The words of Simeon in the Temple were those of confirmation. Luke describes him as a man who had the Holy Spirit upon him, revealed to by the Spirit was God’s project for the time Simeon waited. Simeon got to hold the vessel of salvation in his arms, what a marvellous story! I remember preaching this message in Dundee in 1994. It was for me one of the most prophetic messages received. I travelled there with a minister friend to a week holiday in Dundee, with a Sunday morning preach what was John Carr’s home Church.
What was about to come was a crossroads in the affairs of the Church as we knew it. The message exhorted us all to be ready for whatever way Jesus was about to appear. He appeared to Simeon as a baby but the Holy Spirit, who always leads us to Jesus, led him to the Saviour and Lord. This message never loses its relevance.
The True prophetic word of our time carries a cost
Every year around New Year there are a plethora of so called prophetic words trying to ascertain the landscape of the year to come. I have come to realise they are almost all wrong. No one who wrote this time last year could have predicted the crisis that would come to the world. For me predicting the year does nothing for faith, and can sometimes strike fear and strike presumption too. However the words of Simeon carried a weight and that price was levelled at Mary. The Word concerning the sword to pierce is a hard word to carry. This would be a constant price for carrying Jesus, mothering Jesus, and seeing Him grow into the man who would bring Salvation to the world. The prophetic word may come to us without cost, but the cost to see it come to pass may be a price too many will deny.
It reminds me of Exodus 19, when God had spoken about Israel being a nation of priests. They loved the idea, yet when confronted with Horeb, the lightnings, trumpet blasts, thunderings, they fled and forsook their call. The cost of being confronted with Holiness was too much. This is the manifestation of the sword for which Simeon calls for in conversing with Mary. Whatever God speaks to us, in any way He does, it always comes from the perspective that we are a fundamental piece in the puzzle of its fulfilment and what is fulfilled is always manifest through our obedience to the steps that God causes us to walk through.
The fulfilment of God’s promises will be fulfilled however we embrace them, either they will be manifest in us, through us, or in spite of us. There are occasions we will see blessings poured out on others whilst it seems we have been passed by. In 2 Kings 13, we see the General ask Elisha if it could be that abundance and spoil would be weighed out, “Could this be?” He asked. Elisha said “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will taste none of it.” The fulfilment of that word meant that that doubting General was trampled underfoot. He lost his life. How many will “lose their faith” in their disbelief? It is not even enough to believe, but we need to constantly walk in its conditions.
The sword would not pierce once but many times.
God opened this up for me, as I began to see parallels with our own lives. The “Sword” would come to Mary many times during her life. The first “sword” would be manifest in their flight into Egypt, as Herod sought Him out. Consider the heart of this mother. Mother Mary is the centre of much controversy amongst Christians, but when you consider the cost of her being mother, you understand doctrine concerning her over the centuries, as you see God could have bestowed great honour to her. Mary is not some saintly figure polished in the paintings seem to be depicted, her motherhood of Jesus carried the great price which was like the piercing of a great sword into her heart. The Ultimate Sword would manifest in His Passion. When we identify this mother heart we can also consider the Father Heart of God Himself, and understood that this plan of salvation has a great price and great pain!
The sword would manifest also when Jesus was 12 years old, Mary losing Him, and both parents searching Him out, finding Him in the Temple Precinct. His words were like a sword: “Would you not know I was about my Father’s Business?”
This statement is beyond reproach from a mother, having searched 3 days, would and should she not know? Did she not remember what He was destined for? She knew that she had borne Him, but He was not hers! How she was reminded!
The next time is the scene when both cousins and Mary waited for Jesus outside his teaching area, it was told they were waiting for Him. He asks “Who is my mother and brothers and sisters?” Again He defines that all those who do His Father’s will would turn into His family.
In Cana, in John 2, Mary sees opportunity for Jesus to work a miracle, Jesus says His time had not yet come. Mary knows that once this does, so what sword she was to expect would come into greater weight and would pierce more and more.
Mel Gibson captures in his film “The Passion” the punishment scene, with Mary in the crowd watching on, weeping. This again is the fulfilment of that “sword” word, piercing her deep! Can you imagine this scene?
It goes without saying that the ultimate scene of Jesus on the Cross is the full weight of that sword upon Mary’s heart. We know that Jesus rises and Mary sees her Son again. We must recognise that being His mother was no easy task.
So from these events we know that this Sword Simeon prophesied to Mary about would come many times throughout her motherhood.
I have not come to bring peace but a sword
These are the words of Jesus Himself. Bearing Jesus as Mary did was a sword, and Jesus Himself brings the sword to all of us! So the sword that Simeon saw was the Sword that Jesus brings to our hearts!
Our traditional Jesus meek and mild that has been preached wrongly, is not the true mission of Jesus. We need His Sword to bring the division needed, the distinction to be seen. The corruption of the world is rapidly reaching fulness, and judgment will fall. The pierced heart by His sword will recognise the times and seasons, will bear Jesus in their pain. They will know the cost of following Jesus. Not all earthly family structures will follow Jesus, and in these days even more is apparent division appearing. We preach against division, rightly so in the context of God’s covenant people, but when the Church looks like the world, so the sword which comes to some as a vocation, will come to others in the form of judgment.
The Church has become political, and politics has become a church. We need the sword that comes from the Lord. To come to divide between soul and spirit. To define the holy and profane. And in these days the manifestation of that sword will become more and more evident!!
And out of His mouth came a two edged sword! Revelation 1.
This tells us where the sword comes, from Jesus’ mouth. Revelation shows us in chapters 2 and 3 this sword at work, bringing words of encouragement and rebuke to the early Church. The two edged sword has two functions: 1. Cut covenant (Hebrew karath, used for covenant means “to cut”)2. Cut off the enemies of Christ. For those who meet God in covenant will experience akin to Genesis 15 when God moved between the cut pieces. He will move in between our broken hearts!
In that day the LORD with His sore and great strong sword shall punish the Leviathan. Isaiah 27:1
This word has come back many times to my attention. It is prophetic of many ages when the sword manifests. The Leviathan here is a gliding twisting entity, capable of killing by strangulation of the spiritual life. This speaks of the final victory of Jesus over the great Leviathan, Satan himself. We are coming to “In that day”, very soon. The way the nations are being manipulated against the Church and against the Jews, is the twisting torturing Leviathan.
The only instrument that defeats the Leviathan is the SWORD OF THE LORD. The only way in 2021 we will defeat Leviathan in our lives, our families, our businesses, our Churches is the SWORD OF THE LORD. It calls for a new commitment to God’s Word. However as I have shown in this message that SWORD MUST PIERCE OUR SOUL first in the same way as Mary. That way what will happen is that that very same sword will cut (karath: covenant) with us. From that covenant we shall be like Christ, His two edged sword shall come out of our mouths. Revelation says: they overcame him by the Blood and the Word of their Testimony! That word of testimony is the sword.
In conclusion the Christmas story is a story of birthing but also a time of piercing. The piercing we sometimes see that in a traditional family setting more and more we see brokeness highlighted in this season. And however families try to mask it over the divisions, bitterness spill over, because the sword pressures our hearts!
May we allow the SWORD OF THE LORD PIERCE US, SO WE MAY ENTER HIS COVENANT THAT CUTS US TO THE SPIRIT AND DEFEAT OUR ENEMY.