Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Steel-Toed Gospel

by Dan Jones



Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish 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 13-17 NIV)

Recently, I was pondering the above verses and something kind of jumped out at me.

Here we are with this description of the full armor of God. Obviously, I'm going to picture a warrior standing firm before the onslaught of the enemy, in full battle attire ready to vanquish evil foes. 

He’s got a big, thick belt to hold all kinds of implements of destruction (and one certainly would not want whatever that belt is holding up to be falling down in battle), a heavy armor breastplate to guard his internal organs, a tough shield to deflect flaming arrows, a helmet to safeguard his noggin, and a razor sharp, double-edged sword capable of cutting through bone right to the marrow.

It’s all great stuff of exactly the type a warrior should have…but right in the middle of it, we have shoes.

Shoes.

Shoes don’t seem like a huge priority to a warrior.  I mean, sure, you’re not going to go into battle barefoot. There are rocks all over the place on the battlefield and you sure would not want to be charging into battle and get a little sharp stone stuck in your pinky toe. That could be embarrassing—or even fatal.

But shoes certainly aren’t as cool and manly and macho as swords and armor-plating and tool belts and tough-guy helmets, and a big shield with a big red cross in the middle of it!

So, I wondered why those shoes were so important.

Maybe they’re big, steel-toed hobnail boots that we’ll use to crush the 
enemy’s head under our heel as we harken back to Genesis 3:15.

Okay, so they probably didn’t have steel-toed boots in Jesus’ time.  (Answer: No. It was pretty much all sandals of various types. And, yes, there are experts in ancient footwear and they do post this stuff on the internet.)

And, come to think of it, in the middle of all that shoe talk, it says the sandals are the gospel of peace.

Peace? Why is this Warrior of God wearing peace sandals?  (No, I’m not going into the hippy thing. I have some standards here.)

Then, when I start really pulling at the laces of those verses, something else jumps out.

Before describing any of the warrior’s battle-gear, the verses say the objective is to stand.

Stand your ground. Do everything, but stand. Stand firm.

And, it says the gospel of peace is strapped to our feet in readiness--in preparation.

The warrior being described here is not being prepared to go on the offensive—he is being prepared for a defensive battle.

The gospel of peace is the root, the foundation, the anchor that enables this warrior to resist the onslaught of the enemy coming straight at him. In fact, all of the armor described is for defensive purposes. The belt girds up the loins, the breastplate protects the heart, the shield extinguishes flaming arrows, and the helmet protects the mind. Sure, a sword can be an offensive weapon, but this warrior’s sword is the very word of God, which does not shed blood—the sword speaks of blood already shed for you.

For when we stand with our feet firmly planted in the knowledge that God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will never die but will have eternal life, what fear could we have in battle? What fear can we have when we know that death has been defeated before the battle ever begins?

We are not told to rush into battle, we are being told to stand. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7) Stand on the gospel, knowing that we are ready for whatever comes.  Stand in the peace that passes all understanding knowing that we need not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks the darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. (Psalm 91)

And, if we must walk—even if we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we need fear no evil, for the Lord Jesus is our shepherd and we shall never be in want. And we shall dwell in His house forever. (Psalm 23)

Come to think of it, the Gospel does seem to have steel toes.

Today’s Praise

They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. (Psalm 20:8 NIV)

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