WHEN THE SWORD STANDS AS AN INSTRUMENT AND INVITATION OF SURRENDER! WHEN THE SWORD STANDS AS AN INSTRUMENT AND INVITATION TO SUBMISSION! WHEN THE SWORD STANDS AS AN INSTRUMENT AND INVITATION TO SERVITUDE! I am convinced the sword of the king of Babylon was more than just a sword, and in all reality—wasn’t even a sword at all. Oh, on the surface it may very well have looked like a sword to those who experienced and witnessed it, yet as you examine it more closely, you will discover that it wasn’t a sword at all, but an instrument.

 A similar reality can be said of the cross upon which Jesus Christ not only carried along the Via Dolorosa, but was also crucified upon. There would be and there are those who view the cross which Jesus died upon as an instrument of torture, yet the truth of the matter is that it is so much more than an instrument of torture. There are those who look upon the cross which Jesus was crucified upon as an instrument of death, and while it is indeed an instrument of death, it is about so much more than that. I can’t help but be reminded of the words of a familiar song which has been sung, and continues to be sung in churches throughout and across the globe. Consider if you will the lyrics of the familiar song “Oh the Wonderful Cross,” and allow the words contained within the song to penetrate every fiber of your being. “When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain, I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride. See from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down. Did ever such love and sorrow meet? Or thorns compose so rich a crown? Oh the wonderful cross, oh the wonderful cross, bids me come and die and find that I may truly live. Oh the wonderful cross, oh the wonderful cross all who gather here by grace draw near and bless your name. Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small. Love so amazing so divine demands my soul, my life, my all. Oh the wonderful cross, oh the wonderful cross, bids me come and die and find that I may truly live. Oh the wonderful cross, oh the wonderful cross, all who gather here by grace draw near and bless your name. Oh the wonderful cross, oh the wonderful cross, bids me come and die, and find that I may truly live. Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all. It’s the beauty and the shame, it’s the glory and the name. Wonderful cross. Oh the wonderful cross, oh the wonderful cross, bids me come and die, and find that I may truly live. Oh the wonderful cross, oh the wonderful cross, all who gather here by grace draw near and bless your name. Oh the wonderful cross, oh the wonderful cross bids me come and die and find that I may truly live.” The words contained in this song must be carefully examined when considering such a reality as is being presented now, for while the cross is an instrument of death, suffering, torture, pain and agony, it is an instrument and invitation of surrender before the Lord. The cross is more than just an instrument of death, but is an instrument and invitation of submission before the Lord. The cross is more than just an instrument of torture, but is an instrument and invitation of serving the Lord.

 When we look upon, when we consider, when we examine the cross, we must look beyond the suffering, we must look beyond the agony, we must look beyond the anguish, we must look beyond the pain. ARE YOU WILLING TO LOOK BEYOND THE SUFFERING? ARE YOU WILLING TO LOOK BEYOND THE AGONY? ARE YOU WILLING TO LOOK BEYOND THE PAIN? ARE YOU WILING TO LOOK BEYOND THE ANGUISH? There are countless men and women who are absolutely and completely unwilling to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow the Lord because they can’t seem to look beyond the agony, beyond the anguish, beyond the suffering, beyond the pain, beyond the sorrow that is connected to it. When I consider the sword of the king of Babylon, I do not view it as an instrument of death, destruction and devastation only—while it is true that it does indeed and does in fact stand as such. I am convinced there were those who only saw the sword of the king of Babylon as being an instrument of death, destruction and devastation, yet it could actually be an instrument of salvation. WHEN THE SWORD BECOMES AN INSTRUMENT OF SALVATION! The sword which the king of Babylon brought against the land of Judah, and against the city of Jerusalem could have been an instrument of death, and instrument of destruction, and an instrument of devastation, yet for those who were willing—it could also have been an instrument of salvation. It’s worth noting and considering that the sword of the Babylon—while it was brought against and unleashed within the land—was salvation for some, yet suffering for others. How incredibly interesting it is that an instrument of destruction, devastation and desolation could lead some into a place of suffering, and others into a place of salvation. Those who were willing to enter into that place of surrender, that place of submission, that place of servitude would find the sword of the king of Babylon to be an instrument of salvation, while those who refused to enter into that place of surrender and submission would find the sword as an instrument of suffering. THE SWORD CAN EITHER BE AN INSTRUMENT OF SALVATION OR SUFFERING—THE CHOICE AND DECISION IS YOURS AND YOURS ALONE! ARE YOU WILLING TO DECIDE WHETHER THE SWORD WILL BE AN INSTRUMENT OF SALVATION, OR AN INSTRUMENT OF SUFFERING? A similar question can and must be asked of the cross of Jesus Christ, for the cross of Jesus Christ can either be an instrument of salvation, or it can be an instrument of devastation, destruction, and desolation. The cross of Jesus Christ is an instrument and invitation to a place of surrender before the Lord; the cross of Jesus Christ is an instrument and invitation to a place of submission before the Lord; the cross of Jesus Christ is an instrument and invitation to a place of servitude before the Lord.

 One of the most interesting realities concerning the sword of the king of Babylon is that the remnant which had already encountered and come face to face with that sword in the land of Judah, sought to run away from, escape from, and I would even dare say come out from underneath the weight of that sword by attempting to go down into the land of Egypt. How many of us are just like this remnant, for in an attempt to escape from, flee from and run from the instrument of surrender, we actually seek to go and enter into the land of Egypt? This remnant thought they could escape the sword of the king of Babylon—a sword which they already came face to face with—by journeying down into the land of Egypt. They had survived the sword in the inheritance, yet now they sought to escape the sword in that place which represented slavery, bondage and oppression. They had survived the sword of the king of Babylon in the place of the inheritance, yet now they were attempting to escape the sword in that place which represented trust and confidence in the flesh, in human might, and human strength. DON’T GO DOWN INTO THE LAND OF EGYPT! I believe with all my heart there are a number of men and women in this generation who in an attempt to come out from underneath the cross seek to make their own journey down into the land of Egypt. There are those who seek to come out from underneath the responsibility that is connected with the cross of Jesus Christ, and in order to do that, they seek to go down into the land of Egypt. SEEKING TO ESCAPE THE WEIGHT OF THE SWORD BY ENTERING INTO THE PLACE OF HUMAN STRENGTH! SEEKING TO ESCAPE THE WEIGHT OF THE SWORD BY ENTERING INTO THE PLACE OF HUMAN CONFIDENCE! There is not a doubt in my mind that there are a number of men and women who are in this place right now—the place where they are seeking to run from, come out from underneath, and escape the sword of the king of Babylon, and are doing so by going down into Egypt. Consider the Old Testament prophet Jonah, and how in an attempt to escape the responsibility of the call that was upon his life, he boarded a ship headed in the direction of Tarshish.

 WHAT IS THE SWORD WITHIN YOUR LIFE? The sword is anything that calls and invites you into the place of surrender before the Lord. The sword is anything that beckons and calls you into the place of submission before the Lord. SURRENDERING IN THE PLACE OF THE SWORD! SUBMITTING IN THE PLACE OF THE SWORD! SERVING IN THE PLACE OF THE SWORD! Just as the sword could be used as an instrument of death, so also the cross was used, and still can be used as an instrument of death. I am convinced that just as the Lord of hosts instructed and commanded those who remained in the land to not be afraid of the sword, so the Lord in this generation is declaring and instructing countless men and women to not be afraid of the cross. ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE CROSS? ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE SURRENDER? ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE SUBMISSION? ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE SERVING? I believe with everything inside me there are a number of men and women who are afraid of the cross of Jesus Christ because they know what it meant for Him. Oh, they know and are aware of the fact that after the cross there came a resurrection, yet they are nonetheless still afraid of the cross. ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE SUFFERING? ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE AGONY? ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE PAIN? ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE ANGUISH? The remnant which remained in the land of Judah were afraid of the sword of the king of Babylon just as those who dwelt in the land prior to that time were afraid of the sword of the king of Babylon. SERVING BEFORE THE SWORD! SUBMITTING BEFORE THE SWORD! SURRENDERING BEFORE THE SWORD! SERVING BEFORE THE CROSS! SUBMITTING BEFORE THE CROSS! SURRENDERING BEFORE THE CROSS! Consider the words which are recorded in the twenty-seventh chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah concerning the king of Babylon, and serving him during that generation: “And nowhave I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him. And it shall come to pass, THAT THE NATION AND KINGDOM WHICH WILL NOT SERVE THE SAME NEBUCHADNEZZAR THE KING OF BABYLON, AND THAT WILL NOT PUT THEIR NECK UNDER THE YOKE OF THE KING OF BABYLON, that nation will I punish, saith the Lord, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand. Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon: for they prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far from your land; and that I should drive you out, and ye should perish. BUT THE NATIONS THAT BRING THEIR NECK UNDER THE YOKE OF THE KING OF BABYLON, AND SERVE HIM, THOSE WILL I LET REMAIN STILL IN THEIR OWN LAND, SAITH THE LORD; AND THEY SHALL TILL IT, AND DWELL THEREIN” Jeremiah 27:6-11).

 Please pay close attention to the instruction of the Lord in this passage, for it is repeated time and time again within the prophetic book of Jeremiah. “I spake also to Zedekiah king of Judah according to all these words, saying, Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live. Why will ye die, thou and thy people, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, as the Lord hath spoken agains the nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? Therefore hearken not unto the words of the prophets that speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon: for they prophesy a lie unto you. For I have not sent them, saith the Lord, yet they prophesy a lie in my name; that I might drive you out, and that ye might perish ye, and the prophets that prophesy unto you” (Jeremiah 27:12-15). THE INVITATION OF THE YOKE! THE INVITATION OF THE BURDEN! THE INVITATION OF THE CROSS! I am reminded of the words which Jesus Christ spoke, which are recorded for us in the New Testament gospel according to Matthew—“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Consider the words which Jesus spoke in the previous chapter—“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10-:38). What about the words which He spoke in the sixteenth chapter of the same New Testament book—“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). BEFORE SURRENDER, THERE IS [SELF] DENIAL! BEFORE SUBMISSION THERE IS [SELF] DENIAL! BEFORE SERVING THERE IS [SELF] DENIAL! I am convinced that before there could be surrender before the Lord during the days of the prophet Jeremiah, there first needed to be an inward denial of self—a denial of anything and everything that is found and contained within self. Denial of self demands and requires a denial of self-confidence, a denial of self-promotion, a denial of self-righteousness, a denial of self-justification, a denial of self[ishness], a denial of self-centeredness. Those who lived and dwelt within the land of Judah were instructed and invited to deny themselves—deny what seemed to make sense in their own eyes—and go out and serve the king of Babylon. Don’t miss this fact, for entering into this place of surrender, submission and servitude requires us to come out from behind the walls we have dwelt within, and to enter into a place of vulnerability which we are not and have not been used to.

 The remnant which remained, and the remnant which returned to the land of Judah sought to run from and escape the sword of the king of Babylon by going down into the land of Egypt. The problem with this was that that which they sought to escape would not only follow and find them in the land of Egypt, but it would also overtake them there in that place. In an attempt to come out from underneath the sword of the king of Babylon, they would actually be pursued by it—and not only be pursued by it, but also overtaken by it. Their attempt to go down into the land of Egypt was in all reality an attempt to come out from that place of surrender—an attempt to come out from that place of submission and servitude before the Lord. The sword of the king of Babylon—the sword which was an instrument and invitation of surrender, submission and servitude—would now pursue them and overtake them, for they were unwilling to dwell in that place where instead of it compelling them to surrender, it consumed them with fear. CONSUMED WITH FEAR RATHER THAN COMPELLED TO SURRENDER! I am completely and totally convinced that that which keeps us from surrender and submission more than anything else within our hearts and lives is fear. There are a number of men and women who are afraid of living in that place of surrender and submission, for within that place there is the sword, and/or the cross. At the very heart of surrender, at the very heart of submission, at the very heart of serving is both a sword and a cross—both of which demand our utmost and complete allegiance and fealty. I would dare say that one of the single greatest reasons why men and women are afraid of surrender, and why men and women may very well even attempt to run from and escape it, is because at the very heart of that surrender is both a sword and a cross. It is absolutely impossible to separate surrender from the sword and the cross, and it is absolutely impossible to separate submission from the sword and the cross. The sword and the cross are intrinsically connected to our willingness and pursuit of surrendering, submitting and serving the Lord within our lives. What is so dangerous in seeking to come out from underneath and seeking to escape that place of surrender and submission is that when we do, we not only pursue that place of self-confidence and trust in human might and strength, but we also find ourselves in that place trading worship of the Lord for worship of that which He prohibited. When you read this passage, you will discover that it was there in Egypt where they would give themselves over to the very same practices and behaviors for which the land of Judah and the city of Jerusalem were destroyed by the king of Babylon.

 SO YOU WANT TO COME OUT FROM THAT PLACE OF SURRENDER—THINK TWICE! SO YOU WANT TO COME OUT FROM THAT PLACE OF SUBMISSION—THINK TWICE! SO YOU WANT TO COME OUT FROM THAT PLACE OF SERVITUDE—THINK TWICE! Remaining within the land of Judah not only required the remnant to surrender and submit themselves before the sword, but it also called them to worship and serve the Lord of hosts, and Him alone. The same reality is true of the cross of Jesus Christ, for as we surrender ourselves before the cross, we are called, we are invited, we are commanded to worship and serve the Lord of hosts, and Him alone. I can hear within my spirit the call and cry from the Spirit of the Lord to those who are running and those who have been running from the place of surrender to stop running. JONAH, STOP RUNNING! HAGAR, STOP RUNNING! DAVID, STOP RUNNING! You don’t have to run anymore. You don’t have to run from surrender. You don’t have to be afraid of surrender. You don’t have to be afraid of submission. You don’t have to be afraid of servitude. You don’t have to be afraid of the sword, nor do you have to be afraid of the cross. Both the sword and the cross are instruments and invitations of salvation—and not just salvation, but also rest in and rest before the Lord. Jeremiah called and instructed the people of Judah and Jerusalem to put their necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and Jesus instructs us to put our necks under His yoke, and to come and live under His burden. The question we must ask is whether or not we are willing to place ourselves under the yoke and burden of Jesus Christ, and whether or not we are willing to dwell and abide in the place of the sword and the cross. Please do not think you can, or expect to serve without and apart from the cross and the sword being at the very heart of it all. Please do not think you can surrender without and apart from the cross and the sword being at the very heart and foundation of it all. Can you hear the invitation of the instrument of salvation? Can you see the instrument of salvation, which invites you into a place of blessing, a place of peace, a place of rest, a place of shelter before the Lord? Stop running from surrender! Stop running from submission! Stop running from serving! Those who persist in their running from surrender, who persist in their running from servitude will find themselves being overcome and overtaken by the sword and the cross. Oh that we would allow the sword and the cross to instruments of our salvation rather than instruments of our destruction, our devastation, and our suffering.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s