He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
Sometimes, people seem confused about Jesus. Perhaps, it is because they envision him in a picture of their own choosing. A Jesus meek and mild who invites children to come to him is a popular view. It certainly is a special one and a comforting one. We must be thankful that the Lord of all is kind and caring.
Is this the same Jesus who twice drove the money changers and the merchants out of the temple by force, overturning their tables? (Matthew 21:12, Mark 11:15)
Is the Jesus who said to turn the other cheek the same one who called out, “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good?” (Matthew 12:34)
God is love, but he also is holy. He is the friend of sinners, but he does not tolerate sin. He came to destroy the powerhouse of evil. He is the enemy of evil and all its works and all its ways.
The Son of God came into this world as a weapon—a splendid weapon.
The Holy Spirit inspired Isaiah to describe this fact by having the preincarnate Messiah tell the story of being commissioned by his Father.
He begins, “He made my mouth like a sharpened sword.”
That presents a strange picture but one that reoccurs in Scripture. Saint Paul refers to “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” in Ephesians 6. Then, Saint John presents this description, “In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance” (Revelation 1:16).
The picture is clear. Jesus did not use sharpened steel to battle against his enemies. That would have done no good. It is the Word of God that is the power of God unto salvation.
But the Word cannot be separated from the person of the Son of God. Scripture declares, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
We begin to realize the wonder of all this. No wonder he says, “In the shadow of his hand he hid me.” Our eyes cannot penetrate the mystery of the Trinity.
Then, the picture changes from a sword to an arrow. “He made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.”
We know how this happened. Jesus did not look dangerous. He seemed weak before his enemies. He appeared defeated. His power was concealed. It wasn’t obvious on Good Friday. But the power was there. Easter morning displayed it.
Swords and arrows. For ages on end, these were the common weapons of war. Joshua’s army used them against the Canaanites. David used them against the Philistines. And Rome used them to establish a dominant empire.
Jesus was the heavenly equivalent of these weapons. He smashed through the perimeters of the demonic defenses. He overran the strongholds of the powers of darkness. Then, early on Easter morning, he took a victory lap through the halls of hell.
Ever after, demons tremble at the sound of his voice and dread the day of their eternal lockdown.
He was called “Israel” because he was the embodiment of what the children of God were supposed to be.
And us? We know the victory has been won. But we know the enemy remains dangerous. The apostle Peter speaks of Satan as a roaring lion. We don’t have much contact with fierce lions. But we do know about poisonous snakes.
We know not to play with vipers. We warn others of their presence. We walk carefully through rattlesnake country. It’s not enough to cut off its tail. We must crush its head.
That’s what the Lord Jesus did for us. That’s why he came into our dangerous world. Satan had been warned of his coming. “He will crush your head,” he had been told (Genesis 3:15).
So it was. So it is. He is the death of death and hell’s destruction.
Thus, the glory of the Savior God is displayed in all its splendor.
Jesus of Nazareth is the Savior God’s splendid weapon—and our splendid Savior.
A hymn pictures our death to be like Israel entering the Promised Land.
When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside;
death of death and hell’s destruction,
land me safe on Canaan’s side. Amen.
(Christian Worship 923:3)
Points to ponder:
- If Jesus is the Prince of Peace, why is he described as a weapon?
- Why is the Word of God aptly pictured as a sword?
- Why can Jesus be called the death of death?
Written and recorded by Rev. Paul Horn, WELS National Civilian Chaplain to the Military, San Diego, California.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.