The Armor of God, Part 1
There exist three related sports – sort of. There is soccer (International football), rugby, and American football. Soccer players have no protection except for some optional light armor for the genitals as well as thick socks that go up the lower leg to just below the knee and that cover shin guards. Rugby’s uniform is very similar but with genital protection optional and no shin guards. In either sport, it’s just a shirt, shorts, socks, and shoes. That is about it.
And then there’s American football. It really has almost no similarity to soccer, which as noted is called football everywhere except the United States. And the only similarity to rugby is the oblong shape of the ball. But that’s it. In American football, the players are equipped with armor from head to foot. From the top with the area protected in parentheses, the uniform of the American football player consists of a helmet (head), face mask (face), optional visor (eyes), shoulder pads (shoulders and collar bone), back plate (spine, lower back, kidneys), rib protectors (ribs), pants with hip pads, thigh pads and knee pads (self-explanatory), and shoes, of course.
The object of each game is to advance a ball down the field to a goal. Soccer and rugby are more freewheeling with strategy as the ball is passed around to teammates with almost no time-outs. American football, on the other hand, is a game in which the overall strategy is to advance the ball at least ten yards (or about ten meters) in four attempts just to be able to keep the ball to advance the ball further. Meanwhile, the eleven members on the opposing team will do anything they can (usually within the rules) to keep that from happening. Hence, all the personal protection.
All this is to say that the American football players are armored up to protect themselves from possibly being debilitated and out of the game with each play. The apostle Paul writes in a similar manner:
“10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” [Ephesians 6: 10-12. NIV]
This is Paul’s last set of thoughts for his reader: “Finally . . . .” Paul is not being casual in his words to the churches to whom he is writing (and therefore, to us). This is an imperative statement, and he is addressing it to all of his readers: “All of you [plural] must be empowered [from the Greek word from which we get the English “dynamo,” “dynamic,” “dynamite”] in the might and power of the Lord [implied: “because you can’t do this on your own”]! And again he commands us as his readers: “You must clothe yourself in the full spiritual armor that God provides for you to withstand Satan’s tricky, crafty plans and actions!” When Paul speaks of the “full armor,” he is encouraging us to not just “pick and choose” what is convenient to wear at the moment. He wants us to put on each and every piece of the spiritual armor of a heavily armed soldier that God has provided without us leaving anything off.
Do you remember the shepherd David from the Scriptures or Old Testament? He was the same David from about three thousand years ago who would later become King David of Israel. He went up against a nine-foot-tall giant enemy Philistine named Goliath, leader of the Philistines [I Samuel 17: 4-7]. David’s king at the time, Saul, encouraged him to take all sorts of heavy armor for protection against the giant. However, David refused the offer (he was a young man and slightly built whereas King Saul was a big man who towered head and shoulders above anyone else). David then went out to confront Goliath:
“David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty. . . . All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.’” [I Samuel 17: 45, 47. NIV]
David knew that this was a bigger battle than just the Philistines led by Goliath against the Israelite soldiers quaking in fear before this giant’s physical display of power and the shouts of his challenges [the “flesh and blood” of verse 12 in Ephesians 6]. Instead, he rightfully saw it as a spiritual battle. If King Saul and the Israelite soldiers were truly confident in God and his power, they wouldn’t have been immobilized to inaction by the giant Goliath’s challenging shouts from across the valley. David, this small young shepherd boy from the country, the youngest of eight brothers, confronted Goliath not with the heavy physical armor King Saul tried to give him but with the spiritual armor that God had prepared for him. David was able to confront the spiritual battle exemplified by Goliath with the power and the full armor of God. Yes, David had confidence, not in his own physical prowess, but in the power and strength of God. And David defeated that mighty Goliath.
What Goliaths do you have in your life today? What are the external forces that make you shiver with fear and gives you nightmares in your sleep? In the next few blogs, I will reveal to you the strength and power that God has for you to confront your fears as portrayed in this sixth chapter of Ephesians.
Categories: How Can the Bible Relate to Us Today?