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Youth Messenger Online Edition

July-September

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The Shield of Faith
Stephen Andrew Jacobs

Did you know that the Bible contains 44 verses (43 verses in the Old Testament and 1 verse in the New Testament) which have the word “shield” in them? Most of these verses are found in stories of great battles fought by the Israelites. 

In these stories, each soldier had to wear an armor consisting of a belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet, and sword to ensure their protection during each battle. Taking a closer look at the shield, it is the largest item of the armor as it is used to protect virtually the entire body against attacks with darts, arrows, spears and swords. Therefore it is one of the most important parts of the armor that each soldier should have, despite it being the last item a soldier would put on.

One of my favorite stories is the battle between David and Goliath, 1 Samuel 17. The story begins with the Israelite and Philistine armies on the battlefield with Goliath as the leader of the Philistine army mocking the Israelites and their God. David, a young shepherd boy, decides to defend his God by facing Goliath. In 1 Samuel 17:38, 39 David attempts to wear King Saul’s armor, but takes it off because he had not proved it. He proceeds to face the giant with a staff, sling, 5 stones and “in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou has defied” (1 Samuel 17:45).

We all do know very well how the story ends but I would like to look more closely at David and see how he as a soldier protected himself from the giant at that moment. In verses 45-47, David gives a declaration of faith that God will give him the victory over Goliath. We do not find him praising his staff, shoes, sling or the 5 stones, neither his ability to use the sling, he simply declares his faith in God.

What is faith?

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Through faith, David believed that he would be victorious over Goliath because he had rid himself of the “human” protection—the armor of King Saul—and acquired all the protection he needed which was God Himself. God to him was a shield.

“But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head” (Psalm 3:3).

“The weak should therefore look to Jesus, and believe in Him; they then exercise faith.” —Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, p. 127.

What is the shield of faith?

Looking at the only verse in the New Testament that speaks about a shield, Ephesians 6:16 declares: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” By saying, “above all,” this verse places an emphasis on our need of the shield of faith.

Earlier we understood that the shield was the largest item of the armor, as it protected most of the body and is the first defense a soldier has against any attack. But before we go any further, let us get a better understanding of what or whom we are fighting against. 

Why do we need to put on the armor?

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:12, 13).

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). 

“Our loins must be girt about with truth. Our breastplate must be righteousness. The shield of faith must be in our hand, the helmet of salvation on our brow; and with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, we are to cut our way through the obstructions and entanglements of sin.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 502.

The verses and quotation above give us a clear picture of our enemy—the wickedness and darkness in this world, Satan the roaring lion, and the entanglements of sin.

What is Satan’s objective?

“If the enemy can lead the desponding to take their eyes off from Jesus, and look to themselves, and dwell upon their own unworthiness, instead of dwelling upon the worthiness of Jesus, His love, His merits, and His great mercy, he will get away their shield of faith, and gain his object; they will be exposed to his fiery temptations.”—Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, p. 127. 

What is the objective of the entanglements of sin?

“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). 

What is our shield made of?

In every battle, the enemy always aims to kill. We therefore need to have a special shield for protection. Let us discover what our shield is made of. 

“Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, and charity are the elements of the Christian character. These precious graces are the fruits of the Spirit. They are the Christian’s crown and shield.”—Child Guidance, p. 173.

“Youth are ignorant and inexperienced, and the love of the Bible and its sacred truths will not come naturally. Unless great pains are taken to build up around them barriers to shield them from Satan’s devices, they are subject to his temptations and are led captive by him at his will.”—Ibid., p. 508.

“Faith in God’s word, prayerfully studied and practically applied, will be our shield from Satan’s power and will bring us off conquerors through the blood of Christ.”—Counsels to the Church, p. 331.

How powerful is our shield?

“There is by our side a witness, a heavenly messenger, who will lift up for us a standard against the enemy. He will shut us in with the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Beyond this Satan cannot penetrate. He cannot pass this shield of holy light.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 171.

How do we weaken our shield of faith?

“Association with the ungodly and unbelieving will have the same influence [faith becomes confused and corrupted] upon those who believe the present truth unless they keep the Lord ever before them so that His Spirit shall be their shield.” —Christ Triumphant, p. 109.

Using our shield of faith

In the book of Genesis, we find the experience of Joseph in Egypt. A young man, away from home, is rejected by his own brothers and is now a slave to an Egyptian. To us, he is a wonderful example of how we are to use our shield of faith daily to protect ourselves. “As a shield from temptation and an inspiration to purity and truth, no other influence can equal the sense of God’s presence. ‘All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.’ He is ‘of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.’ Hebrews 4:13; Habakkuk 1:13. This thought was Joseph’s shield amidst the corruptions of Egypt. To the allurements of temptation his answer was steadfast: ‘How . . . can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ Genesis 39:9. Such a shield, faith, if cherished, will bring to every soul.”—Education, p. 255.

Are we to only shield ourselves?

Turning to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, we see how He protected the disciples from temptation. “Again the question was asked by the Redeemer, ‘Whom seek ye?’ . . . [and] again they answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ The Saviour then said, ‘I have told you that I am He: if therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way’—pointing to the disciples. He knew how weak was their faith, and He sought to shield them from temptation and trial. For them He was ready to sacrifice Himself.”
?—A Call to Stand Apart, p. 34.

“They [God’s people] would shield the defenseless, and give an example of virtue and compassion.”—The Desire of Ages, 
?p. 107.

Is there a reward for winning the battle?

Jesus gives the assurance: “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12).  

“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Revelation 3:11).

“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

“Through a correct faith, divine knowledge will become human knowledge. No one can search the Scriptures in the spirit of Christ without being rewarded.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 113, 114.

“When the trumpet sounds and all that are in the graves hear Christ’s voice and come forth, they will receive their reward; for their faith in God was not a mere theory, but a reality.”—Ibid., p. 262. 

Dear reader, through the words of inspiration we have learned that the shield of faith is Jesus Christ. He will be a shield to us as long as we are faithful in putting on the WHOLE armor of God—having your loins girt about with truth, the breastplate of righteousness; the footwear of preparation of the gospel of peace, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

David pleaded: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). This is our greatest need in order to resist sin and the devil. We need to be transformed from the inside out and it is only possible through the study of the scriptures and prayer. 

Give God a chance in your life, and He will fight your battles for you. Always be found dressed for your next spiritual victory.