Damage Assessment

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34

Sword – If you’re serious about Yeshua’s declarations, this one must upset you.  Don’t the angels sing, “Peace on earth”?  Isn’t the gospel a message of peace with God?  Then how is it possible for Yeshua to so bluntly contrast His mission with this startling declaration?  Not peace, but a sword!  It just can’t be.  Are we so deluded in our understanding of the nature of God that we have missed His destructive intent?  Doesn’t this same Yeshua send his disciples out on a mission of peace?  What can He possibly mean by such a pronouncement?  R. T. France comments, “But the way to peace is not the way of avoidance of conflict, and Jesus will be continuously engaged in robust controversy . . . God’s peaceful rule can be accomplished only by sharing his experience of conflict.”[1] The sword is imagery of harm and suffering.  There is no peace without injury for those who are called to be peacemakers.  If we would follow Yeshua, we will necessarily have to carry the instrument of our torture.

Step back for a moment and consider God’s plan for peace.  It begins with a strategy of suffering and sacrifice.  Yes, there is peace.  Yes, there is fellowship with God and men.  But the price of winning the peace is enormous for both parties.  The prophets all died.  The holy men of God were rejected, beaten and murdered.  The son of the vineyard owner met the same fate.  And so do His followers.  Those who look for peace without cost have not met Yeshua on the way to Golgotha.  They walk a different path – the path of compromise with the world.  Yeshua’s path is narrow.  It invariably and inevitably results in the world’s hatred and harm.  Proverbs tells us the righteous man will fall seven times – the number of completion, the number of his death – and yet he will rise again (eight is the number of new beginnings).  The Greek word for witness is martys.

Let’s reassess our willingness to follow.  Peter declares that we are called to His suffering and that no harm is too great if we have not yet suffered unto blood.  Paul makes it quite clear that suffering is the pathway of the King.  God Himself agonizes over this road.  He is appalled at the enormity of the cost yet He does not shrink from the price.  Are we of that mind?  Do we come to Him expecting wounds or do we complain when we are bruised?  Are we ready to die in this fight or do we think God promises a tranquil life of our choosing?

Of course, not all battle wounds are righteous ones.  The conflict we must endure is the conflict that comes from declaring His name and His way in the world.  If His words are on your lips and His feet lead your path, then the blood you spill is worthy of heaven.  Maybe it’s time to reassess our view of blessings.  Maybe those who seemed to be spared the troubles and travails of living for the Kingdom are really serving in a different army.

Topical Index:  sword, peace, martyr, blessing, sacrifice, Matthew 10:34

[1] R. T.  France, The Gospel of Matthew, p. 410.


  1. “Do we come to Him expecting wounds or do we complain when we are bruised? Are we ready to die in this fight or do we think God promises a tranquil life of our choosing?”

    From Bebo Norman “The Way We Mend”

    It’s the way we mend
    We tear it all down and we’ll start it again
    And I don’t know how but You find me where we begin
    And that’s just the way, the way that we mend

    They’re pouring out
    From my mouth
    So many words all spoken wrong
    But You come alive
    And somehow I find my way

    It’s the way we mend
    We tear it all down and we’ll start it again
    And I don’t know how but You find me where we begin
    And that’s just the way, the way that we mend

  2. The cross of (the) Christ is the mystery. The cross of Christ determines whether we are “with Him” or “against Him”. The cross of Christ is at the same time, “both” -the great unifier and the great divider. The cross of Christ is central, crucial, confrontational and divisional.
    We (all) must come to the Father, through the shed blood of the perfect Lamb on Calvary’s tree. Y’shua is the Way. Y’shua is the Door. Y’shua is the Passover Lamb, spoken of by the prophets and revealed to be the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. He is the ONE who “seals up the sum”, perfect in wisdom and beauty. He is the straight and narrow way that leads unto life.
    Christ is G-d incarnate. The Creator became the creature. YHWH became a man, lived among us for thirty three years, walked this earth, shared the same air we breath, ate the same food we eat, shared our sorrows, was in every way tempted just as we are tempted, and even though “no fault could be found in Him,” died the death of a common criminal in the absolute worst death ever recorded in human history.
    Does this offend anyone? Christ, the Living Word of G-d incarnated in flesh? Can this be? Or is this “divisive” and “offensive?”
    “This is how you can recognize God’s Spirit: Every spirit who acknowledges that Jesus the Messiah has become human-and remains so-is from God.” (I John 4.2)
    “Where is the unity? Where is the shalom? It is found “only” in and through the cross of Christ. Christ is our Unifier. We may find shalom with G-d and shalom with man-only through the cross and through the holy, precious, sacred, sacrificial shed blood of Y’shua HaMashiach, the G-d/Man. He (alone) is the “straight and narrow Way that leads unto life. He is the Door (the entranceway) into Life. -“Both” in this world and the next.
    Christ, and Christ alone. Very “narrow”- isn’t it?
    “Therefore, we must pay much more careful heed to the things we have heard, so that we will not drift away. For if the word God spoke through angels became binding, so that every violation and act of disobedience received its just deserts in full measure, then how will we escape if we ignore such a great deliverance? This deliverance, which was first declared by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him;” (Hebrews 2.1)
    “But while he was thinking about this, an angel of ADONAI appeared to him in a dream and said, “Yosef, son of David, do not be afraid to take Miryam home with you as your wife; for what has been conceived in her is from the Ruach HaKodesh. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means `ADONAI saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins.” All this happened in order to fulfill what ADONAI had said through the prophet, “The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him `Immanu El.”(The name means, “God is with us.”) When Yosef awoke he did what the angel of ADONAI had told him to do — he took Miryam home to be his wife, but he did not have sexual relations with her until she had given birth to a son, and he named him Yeshua. (Whose very name is “Salvation?”)
    The overwhelming evidence is in. It is now decision time. -Who is this King of Glory? What then should I do with Jesus who is called the Christ? The very same crowd who just a week ago were crying “Hail Him, hail Him!” were now crying- “Nail Him,nail him.” Should we “run with the crowd” and crucify Him, or should we fall at His feet and crown Him King of kings and LORD of lords?

  3. How interesting to read about this sword today. I am reminded of Heb. 4:12-“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Nothing escapes Him, NOTHING! He uses whatever means, short dagger or long blade to cut however thick skinned we may have become through disobedience. The deepest recesses of the heart can not hide forever.
    This circumcision is painful, but necessary to enter in His rest. Many gloss over these passages but it is essential we do not miss this! Thank you, Skip for presenting us with the gospel today. Yes, this is good news to those whom Father grants with the ears to hear.

    1. This circumcision is painful

      Hi Mary,

      It has taken me a while to get the point of circumcision.

      Maybe because of its lovely Latin sound.

      Do you know the Hebrew word for circumcision?

  4. Michael, not sure you do not know the Hebrew word for circumcision, or just want to make some other point to Mary, but from the Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible numerically coded to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, it states:– I am not able to type the Hebrew letters for circumcised, but they are given, & then states in black letter: , ‘ namal’, naw-mal’; ( again in black letters: ‘ a prim. root; to become clipped or (spec.) circumcised; —( branch to) be cut down (off), circumsise——-

    Michael I am interested in how your new job is going? Do you have time to read and write on the job? My thinking terms of work– were never think about anything else but the “job” during the job, I guess I am seeing such different type workplaces— even the teachers today, have days several days off to do this or that: when I taught we had three a year, and each time I left a place/district, I always lost all of my days of leave, ( & not paid for them either) because I would not think of taking them unless a real ER! —- So much freedom today in all areas, and so many people still complaining about “their rights”. There is so much to be thankful for in conveniences in all areas of life today, that are simply taken for granted.—– —– Well, that may not be on the Hebrew word for circumcison, or perhaps it could be.–L.B.

    1. Hi LaVaye-Ed,

      Good to hear from you and thanks for the information!

      I was in a bit of a rush and wanted to make my point to Mary, without doing any research.

      I have not read Mary’s reply, but my point was that circumcision for me has always been rather meaningless.

      Sort of like losing your first tooth.

      Mary seemed to be alluding to different process, which in my mind did not correspond to a simple, clean, “cut.”

      Rather it might be better compared, in my mind, to a metaphorical application of the Greek term,

      “Sparagmos (σπαραγμός) refers to an ancient Dionysian ritual in which a living animal, or sometimes even a human being, would be sacrificed by being dismembered, by the tearing apart of limbs from the body.”

      For me, problems of the “heart” have always seemed mor like a “tearing apart,” than a “clean cut.”

      Let me get back to you regarding my job, but in short the first went very well; I was treated with great kindness and given much support by the team.

      My job is almost all reading and writing, and there is usually more to do each day than time.

      I tend to wake up early and read our daily Hebrew Word Study before getting ready for work.

      And I tend to read related texts before going to bed at night.

      Again, good to hear from you!

  5. Hi Michael,
    In looking at the word, circumcision, I see it is only used once in the OT. That word is מוּלָה (muwlah). The root word, מוּל (muwl), means to circumcise, cut, cut off. The implication here is metaphorical to me because I am female. However, I view this in light of these verses, in particular: Deut.10:16 “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff necked.” This is then in light of Deut. 30:6 where YHWH tells “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” There is a far greater implication here as we are told to do the circumcision, to cut away that part of the “flesh” that hides the essence of who we are, the creative and active member of the body. The next verse tell us that God is working also as He peels back the tough veneer and is able to see that part that we can only see once we have cooperated with Him through obedience. Thinking about this circumcision in a similar aspect is to see how powerless we are in this process. This cutting away produces a tenderness that only He can heal. In our weakness, His strength is perfected. He soothes the pain, doesn’t He? It appears to me, that one who has been circumcised, enters into a rest. I doubt there is a whole lot of strenuous, useless activity going on during this time. We are somewhat a captive audience. He pours the Word out and it directs us in the way of true life worthy of the Name. We work together, in concert, as He is the Creator of the music, and the Conductor of the symphony.

    I am impressed to relate these verses to James chapter 4 where we are told to come close to God so He can come close to us. YHWH rewards obedience, doesn’t He, when He knows the thoughts and motives of our heart and we do what He asks? Oftentimes, those around us cannot see these “rewards”, because they are looking for them in worldly terms, rather than the benevolence of God in operation as in Romans 8:28.

    On a lighter note, James 4:9 sounds like it could transform the metaphorical aspect of circumcision to the literal surgical procedure: “Be afflicted, and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.” Sounds REALLY painful…

    1. There is a far greater implication here as we are told to do the circumcision, to cut away that part of the “flesh” that hides the essence of who we are, the creative and active member of the body.

      Hi Mary,

      Your statement above seems to perfectly describe the meaning of the metaphor.

      And the remainder of your argument is so beautifully stated that I don’t want to spoil it with a response 🙂

  6. Dear Michael,
    Your graciousness here is exceeded only by the love of Christ. Bless you as you travel one step at a time. May His Presence be with you. Go in peace.

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