Armor of the Lord (Part 3 Shield of Faith)
Sep 26, 2015 // By:dave cadieux // 1 comment
This week, lets look at “shield of faith” (Eph 6:16)
16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
The greek word is thureon but let’s bear in mind that Paul is under arrest and escort of Imperial Roman Guard (the Praetorian Guard in Phil 1:13). So while we are reading this from greek, the armor was Roman. The roman shield (scutum) was not the small round gladiator shield (approx. 12-18″ diameter) which made for spectacular combat to observe. This shield looked more like a curved panel from the side of a small airplane. It provided protection from lower legs to the nose when held up and could even be set on level ground to stand itself and provide protection for an archer behind it to shoot at the enemy (since both hands were freed for action)
I really appreciate this picture because of the way it depicts the usage of the scutum (roman shield). It shows
- the total coverage offered to it’s wielder
- the difficulty in getting around it to attack the wielder (reminding us that many attackers wore themselves out on the shield before they even got to the carrier)
- mentions that there was even an offensive potential to the user (since it was so sturdy and metal edged)
- shows how members of a unit rotated position of the “head” to share “attack load”
- accurately depicts the “turtle” position in which all shields were used together to form an impenetrable shell to protect from projectile weapons (arrows, rocks, etc) while being attacked or while attacking a fortified position as a single unit.
Lets take a closer look at the “turtle”
This is my personal favorite application of the shield. The entire unit pulling together, sharing their shields for the good of all, knowing that they all stand together and that as soon as one lowers their shield, it effects and endangers those around him as well.
Lets look back at the verse itself.
in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
I think amplifying this verse might give us a more applicable understand of Paul’s metaphor (God’s inspiration) for us to work with here.
- Take up – a willful choice of action to carry and hold before us and to maintain, with deliberate effort, it’s position before us so that we are protected
- the shield – a mechanism of protection which (while we may feel some impact from the other side) prevents actual harm or damage to be dealt to it’s carrier, and a tool of protection which can be interl0cked with others of my unit to create a greater barrier like a shell (while still allowing communication, instructions, orders and encouragement to freely pass between those inside this corporate shell).
- of faith – (pistis in the greek) meaning complete trust or adherence to (rather like trusting full weight to a chair when we sit down because we have “faith” that the chair can, in fact hold our weight)
- with which you will be able t0 = dunamai is power (same root word we use for dynamite) (**see 2 Cor 10:3 for how we are given weapons empowered with God’s dunamai)
- extinguish = quench, put out, or render harmless (curious that quench usually means usage of water which is analogous to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament ? hmmm LOL )
- the flaming missiles = literally an arrow, the tip of which wrapped with an oil or pitched cloth, set afire and specifically aimed at an enemy (or enemy encampment) so that when it impacted, there was not only the arrow tip damage and pain to deal with, but worse, the fact that there was hot burning fire now at the impact site. (fire is extremely painful, quickly spreads to do more damage and, even when in a non-vital area, is easily totally distracting for those involved.
- the evil one = poneros, the malevolent, malignant, evil one (yeah, it’s in singular case in the greek). the one who rebelled against God and tried to take His throne (Isaiah 14:11-15, Ezek 28). This is the God of this age (2 Cor 4:4), the destroyer (Rev 9:1), the liar and murderer (John 8:44) who designs flaming arrows to fire directly at you to harm or sway you from progress (and hopes that the destruction of the fire will spread to others around you). His popular name is Satan (the adversary) Eph 2:1-3 and I John 5:19 both remind us that we are war with him, but that before we became Christians, we were also under his control and that those who are unsaved are still under his control (which means they can also be used as tools in his war against us, even used as fiery arrows to aim against us).
OK, let’s wrap this up with a neat little bow and add another “knowledge ribbon” to the decorations on our uniform.
Please ?! NOT !! (smiling)
This is written in the bible to provide perspective and awareness of what can and should be done each day as we contend for the faith, the Gospel of Peace to be proclaimed in this enemy territory called earth in an effort to save souls.
We are instructed, in this one little verse, to make a conscious choice to hold firm to our faith to protect us, (and by implication to use it to shield others), to choose to hold it up when inconvenient or seemingly embarrassing (Matt 10:32, Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26 remind us to not be ashamed), and that it empowers us to quench and render harmless the flaming arrows fired by the adversary of God (arrows that he likely designs specifically to hit our weaknesses and vulnerabilities since I find it hard to imagine that the enemy of God, who hates mankind, would not be an astute student of human nature and weakness in character and personality to facilitate tearing us down.
Hold up your shield of faith and do not let it down , ever ! You are charged to contend for the faith 24-7 and if you don’t feel like you are meeting resistance, if you don’t feel the impact of arrows on the outside of your shield that is likely because you already lowered your shield, and took of your armor and the adversary of God, Satan, no longer sees you as a threat. (if you are harmless to him, then he would prefer to leave you alone in your slumber where you are already ineffective for God). Awake oh sleeper ! (Eph 5:14) Rise and let Christ shine. Lift up your shield of faith, hold it up with the emblem of your country (the Cross of Christ) and join the battle ! REJOICE AT THE IMPACT OF ARROWS AGAINST YOUR SHIELD (for you are now in the fight with God and no one shall successfully stand against us when we are more than conquerors Rom 8:31.
Did you feel offended when I suggested that if you don’t feel attacked it meant you weren’t in the fight? I would like to apologize but feel that it is more important to apologize for not apologizing 🙂
This section of chapter 6 in Ephesians read as wartime instructions (this is the assembly manual for your battle gear) if you don’t hear bullets whizzing past your head or an occasional explosion, preferably hand to hand combat is most effective to winning a should (where you invest in someones life, gain credibility and license to speak into their life) then where exactly are you ? What exactly are you doing ? (that is so important to defend ?) If your not going to shoot, then make bullets for those who will. There is always a way for everyone to get into the fight, ALWAYS.
Lets take another look at the picture (visuals are great for enhancing recall at a later point in time)
Lets notice a few things about this formation:
- Shields are locked together in tight position, against each others edges forming a big corporate shield out of many individual shields. They are protecting each other against outside attack (not inside attack since it is assume that everyone inside has the same orders and goal; survive and win.) (Pvbs 27:17, 2 Cor 12:19, Gal 6:1, Eph 4:29, Heb 3:13, Heb 10:25, 1 Thess 5:11, 1 Cor 7:5 takes this unified resistance to attack and applies it to marriage)
- They are facing the attack head-on (since the sides are open and cannot be covered) (Romans 8:37, James 1:2, James 4:7, 1 John 4:4 reminds us that there is no reason to turn away in defeat and Rev 12:11 reminds us that we have in fact already won and that all needs be done is to persevere to prove it)
- They must be able and willing to move together as one (following the orders of the commander without question) or one misstep by one member weakens the entire unit to the possible outcome of destruction for all involved (Eph 4:1-4, Heb 10:25, James 4:2-3 outlines disunity resulting from conflicting motives and not submitting to one another’s needs)
- The soldiers in front rank are not fully covered (lower legs are exposed to attack). The soldiers are covering themselves from the knees to top of head (i.e. all the vitals) and it is expected that a soldier be able to maintain his position in rank even if an arrow or rock where to catch his lower leg or foot (painful, sure, but nothing that should stop a trained soldier unless he is looking for an excuse to lose) (Heb 13:17, Heb 12:4 reminds us of the varying degrees of the intensity of the fight. 2 Tim 2:3 reminds us to endure hardship)
Take up your shield, keep up your shield, lock your shield with others and offer your strength to help others (and at times let their strength help you). When you feel the arrows hit, do not be distracted by them, ignore them, since we are to let the shield of faith quench them (not ourselves in our own power). Getting preachy ?! yes, I confess that my blood heats up a bit when I see the body of Christ falling back in battles that Jesus, our Lord and Commander, tells us we can claim the victory.
Hold it up, keep it up. (period) (there is no mention of letting it down, right?). AMEN
next week, helmet of salvation … 🙂
in His service, Dave Cadieux