TODAY’S READING: PROVERBS 12-14
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” – Proverbs 12:18
This proverb contrasts a person who speaks rash words (more literally, one who babbles or speaks thoughtlessly) with a wise person and his tongue.
The result rash and thoughtless words of the one are like sword thrusts. Sword thrusts are meant to kill. However, this is contrasted with the result of the tongue of the wise that brings healing.
In Revelation, John uses this contrast to reveal a wonderful truth about Jesus.
Speaking of Jesus, Revelation 1:16 says, “from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword.”
Then, in Revelation 2:12, Jesus says the letter to the church in Pergamum is “the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.”
In Revelation 2:16, Jesus tells this church, “Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.”
In Revelation 19, John sees a vision of Jesus on a white horse. Verse 15 says, “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.” Then, in a second vision, John sees the beast and the false prophet captured and thrown into the lake of fire. But, of all the kings of the earth and their armies gathered to make war against Jesus, verse 21 says, “And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse.”
In these five verses, John sees Jesus with a sword coming from his mouth. Obviously, Jesus does not literally have a sword coming from his mouth. But, Jesus does have two things that come from his mouth – a tongue and words.
We know that Jesus is wise. John 7:46 says, “The officers answered, ‘No one ever spoke like this man!'” And, Matthew 7:28-29 says, “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
However, Jesus is not just wise. Jesus is wisdom, indeed, the wisdom of God. First Corinthians 1:22-24 says, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
While John pictures Jesus with a sword in his mouth that slays, the meaning that he is conveying is that Jesus has the tongue of the wise that brings healing. John is using such vivid imagery – a sword coming out of someone’s mouth – to cause us to question and think what we believe to be true.
What kind of sword brings healing?
One that symbolizes the very words of Jesus.
How does this sword from Jesus’s mouth, the tongue of the wise, bring healing?
Hebrews 4:12-13 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Jesus’ sword tongue brings healing because it divides soul and spirit within us. His sword tongue separates truth from lie, spirit from truth, real from fake, life from death. When all that is false and not God is separated from us, then are we truly healed.
Revelation is full of symbols and imagery. It is no coincidence that five times John records Jesus with a sword coming from his mouth. Five is the number of grace. Grace is divine act of God. Grace is undeserved mercy. Grace heals. We have received from the fullness of the grace of Jesus.
Notice that in the last mention of Jesus’ sword tongue that it is applied to even those who gathered together with the beast and false prophet to make war against Jesus. But, only the beast and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire. Those that were gathered with them are slain – no healed!!! – by Jesus’ sword tongue! Even those that gathered to make war against Jesus receive his healing grace.
These five mentions of Jesus’ sword tongue that brings healing are contrasted with five other mentions of the word sword in Revelation (6:4, 8; 13:10 twice, and 13:14). But, these swords are associated with the four horses that are clearly from Satan (they bring nothing but death, the power of which belongs to Satan – Hebrews 2:14-15), those that actually kill with the sword, and the beast that was wounded by a sword. Instead of bringing healing, these swords bring death. Here is the other side of the contrast in Proverbs 12:18 made by John.
So, yes. Jesus has a tongue with words of wisdom on it that is pictured as sword. But, the tongue of the wise, and therefore the sword in Jesus’ mouth, brings healing. The healing comes by separating, which is the action of a sword, all that is not of God from us.