The military knows that the ability for a soldier to perform their best at whatever they physically train for in starts with having the right shoe or boot for the right job. How often do we pick up our shield of faith or sword of the spirit to do battle, but our feet are not shod completely with the gospel of peace?
Ephesians 6:15-16, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
It is not surprising that Paul would continue in the same venue of armor for a solder in these two versus. Of all people we read of in the New Testament, Paul had the greatest opposition. In 1 Corinthians 16:9 he tells us there is a great and effective door open for him to preach the gospel, but there is much opposition. Paul is trying to prepare us for the battle that is sure to come. The very moment a Christian makes the decision to stand on the word of God no matter what, they will experience the pressure from the enemy. This surprised many new Christians, it did me. At first I thought all of my friends would think it was great and want to become a Christian along with me. I also thought everything in life was going to get instantly better. Neither happened! What I found was that my decision was just that, “my” decision. Secondly I had made the decision from my heart, but my knowledge and understanding of the gospel was null. In fact I spent many years just going to church without joining any type of bible study, therefore the only word that got into me was the preached word. That is just not enough. We must remember that even though Paul had his Damascus road conversion and immediately began to preach the gospel he was not a rookie. Paul knew the Torah, and in his own words was a Pharisee of Pharisees.
For the Roman soldier, the armor they wore was actually a daily way of life. Even their shoes, which were actually sandals, were not typical. They had spikes in the bottom of them for traction for running into a battle and for stability in hand-to-hand combat. Every other army had traditional flat sandals and during battle they would slip or get tired faster from having to constantly re adjust their footing to keep from slipping. The same goes for the Christian; slipping on the word and constantly re adjusting our thoughts, gives the enemy a huge advantage over us. Remember the last statement in verse 13 and the first statement in verse 14, “and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore”. Have you done all to stand? The beginning my Christian lifestyle seemed to lean toward living on the side of my flesh and slipping into the side of God’s righteousness. With God’s love and His grace, as I put the word of God, “with the preparation of the gospel of peace”, into my heart my lifestyle changed. Today I tend to live longer and longer in His righteousness and slip less and less into the side of my flesh. We will never reach the perfect man as long as we live here on earth, but with Jesus standing for us, and by learning the word of God we can draw closer every day.
In verse 16 Paul lists a part of armor that is actually not worn and put great importance on it. In the Old Testament we read of two different types of shields used by soldiers. One is called a buckler which was small and actually worn on the weakest forearm which was light enough to move and deflect the attacking blows of the enemy’s weapon. This is the first line of protection for the soldier in hand – to – hand combat. All other armor was a secondary protection for the non-deflected blow. This is not the shield of faith Paul is referring to. There was a second and much larger shield used in Old Testament battle. Keep in mind hand-to-hand combat did not happen until after the attacking army was able to breach the protective walls of the city to be conquered. The breastplate and later on the chainmail worn under the breastplate was metal which would harm the wearer just with simple movement. The soldier had to first wear thick wool under garments to protect his skin from the metal rubbing against his skin. One of the deadliest and most difficult weapons to protect oneself from was the arrow because it was silent and often came without warning. The fiery darts were smaller arrows that had a patch of wool attached at the point and were dipped in pitch and set on fire. When the archers on the wall saw the approaching army, they would shoot these fiery darts high into the sky allowing them to fall down on the army catching their wool undergarments on fire. The shield Paul is talking about was the large body length wooden shield with silver or gold, hammered onto the outer surface that the fiery darts would bounce off of and fall to the ground. This allowed the approaching army to get close enough to breach the weakest wall of the city to be conquered.
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