Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 34 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House.  This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so we are going to look at the shield of faith, the fourth in Paul’s list of the armor of God.  Ephesians 6:16, “In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

 

I really love Paul’s description of the use of the shield, because it really speaks to his describing what he sees in front of him while being guarded in prison.  The Roman soldier's shield, or scutum, was a tall oval or rectangle, slightly curved, thin piece of wood with a thick layer of leather on the front. Here’s the kicker, these shields were specifically designed to allow the flaming tips of enemy arrows to pierce the leather thereby extinguishing the flames and leaving the shield’s structure, and its user, undamaged.  This shield design made it lighter than say a shield constructed of metal, the curved shape allowed the user to be protected from more angles when held close to the body, and in a group, the shields could be used in conjunction with each other to create a protective wall from the ground up - all around the group. A scutum wall.

 

It’s interesting that, just like for the last episode, my tried and true commentaries have fallen short of being tried and true when it comes to the studying of this piece of armor.  One thing they did all share in common was referencing Hebrews 11 in regards to the shield of faith. Specifically verses 23 through 40. We’re going to start with verses 23-34 “[23] By faith Moses, after he was born, was hidden by his parents for three months, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they didn't fear the king's edict. [24] By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter [25] and chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasure of sin. [26] For he considered reproach for the sake of (The Messiah) to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, since he was looking ahead to the reward. [27] By faith he left Egypt behind, not being afraid of the king's anger, for Moses persevered as one who sees him who is invisible. [28] By faith he instituted the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn might not touch the Israelites. [29] By faith they crossed the Red Sea as though they were on dry land. When the Egyptians attempted to do this, they were drowned. [30] By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after being marched around by the Israelites for seven days. [31] By faith Rahab the prostitute welcomed the spies in peace and didn't perish with those who disobeyed. [32] And what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, [33] who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, [34] quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight. [35] Women received their dead, raised to life again.”

 

While all of that turned out pretty well for the people in those examples of course with the exception of Samson, Jephthah, and Jephthah’s daughter, when we read on we see that the shield of faith is more of a spiritual tool than one we can really rely on physically.  Hebrews 11:35-40 reads, “[35] Other people were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection. [36] Others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. [37] They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. [38] The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.  [39] All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, [40] since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.”

 

By faith, all of the people in this list in Hebrews 11 were approved, but they did not receive what was promised.  God provided something better for us so that they would not be made perfect without us. Let’s finish up this episode by looking at this “something better” that Paul is talking about here by looking in 1 Peter 1 and Luke 10.  1 Peter 1:10-12 says, “[10] Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who prophesied about the grace that would come to you, searched and carefully investigated. [11] They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified in advance to the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. [12] It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven— angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.”

In Luke 10:21-24 we read, “[21] At that time (Christ) rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, because this was your good pleasure. [22] All things have been entrusted to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal him." [23] Then turning to his disciples he said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see the things you see! [24] For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see the things you see but didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear but didn’t hear them.”

 

The Messiah, the savior of the world, Jesus Christ was the promise that was given to those who came before that they never got to see while they were alive.  Our faith, our shield of faith in Jesus as the Son of God is that unwavering support on which we lean when life gets tough and our bodies get tired. It is the support we lean on when we are assaulted on all sides by depression and lies, by facts and circumstance.  It is the protection that extinguishes the fiery darts of the enemy and helps keep our hearts and minds on course Christward.

 

This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”

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