His mind wandered as he looked out the window. He wasn’t at all certain what had really taken place and most certainly he didn’t have any idea what the outcome would be. As the coast of Spain slowly slipped past the wing of the 747 into the darkness his eyes turned to the slowly sinking red ball in front of him. The airplane reminded him of himself. It seemed to be going as fast as it could to keep the sun from falling into the ocean. That’s just what he had been doing the past few weeks, running to keep it all from falling apart and he still wasn’t sure if he had done the right thing … but done it was.
His meditation was interrupted as the stewardess stopped to offer a pillow for the long flight to New York. He accepted with a smile but was certain that, even in the face of this exhausting trip, sleep would not be in the cards. Until a few hours ago he was certain that it was the Lord’s direction he was following. But now he wasn’t so sure.
Monday had been the culmination of many days spent in seeking the Lord concerning the business at hand. Just how far was he to stretch himself and his family by going down this road? Each and every time he pressed into God in prayer the result was always the same. The answer never came in a voice directly out of a cloud but always by some circuitous side road. Always it came with a certain peace and an urge to continue. Sometimes in a word and sometimes in a thought, but always it came with that same underlying urge to continue. It was undeniable and impossible to dismiss, or so he thought as he boarded the plane for Rome.
It had only been a few hours ago but he recalled the feeling of exhilaration that had accompanied him on that early morning flight. The prayers, the scriptures and the peace that had filled the past few weeks seemed to be overflowing. He had his answer, he was sure of it and he was acting upon it. It seemed as though the time fairly flew by with the anticipation of the meeting in Rome. He had put it all on the line and there was no turning back. He tried to recall his history lessons and come up with the name of the adventurer who, upon reaching theAmericas, burned his ships in a final act of total commitment. Yes turning back was not an option for Cortes and it wasn’t for Jesus either.
It had taken only a couple of hours to grab his bags at the airport, catch a taxi and arrive at the office tower in downtown Rome. The meeting was scheduled for 2 o’clock and he had arrived with just enough time to collect his thoughts. The rest, well that was going to take some sorting out. He was prepared for all the questions and objections but he was not prepared for the response. The project was just what they wanted; he was the very person they wanted to lead it, but …
They had committed to go forward before he ever left the states and to now have them put a hold on the project at the last minute. It just didn’t make any sense even though their reasons seemed valid. Why couldn’t they have told him 24 hours earlier? They had absolutely no idea the personal and financial commitment he had made to this project. They didn’t know the devastating position this put him in.
As he walked out of the office tower toward the taxi stand he made the decision to return at once and not spend the additional two days in Rome. It wouldn’t change anything and would only increase the cost of an already expensive trip. As he waited for a taxi it began to rain and he moved over near a bronze statue to find a little protection from the wind. He glanced up into the fine mist and took note of the figure in front of him for the first time. Strange, he thought, I never noticed it on my way in but it is so huge, how could I have missed it.
It was an imposing figure that looked down at him, a 1st century Roman soldier in full battle array. He could see every detail, right down to the leather laces in his sandals. It was odd, he thought, that look on the soldiers face … what was it? It said something but he couldn’t figure it out. Just then a taxi rolled to the curbside and he jumped in out of the rain, perhaps he could get a flight back that night. At least the jet lag of going back right away would bring him some sleep.
He looked out the window again and the pilot seemed to be losing his race with the sun. Yeah … just like me. He wanted to spend some time in prayer but he couldn’t. He wanted to spend some time in the Word but he couldn’t. It was going to be a long trip home while he tried to figure out what went wrong. And then it happened!
Out of nowhere he heard the words, It’s Confidence! They were so loud in his ears that he looked around but everyone was asleep and the stewardess was up front by the kitchen. Sleep deprivation he thought and he smiled to himself. Without this project he would have plenty of free time to sleep. There it was again, It’s Confidence!
As he tried to focus on what was happening his mind was filled with a picture, it was a heavy mist. As he focused his mind on the mist a figure began to emerge from the background. As it came into focus it was the face of the Roman Soldier. He looked deep into that face and he knew. That look, it was confidence. Slowly the whole soldier came into view and for the first time the full impact of that imposing figure hit him. As he leaned back from the window a peace began to well up from deep inside and he smiled; another circuitous side road. That very familiar still small voice once again brought up those old familiar verses:
Eph 6:13-17 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
As his mind began to think about the verses the Lord brought back all the things that He had shown him in the past about how important that armor was.
THE BELT (GIRT) OF TRUTH
The girt (zoonee; girdle) was the belt that held the armor together. It represents the “truth” which holds our spiritual protection in place and provides the common thread that knits all of the pieces together. From his girt the Roman soldier hung his offensive weapons, the sword and knife. Without the truth of the Word of God no believer can ever enter into the spiritual battle with any hope of winning. Everything hangs on the Word of God, without which we have no Savior and no hope. The Belt of Truth reveals our enemies, where they are coming from and how they intend to attack. It is all there in God’s Word for us to see. The enemy hasn’t changed in all these years and his devices are always the same. It has been said that the only weapon the devil has is deceit and he is the master at using it. The Word always reveals his devices and the methods he uses to employ them. The Belt of Truth is just like having the enemy’s battle plans given to us with all the right responses for each one.
THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
The breastplate (thoorax; chest) of righteousness (diakaiosunee; justification) was in two parts. The first protected the chest area, which contains the heart or the center of life. The second part covered the back against the unseen blows. So it is that righteousness protects our heart or Spirit in the justified relationship we have with God through Jesus. We have been given RIGHT STANDING with God once again by the blood of Jesus. The breastplate is to protect that justification from the world’s attacks. It is to remind us of what the blood of Christ has purchased. Like the breastplate protected the soldier’s vital parts (heart and lungs) so ours protects the vital parts of our spirit by defining the life of God within us. Our right standing is a life regulated solely by the Word of God.
THE GOSPEL OF PEACE
The sandals (kneemides; greaves or boots) were tightly secured to the feet to protect them as they carried the soldier over great distances to battle. They went all the way up from the foot to cover the shinbone. A soldier would be no good in battle if his feet were torn, cut and sore from a long march. In battle if a soldier were to get his feet or legs wounded he would not be able to stand and fight, pursue the enemy or flee when being overcome. Just as the Roman soldier was to be shod and ready to move on short notice so are we commanded to be ready to spread the gospel of peace. But in another way we are also told to rest in the peace of the gospel that we already know.
Phil 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
It is this peace that we are to put on our feet and carry wherever we go. A picture occurs to me as I write this of an enemy you would hate to face. One who is standing in full armor, ready to do battle with you with a peaceful and serene expression on his face. He has complete confidence in his leader, armor and weapons and stands in stark contrast to an enemy that knows he has already been beaten before he takes the first step. God has given us that peace and the enemy recognizes it when he sees it.
2 Tim 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
All we need to do is read the last chapter of the book; we have already won! Blessed are the feet of them who bring good news (Rom 10:15). Everywhere we set our feet we bring the gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ (the Prince of Peace).
THE SHIELD OF FAITH
The shield (thureos; large, oblong door shaped shield) was a defensive weapon to ward off the arrows and blows of the enemy. It was a large shield that could be placed in front of the body to protect all the parts. It was made of wood and covered with leather, which was soaked in water to quench the enemy’s flaming arrows. Paul says we are to, above all or over all the other armor, take up the shield of faith. Faith acts like a shield by quenching the fiery darts of the enemy.
The Roman soldier used the shield to deflect the flaming arrows and in the same manner we are to use our faith to deflect the fiery darts of the wicked. These are the evil thoughts that are designed to upset us and uproot the peace of God within us. Think about the picture I described above and replace the peaceful soldier with one who is unsure of himself and reflects fear. As you approach him you know there is a weakness and you look for a way to exploit it. The devil operates the same way and he recognizes fear in us the instant it is present. Without our shield those fiery darts will strike fear deep into us. Looking at it another way, the darts are always coming at us (in our mind) but our shield (faith) protects us from their getting in to supplant our peace. Faith is the substance (Heb 11:1) that makes all the other pieces of armor active and available. It can be moved to protect every part from attack; spirit, soul and body.
THE HELMET OF SALVATION
The helmet (perikephalia; head armor) was designed to protect the head from blows from a sword, club or arrow. It was often decorated with some ornament or crest designed to strike fear into the heart of the enemy. The helmet of salvation protects our soul and as Paul writes in his letter to the Thessalonians, it is the hope of salvation (1 Thess 5:8). The crest on our helmet is hope and it strikes fear in the heart of our enemy. The blood of Jesus bought our salvation and that blood protects our soul (our mind) from all the blows of the enemy. Each and every blow he makes is founded in deception to try and get us to lose our hope. Just like the soldier had hope in his helmet to protect him from a blow to the head so we know that Jesus is our hope of salvation. His Word will protect our mind from the lies with which the enemy would try and cloud that truth. He always strikes at our mind (head) to try and get us to believe the circumstances and not our salvation. He wants us to use our natural eyes and perceive that the battle is lost (the lie) not our spiritual eyes that will show us all is won (the truth)!
THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
The sword (machaira; dagger like knife used by the gladiators in one on one combat) referred to here was short and had two sharp edges. It was designed to cut both going in and coming out. The machaira was unlike the enemy’s swords, which were long, heavy and took a great deal of energy to swing. It was the most efficient fighting instrument of the time and nothing could compare with it.
We have our sword today in the Word of God, which cuts sharply and penetrates quickly. It is efficient and cuts to the heart of the matter without effort on our part. The Word only needs to be guided by the Holy Spirit in a willing, obedient and armored soldier. In our hands the revealed Word of God becomes the Sword of the Spirit. When we use it in the right place (trials) at the right time (temptations) it will cut into pieces the snares of the enemy. This is a sword in which we can have total confidence for it will never dull or break no matter how often it is used. In fact, the more it is used the sharper it becomes!
I believe the sword (Word) and shield (faith) are the principal pieces of our armor. When employed together they defend us well from anything the enemy can throw our way. When we have faith in our sword we will use it but without faith we are open to defeat. A sharp sword hanging at our side because we let our shield down is useless. The sword is still sharp and ready to perform but we can’t use it. When faith is gone fear is present and we begin to take a beating from the enemy. No Roman soldier would go into battle without first being well trained in the use of his sword.
How many Christians today move into battle without so much as a rudimentary understanding of how to use their sword?
He smiled again as the picture unfolded before him but he felt there was something he had missed. Something else was buried in those words; It’s Confidence! Reaching down into his briefcase he took out his bible and turned to the passage once again and began to read. He opened his mind as he slowly read each word and suddenly he stopped — and having done all to stand. Stand therefore. Then it all began to make sense to him.
The first stand (steenai) means to stand like the victor after the wrestling match is over. After having done everything to prepare for the battle “stand your ground,” we’ve already won the battle. The second stand (steete) means to then take your stand and “resist every attack”. We are to do everything to get ready to stand as the victor (be strong in the Lord and take up the armor).
That’s why he had that look on his face! In his mind he knew he had already won and all he had to do was to stand his ground. His whole body seemed to relax as he reflected on what had just happened. Yes, the Lord had found yet another way to reach him in the midst of battle. He turned out the overhead light and looked out at the last vestige of the sun as it sank into the Atlantic. Yes the 747 lost its race tonight but he wouldn’t lose his. He knew something the plane didn’t. The sun was coming up again tomorrow … It’s Confidence!