(9.) Soldier, Priest – Shoes for the Gospel of Peace

(9.) Soldier, Priest – Shoes for the Gospel of Peace

(9.)  Soldier, Priest – Shoes for the Gospel of Peace. 

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For this struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Roman Soldier Shoes. They were flexible, thick leather sandals, with long leather straps to wrap around your ankles and lower legs. The bottoms of these soles were studded with pieces of metal to aid in traction over difficult terrain. Somehow, they designed their battle shoes in such a way that a soldier couldn’t walk backwards, making retreat pretty much impossible.

High Priest Footwear. Rabbinic sources report that the priests had to go barefoot once they entered the Sanctuary of the Tabernacle, because it was holy ground. They had a big bowl of water at the entrance so the priests could wash both their hands and their feet before entering their Holy Place. There were many reasons offered why certain people had to take off their sandals before entering “holy ground”: a sign of reverence and humility before an almighty and holy God; God was a God of the living, therefore nothing dead like an animal skin was to stand between God and man; presenting oneself before the eternal God was so unique, that the person could not approach casually but mindful of the privileged moment; the sacred space created by God for Him to appear was to be fully experienced by the person there, and God wanted the person to feel it on the bottom of their feet, a multi-sensory way to fully experience the presence of God; one rabbi provided a comical but nonetheless true possibility… that God wanted the person, such as Moses (Ex. 3) and Joshua (Josh. 5) to take off their shoes so that they would not be tempted to run away in fear before God had a chance to speak.

A Southern Gospel Revival: Courtney Patton – Take Your Shoes Off Moses – YouTube

In Other Words. There are a few different ways one could say the traditional passage about having your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace… Put shoes on your feet in preparation to face the enemy with firm-footed stability; Protect your feet from the evil one during the spiritual conflict so that you can be quick to spread the good news of God’s peace; Stand on your own two feet, alert, then you’ll always be ready to share the blessings of peace; keep your shoes on so that you are motivated and prepared to proclaim the true peace that is available in God; wear the shoes that will best enable you to follow through on your eagerness to spread the good news of God’s peace.

SHALOM The ancient Hebrew word translated as peace and means much more than absence of war: completeness or wholeness, as in the joining together of opposites; integrity, as in the effective holding together of separate pieces; to give/restore harmony; fulfillment; health; security; abundant well-being; the state of having the vitality needed to thrive and flourish; tranquility; freedom from disquiet and disorder; reconciliation; resolution of conflict; healing of division; prosperity. The Greek word for peace in the New Testament is “Eirene,” and means the same thing as “Shalom” in the Hebrew Bible.

Peace is one of the greatest gifts that God can give us. With the Prince of Peace, we are able to enjoy a taste of heavenly shalom now… full reconciliation with God; flourishing in mind and spirit; an inner harmony that heals us and joins together loose ends in our spirit; an outer harmony with others that enjoy resolved conflicts; a tranquil heart of contentment and trust; an inner assurance that all will be well.

Shalom (peace) ranks the highest of all values in the Hebrew Bible, according to Jewish scholars. Shalom is the most important goal in all of life. “Rabbinic teaching describes it as the only vessel through which God’s blessings can flow into this world.” (Rabbi Arthur Green, These are the words: A Vocabulary of Jewish Spiritual Life).

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no root of bitterness grows up to cause trouble and the corruption of many.” (Hebrews 12:4).

PURSUE PEACE: Live in harmony with others; intentionally combine separate people into a unified whole; reconcile apparent differences with others; adjust yourself in order to fit together with others; be of the same mind with others; be agreeable and forgiving; join together with others in a unifying purpose; mutual understanding; a dependable sign of holiness and purity.

Peaceful and Holy. The author of Hebrews joins peace with holiness in the same breath. We can’t have one without the other, it seems. Evidently, peace with others is a sure sign of holiness before God. In this case, what is meant by holiness? To be holy here is to refer to how believers were sanctified, purified, in the liturgical sense of long ago. Faithful Jews would need to undergo a ritual cleansing in the baths outside the Temple. It was a sign of purification, setting them apart to worship God. The ritual bath cleansed the believer and symbolically separated them from impurity. So to be holy and purified in the New Testament sense was to harken back and remind the believers in Christ that they needed to be purified and cleansed in the successor to the ritual bath, Holy Baptism, in order to follow Jesus. They needed to be holy, and to grow in holiness. One sure way of becoming impure was to have fractured relationships, to live in unforgiveness and discord with fellow believers. Being at peace with others was a sign of purity and holiness. Harmony leads to holiness. Heartfelt reconciliation was a dependable sign of purity in the Christian community.

A Question of Roots. The writer of Hebrews is offering advice as to how to keep the peace with others: If you let bitterness take root in your heart, peace will be impossible. In fact, the bitter root will grow underground and end up corrupting the community. Letting resentment take root in one’s life will cause discord in a relationship and will guarantee a lack of peace in a community. But there is hope. There is another Root, Jesus. He twice called Himself a Root of David in Revelation (5:5 and 22:16). Jesus here claims to be the original source of existence itself, and of spiritual nutrition and stability as well. We can ask that God tear out the root of bitterness, uproot the resentment in our heart, and replace it with the righteous Root of Jesus. We need to cooperate with God by confronting any bitterness we might have with someone else, confessing it, then reconciling with our neighbor. Let the Root provide what is needed to heal the bitterness and keep it from spreading strife and discord. Let the Prince of Peace grow deep roots of peace. “If the root is holy, so are the branches.” (Romans 11:16).

Make Peace Your Quest with One Another.  Proclaiming the peace of Christ surely invites the devil to get involved and add his discord and division. The One Another’s reveal what it looks like to lay down your life for your friends, to put your self on the shelf in a daily martyrdom, sacrificing yourself for someone else’s benefit out of love. These One Another’s described below describe what it takes to live in a healthy, peaceful community. With the transforming power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we can indeed enjoy a life together that reflects the peace of the eternal Kingdom of God, a community that has a heart for one another.

  1. Bear One Another’s Burdens: To lift up and carry; to take up and walk with; to intercede for someone else, whether through prayer or caregiving, whether tangible or intangible; to relieve someone of something that weighs heavily on them.
  2. Build Up One Another: To edify; to strengthen; to empower; to affirm certain qualities; to help someone or a group to grow to maturity; to construct a building, an edifice, of faith and character in another person or group.
  3. Warn One Another: To admonish; to caution; to place into someone’s awareness; to reprove gently; to call attention to; to alert another person’s thinking; to offer sound advice and guidance.
  4. Encourage One Another: To “paraclete” each other: Called to come alongside someone in need, in order to help and bear burdens by Pointing to God, Advising, Reminding, Advocating for, Comforting, Listening, Exhorting, Teaching and Encouraging.
  5. Restore One Another: To set right; to repair; to refit; to mend; to rejoin; to bring back to its original state; to heal.
  6. Honor One Another: To show deference to; to prefer over one’s self; to highly esteem; to greatly respect; to revere; to focus on the importance of another.
  7. Bear With One Another: To put up with; to make allowances for; to willingly endure; forbearance; to tolerate; to have patience with; to accept someone despite their weaknesses.
  8. Exhort One Another: To urge to continue in the Faith; to beseech in strong terms; to come alongside to offer encouraging guidance; to inspire courage and hope; to call upon someone to act; to give affirming words that strengthens others.
  9. Confess to One Another: To acknowledge openly; to freely admit to wrongdoing; to announce one’s guilt; to concede one’s shortcomings; to repent of sins; to agree with God that one’s sin is a sin.
  10. Wash One Another’s Feet: A simple act of hospitality; a house servant’s task; involves placing someone else’s dirty, smelly feet into a bowl of water and carefully using one’s hands to cleanse those feet of all dirt, grime and sweat, and then drying the feet with a clean towel; a common, menial act of service and humility; exercising the ministry of touch to the untouchable; the powerful sacrament of servanthood.
  11. Harmonize with One Another. When separate parts intentionally combine into a beautiful whole; to reconcile apparent differences into a combined unity; to adjust in order to fit together; to be of the same mind; to unite in the same direction in will, affection and conscience; to join together in unity of spirit and purpose, with one heart and one passion; to be agreeable and get along; mutual understanding.

“Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of Yahweh; and Gideon said, ‘Alas, O Yahweh Elohim! For now I have seen the angel of Yahweh face to face.’ But Yahweh said to Gideon, ‘Peace be to you; do not fear, you shall not die.’ Then Gideon built an altar there to Yahweh, and called it, Yahweh-shalom, the LORD-is-peace.” (Judges 6:22-24).

Sources of Peace from the Hebrew Bible:

  1. God’s Hand of Blessing – “May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26, NLT)
  2. A Gift of God – “The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.” (Psalm 29:11, NLT
  3. Single-Minded Pursuit – “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Ps. 34:14, NIV).
  4. Meekness – “But the humble of heart will inherit every promise and enjoy abundant peace.” (Ps. 37:11, TPT).
  5. Blameless Behavior – “But you can tell who are the blameless and spiritually mature. The godly ones will have a peaceful, prosperous future with a happy ending.” (Ps. 37:37,TPT)
  6. Love of Scripture – “Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.” (Ps. 119:165, NLT)
  7. Living a Life that Pleases the Lord – “When people’s lives please the Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them.” (Prov. 16:7, NLT)
  8. Tranquility at Home – “Better a dry crust eaten in peace, than a house full of feasting with strife.” (Prov. 17:1, Tanakh).
  9. Faithfulness – “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.” (Isaiah 26:3, NLT
  10. Righteous Lifestyle – “And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever.” (Isaiah 32:17, NLT)
  11. Obedience – “Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea.” (Isaiah 48:18, NLT)
  12. Redemption – “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV).
  13. God’s Promise – “Though the mountains be shaken and hills removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10, NIV).
  14. The Word of God – “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace.” (Isaiah 55:11-12, NLT).
  15. God’s Healing – “I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far, says the Lord who heals them.” (Isaiah 57:18-19, NLT
  16. The Presence of God – “And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world. And he will be the source of peace.” (Micah 5:5, NLT).

So when Jesus offers His peace to us as a gift, He is telling us many important things: He is offering our reconciliation with God through Him; He is desiring that we flourish in mind and body and spirit; He is trusting that we grow in an inner harmony, blending together those loose ends within each of us; He is pushing for an outer harmony as well, between people at battle with each other; He is granting us untroubled hearts and minds. When Jesus offers His peace, He is opening the door to a soul-satisfying contentment in each of us. That is the gospel of peace, a deep, fearless peace that defies easy description, a life-long heavenly experience on earth that is not comparable to anything else we can experience.

Peace is a Sword. This is a paradox, and is no doubt an aspect of peace that may be beyond human understanding. But Jesus said at one point that He is bringing not peace, but a sword. (Matt. 19:34). He indeed brought the righteous sword of His Holy Spirit, rightly dividing good from evil, a judgment on sin. Some will accept this sword, and some will not, at least for the time being. So Jesus saw division as being the immediate result of His work, division between people especially. But the eventual purpose of His ministry was to divide in order to unite, to bring peace, between people and between God and mankind. Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker. He wants to confront these deep differences and conflicts that inevitably come in His presence, and He earnestly wants to be the bringer of peace and healing and justice.

Peace is a Gift. Peace is clearly a gift offered by Jesus to us, and is in fact a sign of His presence. We can’t manufacture peace on our own, it comes to us from heaven, from His Holy Spirit. Peace is a quality that is seeded into our hearts and minds, and then grows, and becomes an eternal fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). The world is not capable of giving us this kind of peace. Peace is a gift that we live into, a confident assurance that we are in harmony with the God who has claimed the ultimate victory. This puts our hearts to rest.

There is no doubt that Jesus took great joy in fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah 52:7:  “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’!”

Shalom is a full banquet of peace, but we are given by God a taste of that peace now, an hors ‘doeuvre before the full meal. Peace is something promised to us this side of the wedding banquet. God offers to give us a measure of peace now, a foretaste of our life in the New Jerusalem. This earthly peace is all a taste of the soul-satisfying peace awaiting us, a nibble of the eternal fruit of the Holy Spirit. This is the peace that goes so deep it is beyond human understanding. (Phil. 4:7). “I leave the gift of peace with you – My peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace.” (John 14:27). “Everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you, and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must cheer up and be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33, TPT). In heaven, there will be peace in the valley, a valley no longer in the shadow of death, but shining in the light of life.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, PEACE, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23).

The Heart that is Fertile. Wax fruit might look good, but don’t try to bite down on an apple made of wax. Artificial fruit is for decoration and thus is useless. The fruit of the Holy Spirit, though, is real, is experiential, is useful. If we aren’t careful, our good-looking fruit may be pleasing to the eye, it might look good, practically a masterpiece, but it nonetheless could be useless in the eyes of God. Think of the real fruit’s usefulness: Beautiful to behold, delicious to the taste, fragrant to smell, nutritious to eat, and a point of pride for the gardener. Our spiritual fruit is likewise attractive to people, healthy for people to experience, likely to encourage repeat customers, and reflects well on the gardener. A healthy crop of fruit causes others to appreciate and laud the efforts of the gardener. But if the fruit is left to itself and is unpicked, it has no outward purpose and it rots. Ripe fruit brings a satisfying joy to the gardener, and healthy enjoyment to the person eating the fruit. There is no limit to the usefulness of the fruit of the Spirit in the spreading of the kingdom of God. Good grapes come from a strong branch growing from a healthy vine cultivated in fertile soil, nurtured by a gifted gardener. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is like that. The spiritual fruit in Galatians 5 is the clustered elements of love growing in union with the vine Jesus, rooted and grounded in the fertile soil of the submissive heart, bringing glory to God and life to the people. And nothing could bring greater joy than for our garden to bring pleasure to the Lord of the harvest. One thinks of Creator God strolling in the garden of our heart in the cool of the day, being pleased with what He sees.

Following Jesus and living in His Spirit naturally produces ripe fruit in your inner heart that will be outwardly useful in spreading His kingdom of love and vitality. The fruit of the Spirit is how Jesus operates with people, it’s what He looks like as He interacts, it’s His personality and temperament. The Holy Spirit wants us to develop a winsome Family resemblance. As productive branches, we are to bear useful, spiritual fruit in the garden of the heart.

A Prayer to Yahweh-shalom (ya’-way shal-lome’), honoring Jesus, the Prince of Peace:

We rest content in you, Yahweh-shalom, LORD-is-peace. For you are perfect peace, the ultimate source of wholeness, justice, completeness. You long to be at peace with the people you have created, Lord, and so you sent your Son to be your one acceptable peace offering.  You have now restored harmony with all whom you have made, in the hope that we will all be reconciled with you. And now your Spirit yearns to come to us as the Prince of Peace, bringing peace to our hearts, restoration to our relationships, and unity to your broken Body. We thank you for this peace that is beyond our understanding but is made real to us through your Presence. We bow before you, Yahweh-shalom, and we worship your holy Name. Amen.

Night Prayer. “Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace. Amen.”  (concluding prayer of the Compline).

“Night Prayer” is another name for the Compline, a service of evening prayers said before going to bed. It was probably first officially formed by St. Benedict of the 6th century when he established his monastic communities in Europe. The Compline is a part of the formal prayers in most liturgical churches, including Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, and Anglican.

And asleep we may rest in peace.

We all need rest in many different ways. Sometimes we need mental rest, other times physical rest. We also require emotional rest at times. The rest that puts it all together is blessed sleep. To rest in peace is probably on everybody’s lips as the head hits the pillow. When we sleep, the metabolism slows down, our brain activity decreases, our body gets a needed break, our emotions can take a step back. God designed our bodies to require that kind of complete rest at regular intervals. And sleeplessness will always lead to complete breakdown sooner or later. For those unlucky enough to find sleep elusive, a solution to that dilemma needs to be found before long. The first thing to do if sleepless is to pray about finding a peaceful rest. And then the sleepless party needs to discover what is causing the sleeplessness, whether it’s diet, or lifestyle, or a restless mind, or a troubled heart, or even a biochemical imbalance in the brain. But first pray for the peace that passes understanding. Pray for the grace that is rest. “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.” (Psalm 62:5). “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  (Psalm 4:8).