The Appointment and Charge of the Sword: The W-O-R-D Contained Within the S-W-O-R-D












Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah, and more specifically, is found in chapters forty-six and forty-seven. When you come to this particular portion of the prophetic writing of Jeremiah, you will find a clear and decisive transition which takes place within the book. Up until this point the prophetic words and writing of Jeremiah have dealt exclusively and primarily with the land of Judah and the city of Jerusalem. What strikes me as incredibly intriguing about this transition within the prophetic book of Jeremiah is that the dust had settled, the smoke had perhaps subsided, and the adversary had returned to his own land. Alter having carried away a number of the Jewish people captive into the land of the Chaldeans, after putting others to the sword, after destroying the Temple of the Lord, as well as the palace of the king and the houses of all the officials within the land, the adversary returned to his own land in Chaldea. When the forty-sixth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah begins, it begins immediately after the remnant which remained in the land, and the remnant which returned to the land—those who had survived the murderous rampage of Ishmael within the land—made up within their hearts and minds to go down into the land of Egypt. When the forty-sixth chapter begins it opens up with the people of God divided into two distinct lands—the land of Egypt and the land of the Chaldeans. This is actually quite interesting when you take the time to consider it, for those of the people of God which remained in the earth after the destruction and devastation of Jerusalem and Judah were divided between Egypt and Babylon. I am convinced there is a powerful prophetic picture that is found within this reality, for the people of God were essentially in two places which are still present in these Last Days in which we are living. On the one hand we find the people of God dwelling in the land and place which stands to represent captivity and exile, while on the other hand we find the people of God dwelling in the land and place which stands to represent slavery and human strength. WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE DIVIDED BETWEEN CAPTIVITY AND SLAVERY! WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE DIVIDED BETWEEN EXILE AND HUMAN STRENGTH! When the forty-sixth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah opens, it opens with a portion of God’s people in captivity and exile, and the other position of God’s people dwelling in the land of Egypt running from and hoping to escape the sword of the king of Babylon. WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE DIVIDED BETWEEN A PAST REALITY AND A PRESENT MANIFESTATION! This is actually quite an interesting concept when you consider it, for on the one hand we find a portion of the people of God living and dwelling in the present manifestation of captivity, while on the other hand we find a people living and dwelling in a past reality of slavery, of bondage and of oppression. I can’t help but wonder if those who made the conscious, deliberate and willful decision to journey down into the land of Egypt remembered the generations in times past which lived as slaves in the midst of the land of Egypt. Did those who decided to abandon the inheritance remember the plight of their ancestors who spent more than four-hundred years as slaves in the land of Egypt where they were cruelly mistreated and oppressed by Pharaoh’s taskmasters? I can’t escape the fact that there are essentially two distinct realities which the people of God were living in and experiencing when we come to the forty-sixth chapter of the book of Jeremiah. There was a people who were living in and experiencing the present manifestation of captivity and exile, while there was also a people who were living in and experiencing the past reality of slavery, bondage and oppression. While those which abandoned the inheritance did not journey down into the land of Egypt and become enslaved by Pharaoh king of Egypt, they nonetheless journeyed back into that place which represented slavery, bondage and oppression. Egypt essentially represented the past reality of slavery, bondage and oppression, while Babylon represented the present reality of captivity and exile. There is no doubting the fact that those who abandoned the inheritance and journeyed down into the land of Egypt thought they would be secure and safe in the midst of the land, for the entire reason and purpose they journeyed down into the land was to run from and escape the sword of Babylon. It’s worth noting that in an attempt to run from and escape the sword of the king of Babylon, the people of God actually journeyed into that place which stood as a reminder of slavery, bondage and oppression. What’s more, is that in an attempt to run from and escape the sword of the king of Babylon, they actually journeyed into that place which stands to represent human strength and human confidence. Those who journeyed down into the land of Egypt thought they would not only escape the sword of the king of Babylon, but that the sword of the king of Babylon would neither pursue, nor find them in the land of Egypt.

 WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE DIVIDED BETWEEN THE PAST REALITY OF SLAVERY AND THE PRESENT REALITY OF CAPTIVITY! WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE DIVIDED BETWEEN SLAVERY AND CAPTIVITY! We cannot, we dare not, we must not miss this incredibly significant and important reality, for when the forty-fifth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah draws to a close, it does so with one group of God’s people living and dwelling in that place which represented slavery, bondage and oppression, and the other group of God’s people living and dwelling in the place of captivity and exile. There was a portion of God’s people who were living in the place of human strength and confidence in the flesh, while there was another portion of God’s people who were living in the place of captivity and exile. I am convinced that in many of our churches today who find themselves in one of these two places—either in the place of captivity, or in the place of slavery. I am convinced there are countless houses of worship where the people of God are divided between the past reality of slavery and the present reality of captivity. There are men and women among us who are attempting to live in the place of human strength and confidence in the arm of the flesh, while there are others who are living in the place of captivity. How incredibly tragic it is that when the forty-fifth chapter concludes, it does so with none of the people of God dwelling in the land of Egypt, for the people of God had been divided between two places. WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE DIVIDED BETWEEN TWO PLACES! WHEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD ARE DIVIDED BETWEEN TWO REALITIES! When the forty-fifth chapter of the book of Jeremiah concludes, it concludes with certain of the people who had perished by the sword, or by the famine, or by the pestilence. There were those among the people of God who had perished as a result of the famine and pestilence which broke out in the midst of the land, while others had perished because of the sword which the king of Babylon unleashed in the midst of the land. Essentially there were three distinct realities that are found within the prophetic book of Jeremiah—the first is those people who perished in the land as a result of famine, pestilence, or the sword; the second is those people who were carried away captive into the land of the Chaldeans; the third is those people who remained in and returned to the land, yet who abandoned the land to journey down into the land of Egypt.

 Take a look at many houses of worship and churches today in this generation, and I am convinced you will find a similar reality present among us. There are those among who are perishing because of the sword, or because of the famine, or because of pestilence in the land. There are those among us who are being carried away captive into a strange and foreign land not their own. There are still those who are abandoning the inheritance to journey down into the place of human strength and confidence in the arm of the flesh. There was a portion of the people of God who had perished in the land because they refused to bend their knee and bow their neck to surrender, submission and servitude. There was a portion of the people of God who had been carried away captive out of the inheritance and into a strange and foreign land where they would live in captivity and dwell in exile. There was still another portion of the people of God who either remained in the land, or returned to the land, yet who chose to abandon the inheritance in an attempt to escape the sword of the king of Babylon. There was a people who abandoned the inheritance in an attempt to come out from under, run from, and even escape the surrender, submission and servitude the Lord had called them to. One of the most interesting realities that is found within the prophetic book of Jeremiah is that the Lord gave very specific warning to His people concerning the bringing of their necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and their agreement to serve him. Consider how gracious and merciful the Lord truly was—that He permitted and allowed a people to serve the king of Babylon in and from the place of inheritance. There was a people who would serve the king of Babylon in and from the place of captivity and exile, while there was another people who were instructed to serve the king of Babylon from the place of inheritance. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN CALLED TO SERVE? WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN CALLED TO SURRENDER? WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN CALLED TO SUBMIT? The place you have been called to serve, the place you have been called to surrender, and the place you have been called to submit might be completely different than the place I have been called. Essentially, what we could have seen in the prophetic book of Jeremiah was a people serving the king of Babylon in a strange and foreign land, as well as a people serving the king of Babylon in the land of inheritance.

 Instead of finding a people serving the king of Babylon in the place of inheritance, we find a people being threatened by the very sword they sought to run and escape from. The Lord through His servant Jeremiah warned those which remained in the place of inheritance against going down into Egypt, and not only encouraged them to not be afraid of the king of Babylon, but to remain in the land and serve him. Instead of heeding the word and voice of the Lord, the remnant which remained in the land of inheritance, promise and blessing sought to run from, escape from, and come out from underneath the sword which they were called to serve, surrender and submit. Consider that for a period of seventy years, the people of God were called to serve in the place of the sword, to submit in the place of the sword, to surrender in the place of the sword. The Lord had called His people to surrender, to submit and to serve before the sword of the king of Babylon, for the sword of the king of Babylon was an instrument and invitation of salvation for the people of God. The Lord emphatically warned and encouraged His people to not be afraid of the sword of the king of Babylon, for that sword represented salvation to those who were willing to go out and stare it in the face. STARING THE SWORD OF SURRENDER IN THE FACE! STARING THE SWORD OF SUBMISSION IN THE FACE! STARING THE SWORD OF SERVITUDE IN THE FACE! Those who were willing to go out and come face to face with the sword would not only find and spare their lives, but would also be wonderfully and powerful preserved and protected by the Lord. How many of us take one look at the sword, and we are immediately seized and gripped with fear, terror and dread? How many of us can’t seem to find the courage, can’t seem to find the willingness to come out and come face to face with the sword? What’s more, is how many of us can’t seem to find the courage and can’t seem to find the willingness to come face to face with the cross? Consider what a tremendous risk those which dwelt in the land of Judah, and those who dwelt in the city of Jerusalem were taking by coming, and not only confronting, but also coming face to face with the sword of the king of Babylon. Actually, was there even a risk in coming out, confronting, and coming face to face with the sword of the king of Babylon, for the Lord had promised that those who were willing to do so would not only find, but spare their lives. Only those who are willing to take the risk to lose their lives can truly find their lives, and be preserved and protected by the Lord of hosts. Only those who are willing to take the risk to confront the sword and the cross will find the protection and the preservation of the Lord of hosts in their lives.

 As we come to the forty-sixth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah, we find two distinct groups of people in the earth—those who were willing to confront, come face to face with, and bring themselves under the sword of the king of Babylon, and those who refused to bring themselves under the sword, and instead sought to come out from under, escape and even run from it. It’s worth noting what we replace surrender, submission and servitude before the Lord with when we seek to come out from under, escape and run from the sword. Those who chose to rise up and abandon the inheritance instead of remaining within it and serving before the sword chose instead to live and dwell in the place of self-confidence. Those who chose to rise up and abandon the inheritance instead of remaining within it and serving before the sword chose instead to dwell in the place of human strength and the arm of the flesh. Each time we choose to come out from under the sword and the cross—out from under the place of surrender, submission and servitude—we choose instead to abide and remain in the place of self-confidence, and putting our trust in human strength. Perhaps this is why before Jesus spoke of taking up our cross, we must first deny self, for without and apart from self-denial, there can be no carrying of the cross. THERE CAN BE NO CARRYING THE CROSS WITHOUT AND APART FROM DENIAL OF SELF! THERE CAN BE NO FOLLOWING AFTER JESUS WITHOUT AND APART FROM CARRYING THE CROSS. Those who remained in the place of inheritance could have chosen to deny self—chosen to deny the fear, the terror and dread that was present within themselves—and bring themselves under the sword which was to be for them an instrument of salvation. There was a number of men and women who were living, dwelling and abiding in a strange and foreign land because they made the conscious decision to confront and come face to face with the sword of the king of Babylon. There were those who were living and dwelling in the land of captivity and exile because they made the decision to surrender before the sword which others feared. If we are being honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we are either afraid of the sword and the cross, or we are courageous and bold enough to confront and come face to face with it. The sword and the cross either strikes fear, terror and dread deep within the very depths of our heart and soul, or it releases us to rise up from a place of boldness and courage to walk in and serve in that place of surrender and submission.

 When writing concerning the forty-fourth and forty-fifth chapter, I wrote concerning the sword and the cross, and how there are a number of men and women who are running from surrender within their lives. Like Jonah of old, there are man and women who know and understand the Lord has called them to a place of surrender before Him, yet they choose instead to run from it. As I sit here and consider these two chapters, I can’t help but notice another distinct reality—the reality of the sword and the sacrifice. We have already encountered the sword and the cross, but I believe that now we come face to face with and encounter the sword and the sacrifice. Consider the reality and presence of the sword as it is found in the forty-seventh chapter: “O thou sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? Put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still. How can it be quiet, seeing the Lord hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? There hath He appointed it” (Jeremiah 47:6-7). Here in this passage, the prophet Jeremiah calls for the sword of the Lord to be quiet, to be put into its scabbard, to rest and to be still. Despite Jeremiah’s desire for the sword of the Lord to rest and be still, He recognized and understood that the sword of the Lord was and had been given a charge and an appointment from the Lord of hosts Himself. THE CHARGE AND APPOINTMENT OF THE SWORD OF THE LORD! WHEN THE SWORD OF THE LORD HAS BEEN APPOINTED BY THE LORD! WHEN THE SWORD OF THE LORD HAS BEEN GIVEN A CHARGE BEFORE THE LORD! Concerning this reality of the sword of the Lord, I can’t help but be reminded of the prophetic word which Ezekiel was called and instructed to proclaim in his generation: “Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and drop thy word toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel, and say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the Lord: behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked. Seeing then that I will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked, therefore shall my sword go forth out of his sheath against all flesh from the south to the north: that all flesh may know that I the Lord have drawn forth. My sword out of his sheath: it shall not return any more. Sigh therefore, thou son of man, with the breaking of thy loins; and with bitterness sigh before their eyes. And it shall be, when they say unto thee, Wherefore sighest thou? That thou shalt answer, For the tiding; because it cometh:” and every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and all knees shall be weak as water: behold, it cometh, and shall be brought to pass, saith the Lord God. Against the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord; Say, A sword, a sword is sharpened, and also furnished: it is sharpened to make a swore slaughter; it is furnished that it may glitter: should we then make mirth? It Conte Beth the rod of my son, as every tree. And he hath given it to be furbished, that it may be handled: this sword is sharpened, and it is furbished, to give it into the hand of the slayer. Cory and howl, son of man: for it shall be upon my people, It shall be upon all the princes of Israel: therefore by reason of the sword shall be upon my people: smite therefore upon thy thigh. Because it is a trial, and what if the sword condemn even the rod? It shall be no more, saith the Lord God. Through therefore, son of man, prophesy, and smite thine hands together, and let the sword be doubled the third time, the sword of the slain: it is the sword of the great man that are slain, which entereth into their privy chambers. I have set the point of the sword against all their gates, that their heart may faint, and their ruins be multiplied: ah! It is made bright, it is wrapped up for the slaughter” (Ezekiel 21:1-15).

 Both the prophet Ezekiel and the prophet Jeremiah saw, heard and knew the sword of the Lord had received a charge from the Lord. Both prophets knew and understand that the sword of the Lord had been removed from its sheath and from its scabbard, and knew that it had received an appointment from the Lord of hosts. Jeremiah asked that the sword of the Lord might be quiet, might rest, and might be still, yet He recognized that the sword had an appointment determined by the Lord of hosts. I can’t help but find tremendous significance in this reality, for how many times do we call and ask for the very same thing within our hearts and lives. We know and are aware of the fact the sword of the Lord has been removed from its sheath and from its scabbard, and that it has been given an appointment and charge within our lives, yet we call for it to be quiet; we call for it to be still; we call for it to be at rest. Consider if you will the words of the author of the epistle to the Hebrews as are expressed in the twelfth and thirteenth verses of the fourth chapter: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the divine asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the yes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13). Do you know the sword of the Lord has an appointment within your life? Do you know the sword of the Lord has been given a charge within your life? The author of the epistle to the Hebrews writes concerning the sword of the Lord which had been given a charge against and appointment within the land of the Philistines, and I can’t help but think of how the sword of the Lord divided the nations of the earth—divided the nations which were round about Israel. The sword of the Lord was released from its scabbard and moved upon the earth, and as it went, it divided the nations which were present in the earth. The sword of the Lord divided Moab and Ammon, Egypt and Philistia, Babylon and Damascus. The sword of the Lord had an appointment and was given a charge within and against each of these nations, and did not consume all of these nations at one time. The sword first began and arrived in the land of Judah, yet once it had completed and fulfilled its charge and work in the land of Judah, it began to move within and throughout the nations which surrounded Judah. When the appointment of the sword of the Lord in Egypt had been completed, it would move to the land of the Philistines. If there is one thing this passage of Scripture reveals, it’s that the sword of the Lord has both an appointment and a charge, and it cannot be quiet or still until and unless it fulfills its charge and appointment.

 Just as the sword of the Lord divided the nations of the earth during the days of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, so to a different sword—the sword of the Lord which is the Word of God—divides within our hearts and lives. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote concerning the sword of the Lord dividing soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and in the process of dividing, it discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. BEFORE THE SWORD DISCERNS IT MUST FIRST DIVIDE! It is possible that there can be no discerning, nor discernment without and apart from dividing, for it is the dividing that prepares and makes a way for the discernment? The author of the epistle to the Hebrews first spoke of the sword dividing, and then goes on to speak of the sword discerning. THE APPOINTMENT OF THE SWORD OF THE LORD TO DIVIDE! THE CHARGE OF THE SWORD OF THE LORD TO DISCERN! Just as the sword of the Lord divided the nations of the earth during the days of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, so also the sword of the Lord divides the various areas within our hearts and minds. The sword of the Lord divides soul and spirit—divides our soulish nature from our spirit nature—and then once it has completed and fulfilled this mandate, it goes on to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. The sword of the Lord divides soul and spirit, and this is actually quite interesting, for the author never speaks of the sword touching our flesh. The sword which the author of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote and spoke of is sword that only touches our inner nature, for the sword never moves upon our flesh—flesh meaning our physical body. The sword was designed to divide the soul and spirit, and to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart, while the cross is to move upon and work on our flesh. THE SWORD FOR THE SOUL, THE CROSS FOR THE FLESH! THE SWORD FOR THE SPIRIT, THE CROSS FOR THE FLESH! THE SWORD FOR THE HEART, THE CROSS FOR THE FLESH! The Lord appoints and gives His sword a charge and appointment within our lives to divide that which needs to be divided in terms of our different natures, but the sword also divides in order that the cross might consume and produce death within it. I am convinced the Lord appoints His sword to divide those areas within our heart and life—pride, anger, jealousy, offense, bitterness, lust, immorality, idolatry, self-confidence, self-righteousness, and the like—in order that the cross might produce death within and upon those areas. The Lord appoints His sword to divide and separate all those areas within our lives that need to be dealt with, and once divided, the cross can then produce death within it. In all reality, I am convinced the sword, which is the word of God, and the cross work in tandem with each other, and are intrinsically linked and connected within our lives, for it is the sword which divides, and the cross which deals with, and ultimately puts to death that which has been divided. DIVISION, DISCERNMENT, AND ULTIMATELY DEATH!

 THE SWORD TO DIVIDE AND THE CROSS TO CRUCIFY! I can’t escape this reality, for until and unless the sword divides and discerns, the cross can’t perform it’s work to crucify, produce and work death in that which has been divided and discerned. Once the sword which is the word of God discerns the thoughts and intents of our heart, it is the cross that produces and works death within that which has been discerned. Until and unless we are willing to allow the sword which is the word of God to divide and discern, we cannot and will not experience the death that is necessary. Once the thoughts and intents of our heart have been discerned and we become aware of them, we must then allow the cross to perform its work, role and function in producing death within that which has been discerned. The cross is designed to produce and work death into that which has been divided and discerned much like doctors will inject that which is necessary to produce death in cancer cells, or other dangerous and detrimental realities within our physical bodies. Ask that individual who is battling cancer concerning radiation and chemotherapy, and they will tell you that those substances are used to produce and work within their physical bodies the death and destruction of cancer. A doctor and surgeon will use the scalpel to first cut away and divide, and it is only after that cutting away and dividing that they are then able to perform the work that is necessary within our physical bodies. This is how we must approach the divine word of God, for the word of God as a sword first divides soul and spirit, and then discerns that which is within the heart. Once we have been made aware of that which has been divided and discerned, the cross then steps in and produces death in that which needs to be destroyed and decimated from our lives. The sword of the Lord divided the nations of the earth, and dealt with each nation differently than the others, for each nation was judged according to their own evil deeds and wickedness. If you read the prophetic book of Amos, the prophetic book of Isaiah, the prophetic book of Jeremiah, and the prophetic book of Ezekiel, you will discover that each of the nations were judged and dealt with according to that which was found within it. The sword divided the nations of the earth, yet it did not discern each nation similarly, for the prophetic writing of Amos speaks of the evil that was distinct to each nation. Similarly, the sword divides our soul and spirit, and discerns the thoughts and intents of our heart, and the work of the cross produces death into each one accordingly. We must be willing to allow the sword to first divide each and every area within our lives, and once those areas have been divided, the cross can then produce death in each of those areas. THE CROSS INJECTS DEATH INTO THE CANCEROUS CELLS OF SIN IN ORDER TO COMPLETELY DESTROY THEM WITHIN US. THE CROSS IS NOT SOMETHING WE ARE NECESSARILY CRUCIFIED ON AS JESUS WAS, BUT SOMETHING WHICH PRODUCES DEATH WITHIN OUR FLESH AND SINFUL NATURE IN ORDER THAT IT MIGHT BE CRUCIFIED.

 Perhaps the single greatest example of this within the life of an individual is the life of Lazarus—the one whom Jesus loved. If you journey to the New Testament book of John, you will discover that Lazarus became sick, and it would ultimately become a sickness that would lead to his death. As you read the account of Lazarus, you will discover that the sickness within his body eventually produced death, yet even though it produced death within his life, there would come a resurrection of his physical body. When Jesus arrived and showed up at the tomb, He called Lazarus to come forth from the tomb, and released him from death’s grip. What is so incredibly amazing and powerful about the account of Lazarus’ death, is that when he was resurrected, that which had produced death in the first place had been utterly and completely destroyed. When Lazarus was raised from the tomb, he was raised from death to life with his body being completely free from that which had produced and worked death. It is only through death that that which sought to destroy us can be decimated and destroyed, in order that when we emerge according to the Spirit and power of resurrection, we might rise up completely free from that which sought to destroy us. The cross produces death within that which sought to destroy us, and once death has been produced and worked within our lives, resurrection can then be manifested and brought forth. The problem is that we make every attempt to first resist the appointment and charge of the sword to divide and discern, and then ultimately resist the work of the cross to work and produce death in that which sought to destroy us. The prophet Jeremiah saw the sword of the Lord being appointed and given charge in the land of Egypt, and then in the land of Philistia—a reality which we must understand. The sword of the Lord divided these nations, and divided that which enslaved the people of God, and that which oppressed the people of God. The sword of the Lord not only divides that which has sought to enslave us from that which has sought to oppress us, but it also divides that which oppresses us from that which seeks to bring and make us captive. Oh that we would embrace the work of the sword and the cross—the work of division, discernment and death. Let us not resist the appointment and charge of the cross, for to resist the appointment and charge of the sword will be to ultimately resist the work of the cross. One final note: if you examine the word “sword,” you will notice four letters within it, which is absolutely remarkable—“W-O-R-D.” It’s impossible to make “SWORD” without “WORD,” which should be recognized and understood by each and every one of us. There can be no sword without and apart “word,” for every sword carries with it the appointment and charge of a word given unto it.

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