Therefore put on the full armor of God…In
addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish all the flaming
arrows of the evil one.
Ephesians 6:13, 16 NIV
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 KJV
When the Apostle Paul began describing the full armor of God in chapter six of Ephesians, items were limited to what we put on—things we wear; the belt, the breastplate and the shoes. Once on the body, they hold themselves up. Unlike those items, the shield is something which takes daily effort to take up and carry. The soldier could not strap it on his body and go about the battle expecting the shield to remain upright and protect him.
The shield of the Roman army could be as large as three and a half feet tall and three feet wide; made with a slight curve to deflect attacks and not absorb the total force of a blow. When necessary, the Roman soldier could use it in a somewhat limited capacity as an offensive weapon. If the soldier put down his shield, he was vulnerable to a full frontal assault from the enemy. The shield was his substance of hope for he had seen the evidence of its work in the past. When he used the shield, protection followed. Without his shield, he faced a greater possibility of death. He had faith that his shield would protect him.
Like a child who hopes for that special birthday or Christmas gift, we hope for the yet unseen with faith that we will receive that for which we hope. Faith is not some emotional game, but rather reality based on the tangible (substance) and grounded in solid proof (evidence). The Apostle Paul talks about this hope in Romans 8:24-25 when he says, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” NIV
Once we believe in faith and surrender our lives to Christ, we must carry our shield of faith to deflect the fiery darts that satan will hurl in our direction; doubt, fear, worry, anxiety, hopelessness and more.
Corporately, we can also use our shield of faith much like the Roman soldiers did as they closed ranks while their enemies marched towards them. They would circle up and while those on the perimeter would hold their shields in front of them, those inside the circle would hold their shields over their heads to prevent a hit from any flaming arrows or projectiles from above. This maneuver, called the tortoise, essentially provided a shell of protection for the entire army.
In Hebrews 10:25 we are instructed to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing…” I see my church family as my tortoise shell. Together we have the perimeter and overhead protected from the fiery darts of the evil one. As Christians who are members of a local body of believers, we are not alone in our battles. Whether our needs are emotional, financial, physical or spiritual we can call on our church family to circle up. We also have an extended church family reaching around the world.
Do not be deceived; we are in a battle. But we, like the Roman army which became almost unstoppable as they joined their shields, can win the battle by standing side by side with our shields of faith.
Let us join together, lock arms, raise our shields, and watch the deflection of the fiery darts of satan as the enemy is defeated!