Daily Devotion: When Mercy Means Using the Sword to Kill

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Bible Readings for Tuesday March 8th, 2011 – The Week of The Transfiguration

*Click on each bible passage to expand the text.

Psalm 78:17-20, 52-55

1 Kings 19:9-18

Romans 11:1-6

  • Then he led out his people like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. – Psalm 78:52
  • Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” – 1 Kings 19:9-18
  • But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. – Romans 11:6

1 Kings 19

17. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill.

Ahhhh, the Wrathful God: I’ve missed him, haven’t you? We’ve actually been painting quite an affirming and powerful picture of God over the last month or so. New readers might have almost thought, “I like God, in fact I might even love God…”

And then Wrathful God shows up, “Kill them. Slaughter them. I am a jealous and angry God.”

We hear the vengeful Elijah practically licking his lips in anticipation of the divinely approved slaughter, his pleas for wrath upon the people of Israel did not fall upon deaf ears.

1 Kings 19

18. Yet I will leave 7000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Our first hint that something more is going on here than simple narrative: a remnant of 7000. A nice round, seemingly arbitrary number; clearly an estimate. So… God estimates?? Nope, God doesn’t estimate, God is exact and in this case God is precise in a mystical sense.

You see the number 7 is the mystical number for divine perfection, and is only used in context of the vast all encompassing perfection of the divine. The number 1000 is the number of Grace. A massive, all encompassing number, symbolizing the “totality of the generations”.

The City of God: Book 20

Chapter 7

32 … For a thousand is the cube of ten. For ten times ten makes a hundred, that is; the square on a plane superficies. But to give this superficies height, and make it a cube, the hundred is again multiplied by ten, which gives a thousand. Besides, if a hundred is sometimes used for totality, as when the Lord said by way of promise to him that left all and followed Him “He shall receive in this world an hundredfold;” 33. of which the apostle gives, as it were, an explanation when he says, “As having nothing, yet possessing all things,”34. -for even of old it had been said, The whole world is the wealth of a believer,-with how much greater reason is a thousand put for totality since it is the cube, while the other is only the square? And for the same reason we cannot better interpret the words of the psalm, “He hath been mindful of His covenant for ever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations,”35. than by understanding it to mean “to all generations.”

St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 C.E.)

Amazing, and now we are beginning to see with the eyes of God, these secrets hidden in plain sight. God is declaring a state of mercy and grace for a “remnant” of 7000. Or rather, as we have just learned, God is stating in an act of divine perfection that he is showing mercy on… everyone.

Then what are we to make of God’s decree that “whomever Hazael doesn’t kill with the sword Jehu should kill, and whomever Jehu doesn’t kill with the sword Elisha should kill”?

Well, first of all, who initially came to Elijah? The Word of God.

1 Kings 19

Then the Word of the LORD came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

And we, as Christians understand The Word of God to be whom?

The Gospel of John 1

1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

14. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

16. From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

Therefore, according to our Christian faith, we know that it was Jesus who came to Elijah in the cave at the beginning of our reading. Now that we have our baseline of understanding, is there anything else we know about The Word of God?

Hebrews 4

12.  Indeed, the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.


Ephesians 6

17.  Take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


Revelation 1

12. Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,
13. and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest.
14. His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire,
15. his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters.
16. In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force.
17. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,
18. and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades.
19. Now write what you have seen, what is, and what is to take place after this.
20. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

The Word of God, Jesus, is the sword that Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha will use to “kill” those who have turned from God!

Then, what does it mean to “kill” someone with the Word of God?

Romans 6

3.      Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4.      Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
5.      For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
6.      We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
7.      For whoever has died is freed from sin.
8.      But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
9.      We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
10.      The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11.      So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 2

20.  and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ (The Word of God) who lives in me.

Do you see? Do you see the incredible mercy and grace that was being displayed before Elijah? If only they had eyes to see and ears to hear.

God was never calling for slaughter, he was never calling for bloodshed. He was calling for the two-edged sword of the Word of God to be wielded by the kings and Elisha to cause all the people of Israel to die to their lives of selfishness, greed, and ignorance. They were missing the mark in spectacular fashion. And God declared Grace in an even more spectacular way.

What seems like a death sentence is actually a declaration of mercy and Grace.

Thanks be to God.

Trig Bundgaard About Trig Bundgaard

Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your feedback, thoughts and ideas about what I've written. Especially if it's contrary to my views!

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Grace and peace to you!

Romans 5
"18. Therefore just as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man's act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.
19. For just as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous."


  1. “IN THE Beginning was the Word and the Word Was God” I LOVE THAT SO MUCH! John was so Right On it had to be the Holy Spirit speaking through Him. And the Word became FLESH Wow thanks be to JESUS!! Thank you for becoming flesh for our sins. Thank Jesus for taking our sins every sin you and I have ever sinned or ever will sin is LIKE GONE! Covered by his HOLY Blood….Flesh, God Man, God Walking in the body of Jesus, Jesus BEING God the Messiah, If you’ve seen you’ve seen the Father and if you’ve seen the Father you’ve seen ME. WOW So many power words from our Lord. People today want to say Jesus was a prophet and there’s no way he’s God, WRONG, if Jesus isn’t God we have no forgiveness and we’re just not saved. We need all the Mercy and Grace we can get because when we get before the Father we can WALK BOLDLY TO THE THRONE OF THE FATHER and Jesus will say “Well done my good and Faithful Servant enter into the Kingdom I have prepared you and the angels….Death has no dominion over us Jesus’ resurrection means Death will have no dominion over us Wow!! Think of it WE CAN’T DIE. Praise you Jesus and thanks Trig for this platform.

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