The apostle Paul states in Romans 13:4, in relation to the worldly governments that we have to live under,
Romans 13:4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain . . .
I am most interested in the word "sword." In my present sermon series, I have used "sword" as the power of the civil government to impel or compel citizens to submit to their rule. It represents the state's power to punish, manipulate, and control its citizens. That is indeed part of Paul's purpose there in Romans 13:4.
In ancient times, the sword was by far and away the most frequently used weapon of military forces. It appears over four hundred times in the Bible in a multitude of different contexts—so many contexts that The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery says, "Because of the sword's capacity to inflict wounds, it is used to symbolize anything that causes harm or injury to people." Depending upon the context, that one word "sword" suggests war, hurtful words, strife in general, divine judgment, and even just trouble in general.
I thought of these things in relation to the sermon series that I am presently giving, especially in relation to war, and what a huge and compelling force it is in many areas of life in the world, even outside of militarily—even within community life and entertainment.
What started this chain of thinking in me was a poem that I received by way of email from a person I have never met, but he has an agenda of attempting to make people aware of what he perceives is beginning to happen to our liberties. This man appears ready to foment revolution. The poem goes as follows:
It is the Soldier, not the President, who gives us democracy.
It is the Soldier, not the Congress, who takes care of us.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to demonstrate.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
That poem was composed by Dennis O'Brien. He is a U.S. Marine Corps Catholic Chaplain.
Nobody knows how many military wars have been fought in the history of man. One man estimated that there have been only about two hundred years in which there have been no wars fought on earth. Another person suggested that around seven wars per year would be about right. That would add up to in excess of 40,000 wars in mankind's history. America seems to have been involved in just short of sixty military wars. Military war is merely the outward expression of an inward nature.
Did you notice that I said, "military war"? The Prussian Carl von Clausewitz was the author of a very highly-considered work on the philosophy of war. He said, "Military war is the continuation of politics by other means." In other words, Clausewitz was saying that politics is a genteel warfare of and by itself, and politics between nations, when combined with emotions and chance, becomes the precursor of war on the battlefield. In other words, politics is war. I think that you can understand the concept. The bloody military warfare becomes the means of resolving the unresolved warfare held in council chambers, congresses and parliamentary halls.
Interestingly, one of the central justifications the Democrats are using during their post-inaugural actions is, "We won!"—implying the political war.
Economic wars take place. This is something the Americans have heretofore been very good at, pushing other nations worldwide into economic bottlenecks. In the last thirty years, oil has been the most powerful weapon of the OPEC cartel. If any of you have ever seen the movie "Wall Street," you will understand that American business is war, that greed is good, and raw, strong arm, attempts at physical and economic intimidation are a way of life in the business world.
There are elements of war in the intense competition of sports, especially those that have a great deal of of physical contact, like football, hockey and rugby.
How many wars have been featured in movies as the central theme? Think about "The Godfather" series. Drug wars between cartels in Mexico are littering that country with bodies, but this war has leaped our porous Rio Grande boundary, and has has invaded Nogales, Tucson, Yuma, and Phoenix, with kidnapping and murder vengeance being taken. What major city is not witnessing drug wars and gang wars of some degree of intensity?
War, brethren, in is intrinsic to human nature. David says in Psalm 55 of his deceitful companion, "His words were smoother than butter, but in his heart was war." The essence of war is involved in virtually everything human, because it is intrinsic to our nature. War, brethren, in is the "fundamental solution" in the operations of man. Well, "let's resolve this by going to war."
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