Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (Ephesians 6:16)
By William Ballard
The Amor of God analogy was probably a pre-conceived idea before Paul’s conversion experience. The seed of this idea was probably watered and nurtured more and more throughout his life, growing up so close to the mighty Roman army.
In fact, it is known that in just about every Empire in history, Kings and Ministers would work in some capacity together, and often adhere to the council of either side. This was a known custom in Israel and with the people of God, but not necessarily considered familiar practice with nations outside the covering of God.
But, because of this close inter-working relationship with both religious and political powers, it is believed that Paul would have been familiar with the attire of the Roman army; 1) because of his religious background, and 2) because of his time spent in a Roman jail.
Kelly Middleton mentioned in the article she wrote for the January 2017 issue of the Pentecostal Herald that the Roman shield was rectangular and constructed of wooden pieces glued together, which was also covered with a type of canvas or leather.
She went on to mention that symbols were sometimes painted on the front side of the shield to signify which unit or platoon a soldier was assigned to within the overall army. She even stated that a modest-size shield would stand forty-two inches high by sixteen inches wide – that is roughly large enough to cover an average man’s entire body crouched behind the shield itself.
It’s important to understand that although the shield’s primary purpose was to protect the solider seeking shelter behind it, it was also meant to protect the rest of the armor. In short, if the shield could deter the enemies attack from the rest of the armor, the other pieces of the armor could remain unscathed.
Simply put, the shield provides an extra versatile barrier between the solider, and is most presumed to be the first article of the armor to be stretched out before any other piece – that goes before the Sword of the Spirit, hence, the phrase, "Above All..."
In other words, we must first have faith to believe and trust that our Sword will be able to bring our enemies to their knees.
Now, besides just being used to defend one solider from attack, when the enemy would stand at a distance and shoot arrows down upon an entire army, soldiers would huddle together and use each other’s shields collectively in order to create one large shield known as a “testudo” – a turtle shell-shaped shelter.
As mentioned in the introduction article of this series, most would characterize the shield as being a defense item, but believe it or not, it was often used offensively in many respects as well.
In fact, on most Roman army shields, there was a knob placed in the center of the front end of the shield known as a “boss.” This knob was used to knock the enemy off balance when at close range (Knob can be seen in image above).
As Kelly Middleton mentioned in her piece, “The size of the shield was big enough to protect the body, yet small enough for the solider to pick up and advance toward the enemy.”
Is The Shield More Than Just a Defense Tool… Or Can it Truly Be a Strategic Weapon in Battle?
Carved into the “monumentous” hills of Wiltshire, England is the artwork of a ginormous white horse, which is believed to commemorate the victory of Alfred the Great against the Viking army at the Battle of Edington in AD 878.
In most circles, this victory was known as the Battle of England in the sense that it was what stopped pagan warriors from overturning God-fearing England.
Modeling after Roman army war tactics, the English army formed a moving fortress by placing their shields together in order to create a barrier that allowed them safe mobility to advance on their adversaries, while at the same time, giving them the ability to thrust their spears through tiny openings as they proceeded forward.
“Fighting ferociously, forming a defense shield-wall against the whole army of the Pagans, and striving long and bravely … at last he [Alfred] gained the victory. He overthrew the pagans with great slaughter” (Smythe, 2002, The Medieval Life of King Alfred the Great).
In short, peace and political stability was then established and a nation was saved through the unity of the Englishmen and the aid of a shield-wall battle strategy.
While we can see how the shield has both defensive and offensive characteristics in the natural sense, Paul’s conceived ideas about this specific item of the Armor of God extends far beyond just the natural realm. Being a devout student of the Old Testament scriptures, his spiritual inclinations of the shield were also present.
He had studied Genesis 15:1 where God told Abram, “I am your shield.” He even knew Psalm 3:3 that declared, “But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me …” Plus, he constantly mediated on Psalm 28:7 that reminded him, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped.”
And he must have also been aware of the words of Solomon recorded in Proverbs 30:5, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.”
In short, Paul understood that if we would activate our faith in God (“above all”, take up the shield of faith) then He (God) would become our first line of defense, giving ultimate protection to all other aspects of our armor.
However, faith is not something that God forces upon us. Although our God is a powerful warrior and a force that our adversary fears, He is also a gentleman and will not force us to believe in Him and allow Him free will to work and operate in our lives (come to our aid). We must decide to believe, we must pick up the shield in order for it to become effective.
It's also interesting to consider the environment in which Paul wrote this letter to the church of Ephesus. Confined, and possibly even isolated in a Roman prison cell, most would probably find very little (if any) inspiration to encourage others.
Yet, Paul was “cut from a different cloth” as you and I. He made his encouraging spirit, despite discouraging times, known as he closed out this letter by saying, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might (Ephesians 6:10).”
You see, Paul had a strong understanding that regardless of our circumstances or surroundings, regardless of how scary and/or how dangerous the battle may be, our enemy cannot submerge or suppress the power of God within us if we take advantage of the “whole of Armor of God” that is been given to us.
When the enemy seems to have you corned or closed-in at every side, remember these three points:
“May we all be diligent in taking up the shield of faith. The enemy’s defeat is guaranteed when we use it. Notice Ephesians 6:16 doesn’t say we have the ability to quench most of the fiery darts of the wicked; it says all. Every accusation. Every temptation. Every attack. All.” – Kelly Middleton.
ATT: Spiritual Warfare Warrior...
GIVE ME A FEW MINUTES OF YOUR TIME, AND WITH THE LORD'S HELP, I WILL SHOW YOU HOW TO BECOME AN OVER-COMER EVERY TIME YOU FIND YOURSELF GOING THROUGH A SPIRITUAL BATTLE
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