Bread – Swords

August 8, 2012


Readings for Wednesday, August 8 designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Judges 7:19-8:12; Acts 3:12-26; John 1:29-42; Psalms 81, 82, 119:97-120

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As we read in Judges today, Gideon and his 300 men have crept up to the camp of the Midianites and “all the people of the East” who “lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and the camels were without number…” Judges 7:12.

If we were writing a novel, this hearty band of brave souls would then creep into the camp and, taking their swords, would carefully slit the tents and then do the same thing to throats of the key leaders. Having surreptitiously decapitated the bosses, Gideon and his boys would take over the camp and declare victory.

We would have written the script this way, because swords are the weapons of old-timey warfare and, back then, they didn’t have guns and cruise missiles.

But wait, that is not the script which God wrote. Gideon’s and his men’s swords were not swords of steel but were the swords of God. “And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands…They held in their left hands the torches, and their right hands the trumpets to blow.” Judges 7:20.

And the Midianites and the people of the East with camels without number were defeated that night not by steel but by might, not by the arm of man but by the arm of God. God’s swords in this battle were broken jars, torches, and trumpets. Nothing that man would choose to use, but what man must use if he is to obey.

And what are these swords of God? A contrite heart (the broken jars), the light of life (Jesus Christ – the torches), and the Word of God spoken (the proclamation of truth, the gospel – the trumpets).

Who is it who possess a contrite heart, the light of life, and the Word of God? Christians do.

So who are the swords of God? We are.

In Acts today, Peter, who has been broken and forgiven, stands in the public square and proclaims the gospel. In John today, John the Baptist acknowledges Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world…I have seen and bear witness that this [Jesus] is the Son of God.” John. 1:29, 34.

John is using the torch sword, the light of God. Peter is using the trumpet sword, the truth of God. Both have previously broken their jars, repented and turned, acknowledged their rightful place in relationship to God. In Acts and in John, as well as in Judges, the swords of God are in full display and in full use.

Are we any different than John the Baptist or Peter? Are we? Are we using ourselves to bring light into darkness? Are we using ourselves to acknowledge in the public square our need for repentance, our need for Jesus, our need for the Word of God, our need for truth and love? Are we using ourselves as the swords of God in the battle for life?

If not, maybe it is because we choose swords of our own making, of our own design, of our own strength. God would use broken jars, torches and trumpets. He would use us as broken jars, torches, and trumpets. He would use us as His mighty warriors. But to be so used we must first drop our weapons and take on His. But to be so used, we must first drop ourselves and take on Him.

Will we be warriors today? Will we first repent and then take on the torch of Christ and the trumpet of truth?

We only have two hands. If we break our pots only to pick up the pieces, we are either laying down the torch or the trumpet or both. If we pick up our own weapons in our own strength, we are either laying down the torch or the trumpet or both.

So, what swords will we carry today?

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© 2012 GBF

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