We need to bear this in mind much more than we do!
Introduction to “Keeping the Sword Drawn”
by Rev. Brian Huzinga
OUR MILITANT CHRIST
We must believe and confess the whole revelation of scripture; therefore, we must believe and confess that the Christ of the church is a militant Christ. In his tender mercy to his beloved church, and in his zealous devotion to his beloved Father, Jesus is a militant Christ toward his enemies, his Father’s enemies, and his church’s enemies.
Who can forget the story of wicked Balaam riding his donkey to go curse God’s Israel? The donkey saw something Balaam did not see, and in fear the donkey went off the path into the field. Balaam smote her. There in the vineyard the donkey saw the same terrifying sight and thrust herself against the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot. Again, Balaam smote her. The donkey kept walking through a very narrow place, and she saw the fearful sight yet again and fell down under Balaam. Again, Balaam smote her. Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey and she demanded of Balaam an explanation for those three beatings. Finally, the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam so that he could see the terrifying sight that the donkey had seen: “he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee [or literally, “to be an adversary unto thee”], because thy way is perverse before me” (Num. 22:31–32).
The angel of Jehovah whom Balaam encountered was not a common angel, but Jesus Christ in his Old Testament, preincarnate manifestation. Walking in a perverse way, Balaam and his donkey saw the Christ of Israel—a militant adversary standing in the way with his sword drawn. The New Testament Christ who is the Son of God incarnate is not essentially different than the sword-bearing angel of Jehovah in the Old Testament; therefore, the enemies of the church today see a militant Christ as they walk in their perverse ways. When the buyers and sellers of Jerusalem made the Father’s house of prayer a house of merchandise, they saw a whip-brandishing militant Christ (John 2:15). When the Jewish leaders corrupted true religion and killed the prophets, they were confronted by the militant Christ deftly wielding the sword of his effectual word and thrusting them through with denouncements: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Ye fools and blind! Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matt. 23).
After the false prophets bring their “damnable heresies” into the church (2 Pet. 2:1), it is said that they “have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness” (v. 15). Therefore they must see what Balaam saw—the militant Christ with his sword drawn.
When the enemies of the church in the final manifestation of the kingdom of antichrist see Christ returning on the clouds of glory, they will see a militant Christ, for “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,” he will come “in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and they will “be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thess. 1:7–9).
Moreover, on that last day the enemies of Christ will hide “themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains” and say to the rocks and mountains, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Rev. 6:15–17).
To the eyes of faith, no clearer revelation of the militancy of the Christ can be found than in his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection. It is exactly there at the cross that we see not only the supreme manifestation of his tender mercy to his church and his zealous devotion to his Father, but also his militancy toward his enemies. For when he was nailed to the cross to blot out the “handwriting of ordinances that was against us,” he was actively spoiling the “principalities and powers,” which are Satan and his hordes of demons, making a “shew of them openly [and] triumphing over them” (Col. 2:14–15). The cross was war. The cross was victory.
When the aged and persecuted apostle John was on the isle of Patmos and “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day,” he beheld Jesus and fell to the ground as a dead man (Rev. 1:9–10, 17). John fell down. John—the beloved disciple, who at the last passover so tenderly and intimately reclined in the bosom of Jesus (John 13:23)—fell to the ground in fear and awe. John saw the glorified Christ of heaven. Not only were Jesus’ head and hairs “white like wool,” his eyes “as a flame of fire … his feet like unto fine brass … his voice as the sound of many waters,” and his face as bright as the noon-day sun, but “out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword” (Rev. 1:14–16). Right now in heaven, the glorified Christ is a militant Christ.
Was not Christ the one who said, when sending out his apostles, “Think not that I am come to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Matt. 10:34–36)?
I say again, we must believe and confess the whole revelation of scripture; therefore, we must believe and confess that the Christ of the church is a militant Christ. If Christ, the head of the church, is a militant Christ, who stands in the way of his enemies with his sword drawn, it stands to reason that we Reformed believers confess that the church of Christ on earth is to be identified as the church militant. It is our solemn duty then, in love for the church, in faithfulness to Christ, and in zealous devotion to our great God, to be militant and keep the sword drawn.
As it says in Song of Solomon 3:8, “They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.”
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