In each epoch of church history, certain truths regarding God and his Word become the victim of either subtle or overt disregard or distortion. I believe the Law of God has been recently treated with overt minimization. Yet the Scriptures unmask any such trivialization of the law as utterly opposed to biblical understanding and robust faithful living.
We cannot bear the law of God unless it cuts us first, and then we can bear it in the battle against sin and evil and the great dragon himself.”
Seeking to capture and communicate a biblical view of the law for the Christian, I offer the following allegory, drawn unabashedly from the Arthurian legend of the Sword in the Stone. It is my hope to stir your imagination as well as to engage your critical thinking faculties. Sometimes, as our Master has taught us, telling a story is often more potent than merely stating a principle.
In this story, every Christian is Ebed, which is Hebrew for “servant.” We cannot bear the law of God unless it cuts us first, and then we can bear it in the battle against sin and evil and the great dragon himself. We must begin to see this mighty sword like we never have before.
An Allegory Concerning the Law of God
Once, amid the fog-swept moors of the unbelieving world not far from the kingdom called Christendom, a young man stood beside his bride. The young man’s name was Ebed, and his bride’s name was Beautiful. They stood there upon a rocky outcropping surrounded by many people, citizens of both the world and the kingdom, who had come to witness a moment of great import. When the fog had cleared, it was evident what that moment entailed.
Years ago, because of the terrible failure of a once-great knight named Adam, a sword—the greatest sword of all time—was sunk into the Stone of Silence, never to be pulled from the stone until now. The sword was capable of slaying a great and powerful dragon that spread evil throughout the world. It was well known that only someone fully worthy of character to bear the power of that sword could ever take it from the Stone of Silence.
The legend was that Ebed was that young man. He was remarkable, although he knew in himself that he was quite weak and failed. His dear bride knew as much also. But relative to those around him, there were frankly few like him.
The moment had arrived, and Ebed stepped toward the stone-locked sword and clasped the handle firmly with both hands. The air grew still and no one breathed. With all of his might and with a shout of exertion that echoed through the moors, Ebed pulled, but the sword did not move. It did not budge an inch. He tried again…but still nothing.
Surprised and discouraged, the people had decided there was no one who was worthy to bear the sword. Everyone began to back away from the rocky crags.
The wind-swept fog surrounded them, so it was hard to see, but they noticed one person who did not leave the stone-locked sword. He was a humble man; nothing about him was impressive.
He wore simple clothes and had calloused hands. It was clear that the clothes had not been washed and were marked by the stains and tears and repairs due to years of hard carpentry work. As others walked away, this humble and simple man walked toward the sword.
The absurdity of his quiet and confident approach was enough to stop the crowd. Who did he think he was? He didn’t look like Ebed! He did not look worthy at all! But with a quiet resolve that startled everyone and brought each one to a halt, the humble carpenter approached the sword. Even through the gray fog, it was clear that he had grabbed the handle clear to the hilt. With an ease that was breathtaking, he pulled the sword from the Stone of Silence as if from butter.
The entire crowd gasped as he drew the sword and it glistened through the fog. Ebed ran toward the carpenter and asked, “How did you do that?”
The carpenter did not answer, but turned and held the sword straight out. He pointed it directly at Ebed and quietly said to him, “Ebed, bear this sword well! Take it!” That was all he said.
Ebed was confused, for rather than turning the sword to the side with two hands and placing it safely in his care, the carpenter held the sword threateningly, pointing it straight at him. But the carpenter would not relent. The glistening, sharp blade pointed right at Ebed’s chest, and again the carpenter said, “Take it in your hands.”
Ebed embraced the blade in his hands and immediately began to bleed. The sharp edges of the sword penetrated his skin instantly and he winced and cried out.
The carpenter said, “Do not let go! Embrace this blade!”
His beloved bride cried out, “Stop!” But Ebed obeyed the carpenter and held the blade until it went all the way to the bone, exposing white between the surging cut arteries. The pain in Ebed’s eyes was obvious but he would not let it go.
Through the crowd came a wise man in a long, hooded garment that covered his head. It was known by everyone that this hooded wise man was far beyond Merlin and his skill and experience. He was known among the people by his ancient name “Hermeneutics.” He walked up to Ebed, put his hand on his shoulder, and gently said, “Do you know who that carpenter is?”
It took a while for Ebed to gain enough stability to even answer Hermeneutics’ question, but he stated through his tears of pain, “I have not met him before today!” Hermeneutics turned to Ebed and stood so that the crowd could see his face, and he said loudly, “This carpenter is the king himself!” The crowd gasped and breathlessly responded with murmurs of awe and doubt.
Hermeneutics then declared, “The king has given you his very own sword, O Ebed! This sword is the greatest sword that has ever existed. It far exceeds Excalibur in its sharp and powerful blade. Ebed, the name of this sword is Exegesis!”
Hermeneutics then spoke only to Ebed, putting his hand on his forearm now drenched in blood, “Ebed, you have learned the first lesson of bearing this sword that is more powerful than any other sword. It can slay evil and will destroy the great dragon, but no one…no one…no one can bear this sword without its cutting the bearer all the way to the heart. The carpenter king has called you to be a warrior unlike any other warrior. The sword you bear must first mortally wound you before you can ever wield it. No other soldier bears the wound of his own weapon first before he uses it in battle.”
Ebed cried out in pain and fear, “What will happen to me?”
Hermeneutics replied, “You will experience a miracle every day of your life! This sword will cause you to bleed with every gesture, but you will not die. You will in fact become stronger as you bleed.”
“Why must I hurt so?” cried out Ebed.
At this, the carpenter king answered by simply extending his hands. Ebed looked, and they were also mortally wounded. He looked up into the carpenter’s eyes and he saw scars across his forehead and face. Hermeneutics replied, “You cannot bear the sword unless you live like the king!”