“Now a certain man drew a bow at random, and struck the king of Israel between the joints of his armor (1 Kings 22:34).”
In detailing one of greatest battles in world history at Marathon, Edward Creasy noted that the Greek panoply contributed to their success against the overwhelming numbers of Persians that had invaded their homeland. (1) The Persians fought with a light wicker shield and no body armor (1) while the Greek soldier’s panoply included a heavy shield, a bronze breastplate, and bronze helmet. (2) In the brutish up-close body to body warfare the hoplite’s panoply gave him a decided advantage against his enemy.
Unfortunately for Daniel Barber of Houston his ignorance of inferior body armor proved fatal. (3) It is reported that his “friend” Jason Griffin came to his home to sell him a bulletproof vest when Barber put on the armor and “egged on” his friend to shoot him. (4) Griffin proceeded to fire a round at his friend’s chest which penetrated the vest killing Barber with the vest still on.
Many people are going about this world trusting in faulty armor with the same fatal flaws. Many believe that they are “good people” and that they will be granted access into heaven in the hereafter. They are ignorant that no one is “good enough” so that God should accept them (Psalm 14:3, Isaiah 64:6, Matthew 19:17, Psalm 14:3).
Others are relying on their belief in God to protect them and save their souls without obedience to His commandments. This meager wicker shield will also betray them as it failed the Jewish rulers and demons (John 12:42, James 2:19). The convictions of some are that their previous commitment to God years ago is enough to halt any diabolical bullets but they are also gravely mistaken (John 15:6, Romans 6:1-2, Hebrews 10:26-27).
Paul addresses the Christians at Ephesus with this admonition; “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11).” The Greek word for “whole armor” is derived from “panoplia” or panoply which includes the shield, helmet, and breastplate. (5) Paul speaks of us “having put on the breast plate of righteousness (v.14)” and urging us “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one (v.16).”
Christians, no inferior armor can effectively stop the devil’s deadly bullets and protect us except for God’s full armor. It is incumbent upon us, as Paul urges, to put it on and keep it on. God’s bullet proof vest is completely capable of covering us and all we have to do is wear it always.
Historians have long wondered how the Greeks prevailed over the superior Persian forces but we know that God gave them the victory (Daniel 8:20-21) for His own sovereign purposes. We also are engaged in warfare (Ephesians 6:12, 2 Timothy 2:3-4) against an enemy bent on our killing us (John 8:44). But in Christ, as our shield, we are truly bulletproof and God will make us victorious for His glory.
“But You, O LORD, are a shield for me (Psalm 3:3a).”
(1) Creasy, Edward Shepherd, Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World, Barnes & Noble Books, New York, 1995, pp.22-24
(2) Hanson, Victor Davis, The Wars of the Ancient Greeks, Cassell, London, 1999, pp.48-49
(5) Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Hendrickson Publishers, p.476