BIBLE SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (SWORD)

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One of the earliest of iron in making swords. The sword was the primary weapon of warfare throughout the ancient world. As such, it became the primary symbol of warfare in general. The Israelites “put [cities] to the sword” (Deu 13:14 NIV) and “smote [them with the edge of the sword” (Num 21:24 KJV). The defeated enemy was “cut . . . down with

swords” (Jer 19:7). Warfare was part of day-to-day life in the ancient world, so Isaiah’s prophecy that in the end times people would beat their swords into plowshares and not lift up swords against other nations (2:4) was significant. When the new heaven and the new earth come, we will no longer need weapons and swords, since no evil or warfare will exist. The sword is a symbol for anything that inflicts injury to others, including the tongue (Ps 57:4; Prov 12:18) and the actions of a promiscuous woman (Prov 5:4). Those who exploit the poor are described as having teeth like swords as they metaphorically devour their victims (Prov 30:14). A false witness is like a sword in the hand of an unjust prosecutor (Prov 25:18).

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Swords are primarily a symbol of warfare, whether wielded by an earthly enemy or by God himself.

 

THE DIVINE SWORD

More fearsome than the swords of earthly enemies is the sword that represents divine judgement (1 Chron 21:12; Ps 7:12). The Lord’s enemies died not by the swords of other men, but by “swords not made by human hands” (Isa 31:8). The judgment of God is again symbolized by a sword in verse such as Genesis 3:24 (“After he sent man out, God placed angels and a flaming sword that turned in all directions”) and Isaiah 66:16 (“He will judge all people with his sword. Many people will be struck dead by the Lord”). This imagery carries through to Revelation, where in John’s description of the Son of Man we are told, “Out of his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword” (1:16). We later find out that this sword will “defeat the nations” (Rev 19:15). Sometimes earthly authorities bear the sword as instruments of God’s judgment (Rom 13:4 NIV). Believers are encouraged to submit to the discipline of earthly governments, viewing them as ambassadors who are ultimately subject to God’s will. Earthly governments have a divine role in carrying out God’s will because he is the one who gives all earthly authority. They wield the sword at the mercy of God’s sovereign plan.

THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT 

In the New Testament, God’s Word is symbolized by a sword: “It is sharper than any two-edged sword and cuts as deep as the place where soul and spirit meet, the place where joints and marrow meet. God’s word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions” (Heb 4:12). The Word of God is able to penetrate people’s hears in the same way as a sword with precision and in a way that inflicts pain, in this case the pain of guilt. Such pain yields good results, just as a surgeon’s scalpel cuts away diseased flesh. Even better, once it has done its work of bringing us to repentance, we are able to take up the sword of God’s Word as a weapon to use in our battle against Satan. The sword of the Word of God is part of the armor believers are to put on each day as they fight against the powers of evil (Eph 6:17). In this we follow Christ’s example as he fought Satan’s temptations (Matt 4:1-11). The sword is a symbol representing the power of God to fight the influences of evil and bring people to repentance, for it has “divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Cor 10:4 ESV)

 

Sources: The A To Z Guide To Bible Signs & Symbols Understanding Their Meaning and Significance. [Sword] pg. 232 

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