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Continuing our study of the armor of God, we read in Ephesians 6:16,
16 in addition to you all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
A shield is not part of the body armor as such, so we see no counterpart in the priestly garments in Leviticus 8. Nonetheless, as we will see shortly, the faith of the priests served as their shield. Faith comes through hearing (Romans 10:17), and the priests were required to hear God’s voice in order to function as intercessors and to “war the warfare” on behalf of the people.
Paul likens faith to a shield against demonic enemy attacks. As I have said many times already, faith that imputes righteousness to a believer is the type that is of the quality of Abraham’s faith. It is New Covenant faith in God’s promise, as opposed to Old Covenant faith in man’s promise.
Most “flaming arrows” or “fiery darts” (KJV) are made of guilt and fear. An arrow of guilt uses our imperfections and past sins against us, as if we have not been fully forgiven and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. An arrow of fear tries to tell us that the devil is more powerful than God and that God has abandoned us. These arrows bounce off a sturdy shield of faith, doing no harm.
We utilize our shield of faith by reminding the devil (and ourselves) that we believe the promise of God and have entered “His oath” (Deuteronomy 29:12) which He will surely keep. Likewise, when God told Abraham, “Do not fear, for I am with you” (Genesis 26:24), it was spoken not only to him but to all of his children—all those who have Abrahamic faith. Hebrews 13:5, 6 says,
5 … for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 6 so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”
We respond to the voice of God and the oath that He swore; we do not react to the accusations or threats of the devil, except to refute them and to raise our shield of faith against flaming arrows.
Many years ago, as I was first learning to hear His voice, I faced opposition, and so I asked God to strengthen my shield so that I might withstand the fiery darts of the devil. He responded by telling me to look up Psalm 47:9. I did so, and read,
9 The princes of the people have assembled themselves as the people of the God of Abraham, for the shields of the earth belong to God; He is highly exalted.
In other words, He reminded me that spiritual armor, including shields, belong to Him. We just need to exchange our fleshly armor for the armor of God. God’s “shield of faith” is based on His faithfulness, not on our own attempts to be faithful to God. We see this in Psalm 91:4,
4 He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness [or “Truth,” KJV] is a shield and bulwark.
In other words, what we may picture as a piece of Roman armor is actually God’s “wings” and “pinions” (or feathers). A minister named William Cushing wrote a song over a century ago called Under His Wings. In it, he wrote,
Under His wings I am safely abiding;
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him—I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.
Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.
When Cushing was still in his 50’s, he developed a creeping paralysis that gradually caused him to lose his voice. That, of course, was disastrous for a preacher. Yet he was always mindful of the suffering of others, though oblivious to his own. He once gave his entire savings ($1000) to fund the education of a blind girl. After retiring, he asked God to give him something to do. He discovered that he had a talent for writing and soon wrote about 300 lyrics to be sung as hymns.
One of those hymns was Under His Wings. Though few churches sing his hymn anymore, it was a meaningful song that spoke of his shield of faith.
Faith, Faithfulness, and Truth
When faith (Hebrew: emun) is extended over time, it is called faithfulness (emuna, as in Habakkuk 2:4). A faithful believer is one whose faith endures, because it is based on the knowledge that God is able. Romans 3:26, 27 focuses on the idea of faith itself, while Hebrews 10:36 focuses on the need for endurance—that is, enduring faith, or faithfulness.
Our New Covenant shield of faith also means that we are shielded by truth, because “faith” (emun) and “truth” (emet) share a common root word (aman) in the Hebrew language. Hence, faith must be rooted in truth, or else our faith is misplaced.
This connects our shield of faith with our belt of truth, as well as our breastplate of righteousness, which is imputed to us by faith. There is a common thread that connects each piece of spiritual armor to the others.