The Shield of Faith

Jenny ThompsonPosted on Monday, October 14, 2013 by Jenny Thompson

Readings

Habakkuk 2:1-4

“See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright but the righteous person will live by his faith.”

Ephesians 6:10-18

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

The Dictionary definition of faith means, ‘conviction, assurance, reliance, trust & confidence’. For the purpose of this talk, we will be focusing on the word ‘trust’.

Faith is the opposite of fear and Jesus told us not to fear, and not to be afraid. Yet if we are honest as we look into our hearts, do we find that we have more fear or more faith? Quite a challenge for us, isn’t it!

So whatever happens, do we praise God? Faith is not so much about believing Him to do great things as it is about still believing Him when He does not appear to do great things.

When our faith is put to the test, do we still believe? Job said in spite of his great loss,

‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.’

Wow and he did not know about the armour of God!

Habukkuk 2:1-4

Habakkuk lived about 600 years B.C. He lived in the country called Judah.

He thought that the king and other leaders of the people of Judah were not ruling well. Many leaders did terrible things and it seemed nothing could stop them.

These leaders did very cruel things to the people in Judah, and they did not obey the covenant that they had with God. God chose the Babylonians to punish the leaders of Judah.

However the trouble was that they punished the people in Judah along with the leaders. Babylon had become a powerful country. They destroyed Assyria. Then Egypt and later they destroyed Judah also.

But Habakkuk did not understand this. He knew that someone must punish Judah. But he just could not understand why it should be the Babylonians.

The Babylonians were a very cruel people who loved and obeyed false gods. So in his book, Habakkuk really wrestles with God over this. Have we ever wrestled with Hod over issues, maybe injustice or another area of pain or hurt? I think so!

So in chapter 1, he wrestles with God. Would God ever answer Habakkuk as he prayed to God?

In chapter 2, he waits for God’s answer. Yes, God says that He will punish the Babylonians later. Then the whole world would see what God would do.

Lastly in chapter 3, Habakkuk says that he believes that God will do this. At last God will punish the Babylonians and he will make Judah safe.

So you see Habukkuk was wrestling over these issues with God.

  1. In Judah, people did not obey not obey God’s rules. Habakkuk did not understand why God did nothing to make them obey Him. This clearly reveals the fact that God has given us free will; He will not make anyone do anything! Why? Because He wants relationship and not robots.
  2. So God told Habukkuk that He was going to act. However Habakkuk thought that this was not possible. He didn’t understand how God could use wicked people like the Babylonians to punish Judah’s people.

Well, as we know our ways are not God’s ways, are they?!

Sometimes He allows the most dreadful of things to happen to His people, when He could stop them. He uses the most unlikely people to fulfil His purposes, and to be a blessing to others. Sometimes He uses people that are not even Christians!

Of course they can do His work for Him. Or He brings good things from the bad things that people do.

The truth is God still has authority. We must believe it, even if it does not seem that He has. This is called ‘to live by faith’.

Habakkuk 2:4 says,

“…the righteous person will live by his faith.”

So what does it mean to have faith? In essence, it means two things:

  1. That we will continue to believe all through our lives that God will give us help
  2. After we die on this earth, we will live with Him forever

At the end of his book, Habakkuk writes a psalm. In it, He praises God. He also says that whatever happens, He will still praise God. his is to be the confession of our own hearts.

Ephesians 6:10-18

The Apostle Paul knew that he was in a spiritual war. He understands that Satan hates him, all Christians and wants to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ. This is exactly what is going on now.

We must be strong in the Lord as we cannot make ourselves strong. God must give us His strength. He does not give us His strength once, and let us get on with it. No, He continues to make us strong.

His strength comes from being united with Jesus. It comes from being ‘in Christ.’

In Ephesians 1:18-23, Paul talks about God’s great power. It was the power that God used to raise Jesus from death.

With that power, he defeated his enemies. Paul uses the same words here – power, strength and might. We are at war against our enemy, Satan and therefore need all these qualities. But we need something more.

“We must wear all the armour that the Lord gives to protect us. Then we can stand against the evil attacks of the devil…”

When Paul was in prison, they chained him to a Roman soldier. Therefore, he could always see the soldier’s armour.

Paul says,

“And having done all, you will still stand firm…”

Then,

“when the battle is over, you will still be, standing firm…”

So Paul uses the word, ‘stand’. It is as if we are in a castle and it is the castle of the Church of Jesus Christ. We are to guard the castle against all the evil plans of the enemy. Satan hates the church and wants to destroy her. The spiritual powers are strong, but the power of God is far stronger.

Do you know God Himself wears armour as He fights? In Isaiah 59:17 it says,

“He put on goodness like a breastplate. He put on salvation like a hard hat on his head.”

Paul would have watched the soldier who was always near him. He would have seen him put on each piece of his armour.

So now we are looking at the ‘Shield’. This protects all the rest of the armour. It was a large object in the shape of a door. The Greek word for ‘shield’ is from the Greek word for ‘door’. The shield is ‘faith’, which is trust in God.

Before a soldier shot an arrow from his bow, he could set fire to the point of the arrow. The burning arrow would hit the shield so the wooden shields needed a leather cover.

They would also put the shields into water, then the wet shields could put out the fire quickly.

The evil plans of the enemy, satan, are like these ‘burning arrows’. They could be angry words, doubt or fear!

What could put out the ‘fire’ of these ‘burning arrows’? Using the word of God, yes, but ultimately a strong faith in God.

The Romans would fix their shields together and that would make a larger wall covering more soldiers. It is the same with us being part of the church.

As Christians we are to join together, then we can be safe from the attacks of the enemy.

In the King James Version, it translates as,

“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”

In the Greek, the phrase ‘above all’ in the King James Version is translated from two words. The first means ‘over’ or ‘out in front’. The second word means ‘all’ or ‘everything’.

Putting these two words together, they do not so much describe the importance of the shield of faith, as they do the position of the shield.

So a better translation would be ‘out in front of all’ or ‘covering all.’

Shields aren’t designed to be held next to your side or behind your back. They are to be used in a forward position.

Your shield of faith is a weapon against the devil, to cover and protect you from his onslaughts. So Paul was using Roman soldiers as his example as they always kept their shields out in front to defend themselves from attack. Now if they marched into battle without their shield in its proper position, they would be killed. If a soldier left his shield at home, he would be asking to die!

In the same way, God wants us to grab our shield of faith and carry it out in front

“…with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”

Paul also said we must ‘take the shield of faith’.

Many Christians either forget to pick up faith or don’t know how to use this vital weapon. Or think they do not need it. The word ‘take’ describes a repetitive action.

In other words, not only are we to pick up our shield of faith and use it out front, carrying it high as a covering at all times, but we are to do this repeatedly – every hour of every day. Apparently, the Ephesians had laid theirs down; therefore, Paul was commanding them to pick it up again.

So where is our shield of faith? Can we say your faith is active, alive and out front? Or is it lagging behind?

Have we allowed your shield of faith to drop to our side, instead of maintaining it in the forward position where it once was?

We have to take action because our shield will not get the by itself.

The Bible says in Isaiah 54:17,

“No weapon forged against you will prevail…”

It doesn’t say weapons will not be forged against us – it says the weapons forged do not have to prevail (or make contact). Hallelujah!

So Habakkuk wanted an answer on how God would use a wicked people to judge His own people. He stood waiting upon God for an answer.

“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.”
(Habukkuk 2:1)

Part of God’s answer is seen in the contrast between the wicked and the righteous. The proud would be judged for his wicked deeds. But God would protect and keep the righteous by His faith.

As God’s people, we are often confused as to why He allows His people to suffer in the way that they (we) do. It is so hard to understand.

However if we are going to get a good understanding of faith, we need to always go back to the fact that the ‘righteous will live by faith.’ This means we will trust God even in the most difficult of times. I know it is so easy to say and much more difficult to do but we are greatly loved by him; he walks with us daily and continues to teach us about putting our faith in Him more.

May God continue to give us His strength and grace to lift up our shields of faith, and to hold them out in front of us covering us at all times, so we can extinguish the fiery attacks of the enemy, both individually and as His Church together.

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