So far in this series on the Armor of God we have discussed the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, and the Shield of Faith.
The Belt of Truth ensures that any weapon we use is sheathed in the truth found in God’s word.
With the Breastplate of Righteousness we know that our heart will be protected against the enemy’s darts, but only if it is made of Christ’s righteousness and not your own.
The Shield of Faith : Not just the belief, but the foundation of that belief (God) is the first line of defense against attacks from the enemy.
Today we are discussing the Helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:17). The helmet is an essential piece of armor; a soldier might be able to survive with other injuries, but an injury to the head is usually “game over.” When we look at the architecture of the helmet worn by Roman Soldiers – the military presence in biblical times – we gain a little more insight into the importance of this metaphor.
Unlike the earlier Coolus helmet, which sat atop the head and offered little protection, and the later European armor designs of Medieval times, which offered ultimate protection but was bulky and difficult to see out of, the Galea helmet (pictured above) offered the best balance of functionality and security.
After all, a soldier still has to be able to see and to fight while being protected.
When considering the importance of hope and salvation to the Christian faith, and especially in the spiritual battles we face, this concept is also vitally important to the Helmet of Salvation.
But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he reminds us of the importance of staying sober; not only in the literal sense (i.e. to refrain from drunkenness), but also in the intellectual sense. As believers we are to walk in the light, with the knowledge of Jesus’ sacrifice on our minds. We are to stay alert, unlike those who do not know the Lord and are “asleep.” And so, we will not be surprised at Christ’s return, nor of the birthing pains that herald his coming.
As we walk about in this fallen world, and as that world inches closer and closer to the day when God’s wrath will be unleashed on mankind, it is essential now more than ever to be alert through these birthing pains.
Wearing the Helmet of Salvation allows you to walk in the hope of knowing that when the world crumbles around you – in your individual circumstances or in the collective human experience – your salvation is eternal.
Disease and heartache may tear away at your body and soul. War may break out. Famine affects more than one-third of the world’s population. America and Europe have become the modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah. At times it feels as though we are so far from the Promise Land, just wandering in the desert.
But when we focus on our eternal salvation we can step out on this battlefield knowing that it will all fade away someday, and in its place will be a newer, better existence for those who wear the Helmet of Salvation.
I often grow weary on the battlefield. I’m there now, struggling with the temptations of this culture which offers so many escapes from the realities of what we have become. And I am so grateful that my helmet still allows me to see clearly – God never calls us to hide from the world – and although the things I see hurt me, I am reminded of the hope of eternity. And because I trust Jesus as my Lord and savior, I will get to see that eternity someday.
Somehow, deep in my soul, I know that on that day every single fiery dart of the enemy will make perfect sense to me. I will see how Jesus carried every tear and burden, and how he wove the struggles into the tapestry of my life and my purpose.
I’d like to close by pointing out that the Roman Galea also had a crest, often made of feathers or plumes, which stuck up from the top of the helmet. The crest served the purpose of indicating rank. Its bright colors were often the first thing an enemy would notice when he saw the army approach.
As part of God’s army, we are to wear our crest proudly. Those who look on us should see us walking in the light, not for the sake of pomp and circumstance, but for the sake of character. Any sword you yield must always be done on the foundation of who you are in Christ.
We are not on this battlefield just to save ourselves, but to enlist people – the broken, the unbelieving, who are left to the battle without armor – into the army of God. A nonbeliever will see your crest first. Does your crest show the hope of salvation, or the hatred of defeat?