“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 54:17 NASB
As I took my walk this morning I listened to a podcast from one of my favorite bible teachers. This podcast was a repeat that I heard several years ago before I got sick with Dercum’s Disease (Adiposis Dolorosa). Something the preacher, who will remain anonymous in this post, said caught my attention in a way that it didn’t the last time I heard him say it. He said this.
“God has promised to protect us. [Quote Isa 54:17] God has promised to protect us, not in the moment, not just this day but throughout our lifetime a theme of protection.” – Anonymous radio preacher
This raises some questions for me.
- Is Isaiah 54:17 a blanket promise of protection for all believers for all time?
- What does God mean exactly by no weapon formed will prosper?
No Weapon Formed
The sword gleamed in the early morning sunlight as the executioner approached the prisoner. The blade was exquisitely sharp, he’d made sure that it would take just one swift strike to remove his head. The scuttlebutt around the barracks was that King Herod Agrippa I was trying to curry favor with the Jews so they would help him keep the radicals in check. One more screw up and Rome would be taking Agrippa’s head. Just yesterday soldiers went down to the temple area and found him. James was one of the leaders of “the way”, a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. A very close one at that, whenever Jesus wanted his inner circle he would call on Peter, James and John. Those sons of Zebedee were known as “Sons of Thunder” so the centurion thought it best to send a cohort to arrest him but when they found him there was no thunder. Now the prisoner rested quietly in the courtyard on his knees his hands bound behind his back. The executioner had seen people do many strange things in their last moments. Some screamed, some cried for their mothers, but this prisoner was unlike anything he had seen before. A strange calm, a peacefulness was written across his face. As the executioner approached, his eyes met the prisoner’s eyes for just a moment. Without a word, the prisoner lowered his head exposing his neck and with one brief stroke it was all over.
“Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword.” Acts 12:1-2 NASB
What?!? That sword was a weapon formed against one of the servants of the Lord and it certainly seemed to “prosper.” What about the others?
They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:59-60 NASB
Even stones used as weapons are prospering here. Is this the protection of the Lord?
“They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:37-38 NASB
In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, believers love to quote Isa 54:17. The “No weapon formed” phrase appears in countless songs and Christian greeting cards as if to assure us that nothing bad will ever happen to Christians.
So what, you say… What’s the harm in that if it helps people to feel better?
Here is the harm. The fact of the matter is that there is a great deal of suffering on this planet and much of it is caused by weapons that do prosper. Bullets and bombs have destroyed Christians and non-Christians at pretty much the same rate throughout history. Disease and starvation have ravaged Christians and non-Christians alike and the Bible does not promise to protect you from any of it.
If you believe in this myth of protection when you are attacked, when your love one is killed or when you get sick and are not healed you will question the very foundations of your faith. This so called “promise of protection” is nothing more than a straw man setup by the enemy. If he can convince you that God failed to keep his promise of protection, then what makes you think that God will fulfill his promise of salvation?
What is God talking about in Isaiah 54?
“For a brief moment I forsook you, But with great compassion I will gather you. “In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” Says the LORD your Redeemer. “For this is like the days of Noah to Me, When I swore that the waters of Noah Would not flood the earth again; So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you Nor will I rebuke you. Isaiah 54:7-9 NASB
Whenever I am trying to understand difficult passages of scripture I look to experts in the field and read what they had to say about the passage. Here is just one example of what I found.
After the Flood, in which God executed His anger against the world’s depravity, He promised never again to devastate the earth in the same way (Gen 9:11). Similarly God promised that the day is coming when He will never… rebuke Israel again. Statements like this show that Isaiah was speaking of the millennial kingdom rather than the return from the Babylonian Captivity, for the nation has suffered God’s anger many times since the postexilic return. – the Bible Knowledge Commentary
There will come a day when no weapon formed will prosper but that day is not here yet. That promise speaks of a future day in the millennial kingdom. If I run into a deranged killer today his knife, gun or bomb will most certainly prosper when he employs it to end my life. Sure it might make me feel better to believe that no weapon will prosper but believing a lie to feel better has never been a good idea.