I would like to share about God making me aware of something broader than I had seen before in a particular scripture passage on the topic of spiritual warfare.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand, therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.Ephesians 6:10-17 NRSV
Amazingly, you can read a familiar passage many times, and at different stages you consider different elements in the passage. On this occasion, I was reading the notes in my Bible (Zondervan, NRSV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible) I was struck with the note for verse 16 shield of faith … quench all the flaming arrows.
The typical Roman soldier carried a large rectangular wooden shield, four feet (about a metre) high. Its front consisted of leather, which would be made wet before any battle in which the enemy might use flaming arrows, to extinguish them. After Roman legionaries closed ranks, as the front 2 row holding shields forward and those behind them holding shields above them, they were deemed virtually invulnerable to any attack from flaming arrows.
I had never pictured an army when I considered this scripture only an individual soldier. In reading the note, I reflected on my own spiritual life. I sensed that when I am faithful to the daily disciplines [i.e. prayer, intercession, reading scripture], I am much more aware of God’s presence and power in me, and how it increases my ability to strengthen others through encouragement and prayer.
There are so many areas of life in the world that are being influenced by the evil one, and it is vital that we stand together and take our part in the battle – both in a personal way and in the opportunities where we can do this together as a community. A positive way of being part of God’s army is by joining a Prayer-watch group and committing to pray and intercede on a regular basis. You can choose an hour that best suits you in the week and join the others in the Community entering into the Spiritual battle.
Top image credit: illustration of father and child protected by shield of faith, © by Kevin Carden
Image credit: photo of Roman soldiers with shield in defense position for combat, from Bigstock.com, photo copyright by dzain, stock photo ID: 18393587
Mark Challies is the senior coordinator of the Lamb of God community in New Zealand.