The Bible tells us that no weapon formed against us can prosper. While that's a very encouraging promise, it's a fact that many of us still feel like the weapons formed against us are succeeding. We feel defeated. We reference this scripture and question why things are happening to us.
The problem with referencing this verse is that it is taken out of context. We must approach the Bible within its cultural, historical, and literary context before we can apply it to our lives today.
Isaiah prophesied from 739–681 BC to a nation that had turned a deaf ear to the Lord. The book of Isaiah provides us with the most comprehensive prophetic picture of Jesus Christ in the entire Old Testament. Because of its scope, Isaiah contains one of the clearest expressions of the gospel in all the Old Testament.
In Isaiah 54 God is talking about how he will restore Israel. The nation is depicted as a barren woman, abandoned by her husband. But that husband (God) has returned.
Isaiah 54:7 NLT “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will take you back.
Out of this new affirmation of love and unity comes the promise:
Isaiah 54:17 (NLT2)17 But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from me. I, the LORD, have spoken!
The scriptures leading up to Isaiah 54:17 are promises of prosperity, peace, and protection.
Isaiah 54:11-16 NLT “O storm-battered city, troubled and desolate! I will rebuild you with precious jewels and make your foundations from lapis lazuli. I will make your towers of sparkling rubies, your gates of shining gems, and your walls of precious stones. I will teach all your children, and they will enjoy great peace. You will be secure under a government that is just and fair. Your enemies will stay far away. You will live in peace, and terror will not come near. If any nation comes to fight you, it is not because I sent them. Whoever attacks you will go down in defeat. “I have created the blacksmith who fans the coals beneath the forge and makes the weapons of destruction. And I have created the armies that destroy.
The overarching theme is that God is our salvation, we can trust and not be afraid. Because God is all-powerful and because he has already won the ultimate battle, we can trust he will protect us.
Romans 8:35-39 NLT Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” ) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Today Christians are persecuted worldwide. There are mass shootings and bombings in churches. Individual Christians are dragged from their homes and brutally tortured before being put to death. Today there's the COVID-19 Pandemic. Other attacks include how the world perceives the church through the news, the media, and your neighbor.
You and I are attacked by the enemy, too. It could be Satan attacking our health, our faith, or using slander against us. But God promises it will not destroy us. We will have to endure, we may suffer temporarily, but not forever.
Isaiah 54:17 references how God’s people, Israel (today the Church) will not be destroyed. The sovereign God who created everything also has the power to protect. He can promise that no weapon formed against you shall prosper. Whatever weapon is raised against God’s people is destined to be destroyed.
Sometimes this means the Lord takes the weapon out of the hands of our enemies, other times it means God will allow evil to strike us but God will not allow that evil to prosper. Instead, he takes this blow and transforms it for his kingdom. The sense here is, that it shall not have final and ultimate prosperity. It might be permitted for a time to appear to prosper but it will not have final and complete success.
The inheritance which awaits those who serve God is truth and victory. It is not gold and the triumph of battle.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
But it is, the protection of God in all times of trouble.
Romans 8:39 NLT No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is not a promise that you will not receive attacks, or that you will not be struck by a weapon (i.e. test, trial, tribulation, COVID-19, or suffering of any kind). The promise is that it will NOT PROSPER. Meaning that you will be able to rely on God’s hand to lift you up out of the trouble that you are in, or He will cause the trouble to turn around for good.
Romans 8:28-30 NLT And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.