Monday, June 18, 2012

Crossed Swords

“Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses, but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God.  They will collapse and fall, but we shall rise and stand up straight.”  Psalm 20:7-8

Psalm 20 is a prayer for victory.  David is going into battle, and so this prayer was necessary for God to aid David's army in battle.  The verses I want to focus on are 7 and 8.  Sounds like those dumb enemies are going to rely completely on their chariots and horses to lead them to victory in battle.  David has something bigger up his sleeve.  He's got the Lord on his side, so he puts trust in the God of Jacob instead.  Good plan!

This is not the first time such a plan has been carried out.  When David fights Goliath, he tells the giant, “You come at me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come at you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17:45)

In second Chronicles, a king of Judah tells his people, with the enemy king is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles. In Isaiah, the prophet issues a woe declaration.  Woe to those who look to chariots and horses and do not consult the Lord.  As we said last week, a woe statement is an oracle of death.

Well, I'm not going to fight in a war anytime soon, I hope, but I do know that if I do, I need to trust in the Lord, but this is not just about physical battle.  This a statement about two different worldviews.  There are people who trust in the materials and offers of the world and there are those who rely on God.

As it says in Proverbs 3: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  As it says in Psalm 118: It is better to put your hope in God than in man.  I'm not saying it's time to stop going to the doctor, but I'm saying that we need to think of going to the doctor as doing God's will.  We need to know that the healing comes from God, not the doctor.  The doctor is the tool that God is using to heal you.

Let's go a little deeper.  The Psalm verse does not say trust in God over chariots and horses.  It says trust in the NAME of God over chariots and horses.  Ephesians 6:12 says we do not struggle against flesh and blood but against the supernatural powers behind the scenes.  I've talked about the three enemies we have to face: the world's wiles, our own sin, and the devil himself.  The name of Jesus banishes the last from sight completely.  The name of Jesus Christ is the name above all names.  It is the name of salvation.  When we speak it, we are asking God to help.  That is why using his name in vain is breaking one of the ten commandments.  We are calling on his name while still putting our faith in chariots and horses  God is already drawing us toward him, but when we cry out his name, we are acknowledging that we understand and agree.  We are saying AMEN to God.

The name of Jesus puts up a barrier between us and the world's temptations.  God cannot be tempted.  We can be, but if we put Jesus up between us and the temptations, he becomes the blocker.  Once again, God is doing these things in our lives already.  When we call on his name, we are acknowledging him.  We are trusting in the Lord with all our hearts and leaning not on our own understanding.

When we come up here for healing and blessing, let us think about Jesus' name.  Let us think about how we do not put our trust in the chariots and horses of this world but in the name of Jesus Christ.  If you have an ailment, it may not be cured, but everyone who comes up here is healed, because healing involves transferring your faith from the world to the one who made the world.  When we transfer that faith, our whole direction in life is healed.  We are on the right path, a path that is straight, and that is the path to healing.

In Medieval times, the knight's sword was shaped like a cross, so that when he wielded it, he was reminded that God was the one protecting him, not the sword itself.  He wasn't going to put his faith in swords but in the name of the Lord.  We may not carry swords today, but we do carry Bibles.  As it says in Ephesians 6, the sword of the spirit that we pick up is the Word of God, and we can wield it like a sword to protect us.  Well, not only is the sword in the shape of a cross, but the cross is in the shape of a sword.  Jesus was crucified on the cross, and it was used as a weapon against him, to defeat him, but what actually happened was that he took that weapon and he wielded it against death.  Through the cross, Jesus defeated death.  He wielded it like a weapon, and like a sword he used it to defeat death.  Now, we can rely on the name of Jesus to protect us from the world, the flesh, ad the devil, and when we call on the name of Jesus, he comes forth and uses that cross as a sword, protecting us from all those evils.

The sword is a cross and the cross is a sword.  Jesus is the knight who protects us and saves us with the cross in his name.