Large and slightly curved with a knob in the middle, the Roman shield allowed its bearer to deflect attacks and even knock an opponent backward. Soldiers would also soak their shields in water, so they could extinguish any flaming arrows shot at them by the enemy.
Spiritually, as most Christians know, the shield represents faith.
“Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” (Ephesian 6:16)
We likely all feel like we know exactly what faith is. Yet, it’s such a spiritualized concept that it’s easy to lose touch with exactly what it is and does for a Christian. This is especially true when looking at it as a piece of armor.
What is faith?
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
The word “substance” here means confidence and indicates something solid and real. What is “hoped for” and have “evidence of,” even though we cannot see it, is the truth and fulfillment of what God says in his word.
How does faith protect like a shield?
Faith guards and protects our beliefs and values, which we get from God’s word. Our faith deflects Satan’s attacks (e.g., lies, deceit, distraction, etc.). In other words, it blocks Satan’s access to all that we are in Christ. While he can’t ever take those things away, he can make us believe that we can lose them.
There is one more aspect to note about the Romans and their shields relevant to how our shield of faith protects us. Romans used what is called the “turtle formation” to fight.
The Romans were very tough to beat because of this formation, and hopefully the correlation for Christians is clear. Maybe you’re struck anew as I was by the shield of faith when you saw this.
Imagine Christians with their shields up together like this. Imagine them defending against Satan’s attacks together. We’d be unstoppable too!