I had a wonderful forehead-slap moment today. I learned something new…something I had not considered before. A different perspective. A deeper meaning.
It was, like, wow.
It was about the Armor of God.
Usually, whenever we think of the Armor of God, we think of what’s spoken of in Ephesians 6:
13 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…
We think of the gear…the equipment that make up the armor. It’s a worldly, physical way of connecting with more spiritual ideas.
We think of this armor as the gear, made up of separate components: Truth, Righteousness, Preparation of the Gospel of Peace, Faith, Salvation, the Spirit/Word of God. And whenever we depict it in art form, we show something like this:
This is a great reminder…that we are battling “against principalities, against powers” (Ephesians 6:12)…not people.
However, we don’t often put on the physical armor pieces everyday to remind us of the spiritual gear we need to put on. Also, I’m not one to think that I can battle the forces of evil spirits with just this gear and my efforts alone. I can’t take on Satan alone. I can’t take on his minions….seen and unseen…all by myself. For me, I don’t feel like a soldier.
But I need some kind of protection against “the fiery darts of the wicked” and the spiritual attacks of an unseeable Adversary.
Another Look at the Armor of God:
Instead of focusing on “What is the Armor of God” and the gear….why not ask instead, “Who is the Armor of God”?
Think of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, the three young men who would not bow and worship an idol as dictated by a powerful king. For anyone who would not bow and worship this idol, the punishment was death by fire in a furnace. Upon discovering these young men, the king threatened to throw them into the fiery furnace and challenged them with “who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?”
Their response? (In Daniel 3)
17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
The furnace was made 7 times hotter, they were thrown into the furnace, and the people who threw them in died because of the heat.
The king says, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
“28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.
29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.“
Yep. That’s what the most powerful king said to these young men who didn’t pose as soldiers of any sort.
But they knew who they were: followers of God, sons of God. And they knew their armor. Their armor was God. They “put on” the Armor That is God.
In their minds was the Salvation of the Lord (Helmet of Salvation). They knew that if they Trusted Him (Shield of Faith), and if it was what the Lord wanted, He would deliver them (again, Salvation) after they were thrown in. The Lord was their Helmet. The Lord was the anchor of their Faith.
And even if they would not be spared from death, they would still remain True, Loyal to Him (loins girt about with Truth) anyway. The Lord surrounds their loins: their virtue, their posterity. He was the reason for their loyalty.
They stood before the king, peaceful, unresisting, while proclaiming the God in whom they believed (Feet shod with the…Gospel of Peace). They stood firmly with the Lord; thus, the Lord was their source of the Gospel of Peace.
They worshipped God….meaning, they put him first, above anything else, even their own life. And they demonstrated this by standing apart from the rest of the masses…even those of their own people who feared for their own lives, who knew better than to bow, but still would bow down to some king-dictated idol. They stood for the Lord, with the Lord; this was their righteousness. The Lord was their breastplate…the protection for their Heart, their Loyalty, their Commitment, their personal Obedience. He was the breastplate for their personal righteousness.
The king could not convince these young men to give up their God. No, these young men withstood the challenge of the king with their own personal experience of the Lord, their own realization of how the Lord saves and preserves those who put God first and desire to obey Him willingly. I don’t think these young men were regularly thrown into furnaces to know that the Lord would deliver them…but their confidence in His Saving Ability was built, confirmed, and tested long before they ever got to the furnace. The promise of the Lord’s deliverance was already in their hearts long before the test of the idol ever got there. That promise was given to them as the Word of the Lord, delivered by the Spirit…a.k.a. the Holy Ghost. Thus, the Lord was their Sword, and He was used to thwart the challenge and threats the world gave.
The Armor of God is the Lord, Himself.
And so we need to remember…that we, as Christians, must put on Christ as our armor. We don’t need to fight the world, but we must stand with the Lord. We must stand with Him in our personal goodness–our works, our attitudes, our thoughts, our desires. We must place Him above us, above anyone else. We must place Him before us, before anyone else. We must trust Him, and give heed to him…as a demonstration of our faith in Him. And we must not yield to the challenges and threats of the world, no matter how powerfully it lifts its voice, how authoritative it sounds, and how forceful it enforces its wishes upon us. When we stand with the Lord, we do so peacefully, even as He did before Pilate, before the Jewish leaders who sought to kill Him, and even among the Roman soldiers who didn’t really know what they were doing.
We really do need help
Today’s society is becoming increasingly and alarmingly…and blatantly…hostile to the Christian…on a physical scale as well as in the unseen realm of the mind, heart, culture, and spirit. Many believers are finding it difficult to hang onto the promises, the hope, and the day-to-day discipleship of Christianity. It’s difficult to see the spiritual battle when the physical is constantly in your face, in your ears, in the echo chambers of Media and Pop Culture. But that is really the test and challenge of our day…to stay strong in the middle of all of that.
Still, there comes a point where we must trust Christ when even our efforts fall short, where things get much bigger than we can handle on our own. And if we partner with the Lord in doing His work, then we are entitled to His help and protection. That’s not some mythical, “psychologically psatisfying”, mental feel-good cliché. It’s a literal promise.
“I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”
– D&C 84:88
“10 But in this thing [their enemies] were disappointed, for the [believers] did not fear them; but they did fear their God and did supplicate him (plead in prayer) for protection; therefore, when the armies of [the enemies] did rush upon them they were prepared to meet them; yea, in the strength of the Lord they did receive them.”
– 3 Nephi 4:10
“5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
6 Be strong and of a good courage…[and do whatever commandments I give to you]…”
– Joshua 1:5-6
Christ is the Armor of God.
Put on the Armor of Christ, Himself, upon you.
And as we include Him in tackling the issues of our day, putting Him as the foremost part of our Heart, Might, Mind, and Strength, we will know the answer to the very question, “Who is that God that can deliver you out of my hands?”
The Lord is our Cloud of Light by day, our Pillar of Fire by night. He is our Refuge from the storm. He is our Angel in the Furnace of Affliction. He is our Comfort, our Help.
Those may be metaphorical symbols, but here is the reality:
He is our Savior.
Seek Him…come to him…follow him…and you will find deliverance in Him.
That, I know.