Turn That Sword Around
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20 NIV)
Picture this: the Israelites walking out of Egypt towards the Red Sea. About two million men, women, children and elderly people leaving a place and centuries of bondage and slavery on a new path of freedom. This is truly a “saved, but not (yet) free” moment as the Pharaoh changes his mind one last time and chases the children of God with his entire Egyptian army to the Red Sea. Here in the water (symbolizing baptism) the descendants of Jacob are once and for all liberated from their oppressor.
What is one of the first stories we read after the Red Sea? The Israelites are fighting the Amalekites (Genesis 17:8-16) and – as long as Moses raises his arms in prayer – the Israelites are winning. But how could Joshua and his men win from the Amalekites without any weapons? As slaves in Egypt they certainly were not allowed to own any swords, shields, bows or arrows.
Look back at one of the last verses of the Red Sea account (Genesis 14:30, NIV, underline added): “That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.” Clearly this was not the west shore where they departed but the east shore of the Red Sea where they celebrated their freedom with Miriam’s song and dance. I can only imagine that the Israelites went down to the shore to collect the swords and other weaponry from the Egyptian corpses. Just as with any other victory, the plunder belongs to the victor.
So the swords once used against them in oppression, the very tools once used to keep them into bondage, are now in their own hands to defend themselves from the Amalekites. The weapons used against them in the past are now working for them!
Think about another famous chapter in the Old Testament: Ezekiel 37, the valley of the dry bones. It shows that our Father can bring to life even the deadest (yes, this actually is a word!) thing or person. What stands out to me in this prophecy is that the result is not a valley full of living people, but a valley full of living soldiers. Verse 10 calls the result “a vast army”. Just as in Exodus, the tables are completely turned. It starts with bones; it ends with an army that faces the enemy who initially caused their dry, dead and defeated state of being.
Now to Romans 8 where the apostle Paul calls us ‘more than conquerors’. We know what a ‘conqueror’ is, but how can we be ‘more than conquerors’? John Piper explains this perfectly by stating that “a conqueror defeats his enemy, but a more-than-conqueror makes the enemy serve his own purposes”. Isn’t that amazing? There is more than just defeating the enemy; we can make his sword work for us and aim it back at the one who tried to kill us with it.
Combine these pictures of Paul in Romans 8, the valley of the dry bones and the Egyptian sword and we understand that we are set free not just to live but to fight back. If you were addicted but Jesus came to break that power in your life, you now hold a sword in your hand that can free other addicts. Were you abused physically, emotionally, verbally or spiritually but Jesus healed your wounds, you now have weapons that can help others in similar situations. Whatever stronghold came down, in the plunder lies weaponry the enemy does not want you to pick up as you are the expert who can push him back in this specific area.
I once heard one say: “Jesus is through you, Who He is to you”. Is He a Healer to you? Then He will be a Healer through you. Is He a Chain-breaker to you? Then He will be a Chain-breaker through you. Which sword did Jesus save you from? Turn that sword around.
Besides serving as a board member at Totally Transformed Ministries, Edgar holds a PhD and works as a Senior Purchasing Manager at a building supply company. He serves as a deacon at his church, and has led a couples life group with his wife.