Israel is pursuing its war aims against jihadi terror gangs before a watching world. Through this process, God is instructing those who have eyes to see concerning His own nature and character as YHVH, Lord of the armies of Israel.
King David proclaimed this truth: “But David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a saber, but I come to you in the name of YHVH of armies, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied!’” (1 Samuel 17:45).
The writers of Scriptures were inspired by the Spirit of God (see 2 Peter 1:2) as they penned the Holy Scrolls. They wrote of a divine connection between Israel’s battles (‘the sword of the Lord’) and the heart-purposes of Jacob’s God:
- Now on the same night it came about that YHVH said to [Gideon], “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have handed it over to you” (Judges 7:9) . . . Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle night watch, when they had just posted the watch; and they blew the trumpets and smashed the pitchers that were in their hands. When the three units blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers, they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing, and shouted, “A sword for YHVH and for Gideon!” And each stood in his place around the camp; and all the army ran, crying out as they fled (Judges 7:19-21)
There is widespread fear in our day that we will suffer the bloody ramifications of war. Many people have responded to that fear by adopting a passive and pacifistic response to the demonic evils of dictatorship and jihad. Ironically and at the same time, anger and street violence seem to be socially acceptable when directed against those armies (such as the IDF) which attempt to bring down the forces of atrocity and annihilation.
But it bears remembering that the Bible has a perspective on war, and that the Scriptural viewpoint was not born in Woodstock or in Rishiskesh. As Moses proclaimed on the shores of the Sea, standing in front of the dead bodies of the Egyptian charioteers: “YHVH is a warrior; YHVH is His name!” (Exodus 15:3).
A sword by any other name
The Bible has over 400 references to swords. The Scriptures refer to swords in many different contexts. The sword of YHVH can refer to His defense of His people Israel or His bringing of judgment on the Jewish people’s national enemies. The sword of the Lord can also describe God’s weapon of choice – the entire nation of Israel acting as the army of God (see Ezekiel 37:10). The sword of the Lord can also refer to the God of Jacob’s judgments coming down upon His own Jewish people when they sin or rebel against His kingship.
The first reference to a sword in the Bible is found in Genesis, when God stations angels with flaming swords, blocking Adam and Eve’s access to the Garden of Eden: “So He drove Adam out. And at the east of the Garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). That sword was God’s severe mercy to mankind: only in that separation from our Creator would we be forced to seek His face and His presence. “From there you will seek YHVH your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).
The Promised Land was obtained by Israel through the sword of the Lord
The first reference to a Patriarch conquering portions of the Promised Land was pronounced in the Land of Egypt, when Jacob declared to his son Joseph: “And I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow” (Genesis 48:22).
The next reference about conquering the Land of Israel by the sword concerns Joshua’s military victory over Amalek: “And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword” (Exodus 17:13).
God promised the Jewish people that He would give them victories over their enemies which would be disproportionate in measure: “Instead, you will chase your enemies, and they will fall before you by the sword. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand. And your enemies will fall before you by the sword” (Leviticus 26:7-8).
The nation of Israel (also known as the ‘armies of the Living God’ and as YHVH’s ‘exceedingly great army’) are divine ‘Special Operations Forces’ who are simultaneously anointed to be powerful worshippers of the God of Jacob: “The high praises of God shall be in their mouths, and a two-edged sword in their hands!” (Psalm 149:6). This army is feted in the Book of Hebrews as those who “quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight” (Hebrews 11:34).
Other stirring examples of the sword of the Lord in the God-commissioned hands of Israel can be found in the following passages: Numbers 21:24; Numbers 31:8; Deuteronomy 13:15; Deuteronomy 20:13; Deuteronomy 33:29; Joshua 6:21; Joshua 8:18; Joshua 8:24; Joshua 8:26; Joshua 10:11; Joshua 10:28; Joshua 10:30; Joshua 10:32; Joshua 10:35; Joshua 10:37; Joshua 10:39; Joshua 11:10-14; Joshua 13:22; Joshua 19:47; Judges 1:8; Judges 1:25; Judges 3:21-22; Judges 4:15-16; Judges 7:14; Judges 7:20-22; Judges 20:2; 1 Samuel 15:8; 1 Samuel 17:51; 1 Samuel 18:4; 2 Samuel 1:22; 2 Samuel 23:10; 2 Samuel 24:9; 1 Kings 19:17; 2 Kings 11:20; 1 Chronicles 5:18; 1 Chronicles 21:5; Nehemiah 4:13; Psalm 144:10; Song of Solomon 3:8.
- Though not looked upon positively by most Christian theologians, this theme is a major one in Scripture.
The sword of the Lord against Israel’s anti-Semitic enemies
Many biblical passages describe the decisive work of YHVH’s sword as it brings judgment to YHVH’s anti-Semitic enemies. Here are a few such passages of many in the Scriptures:
- “For My sword has drunk its fill in heaven! Behold it shall descend for judgment upon Edom, and upon the people whom I have designated for destruction. The sword of YHVH is filled with blood. It drips with fat, with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams. For YHVH has a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Edom” (Isaiah 34:5-6)
- Adonai YHVH says this: “Because Edom has acted against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and has incurred great guilt, and avenged themselves upon them, therefore this is what Adonai YHVH says: I will also reach out with My hand against Edom and eliminate human and animal life from it. And I will turn it into ruins; from Teman even to Dedan they will fall by the sword. And I will inflict My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel. Therefore, they will act in Edom in accordance with My anger and My wrath. So they will know My vengeance, declares Adonai YHVH” (Ezekiel 25:12-14)
- “Since you [Edom] have had everlasting hostility and have turned over the sons of Israel to the power of the sword at the time of their disaster, at the time of the punishment of the end, therefore as I live, declares Adonai YHVH, I will certainly doom you to bloodshed, and bloodshed will pursue you. Since you have not hated bloodshed, therefore bloodshed will pursue you. I will make Mount Seir a waste and a desolation and I will eliminate from it one who passes through and returns. I will fill its mountains with its slain. Those killed by the sword will fall on your hills, in your valleys, and in all your ravines. I will make you a permanent desolation, and your cities will not be inhabited. Then you will know that I am YHVH” (Ezekiel 35:5-9)
- “For I will bend Judah as My bow! I will fill the bow with Ephraim! And I will stir up your sons, Zion, against your sons, Greece. And I will make you like a warrior’s sword” (Zechariah 9:13)
- “A clamor has come to the end of the earth, because YHVH has a controversy with the nations. He is entering into judgment with humanity. As for the wicked, He has turned them over to the sword, declares YHVH” (Jeremiah 25:31)
- “From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty . . . And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Revelation 19:15-21)
Trusting in the Lord who wields the sword
The Scriptures continually emphasize that, alongside of the fact that YHVH is a warrior and that He calls Israel ‘the army of the Living God,’ the God of Jacob wants the Jewish people and all of humanity to clearly comprehend that all victory comes from the God of Israel alone. It is not cutting-edge weapons or bold strategy by themselves which ultimately win the day; it is the powerful arm of God and His covenant faithfulness to the Jewish people which is the secret weapon:
- “The king is not saved by a mighty army. A warrior is not rescued by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory, nor does it rescue anyone by its great strength. Behold, the eye of YHVH is on those who fear Him, on those who wait for His covenant faithfulness” (Psalm 33:16-18)
- But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a saber, but I come to you in the name of YHVH of armies, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day YHVH will hand you over to me, and I will strike you and remove your head from you. Then I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that this entire assembly may know that YHVH does not save by sword or by spear. For the battle is YHVH’s, and He will hand you over to us!” . . . David prevailed over the Philistine with the sling and the stone. He struck the Philistine and killed him, and there was no sword in David’s hand . . . Then David ran and stood over the Philistine, and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and finished him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled (1 Samuel 17:46-51)
- “For by their own sword they did not possess the land, and their own arm did not save them, but Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence, for You favored them . . . For I will not trust in my bow, nor will my sword save me” (Psalm 44:3-6); “Strap Your sword on Your thigh, Mighty One, in Your splendor and majesty!” (Psalm 45:3)
- “But I will take pity on the House of Judah and save them by YHVH their God, and will not save them by bow, sword, battle, horses, or horsemen” (Hosea 1:7)
When the righteous sword of the Lord judges Israel’s sin
God is an honest and a righteous Judge. He must judge His people when they violate the covenant and serve pagan idols. The proof of the covenant’s validity is not only in YHVH’s blessing, but also in His discipline of His people:
- “But it shall come about, if you do not obey YHVH your God, to be careful to follow all His commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you . . . YHVH will strike you with consumption, inflammation, fever, feverish heat, and with the sword, with blight, and with mildew, and they will pursue you until you perish” (Deuteronomy 28:15-22)
- “You rely on your sword, you commit abominations, and each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife. Should you then possess the land?” (Ezekiel 33:26)
- “I will pursue them with the sword, with famine, and with plague; and I will make them an object of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse and an object of horror and hissing, and a disgrace among all the nations where I have driven them, because they have not listened to My words, declares YHVH, which I sent to them again and again by My servants the prophets; but you did not listen, declares YHVH” (Jeremiah 29:18-19)
- “The nations will know that the house of Israel went into exile for their wrongdoing, because they were disloyal to Me, and I hid My face from them. So I handed them over to their adversaries, and all of them fell by the sword” (Ezekiel 39:23)
- “For behold, I am commanding, and I will shake the house of Israel among all nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, but not a pebble will fall to the ground. All the sinners of My people will die by the sword – those who say, ‘The catastrophe will not overtake or confront us’” (Amos 9:9-10)
Moses tells us that there can even come times when YHVH calls the righteous remnant in Israel to blot out sin and rebellion from among His people: “And he said to them, ‘This is what YHVH, the God of Israel says: “Every man of you put his sword on his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor” (Exodus 32:27).
Even when the righteous remnant is active in teaching and ministry, sometimes the situation can get so desperate that God must judge His people by means of the sword and Exile: “And those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many. Yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days” (Daniel 11:33).
When the Lord removes the sword from Israel
The God of Jacob promises to gather His people back to their Promised Land. He addresses the Jewish nation who is scattered in Exile across the face of the earth, reminding them that they have survived the judgment of the sword, and calling them to repent and return to YHVH their God. At that point they will return to the Land of Israel in full physical and spiritual restoration: “You who have escaped the sword, Go! Do not stay! Remember YHVH from far away, and let Jerusalem come to your mind” (Jeremiah 51:50).
Summing up the sword of the Lord
The God of Jacob has commissioned His people to represent Him on earth, and to be His mighty and holy army. This is part of His irrevocable gifts and calling on Israel (see Romans 11:29). This calling requires the Jewish people to be courageous and steadfast. Though there will eventually be peace in Zion, and no more war will be targeted against the Jewish state, that time is not yet here.
Much of the history of Israel has entailed the sword, whether wielded by the Jewish people against their enemies, or wielded by their enemies against them. Ezekiel 37:1-14 reveals to us that a Last Days Jewish army (comprising the entire nation) will judge the enemies of God and destroy them from off the face of the earth (see also Zechariah 12:1-9, et al.). In that day, all the promises that YHVH made concerning Jewish settlement of the Promised Land (and its biblical borders) will be manifested for all the world to see and to rejoice in.
- “Though Edom says, ‘We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins,’ this is what YHVH of armies says: ‘They may build, but I will tear down. And people will call them the territory of wickedness, and the people with whom YHVH is indignant forever.’ And your eyes will see this, and you will say, ‘YHVH be exalted beyond the border of Israel!’” (Malachi 1:4-5)
How should we then pray?
- Ask the God of Israel for increased understanding and revelation about these ‘swords’ and how to pray for these upcoming seasons
- Pray for a biblically sound prophetic ministry to be restored to the leaders of Israel, and that the world-wide body of Messiah be moved by the Holy Spirit to focus with intercessory intensity on these prayer needs as we progress into the flowering of World War III
- Pray for the physical rescue of the approximately 139 Israelis (including babies) kidnapped by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP/PLO. Some hostages are being tortured, raped and starved (this based on testimonies of recently released hostages). Hamas is holding onto many corpses as well for bargaining power
- Pray for Hamas’ cruel terror dictatorship in Gaza to be finally shattered and all chains broken off the Palestinians living there, and for Iran’s role in jihadi deception, dissimulation and anti-Semitism to be uncovered and rejected by world leaders
- Pray for justice, clarity, moral courage, discernment and divine strategies for Israel’s leadership in utterly destroying the jihadi threat in all of its aspects, and for minimal loss of life on Israel’s side and for those Gazans who are truly innocent
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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