TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 31-32
“When Pharaoh sees them, he will be comforted for all his multitude, Pharaoh and all his army, slain by the sword, declares the Lord God. For I spread terror in the land of the living; and h shall be laid to rest among the uncircumcised, with those who are slain by the sword, Pharaoh and all his multitude, declares the Lord God.” – Ezekiel 32:31-32
These are the closing words of Ezekiel’s prophecies regarding Egypt. Interestingly, there are six prophecies regarding Egypt in Ezekiel. Six is the number that symbolizes man and his flesh. So, it is even more interesting that these prophecies about Egypt are filled with the word uncircumcised and the phrase “slain by the sword.”
Further, these six prophecies about Egypt conclude Ezekiel’s prophecies regarding the nations of the world. Counting Egypt, Ezekiel prophesies against seven nations from chapters 25 to 32. Seven is the number of completion or perfection. More specifically, seven is the number of spiritual completion or perfection.
The seven nations Ezekiel prophesies about are:
Although the Spirit has not revealed it to me yet, I believe there is something to the meaning of the names of the nations Ezekiel prophesies about. They are:
- A great people
- Who’s your daddy? or What’s your father?
- Red or ruddy (as in clay or of the earth)
- Mourners, causing to mourn, land of the wanderers
- Fishery, fish, plenty of fishing
- Double distress or double stronghold
Perhaps the meaning of these seven nations is a great (as in the number of) people calling out who is my father. They are clay and of the earth. Therefore, they mourn in their land of wandering. But, there is a rock that fishes for people to pull them out of their distress and the strongholds that bind them.
Regardless, Egypt as the seventh and last nation Ezekiel prophesies about joins all the others in the pit. Egypt was uncircumcised, hard of heart. And, Egypt was slain by the sword.
But, in this sense, Egypt is just like all the other nations. Every nation of this world is hard of heart. Every nation of this world attempts to keep itself alive by the sword.
Therefore, Psalm 2:1-2 says, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed.”
These verses are quoted in Acts 4. They are attributed to the kings of this world, the Gentiles, and all the peoples of Israel as crucifying, piercing with the sword, Jesus. It is as if all the kingdoms of the world were fighting with sword against the kingdom of God.
But, in John 18:36, Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting.”
And, when Peter cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest with a sword, Jesus said, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).
In contrast to Jesus’ kingdom, every kingdom of the world fights with the sword. And, because every kingdom of the world fights with the sword, every kingdom of the world will die by the sword.
Revelation 13:7-10 precisely speaks to this when it says, “Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear: If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword he must be slain.”
Those who worship the beast will make war against all people with a physical sword and they will die by that sword.
But, Jesus transforms this phrase “slain by the sword.”
In Ephesians 6:17, Paul tells us that part of spiritual armor is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
John 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” John clearly says here and elsewhere that Jesus is the word of God.
Jesus, the word of God, is the sword of the Spirit. But, this is not a literal sword that is designed to kill. For, in Ephesians 6:12, when Paul is telling us to don our spiritual armor, he says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Remember, Egypt means double stronghold, and it was the last of the nations that Ezekiel prophesied about. He repeatedly referenced that the double stronghold would be slain by the sword.
So, Paul connects all of this together in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, which says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
We war, but not with a physical sword. We war with a spiritual sword, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, which is Jesus. This spiritual sword is destroy our mental strongholds, which are every the thought, argument, and opinion we have that is against the true nature of who God is as revealed by the image of God, the exact representation of his character, Jesus Christ.
We are told more about this spiritual sword in Hebrews 4:12-13. “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 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, the word of God, the sword of the Spirit, does not kill. Rather, he separates soul from spirit. He separates truth from in the most inward parts of us. Therefore, he can separate the thoughts and intentions of heart, purifying us and consecrating us for God.
And, no creature, nothing ever created, is hidden from the living and active word that is sharper than any two-edged sword. Every creature is naked and exposed before this sword. Everything created, instead of being killed by the sword, will have everything that is not of God separated from their being so that they come to spiritual perfection or maturity and can be summed up in Christ.
Revelation 1:16 tells us that this two-edged sword, the word of God that is living and active, comes from the mouth of Jesus. And, it is this two-edged sword that comes from the mouth of Jesus that brings us full circle back to the nations and transforms their being “slain by the sword.”
Speaking of Jesus, Revelation 19:15 says, “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.” Since the sword is coming from Jesus’ mouth, it is not a literal sword. As we have already seen, this sword is the word of God. And, it has the spiritual effect of destroying strongholds, our wrong thoughts and ideas of God.
So, Revelation 19:19-21 says, “And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered together to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.”
The phrase “slain by the sword” is only found 10 times in the Old Testament. It is only found in Ezekiel’s prophecies about Egypt. And, it is regularly mentioned in connection with “the uncircumcised.”
The only time we find the phrase “slain by the sword” is here in Revelation 19:21. And, Jesus completely transforms the meaning from what we think we read in Ezekiel.
Notice that Revelation 19:20 specifically says that the beast and the false prophet, “these two,” were thrown in the lake of fire. These two were thrown in the lake of fire because they had deceived all the peoples of the earth.
What had they deceived the peoples of the earth about?
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, which says, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
The beast and the false prophet deceived, or blinded, the peoples of the world to the gospel of Jesus, who is the image of God. The beast and the false prophet were the source of “arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God.” So, they were destroyed.
But, who else was with the beast and the false prophet?
“The kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army.”
What happens to everyone else gathered with the beast and the false prophet?
They aren’t thrown in the lake of fire.
Revelation 19:21 says, “And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse.”
The rest, the kings of the earth and their armies that had gathered to make war against Jesus, were not killed with a physical sword.
No, they were slain by the sword from Jesus’ mouth, the word of God, the sword of the Spirit, the spiritual sword that destroys every mental stronghold, every wrong argument, every wrong idea, every wrong notion, we have about God.
The rest, every creature, were not killed. The rest were slain by the sword, the word of God that is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, that separates soul from spirit, that discerns and divides the intentions of our hearts.
In other words, they were circumcised in the heart. This is what means to be “slain by the sword.” You are circumcised. The flesh, the old man, is cut away so that you can be raised to new life.
This is why “all the birds were gorged with their flesh.” The rest weren’t killed by Jesus so that birds could eat them.
No, the rest were circumcised of their flesh and the birds gorging on their flesh represents the utter destruction of their flesh, their old man.
Jesus utterly transforms the phrase “slain by the sword.” In his hands, from his mouth, it is not a sword that kills. Rather, it is a sword that takes every wrong idea and thought we have about God so that we can live in the newness of life. And, this is to be so for every creature so that all, whether in heaven or in earth, can be summed in up Christ.