The Sword of the Spirit
As the mountain shadows lengthened and the sky darkened, the chiefs broke up into smaller groups to discuss these things further, and the onlookers began to disperse toward their nearby homes. We too rode back to the home of Rephah and Rebekah, where they brought the animals into the slightly sunken stall at the end of the house.
“Perhaps Nathan could show Pegasus where he might find some tasty grass,” I suggested. “I think it would be good for the two of them to get to know each other better.”
“Yes, that is a good idea,” Rephah agreed. “Would you like to do that, Nathan?”
“Yes, abba,” he said. “Come, Pegasus. I know a good place!” With that, the boy and his horse ran happily into the waning light of day.
After putting hay into the mangers, we talked far into the evening by firelight. “We have only been taught,” Rephah said, “that we were to hate the idolatrous Philistines, and that the ultimate goal was to destroy them all so that we could claim all the land as our inheritance. Your teaching about loving other nations is very different and seems to contradict what God commanded Israel to do.”
“I understand the difficulty,” I said, “but the key is to resolve the apparent contradiction between the covenant with Abraham and the covenant with Moses at Horeb. When we recognize that the purpose of these covenants appear to be paradoxical, then we are on the road to discovery.”
“Perhaps,” I continued, “a good place to start would be to know the difference between the two swords.”
“What two swords?” Rephah asked.
“Everyone knows about physical swords used in war, but is it not true that the tongue also is said to be a sharp sword?” I asked. 78
“Yes, that is so,” Rephah said.
“How does it differ from an iron sword?” I asked.
“Well, an iron sword has the power to kill, but the tongue kills in a different manner,” he replied.
“The tongue is sharper than any two-edged sword,” I explained. “It has the power to divide soul from spirit and to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. 79 That is something that an iron sword cannot do. Iron swords can only separate a head from its body. When soul and spirit are divided, death occurs. Therefore, the tongue has the power to kill, as we separate and discern the difference between soul and spirit.”
“I do not understand,” Rephah said with a puzzled look.
“Adam was made a living soul,” I told him. “You are descended from parents who were all living souls, but who also became mortal after Adam sinned. Mortality is ingrained within your soul, passed down to you from generation to generation through the seed of your fathers. But your spirit is different, for it has a conscious mind that is separate from the mind of your soul. Your spiritual mind is not mortal, for mortality resides only in your body and its fleshly soul.”
“We have not had any clear teaching on the nature of man’s spirit,” Rephah said, “nor how it differs from the soul.”
“Your spirit is the point of contact between you and God. It is the mediator between heaven and earth. There is a sword of the spirit that is the word of God—the same word that God spoke when He created all men. That creative word lodged in you and formed your spirit, and it is the only thing that keeps your mortal soul alive.”
“That is fascinating,” Rephah replied.
“If your fathers at Mount Horeb had been willing to hear the word of God directly, they would have been given the knowledge of how to use the sword of the spirit to conquer the Canaanites by the voice of Truth coming from the tongue. But because your fathers were too fearful, they remained on a soulish level in their thinking, and for this reason, they possessed only carnal swords. God assisted them in conquering Canaan by the edge of the sword, but Israel missed the better way that reflected the true heart of God.”
“It seems that every time you open your mouth a new surprise is revealed!” Rephah said. “Why does no one today know these things? Why have the High Priests in Israel not told us of these things?”
“Truth is progressive,” I answered. “The people are not ready to hear, because there is more blindness and deafness than they realize. Any time a man rejects the word of God, whether through fear or through stubbornness, he blinds his eyes and stops his ears. This is what happened to Israel at Mount Horeb. Their rejection of the word of God stopped the flow of revelation and postponed it for another day.”
“So are you saying,” Rephah said, “that this sword of the spirit should have been our weapon in taking the land of Canaan?”
“If Israel had been capable of wielding such a sword, then, yes, indeed,” I replied. “The day will come, a day that is many generations from now, that another Joshua will lead your children into a greater manifestation of the Kingdom of God. It will be based upon the second covenant that God made with Israel in the plains of Moab. Those who hear Him and believe His ways will use this spiritual sword to convert all men from their idolatry and bring them into the light of Truth, so that they all may be blessed with Abraham.”
“Is such a thing possible?” Rephah asked. “That is a monumental task. If Israel has difficulty keeping from idols, how much more the other nations!”
“The task seems impossible,” I said, “but with God all things are possible. 80 All that is needed is for God to remove the veil of blindness that is spread over all nations. Once they are given the ability to see, they will turn back to their Creator and become that which they were created to be. Your fathers conquered much of the land of Canaan, but God would not allow them to complete their conquest, because they conquered by carnal swords. The greater Joshua will conquer by the sword of the spirit, and He will complete the task.
“Will He then conquer all of Canaan, including the Philistines?” Rephah asked.
“More than that,” I said, “He will conquer the entire world, and in the end all things will be put under His feet. Do you not recall God's promise to Moses, saying, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord?” 81
“I remember that, but no one has explained its meaning. Even so, that is a very big task,” Rephah answered. “Most men in the world are idolaters.”
“It will take a long time,” I admitted, "but because God has vowed to do it, it is only a matter of time before His promise is fulfilled. In fact, the world is a bigger place than you know. There are tribes and races far away that no Israelite has ever seen. Beyond the great sea are lands that are unknown to you, though no doubt you have heard stories of strange places from the Danites who have sailed with the men of Tyre and Sidon. Many of them have formed new cities and colonies in other parts of the world, and many Israelites have gone with them to settle there.”
“Yes, we know this,” Rephah said. “It has kept our population low, especially among the people of Dan. The inheritance of the tribe of Dan is small, because the Philistines were never displaced. So some went north and others sailed on ships in the Great Sea to find new territory.”
“Yes,” I said, “and some of them even found the land where we were born.”
“Where is that land?” Rephah asked.
“A long way,” I said, “too far to describe. But some day your children will wander until many find it. When they do, they will face many of the same problems of blindness that Israel has faced in their own land. Even so, the solution will come in the end, but not before your children have degraded themselves more than you see even today.”
It was dark before Nathan returned. His face was sober, much too contemplative for a five-year-old boy. I knew that Pegasus had shown him many of the deep things of God, secrets that few on earth knew and even fewer understood in those days. The light of revelation was yet dim, for much had yet to unfold in the divine plan of history. And yet it pleased the Creator to reveal His secret to his servants, the prophets—even children—so that they would be able to provide a double witness from the earth to establish all things spoken from heaven.
We spread blankets and slept the rest of the night.
- Revelation 1:16; 19:15
- Hebrews 4:12
- Matthew 19:26
- Numbers 14:21