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K. Edward "Ed" Skidmore
"I am your shield" Genesis 15:8-16
This was exactly what Abram needed to hear. He KNEW what a Shield was. Remember that Abram had just returned from battle. He probably owed his own life to the strength of his Shield.
The shield is what absorbs the shock of the spear and sword. It repels even flaming arrows. Abram understood this better than we do … but we use all kinds of Shields in our lives today:
• You probably have a Shield on your computer that protects your hard drive from computer viruses that could contaminate it. On my computer the symbol for the virus protection is in the shape of a Shield.
• Antibacterial soap and cleaning products act as a Shield against germs.
• Sunscreen is a Shield against harmful ultraviolet rays.
• The bulletproof vest worn by law enforcement is a type of Shield
Imagine yourself as a Soldier about to go into battle. You know you may face machine guns and rocket-fire and bombs. Considering the kind of weapons Soldiers face today, God might say, "I am your armored HumVee and your Kevlar vest."
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“Hairy Gorillas!” Numbers 21:32-35 Key verse(s): 34a:“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you, with his whole army and his land’.”
David and goliath! The battle of the little guy against the big guy. Big industry verses the consumer. One man standing against the crowd. Get the picture? It is one that is often repeated in our society these days; as one epic cultural and social battle follows another. There are so many issues and so few people willing or courageous enough to tilt with them. When the challenges loom large and foreboding, sometimes we’re just too tired, to distracted and, frankly, too scared to pull out the sword of the spirit and tote that shield of faith. The helmet of salvation askew and the breastplate of righteousness only loosely girded, we are fearful to go out to battle against so many foes; foes that are bigger, faster and smarter than we are. Frankly, why should we endeavor to smite the wicked all by ourselves when an army of believers might better fit the need?
How often have you felt that there just wasn’t enough of you to defeat the bulk of them? They’re everywhere; the overwhelming foes of goodness and God’s will. They are bigger, stronger and faster than we are and that’s why we simply feel sometimes that standing in the gap simply isn’t such a good idea. From “Desperate Housewives” on television to Islamic terrorists in Baghdad, the foe looms large and menacing. Stand and fight when the odds are so foreboding? What good is a Christian that gets run over and trampled by the foe? Or, is there value in just putting on the armor and making yourself available?
“It was a dark and dreary day in 1916, a day well suited to the most brutally devastating rout in all of football history. One look at the two teams showed trouble ahead. On the Georgia Tech side were semi-human monsters, gorilla-like behemoths trained by John Heisman, the man football’s highest award was later named after. Heisman was a fanatic. He would not let his Yellow Jackets use soap or water because he considered them debilitating. Nor could they eat pastry, pork, veal, hot bread, nuts, apples, or coffee. His reason? ‘They don’t agree with me,’ he growled, ‘so they’d better not agree with you.’ The Yellow Jackets, with eight All-Southern players, were intent on building their reputation. They lured lowly Cumberland to the game with a $500 guarantee. The Cumberland team had several players who had never played football before. The official who accepted the offer had long since graduated and left the team in the hands of the team manager. Even the trip to Atlanta had been a disaster: Cumberland arrived with only 16 players. Three were lost at a rest stop in Nashville. The game began. Georgia Tech scored 63 points in the first quarter, averaging touchdowns at one-minute-and-twenty-second intervals. Even after such a lopsided start, the rest of the game was filled with tension and drama! No one questioned who would win, of course. But could Cumberland players be convinced to finish the game? The manager, George Allen, paced the sidelines, exhorting the team to ‘hang in there for Cumberland’s $500.’ They did, and with it collected the honor of the worst loss in college football history: 222-0.” (Source Unknown.)
In Ephesians 6 God directs us to take up our weapons and the full armor of God to fight the enemy. The first weapon we are directed to pick up is a shield of faith.
There are two Greek names for shields used by soldiers at that time. One is a small round shield called an “aspis.” The second is called a “thureos” which is a full-length shield of leather-covered wood that protected the whole body. Guess which Greek shield is used to describe our shield of faith .. that’s right...
YOU SHALL BE CLEAN 2 KINGS 5__1—14
There was a commander from the land of Aram by the name of Naaman. He was a great warrior, brave and strong against the country’s foes. A great warrior, Naaman. He had oniy one problem, but a huge one—he was a leper. He had contracted that terrible disease.
Leper Commander Naaman.
Now there was in his household a young girl, a captive of the land of Israel. There in the place of her captivity, she served Naaman’s wife. What makes the story happen is her attitude and her convictions. She had every right to despise Naaman, to regard him as an oppressor to be resented and destroyed. This servant girl did come up with a liberation
theology but it focused more on her captor than herself. Instead ofjudgment against Naaman, she spoke good news to him. “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria!” she says to her mistress. “He would cure him of his leprosy” (v. 3).
That word from the girl sets some mighty things in motion. The king of Aram writes a letter to be given to the king of Israel. It is sent on ahead by diplomatic pouch and Naaman sets off for Israel. Actually, he goes off in a procession with wagon after wagon of stuff, including ten talents of silver, six thousand gold shekels, and ten sets of festal garments, along with his staff and guards.
An odd thing happens. When the king of Israel receives the letter about Naaman’s impending arrival, he becomes paranoid. He rends his royal garments, tears them in shreds, muttering about trickery Clearly this is a trick by Aram’s king! “Am I God,” he cries, “to give death or life?... Just look. . .how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me” (v. 7). So look at the poor king of Israel, kneeling there in shreds, seeing plots and trickery everywhere. Sound familiar?
But events do not halt with paranoia. Elisha, the man of God, hears about the king’s reaction and sends him a message by prophetic pouch. “Let him come to me,” Elisha announces, “that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel” (v. 8). By the way, notice that in this welcome is the same insistence on hospitality that is always characteristic of God’s people.
Foreign commander, smitten with leprosy? “Let him come.” In fact, what the king forgets is that he is, by God, the chief officer of Israel’s hospitality At least that was what he was supposed to be. All of these events now lead to this scene at Elisha’s little house in Samaria. Around the bend in the road comes Naaman’s entourage. At first, only a column of dust on the horizon; but now as it lumbers up the road, Naaman gives the signal to halt. There in the noontime sun is the squeal of axles on the carts, the shouts of the drivers pulling in the reins on those treasure wagons, the clinking of the armor and swords of the guards. Then all the noise dies down. The dust slowly blows away and a silence settles in on the column, broken only by the occasional snort of a horse or the cough of a soldier clearing his throat. Otherwise nothing happens. Nothing at Elisha’s little house or in Naaman~s long convoy Nothing, out in the bright sun.
Finally though, there is movement. A messenger comes out of Elisha’s house, comes over to Commander Naaman and speaks: “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean” (v. 10). A simple prescription from Doctor Elisha, “Wash in Jordan times seven.” Elisha’s signature at the bottom. Oh, and he’s checked the box that says, “May not be substituted by a generic.”
Naaman’s response: He “became angry” He became self-righteously indignant and insufferably defensive. Naaman blurts out for all to hear, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy” (v. 11). What ensues is a geography lesson about the rivers of Damascus compared to all the waters of Israel. Which may be translated, “I want my money’s worth! A fair exchange with God.” Naaman sounds like a kid arguing with his mother. “Unfair,” he shouts. Just listen to his argument: “On my side, I’ve brought all the wagons crammed with talents and shekels, not to mention the ten festal gar-ments.” Then comes Naaman’s demand of God: “In exchange for all this stuff, I want some bona fide and dramatic ceremony!” As to the prophet’s prescription, “Wash times seven,” Naaman sputters, “Unfair!” (Which, of course, we might add it is.)
We, too, come with all our wagons. Oh, not filled with Naaman’s loot. But filled nonetheless. What’s in our wagons—for our fair exchange with God? Maybe a wagonload of promises to serve God ...