Good Monday Morning to this week 10 of 2020
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6.11
In a time that everyone is speaking of prevention and precaution in the context of the Coronavirus, let’s look at the relevance of spiritual prevention and precaution.
Paul wrote this letter while imprisoned in Rome, to the churches in Ephesus and the surrounding region. He addressed three main themes:
1. Christ, reconciling all creation to himself and to God.
2. Christ uniting people from all nations to himself, to one another and to His church.
3. Christians living as new people with a new culture.
The text is structured so that we hear:
1. First, a rationale for the task, to stand against the schemes of the devil.
2. Secondly, the needed armor as, truth, righteousness, peace and faith.
3. Thirdly, spiritual orientation with prayer and faith in the Spirit.
This metaphor of the armory was written for a minority group of people, remembering that the armory is designed to help stand fast not just for aggressive action. Standing fast being armed does not require another person to get hurt in any way. Withstanding another description also has significance in this text, empowering believers to withstand the evils that surround and threaten them. The nature of the armor itself is profoundly defensive. The only equipment for an attack is the sword, specifically a weapon, a spiritual sword. Followers of Jesus are girded in truth, faith, peace, with the sword of the Spirit through which in prayer and faith they stand firm for their defense.
Melinda Quivik writes in her commentary:
The churches and people of the renewed culture are called to maintain strength, wearing the “armor of God,” in order to pray that “the mystery of the gospel” will be proclaimed. The proclamation is not about something knowable in the way we know a fact or encounter, the proclamation is about something irrevocable, unbelievable, and imperative. (crucifixion, resurrection and true life) The “whole armor of God” is needed for the war against the principalities and powers, also the forces of own sin, our own separation from God, our own desires for that what does not feed and nourish God’s creation. The enemy threatens from within and outside ourselves. To be set and stand firm in all daily challenges, knowing that much opposes God’s desire that “the mystery of the gospel” brings joy and transformation to this Earth, is a key and central message here.
In the armory, we may immediately apply it to an individual context, yet it’s far more than that, we see it being used in reference more than for an individual, more for a family, a community a church and a for a whole people. We can wear these gifts together as we stand shoulder to shoulder as an impenetrable wall of strength.
A quick look at the tools with some of their many meanings:
The belt holds, fixes what is necessary in such a way that it enables us to work freely and flexibly, to walk or run loosed from constrains trying to hold us down.
The breastplate covers the core, righteousness protects the heart and the vital organs so that the flow of life can always reach every part of the body.
Shoes stand for readiness to stand and speak peace.
The shield is a defense against flaming arrows aimed at people armed with faith, facing assaults from those who do not know about the gospel of peace.
The “helmet of salvation” reminds us of our transformation, our new rights with the new identity of grace, strength and confidence.
The sword of the Spirit, the word of God proclaims the mystery of the gospel, it both cuts and salves (soothes). It is law and gospel, trouble and grace, an offensive weapon, one for healing and peace, because, in Christian terms, the Spirit kills and brings to life.
Chained to a Roman soldier, Paul uses this allegory or imagery as his mind goes forth naturally to the subject of amour and warfare, yet it’s all about spiritual strength and courage greatly needed for his and our daily walk of faith. The aim is keeping on the whole armor with the principle of true grace, aiming at standing firm as we run our race, not against human enemies, but principalities and their forces, not letting them assault the things newly belonging to us, demonstrating and showing the heavenly image in our hearts.
With these impressive tools we can feel the armored impact and protection with the power of God’s word enabling us to move emboldened into the week ahead, called to standing firm in prayer and faith.
Be strong- because He goes before us.
Be strong- because He is with us.
Be strong- where you put your feet, I’ll give it to you.
A promise made to Joshua by Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)