Full Battle Rattle
By Elder Lloyd Roberts
One thing about military uniforms is that they are supposed to be uniform. Every soldier or sailor in a unit wears their uniform in the same way, have their rank, ribbons and belt buckles all worn in the prescribed fashion.
My wife and I got a laugh when our son wrote home during his first week of Basic Training. “My Battle Buddy is an idiot,” he wrote. “It’s only the first day and he has already lost both of his (hats).” We also learned a soldier’s personal field uniform and equipment is called his “battle rattle.”
As Paul prepared to write a letter to the church at Ephesus he had a ready analogy at hand for the message he wanted to send. A Roman soldier stood guard over him, night and day. Certainly, Paul could observe how careful the soldier was to make sure each morning he did not omit any piece of uniform.
Rome in the time of Paul did not have prisons in the way we think of them today. The Mamertine Prison had been around for 600 years but was not used to house prisoners serving a sentence for some crime.
Rome had two penalties – death and exile. Occasionally, prisoners were held in Mamertine awaiting execution, but more often they were placed in house arrest until their execution at a public festival.
Quite often captive chieftains and other foreign political leaders we entertained lavishly as a display of Rome’s superiority and of their own inferiority.
Some think Paul may have been imprisoned. Another tradition says Paul escaped and evangelized Spain. It seems more likely however, he was treated as a house guest until Caesar ordered his death.
Paul wanted to tell Christ’s followers to be prepared and to be vigilant. He used a soldier’s uniform to make his point.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.
15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.
16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.
19 Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak. – Ephesians 6:10-20
When you go out today, soldier, do you have on your full battle rattle?
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