Scripture has commanded us to "put on the whole Armor of God." In recent articles, we have been exploring the various elements which make up the Armor of God as detailed in Ephesians 6:10-18. In this article we will explore our footwear:
"And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace"; Ephesians 6:15
This may seem like a strange item as armament. And yet, footwork is essential in any of the martial arts. (At the Naval Academy, one quickly learned the necessity of proper footwork in our hand-to-hand training classes!)
Anyone who has been involved in boxing or wrestling soon discovers that balance and positioning are fundamental in order to avoid disaster. In combat, a misstep is usually fatal.
There are many types of shoes: dress shoes, casual shoes, boots, steel-toed shoes for construction jobs, garden shoes, sandals, moccasins, slippers, etc. Each has its purpose and specific benefits for the wearer. The Roman army-which many assume was the model for the idioms Paul was using-paid careful attention to the footwear of its legionnaires. These nail-studded sandals (caligae) were designed to anticipate the various countermeasures which an enemy might employ to inhibit their advance or to dislodge their footing when in combat.
The term "shod" (Greek, u`podeomai, hupodeo) means to underbind, to bind under one's self, or to bind on. This is also suggestive of authority and power. The idiom of having our "feet shod" also suggests, in more modern terms, "putting shoe leather to our faith." It is a call to action.
The Gospel of Peace?
But here we have, "Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace." Strange idiom. Yet, "How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of Him who brings good news..."1
Moses, in speaking prophetically of the tribe of Asher: "And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be."2 Oil speaks of sanctification and anointing for service by the Holy Spirit. "So shall your strength be"-just as the footwear of the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings, the shoes of the gospel of peace do not wear out. 3
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you." 4 He supplies the oil; we provide the feet. 5
Putting on these shoes does not mean you are going to escape warfare. They are designed for that very purpose: action oriented; for spiritual combat. "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." 6
"The Lord God [is] my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places." 7 To anyone familiar with the wild, "Hind's (deer's) feet" suggest agility and endurance. Note "upon high places"-taking the high ground is not a luxury in warfare.
But even in the valleys, He is always there: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." 8 [And remember, the shadow of a dog cannot bite anyone!] Peace and fear are opposites. Peace is not passive; it is powerful. Our peace is in Christ (Eph 2:14; Jn 16:33; Jn 14:27, et al.).
Beware the False Peace
Does your peace derive from locks on the doors, your balance sheet, or arms in the closet? These are also the bases of a false peace. The world's peace is based on material safety, prosperity, and physical health. While wonderful, these form only a transient kind of euphoria which cannot endure in the face of adversity. 11 There is a difference between feeling safe and being safe. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" 12
How can we be sure we are on the right track and on the right footing? "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." 13
The Call to Preparation
Note carefully that the call in Ephesians 6 is for Preparation. Someone has said that "Luck is when Opportunity meets Preparation." Indeed. "Putting on the armor" is done before the battle, not during. Now is the time to be doing our homework. And we are already on enemy turf!
The Scripture admonishes us to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you." 14 Preparation includes training and practice. This, of course, implies that we have already done our homework-that we are, indeed, prepared. 15
An instructive example: What Bible study was given by 7 different people, on 12 separate occasions, and is rarely given today?
The answer: Peter, Stephen, Philip, Paul, Apollos, Aquila, and Priscilla-each was able to present Jesus as the Messiah of Israel entirely from the Old Testament. 16 Could you present Jesus to your Jewish friends entirely from the Old Testament?
The Scripture also instructs us in another aspect of preparation: "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." 17 This, I believe, is one of the many admonitions for Scripture memory work. 18 If you are serious about your commitment to our Lord and His Kingdom, then a systematic program of memorizing key passages of His Word is an essential preparation. 19 (Card systems have a well established effectiveness for such memory work.)
This is another of the several reasons that I have returned to the King James Version of the Bible. I want to make my memory investment from a version which I know will still be around in the future. Each of the "modern" translations seem to be continually eclipsed by new ones from time to time. The unmatched majesty of the classic King James Version assures its continuance. Each translation has its problems. The problems of the King James are well known and understood. The new versions' are still being discovered.
Another of the powerful means of preparation is through the use of audio tape cassettes. Tapes are one of the most powerful learning tools and can be exploited while commuting, exercising, walking, or doing almost any activity. One can be "personally tutored" by whichever favorite author/teacher one prefers. [Koinonia House has focused on instructional tape cassettes for this reason and the likelihood that this media may prove especially appropriate should the Church need to "go underground."]
For the Really Serious
Another secret: the best way to really learn a book of the Bible is to teach it. Why not organize and lead a home Bible study? Invest in some personal reference resources, and simply stay a chapter ahead. It is not difficult and the rewards are usually breathtaking. Now it is "Foot Inspection" time-do you have an adequate "understanding"? Any shoes other than His will cause us to stumble and fail. 20 Or are you trying to run barefoot?
A Parable: The Two Seas
There are two seas, both fed by the same source. One is an example of life and abundance. It is surrounded by green fields, trees bearing fruit, and lush growth of all kinds. The other is a symbol of death. Nothing lives in or near it. It is almost totally desolate. Both are fed by the same source. What is the difference?
One is the Sea of Galilee. The melting snows on Mt. Hermon are the source of the Jordan River which feeds the lake which, in turn, has made Israel one of the leading exporters of fruit and flowers throughout the world. The Sea of Galilee receives the water and passes it on.
This same river continues south to the Dead Sea, which has no outlet. This other body of water receives; ...and receives; ...and receives... The excessive saline content is notorious the world over and prevents the growth of any life. It is, indeed, dead.
Some Christians are like that. They attend Bible studies, accumulate copious notes, yet are always receiving... And receiving... Yet they bear little fruit for the Kingdom. Others receive readily, and yet pass on what they learn, and are a source of new life wherever they go.
Which of these seas is more effective at glorifying God? Our primary function and priority is to be glorifying God. Which one of these seas do you identify with?
Armor for the Age of Deceit, How to Study the Bible, and Footprints of the Messiah briefing packages, Expositional Commentary on the Book of Ephesians (available 12/96), Koinonia House, 1996.