Swords From Their Lips (pt. 6)

Have you ever found something in a surprising place? I remember one day while I was getting ready to go to work I couldn’t find my wallet! I looked everywhere for it. I checked the usual spots like my coat pockets, my pants pockets from the day before, the cracks in our couch, inside and outside the car, or if it had fallen behind the table I usually place it on but it was nowhere to be found. By this time I was getting quite annoyed because it was making me late for work. I then decided to check the unusual places like the refrigerator, the freezer, and finally the microwave and surprise, surprise there it was! It turns out my daughter who only recently discovered how to open, close and even turn on the microwave decided to put it in there and zap it. Why I will never know but I am glad that I did find it and only ended up being marginally late for work. We have come a long ways since we started our study “Swords From Their Lips” and with this post we will bring it to a close by considering a surprising place to find a sharp double-edged sword – in Jesus mouth! Thankfully, unlike my experience with my wallet and never being able to know why my daughter decided to do this we can know why Jesus is said to have a sharp double-edged sword in his mouth.

Who is Jesus?

“Who do people say I am?” That is the question Jesus asked his disciples one day as they were en route to Caesarea Philippi. In some respects it is a bit unusual because ordinarily it was disciples who posed questions to their rabbis rather than the reverse. But Jesus is no ordinary rabbi. It is also a bit unusual because usually people ask what others do, not who they are. However in asking the question this way it is more profound and brings to the forefront what the disciples have been wondering in their heart themselves since the stilling of the storm, “’Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him?’” (Mark 4:41).

The disciples’ initial answer echoes popular opinion about Jesus, “They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’” (Mark 8:28). Jesus has an illustrious standing in the popular mind because to liken Jesus to John, Elijah, or a prophet was to rank him among the stellar figures in Israel’s long history. Popular opinion of Jesus today would answer in a similar fashion saying things like, “He is the greatest teacher who ever lived” or “He is the greatest moral example who ever lived” or “He is the greatest prophet who ever lived” or even “He is the greatest political revolutionary who ever lived.” Some things never change! However, while this may seem like a compliment of great honor it is ultimately to deny Jesus uniqueness and authority as the very Son of God.

Jesus then asks a second, more intense question, “’But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am.’?” (Mark 8:29). With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings. Jesus’ question is an invitation to take personally and seriously the necessity to stop taking refuge in the answers of others and answer for ourselves. Jesus question is also an invitation to take personally and seriously the possibility that maybe we need to see him differently or that our perception of him is inadequate or that our Jesus is not the real Jesus. In other words, Jesus question is an invitation to come and start rediscovering the true greatness and glory of the real Jesus and ruthlessly abandon the Jesus we thought was real.

A great place to discover the true greatness and glory of the real Jesus is the book of Revelation. As Revelation 1:1 says, it is “the revelation of Jesus Christ” (WARNING: Technical note – read at your own risk – yes for those of you so inclined to think about the finer issues of the Greek language I am aware of the massive amount of ink spilt over whether Jesus is the source of the revelation [subjective genitive] or the object being described by the revelation [objective genitive] to which I say yes, he is the source and object of revelation [plenary genitive]).

Just in the first chapter of Revelation alone Jesus is revealed as:

  1. The faithful witness (v. 5)
  2. The firstborn from the dead (v. 5)
  3. The ruler of the kings of the earth (v. 5)
  4. Him who loves us (v. 6)
  5. Him who has freed us from our sins by his blood (v. 6)
  6. Him who has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father (v. 6)
  7. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever (v. 6)
  8. The First and the Last (v. 17)
  9. The Living One (v. 18)
  10. He who holds the keys of death and Hades (v. 18)

Jesus is Judge

Is the Jesus you thought was real holding up to how the Bible actually reveals him or have you already had to smash some false idols of Jesus? But that is not all! In verses 12-16 the real Jesus is revealed through a series of eight successive images to be the exalted sovereign Judge:

  1. “Dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet” (v. 13)
  2. “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow” (v. 14)
  3. “His eyes were like blazing fire” (v. 14)
  4. “His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace” (v. 15)
  5. “His voice was like the sound of rushing waters” (v. 15)
  6. “In his right hand he seven stars” (v. 16)
  7. “Out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword” (v. 16)
  8. “His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance” (v. 16)

You see! It is primarily as Judge that Jesus Christ appears in Revelation. He judges the churches (chs. 2—3), the whole earth (chs. 4—16), Babylonianism (chs. 17—18), world rulers at Armageddon (19:19-21), and Satan (20:1-3, 10). He also judges the earth during the Millennium (20:4-6), the rebellious earth at the end of the Millennium (20:7-9), and all the unsaved dead (20:11-15). The first 20 chapters of the book deal with judgment and the last two with the new creation.

But if we are honest we will have to say that many of us don’t like this Jesus. We only like a Jesus that manifests grace, compassion, and mercy. We’re much like children going through a buffet line. We pick and choose what to include and exclude. Most children select desserts and other appetizing foods and bypass vegetables, salads, and fruits. We too can be guilty of picking and choosing what attributes of Jesus we find appetizing and neglecting the rest. The moment we do so, however, we are no longer worshiping the Jesus of the Bible but our own made up image of him and so while you may fervently say, “I love Jesus” the Jesus you love is not the real Jesus but your own self-made creation! Yikes! If you have no room in your heart for Jesus as Judge than you need to ask God to change your heart that you might know him as he really is and not how you think he really is.

What Came Out Of His Mouth?

I could go on and on about that issue for a while but this post is already turning out longer than I want it to be and I haven’t even talked about the phrase that is pertinent to this post – “out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword” (v. 16). What is that all about? Why does Jesus have a sword coming out of his mouth? Let me point out a few things:

First, the image is drawn from Isaiah 11:4 which says that the Messiah (the root of Jesse, the Branch on whom the Spirit of the LORD will rest) will “strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked (see also Isaiah 49:2).” In light of that correlation it is not difficult to understand the significance of a sword from his mouth! In fact, take a moment to read Revelation 19:11-21, especially verses 15-16, 21!

Second, the sword in view is not the Romans “short sword” but a large, broad Thracian sword used often in cavalry charges like a scythe. Again, consider Romans 19:11-21 where Christ is seated on a horse!

Third, consider the words of John 12:48, “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.” God’s Word will judge his enemies!

It is very plain then that the sword protruding from Jesus mouth is symbolic of his judicial power which will be in accordance with his Word. It symbolizes the irresistible authority and devastating force of the Lord’s judgment and Word. His Word is both creative (Gen. 1) and destructive (Revelation 1:16; Revelation 19).

Whom will Jesus judge by the Word/Sword from his mouth?

  1. He will judge the lawless one. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 says, “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.”
  2. He will judge the wicked. See Isaiah 11:4 and John 12:48 above.
  3. He will judge his church. Jesus has some strong words for the church of Pergamum in Revelation 2:16 – “Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” Why such strong words of judgment? It seems the church at Pergamum was promoting some serious doctrinal errors which fell far short of the living Word of God. So much for the creed “Don’t give me doctrine, I just want to follow Jesus.” Besides the fact that such a creed IS a doctrine, Jesus himself warns of impending judgment if the Christians at Pergamum don’t repent of false doctrine! Doctrine matters! Theology matters!

So we end how we began – “Who do you say I am?” Do you believe in the Jesus whose mouth is a sword? Do you believe in Jesus as Judge? Do you need to “repent” like the Christians at Pergamum of a false Jesus? Do you know the real Jesus?

Why Was I Born In America?

 

Michael Oh:

Have you ever thought about why you were born into your particular circumstances? If you are reading this blog entry you are most likely a Christian whose life has been purchased by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. You are also likely relatively wealthy, at least compared to most people living in the world. If you have the ability to eat three times per day and have shelter over your head, you are better off than many people in the world. If you earn $25,000 per year, you are the richest 10% of the world. You are rich. In fact if you earn $2,200 per year you are the richest 15% of the world. If you reading this you are literate and likely had several years of education. If so you have received more education than hundreds of millions of people around the world. Perhaps you have gone to college, even graduate school.

So why? Why you? Why your particular circumstances? There are people around the world who might be asking the same questions. Wondering why they weren’t born in America. Wondering why they can’t eat three times per day, why they don’t have the luxury of throwing food away. Wondering what it would be like to go to school or attend college or even read. Wondering what a warm bed feels like.

You could have been born as an impoverished child in an unreached nation. Perhaps as a girl born into a Muslim family where you would be forbidden to show anything beyond what can be seen through the eye slits of your veil and could be beaten if you disobeyed even the simplest command of your father. You could have been born in a remote village in Vietnam with little food or education and no opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You could have been born as a girl in Africa who will eventually be sold by your parents into sexual slavery. That could have been you.

 

Take 10 minutes to read the rest here!

Latest Sermon Uploaded: “Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild” Pt. 3 from 2 Kings 9-10

 

Sunday night I continued our study of 2 Kings. In this 3 part series from 2 Kings 9-10 we are challenged to see Jesus not just as the sacrificial lamb that takes away the sin of the world but also as the apocalyptic lamb burning with the wrath and fury of God. In another way, Jesus is the greater Jehu yet to come!

 

Click below to read or listen:

 

Sermon Audio

 

Sermon Manuscript

Sermons Are Now Online…Well…Some Of Them Anyways!

I have added 2 new pages to the blog that you can access either above or on the sidebar or if you are really lazy, you can just click on them below:

“Latest Sermons”

“Sermon Series”

On each page you will find both my sermon manuscript and audio (provided we had no technical difficulties that day)!

Here is a full listing so far:

1 Corinthians 15 1-11 Holding Firmly to the Church’s One Foundation Part One October 17 2010

1 Corinthians 15 1-11 Holding Firmly to the Church’s One Foundation part 2 October 24 2010

1 Corinthians 15 12-19 What if Christ Is Still Dead October 31 2010

1 Corinthians 15 20-28 The Death of Death Part One November 7 2010

1 Corinthians Sermon Audio

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Holding Firmly to the Church’s One Foundation Part One

1 Corinthians 15 1-11 Holding Firmly to the Church’s One Foundation Part 2 October 24 2010

1 Corinthians 15 12-19 What If Christ Is Still Dead October 31 2010

1 Corinthians 15:20-28 The Death of Death Part One November 7 2010

2 Kings Sermon Manuscripts

Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild Part One October 24 2010

2 Kings 9-10 Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild part 2 November 7 2010

2 Kings Sermon Audio

2 Kings 9-10 Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild? Part One October 24 2010

2 Kings 9-10 Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild Part 2 November 7 2010

I am excited to be able to offer this online. May God be pleased to encourage His church with it if in only some small way.

Your Prayer Life and Your Church

Justin Taylor has posted some great ways to pray for your church:

You can pray that God would move in way that results in:

  • hundreds of people coming to Christ,
  • old animosities being removed,
  • marriages being reconciled and renewed,
  • wayward children coming home,
  • long-standing slavery to sin being conquered,
  • spiritual dullness being replaced by vibrant joy,
  • weak faith being replaced by bold witness,
  • disinterest in prayer being replaced by fervent intercession,
  • boring Bible reading being replaced by passion for the Word,
  • disinterest in global missions being replaced by energy for Christ’s name among the nations, and
  • lukewarm worship being replaced by zeal for the greatness of God’s glory.

I especially like this thought: If Jesus answered all your prayers from the last 30 days, would anything change in THE world or just YOUR world?