The Sword and the Dove
By Hal Lindsey
Romans 15:33 pronounces a magnificent blessing. “May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” In Philippians 4:9, the Holy Spirit confirms this blessing for believers, saying, “The God of peace shall be with you.” He is the God of peace. That’s why, in Matthew 5:9, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Some struggle to reconcile this with what Jesus said in Matthew 10:34-36. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his household.”
To understand how this works, we must recognize the sword to which Jesus referred. It was not a physical, bladed weapon. When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Simon Peter took out his sword and attacked. He cut off the right ear of the high priest’s slave. Jesus healed the severed ear and said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”
When Jesus spoke of bringing a sword rather than peace to the world, He was referring to the sword of God’s word. The remarkable description of Jesus found in Revelation 1:16 includes the phrase, “out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword.” Hebrews 4:12 says, “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.”
His word comes from His mouth. His word is sharper than any sword. And His word divides. It sometimes divides families and friends. It can divide societies and even churches. It divides falsehood from truth. In John 8:40, Jesus said His enemies sought to kill Him because He told them the truth. The truth divides because we can either accept it or reject it.
And, like the surgery that removes cancer, truth can hurt. If a preacher stands behind a pulpit and consistently preaches truth, some will be offended and some will walk away. In Luke 6:26, Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets.”
2 Timothy 4:3-4 warns of a time when people “will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.”
Nothing is more controversial than truth. And nothing is more apt to cause sinful humans to fight. But the truth also sets us free. In John 14:6 the Lord identified Himself as the truth. That means, Jesus sets us free. To a world in bondage to sin, we must we preach Him clearly, lovingly, and persistently. The world needs Jesus presented with compassion, but without compromise.
Ultimately, the Prince of Peace brings peace to all who believe on Him. In John 14:27, He said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”