I will never forget my first pair of Jordans. I was in fifth grade and my parents spent the big bucks to get the Jordan 5’s for Christmas. I remember I could not wait for Christmas break to end so I could go back to school and show them off. In one sense, I thought I had something so worth delighting in that they had to be shown off. In the same way, our third blog on the Armor of God and it’s Old Testament allusions is a part of the armor that ought to bring delight and peace, even in the midst of spiritual warfare. In Ephesians 6:15, Paul writes,
“and, as shoes for your feet having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”
One might not expect peace being a part of warfare and the armor of a soldier, but we are in a different type of war aren’t we? While the previous posts on the armor of God have been primarily about putting on Christ as we stand against the schemes and onslaught of the Evil one. Although the tenses of the aorist participle to “put on” (ὑποδησάμενοι) has a sense of putting the armor on in a sort of defensive stance, the shoes for the feet are meant to move the Christian somewhere and with something. To fully grasp what Paul has in mind here, we must look at the Old Testament allusion moving Paul’s illustration.
If you turn to Isaiah chapter 52, you will see another passage where God’s people are under attack by foreign countries and are in desperate need of God flexing his might. Among these enemies, the name of the Lord is despised (52:5) but the Lord himself is promising to come to the rescue and declares, “here I am” in 52:6. Out of this struggle against evil and oppression, just like Ephesians 6, the Coming Messiah will come with great news for his suffering people. Isaiah 52:7 says,
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.'”
Everywhere Israel looked, what they saw with their eyes told them they were defeated. Everywhere they looked was a people who hated their God and were trying to prove he did not exist. The God whose name was despised (52:5), shows up victoriously shouting, “Here I am!” And what he brings with him is good news of peace, happiness, and salvation. At the core of this peace is not a halt to the war, but an inner peace that soothes the soul with the truth that “Your God reigns.” The same God that delivered Israel out of Egypt will once again deliver his people out of exile and enemy territory. Like the newspapers declaring that Nazi Germany had lost the war, so God himself is publishing, or declaring, that the Messiah will bring glad news that will be accomplished, finished, done. Isaiah 52:7 is more familiar to most of us in the way Paul uses it in Romans 10:15, but that context is primarily about the message God brings.
Paul’s use of Isaiah 52:7 in Ephesians 6 is more centered on the peace God brings the Christian as he stands firm against the Evil one and his flaming arrows. He stands and yet delights in his God who has rescued him, not just from Satan, but from his own sin and deception. When the Christian ties the laces of the kicks that bring good news, he is first breathing in the fresh air of gospel peace. This is a peace that surpasses understanding and moves away from anxiety and worry on to trusting the God who was crushed for the iniquities of his people (Isaiah 52:13-15). This is a peace that remembers what God has saved the Christian to. As Romans 5:1-2 says,
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
The Christian who is daily putting on the armor of God knows that on his own, Satan will destroy him. But in Christ, the threats and accusations of Satan seem like mere mist in comparison to the endless ocean of grace that comes from being at peace with God. This peace that comes from God himself forgiving us, declaring us righteous, granting us unlimited access to his presence, and leads to rejoicing in his glory. In short, those that stand firm in Christ see the accusations and temptations of the Evil one as a mere speck of dust blowing by as our eyes are set on the vista of God’s grace.