Summary: This week we will look at the first piece of armour we are directed to take, the shield of faith. Let’s read through are scripture again and pick up the next piece at verse 16...
The Whole Armour of God
The Shield of Faith
As you know we are looking at this scripture in Ephesians 6, that tells us of the whole armour of God. We started severaal weeks ago talking about this preparing us for battle. We saw that just as a soldier is prepared, so must we be. The first think noted was it was important for us not to just listen but to hear the commnds. Then we beagan looking at the individual pieces of armour. We noted that the description Paul uses is one that people of the day would have been familiar with. Romans soldiers could be seen almost any where. People would be familiar with the protective armour that they wore. Paul uses this image to help christians understand that we must be prepared for battle. This battle is of a spiritual nature, not of flesh and blood, so the armour we require is not physical but spiritual. So we have looked at the roman soldiers equipment and the spiritual equivelent for us. We started with the belt of truth, which is Jesus Christ. The belt was on first, just as we must have Christ in order to have the rest of the armour. We have looked at the breastplate which Paul refers to as righteousness. It gaurded the soldiers heart, and righteousness of God is what gaurds our heart from the enemy. If it were self righteousness it would be filled with holes. But, it is not, it is the righteousness of God that we receive when we have Christ. Last week we spoke of the Shoes. It’s all about the shoes! verse 15 says "15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;" We talked about the fact that this was also not something we put on, but that was given to us. We talked about the word shod, which meant tied on, it was a deliberate act. We also looked at the soldiers footware and noted that it was designed for protection and traction. It was very thick on the bottom and had cleat like spikes for added traction. A soldier that lost his footing could lose his life. We loked at the word preperation and it shows that the gospel of Peace was prepared for us. Again not something we do, but has been done for us. And we looked at what this gospel of peace is. This has to do with our footing, our foundation. God through Christ has done it all. It is that that good news "gospel" that enables us to stand firm in any battle, because it is not based on out weakness but in God’s might! This is where the peace comes in, we can have peace knowing that God has already given us the victory! Peace is what the christian has that can stand in the strength and might of God, not relying on his own weakness.
This week we will look at the first piece of armour we are directed to take, the shield of faith. Let’s read through are scripture again and pick up the next piece at verse 16...
"10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;"
So let’s once again look at the soldiers shield and it’s purpose. What Paul is trying to reveal to the christian, and why is this piece different from the rest?
1. The Soldiers Shield
There are a few variations on the material used to build the roman soldiers shiled. It is generally believed that they were made of wood, covered in leather, and bound around the edges with some form of metal. to protect against overhead strikes. The sizes also vary. It is knownthat the soldiers usually had two shields. One was a decorative shild used in processionals, and parade sttings. It was usually very ornate but small and would not do much good in battale. The other shield, the one used for battle would have been any where from 2 to 3 feet wide, and any where from 3-5 feet tall. they were sometimes referred to as "the door", because the shield was so large it appeared as though they were carying a door. Now practicallity says it cant be very heavy, but it must be strong, so thin wood covered by leather would make sense. Now the shield served as a defense against many weapons, but the major one and the one mentioned in our scripture is the arrow or dart. The shield would be large enough to get behind when under attack. When a battle would begin the archers and spearmen would usually begin the long range attacks. Imagine hundreds, or thousands of arrows flying through the air decending on you and your army. These shields would form a barrier that would protect against this arial assault. There was a battle position known as the turtle or tortoise where the soldiers would clump together forming an unpenatrable shell. Of course it would be difficult to move forward in this position so it would only be maintained long enough to defend the onslaught. There was something to the whole idea of covering the shields in leather also. Imagine again the same attack coming at you and your army, you assume the turle position and await the arrows, only the enemy has lit them on fire, with a flammable liquid. Now as they stick into your wooden shields, they catch fire and you have to let go of them. You are vunerable to the next round from the archers or spearmen. The shield that were covered in leather were soaked in water before going into battle, one reason, slick leather may cause some of the arrows, and spears to glance off. Secondly, when the flaming arrows would strike the wet leather, they would be extiinguished! Now one thing I want us to see here is this is the first piece we are told to take. The roman soldier would begin each day by having his belt on, and his breatsplate, he would cover his feet with his cleat like shoes, and this would be for a routine day. These things would be a part of him. But when a battle began he would take up his shield. This is something that is not already attached to him it is something he must take up. Now he doesn’t have to go find it, it has been provided for him, but he must take it.