Armor Of God
The armor of god, discussed in Ephesians 6, is perhaps one of the most popular passages used in preaching series. This blog explains how to find the back story. Before that a few notes on the 13014 annual planner and calendar app updates.
As a follow up to the 2022-12-23 blog on Christmas, I have finally updated the calendar app itself.
There were several bugs that got fixed including some navigation bugs. The app now only lists Purim as the disputed holidays. It includes Joshua's birthday, labeled as 'Incarnation' day. It includes 'Resurrection' day, otherwise known as Easter Sunday.
It makes note of Crucifixion day and Ascension day. Pentecost is also known as Selection Day, so in the app this date is not particularly noted.
Passion week dates are given by date in the month. This makes Resurrection day land on Sunday only about once every 7 years. This is a little unnerving. Easter is also now a fall holiday, also unnerving.
This holiday pair is usually done by observation. It is based on the timing of first cutting of crops so it varies by hemisphere and distance from the equator. Theoretically it can come at any point in the calendar because it is not synchronized to the calendar itself.
Because of this I have never included them in the app nor the Annual Planners.
Because so many people do not live close to the harvest cycle, this important holiday pair is never seen. In order to give it some visibility I have set the library to treat the day 6 months before Joshua's birth as the day for the first cutting. The following Sabbath marks an imaginary First Fruits. Weeks follows thereafter by the standard 50 day formula.
This brings 2 important holidays back to visibility in the app. Anyone who knows the definition, and wants to follow it technically, will know enough to follow it at any time. For those just learning, it provides a glimpse to these holidays that are otherwise missing.
For years we have done Annual Planners. Usually the .pdf files have been passed around by email. We have sometimes also printed them, though we don't have good print gear for that any more. For this year I opened a section on the main website for planner downloads. The .pdf files for the next year, 13014, are available there. Scroll down below the blog entries and you can find the download links you need if you are using the planners.
You will need to print them yourself at a local print shop or using a printer at home. I recommend adding your own personalized front cover.
Those Annual Planners are updated with the new holiday markers as seen in the calendar app. This brings visibility to First Fruits, Weeks and the New Testament dates.
Notes On 13014
Calendar year 13014 starts on Monday, January 9, 2023. 13014, is a Sabbath Year. This means it has 13 months and that Tabernacles has an extra day. It is one of the years when scripture is to be read through by everyone.
The last Sabbath year was 13007. It was at Unleavened Bread in 13007 when we first understood the scale of the edits. What is now the TT app was first online by Tabernacles in that year. We are praying we get through this process by this year's Tabernacles. If we do, it will have been a 7 year journey.
This year is also strange prophetically. 13014 is year 14 in this millennium. Think of our years as days on a bigger calendar. This year maps to day 14 on the regular calendar, so it maps to Passover. The Passover holiday matters at the very end of the calendar day, so it would matter at the very end of this calendar year. The last day, 13014-13-30, is 2024-02-02.
The end of 13014 and perhaps 13015, are probably in view in the prophetic stories in the last chapter of the Book of Daniel. More on this later.
As we have covered here many times before, the main villainous editors of the text were 1) Solomon, 2) Ahab/Jezebel, 3) Nebuchadnezzar, 4) Mordecai, 5) Ezra and 6) Ananias.
The story in Acts 15 calls out the first 5 in various veiled ways. They each wrote, or carried, important letters that mark them as editors. Ananias is the 6th editor. He follows the lead of the others, adding his own bits to the New Testament and racing it to Rome ahead of Paul.
These 6 names mark the interpretive keys to 6 different types of manuscript edits.
Let me make a more general statement about these 6 names: They mark 6 different dysfunctions found in all populations of people in the world at large. Indeed, there may not be any other types of villains in the world at all.
The New Testament writers knew and used this list of villains as the back drop for many of their stories. Acts 15 is the place with riddles for identifying this list of names.
But, Acts 15 is in no way unique in using this list of editors. The many other places where this list occurs simply assume the reader knows the villain list and then adds more details to their stories, behaviors and crimes.
One of the passages that uses the villains as the interpretive key is called the 'Armor of God' and found in Ephesians 6. We start with the armor of god because it is so well known. In my years of sitting in church, sermon series built on this story were always popular, so most people are familiar with this list.
The link here is to the whole chapter, but the interesting passage is from vs. 10 through vs. 17. If you are not familiar with the passage, you may wish to review it.
The passage is structured around 2 lists of 6 things. The first list is simply 6 troubles that all people face in the world. These are 1) flesh, 2) blood, 3) principalities, 4) rulers, 5) powers of this dark world, 6) evil spirits under the skies.
The second list is various types of armor that can be used to defend against these problems in the world. Briefly, these are 1) belt of truth, 2) breastplate of righteousness, 3) feet shod with the gospel of peace, 4) shield of belief, 5) helmet of salvation, and 6) sword of the spirit.
Without a specific interpretive key, most pastors wing it when building sermon series against this list. Let me instead use the villain list to interpret the passage.
Solomon is known to have had an Egyptian wife, but the Bible suggests he had 1000 women made up of wives and concubines. He was caught in the lusts of the flesh. This is point 1) Flesh. His decision to build his temple was based on appeasing his Egyptian wife. Solomon brought her belief system into his life. It became the basis for his set of textual edits.
The antidote to this problem is listed in the Ephesians passage as the 1) belt of truth. If Solomon had kept his belt on, and married only 1 woman, from the historical faith community of Moses, he would not have had the troubles he did. And, we would not have suffered the edits and practices that he injected into the text in support of his deceiving wives.
There are all sorts of sexual messages in popular culture, especially movies, that promote similar sexual deviancy as Solomon. It is not widely seen as wrong because Solomon is not seen as the villain he is.
Our conventional Bible based western world does not have a belt of truth. It edits truth to political ends. We are not to do that ourselves.
Ahab also married poorly by choosing a foreign wife, a similar problem to Solomon.
The second trouble listed in Ephesians 6 is simply 2) blood. This is an idiom for shed blood, or killing. We see this with Jezebel's letter with Ahab's signature to have Naboth killed. She was using the shedding of blood to achieve a personal goal. In their specific case stealing Naboth's vineyard.
I once met a former manager who had transferred between company divisions, in different states, because he felt middle management in the old location was doing this same thing to advance their division goals. I was young and naive and had trouble believing his testimony. These days I believe what he told me. It is not just the political communities that uses killing to advance their cause, some corporate communities do it too.
Jezebel pulled off her murder by directing a community to do it. Ahab also holds fault because he would not restrain his wife.
The antidote to this is the 2) breastplate of righteousness. Importantly, Ahab was killed by a random arrow that slipped between the parts of his breastplate. Like Solomon's belt, here we see the armor piece matching the story of the villain. In Ahab's case that armor piece failed because of what he allowed Jezebel to do in his name.
Righteousness has as its root, the concept to 'do right.' When we 'do right' we curry Joshua's favor who protects us from random arrows. Otherwise those random arrows strike home. The men who followed Jezebel's orders also likely died by Assyrian arrows.
The next trouble listed in the Ephesians passage is 3) principalities. This is a low occurrence technical term. Pastors preaching this story can use the term how ever they want.
Let me suggest that it has something to do with Nebuchadnezzar's general goals. He was conquering and collecting states to include in his country/empire. To make everybody happy he was merging the religious documents from those conquered kingdoms. He was looking for the successful 'principles' that he could incorporate into his own rule and world view.
The antidote is listed as 3) feet shod with the gospel of peace. When we scan Nebuchadnezzar's story we find he had a dream. Daniel interprets the dream and assigns the king to the head of a statue. The statue has various parts, made of various materials. The feet, iron mixed with clay, are where the statue falls. These feet are matching the armor piece in the antidote.
Let me suggest that gathering useful precepts, or principles, from various sources is the problem. We fight this in the text. We fight this in society when every whim of a religious idea is incorporated into life. We build multi-material statues and they ultimately collapse.
The antidote says the gospel of peace should be used instead. The gospel is a term that implies the inspired text only, a single coherent system of understanding, not merged together by men. We should not be at war conquering other systems and documents.
The next trouble listed in Ephesians is 4) rulers. Mordecai is manipulating the rulers of the kingdom in order to advance his own personal and family goals. Most importantly, the story of Mordecai is how the Jewish religion got wedded into world politics.
The antidote is listed as 4) the shield of belief. Curiously in the case of Mordecai a shield is not directly called out. When Haman leads Mordecai around on horseback we may be seeing the shield story in action.
In any case, having the belief that is strong enough to do what Joshua says, and not what others say, is the antidote to rulers.
The next trouble is 5) Power of this dark world. Ezra carried a commissioning letter from the king that gave him power to setup distributed organized religion including schools as we know them now.
The power Ezra carried was to create and control the belief system of the public on behalf of the earthly king who commissioned him. Kings and priests operate as a duopoly. The priest gives the king moral authority. The king gives the priest corporal authority.
These days this religion creation process runs well outside of church walls. Movie studios are where the process of ever creating new religion usually happens now. They continuously mold the fictional beliefs of the public.
The antidote is listed as the 5) Helmet of salvation. The helmets of high priests are mitres. The pope's mitre is perhaps the most well know. He wears it to create an image of authority. We don't know how Ezra fell, but presumably it was something to do with this piece of clothing. It would have made him an easy target.
We, instead, are to focus on our own invisible helmet of salvation. We are to work on our own salvation, and not sit under the helmet of a priest. His hat does not save us.
The final trouble listed is 6) evil spirits under the skies. Most preachers turn this into spiritual beings, rather than the spirits of evil men. The detail, under the skies, is pointing at earth. It is pointing at evil people on earth.
The editor here, Ananias, was an early disciple of Joshua. Ananias did have a prophetic word for Paul when he was in Damascus. But, Ananias then turned, and forced the New Testament text to conform to the religion of the high priests in Jerusalem. In the end Ananias became the high priest himself. Remember Paul's surprise when he meets Ananias late in life? Paul did not know Ananias had turned and was now high priest.
The antidote is listed as 6) the sword of the spirit. The details are not in the text, but we know Jerusalem fell under the sword of the Romans in 70 AD. Ananias, or perhaps his son, is likely to have died by sword in that invasion. Rome was cutting off Jerusalem and the influence of that city.
Evil spirits are what become of people of faith who turn from Joshua. Ananias is a reference example. They know what Joshua has said. They then twist what Joshua has said. They must be cut off from fellowship as though by a sword. Like Ananias that commanded that Paul be struck, they have already cut us off, they are no loss to us.
Lists of 6 villains, as I've introduced here, are used as the interpretive key in many more places. They also internally grid, especially to lists of 12. They do this by double running the common lists of 12.
Examples of this include the Plagues on Egypt, the commandments, and the tribal lists. So my introduction above can be greatly expanded with many more back stories. If this was a full sermon series we could spend days on any given point.
More Lists Later,