After a particularly grueling and disconcerting week, that’s the word I received as I immersed myself in His presence. As a former seasoned combat military type, I have probably a better than most glimmer of the ancient concept of what it means to be an armor-bearer and its implications spiritually. However, message-wise, I had no idea where the Lord was going to take me as I have progressively unwrapped this unique word.
From a strict dictionary definition an armor-bearer is one responsible for carrying the armor and weapons of a warrior/leader. However, it is more, much more than that. Historically, an armor-bearer is typically a mature, seasoned officer selected by generals and kings due to their demonstrated courage, not only to bear their armor, but to stand and fight with them when in battle. During the middle ages, squires were those who served the role of armor-bearers for the knights that were assigned. In better understanding the ancient function, we can glean a more realistic grasp for not only modern-day warfare applications, but its significance in formulating spiritual strategies.
Biblically, the armor-bearers from the sons of Israel were groomed and mentored by, while learning from those they served. It was an honor to be selected. Armor-bearers upheld a commitment in being willing to give up their lives in this service. Their prowess for both battle and leadership was deeply enhanced when their focus was undivided. David was assigned as Saul’s armor-bearer. Jonathan was David’s armor-bearer, but wavered in his commitment to David in serving his father and he lost his life in the process. On the other hand, Joshua was Moses’ armor-bearer and when the time came for his promotion, the authority he amassed in his service produced exploits never seen before or since.
At the time Jesus told his disciples that He now looked to them as friends, He was setting the stage for their role as spiritual-leader armor-bearers … concluding that: “Greater love has no man than this, than a man give up his life for his friends.”
Jesus has become the ultimate armor-bearer for those who believe. It carries the expectation that those committed to following Him will be nothing less in their service to those to whom they are assigned. Paul punctuated this premise to the Galatians with the words: “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Those rightly responding to being called as intercessors understand the essential nature of these spiritual dynamics …. which carry an overriding quest to advance the Kingdom. This vital intercessory function is at the heart of being a servant-leader within the Kingdom, outlined by Jesus to His inner-circle. The prophet Ezekiel tapped the higher spiritual dimensions tied to this function.
“I sought for a man among them who should build up and repair the wall and stand in the gap before me for the land.” Ezek 22:30
The Days of Noah: the Depth and Influence of Darkness
Unfortunately, since the time of Israel’s kings, the leadership ranks of the household of faith have been infiltrated and influenced by minions from the dark side … spiritually deflecting the high standards expected of Kingdom leadership. Jesus alluded to this in pointing to the times at least close at hand, if not already upon us, as being as they were during the days of Noah. Even more unfortunately is the abbreviated and dumbed-down grasp of those times of Noah that come from media portrayals of hoards of uncommonly bad people given over to sin and licentiousness.
Scripture indicates it to be far more than that. It is that “far more” that provoked God in those days to regret His creation due to the extent of the defilement that had occurred. The Word of God describes the extent of this defilement as including man and animals and every creeping thing and the birds of the heavens. The defilement was more than the result of sin and licentiousness. It involved the depraved influence of the offspring from those angels who had copulated with “the daughters of men.”
“When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. They took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, My Spirit shall not abide in mortals forever: therefore his days shall be no more than 120 years. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These children became the mighty men of old, men of renown. So, the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was evil continually. The Lord regretted he had made man on the earth. So the Lord said, I will blot out man from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens for I am sorry that I have made them. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” Gen 6:1-8
The evil influence of the spirits of these angelic-human offspring (Nephilim) has been at the core of the cultural-spiritual conflicts plaguing God’s people … from the days of Noah to those they encountered after the Exodus, then infiltrating the influential ranks from the days of Israeli kings to the ranks of Herod and the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, to the Nazi holocaust, then trickling down to the days now upon us.
Focused Maturity in Response
The seriousness and deadliness of spiritually what is now coming out of the closet bears on the importance first of our obedience in embracing and clearly-defining the assignments we take on; to that of recognizing the importance of the complementary anointing of those available to work together with us as armor-bearers.
So it was as I was praying into the dynamics concerning this word of “armor-bearers” that I was also called up short … and given a very serious admonition, a caution concerning staying focused within my own sphere, assignment and message. What came to mind as I pondered this admonition were respected warriors/ teachers whose assignments and lives have been prematurely shortened.
To the point, in God’s priorities and timing, we have entered a season in which it is vital to stay focused. Since the days of the early church and Paul’s admonitions to the segments he oversaw, there has been an observation and cry for unity.
One of the key steps in maintaining unity in a widely diverse semblance of perspectives and assignments is to stay on point with the truth tied to the assignment we have each been given. As He approached the climax of His earthly ministry, Jesus Himself not only adhered to this principle but indicated that this was the mode of the Holy Spirit.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” John 16:12-14
This point bears uniquely on a word the Lord spoke to me years ago: that what the Lord holds me responsible for are the words He has spoken to me; rather than the words I have assembled and heard from others that may bear on my edification and growth, but not my assignment and message. The simplicity of this admonition helps to distance each of us from deceptions of what scripture describes as our ears being tickled (2 Timothy 4).
Similarly, it explains the grave warning given by James to those who might presume in their role as teachers.
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” James 3:1
The Assignment and the Armor-Bearer
So, as I have explained, the fine line being traversed in these unstable and deadly times underscores the importance first of our obedience in defining the assignment and the priority it is given; then it is that of recognizing the importance of the complementary anointing of those who we have opportunity to work together with … as armor-bearers.
“Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Gal 6:3
While the armor-bearer function spiritually incorporates intercession and standing in the gap, it is more. It is far, far more than serving as a volunteer in support of another’s assignment. It involves shared and clearly defined assignments. It represents the mobilization of the authority that comes from combining complementary anointings. This takes one responding to the assignments of those they are standing with as if it were their own. And it is reciprocal.
From my own military experience in working deep in enemy territory, it entails a range of matters of preparation prior to the execution of each assignment. Most of this fits under the broad category of planning; planning initially in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, but then together with those on the team. The intent is that everyone is intimately acquainted with not just their own responsibilities and functions, but with how that bears on the responsibilities of every other team member’s functions.
While the ancient concept of armor-bearer triggers graphic glimmers of insights into this function, leading an elite team into enemy territory in the 1960s offers a great deal more. The Marine recon function was primarily just that: reconnaissance of suspected enemy base camps and troop movements. There were specific instances in which this primary function morphed into the conduct of raids. But for the most part, defining enemy troop movements and encampments represented the fodder of key strategies tied to what potentially would trigger larger operations.
Our recon teams were small: 7-8 in number. Planning was intense … and included available intelligence, input concerning the terrain to be traversed and suspected enemy locations and activities. The team was highly trained and motivated, with each member capable of the elements of conducting a successful extraction should every other member of the team be incapacitated. Every incursion into enemy territory had an assignment, a mission, which was understood by all. While there is more, this is sufficient to outline a strategic format to capitalize on the complementary anointing as leaders share their responsibilities and burdens and work together with team-members as armor-bearers.
Discerning and Responding to Spiritual Challenges
One major caveat to this spiritual strategy is that those gathered initially as armor-bearers may or may not be participating in the actual assignment, but rather will be preceding/ preparing/ and planning the assignment by going together into the spirit realm in prayer.
This was the format that Jesus modeled with His most dramatic miracles. He spent the night in prayer, to get the details and strategies needed for the assignments He would be making the following day. There then came a time when He sent His inner-circle two-by-two in following His example … and they were amazed at the supernatural results. It is this basic premise that represents the basis of the Jewish minyans: small group interactive prayer designed to seek God and to help one another successfully accomplish their assignments. The strategy represents the design and foundation God intended for community.
The distinction is in keeping the eyes of the participating armor-bearers on the mission, goals and strategies for the assignment. Unfortunately, this premise seems prone to digress into becoming absorbed with concerns tied to personal matters other than the assignment rather what is required to keep the assignment on-course.
In reviewing Jesus’ response to the recipients of some of His most dramatic miracles, I’ve been struck by the rebukes He made tied to their short-sighted thinking and faith: “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt;” (Matt 14) “What an unbelieving and perverse generation.” (Luke 9) “Why are you so afraid, do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4) “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe.” (John 4)
Discerning and responding to central spiritual challenges is the core-basis of servant-leadership … in bearing one another’s burdens. Embracing the task as an effective spiritual armor-bearer begins in one’s thinking, not one’s doctrine or training, although these do have their place. To the point, in today’s toxic spiritual environment we need to seriously guard against majoring in minors and minoring in the major things. THAT is what Jesus was pointing to in these short-sighted, lacking-in-faith responses to spiritual challenges. It is keeping our eye focused on the assignment we’ve been given, along with the goals and strategies in its accomplishment.
So then, with those thoughts in mind, those to be considered as armor-bearers would be high-ranking, seasoned officers selected by other high-ranking, but more seasoned officers. The selection is made due to the armor-bearer’s demonstrated courage in battle, to stand alongside them as they plan, prepare and reconnoiter to determine the strategies for their primary assignments.
There is an expectation of the exponential from this combined expertise and anointed thinking; much more so than the results from bright ideas. The expectation likewise serves to enhance the protection and strategic-skills surrounding the one who is senior in the relationship. That protection and enhanced strategic-skills pivots on the one who is senior being a true listener. The expectation from these interactions nurtures the seasoned expertise of the armor-bearer, leading to increasingly greater trust, responsibility and promotion.
From the Tactical to the Strategic
So it has been over the course of time with God’s chosen, that there has come a shift of events when everything changed. When focus prevailed and traction took root. The change has been significant: from the prowess and expertise of the tactical into the strategic. It didn’t happen overnight, but incrementally.
To illustrate: it was the extended shift that followed the death of Samuel, then with Saul’s indiscretions with the sorcerer of Endor and Saul’s death; in which there was war between the house of David and the house of Saul. 1 Chronicles 10 notes that Saul died for breaking faith with the Lord (not keeping to the Lord’s command, for consulting a medium and not the Lord).
Scripture further describes the internal conflict that followed (2 Sam 3:1) as a long war as “the house of David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker.” Eventually, the chief military leader of the House of Saul, Abner, came over to join forces with David. Following the direct face-off of the catastrophic events at Ziglag, by seeking the Lord, David was made King of Judah … in which the bands of the mighty men serving the House of Saul began ascribing their allegiance to David.
It points to the significance of the influence of the armor-bearers and “mighty men” … the role of the committed inner circle which progressively set the stage for the unity and kingdom foundation that would follow.
Of significance during this extended shifting process was the time after David having had a close encounter with a giant (2 Sam 21:17), that his rescuer Abishai and David’s mighty men determined that David would not go back into battle anymore. Later, in facing a similar shift, this time internal, David adhered to the advice of his mighty men to stay back as they engaged directly with the efforts of Absalom to usurp his throne.
While the impact of this shift entailed a change of leadership and loyalties, it paved the way for a time when all Israel would come together in unity as God’s people, distancing itself from being immersed in tactical swirls and reversals to a season of strategic service to the Lord.
Profiles in Courage
So it is in the season now before us, that there is a shift underway in not only the leadership and its inner circles, but in the mode of being led; as step by step the focus transcends the mundane and tactical into the strategic … marked by increases in unified efforts and strategies seen most clearly by those most experienced in battle.
As it has been from the days of Noah, to the struggles transitioning from Saul to David; and now for the days upon us …. there is the recognition of the need to raise the standard recognized by those with the most intimate experience in battle. It incorporates the standard and stern love of the Lord of Hosts that coincided with the dynamic of miracles reflected by Jesus in His rebuke of short-sighted thinking and faith: “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt;” (Matt 14) “What an unbelieving and perverse generation.” (Luke 9) “Why are you so afraid, do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4) “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe.” (John 4)
Not unlike the unity experienced in Israel following WWII as the range of extremely diverse groups banded together in unity …. for survival and to give substance to what God was birthing; so the realities we now face are calling for profiles in courage: servant leaders who are armor-bearers willing to extend that greater love in being a friend as Jesus defined it from the perspective of the realities of battle.
Seeking the Lord. Small intimate interactive prayerful communications. Listening hearts. Faith and trust. The level of love that is willing to give all for those sharing the rigors of the assignment. It’s a shift in perspective and thinking … the process of which is not unlike that which culminated in modern-day Israel coming together in unity in overcoming impossible odds.
At the core of this shift is the mobilization, focus and assignments being birthed by the Spirit. With an overriding mantle of specific applications of “bearing one another’s burdens,” the strategy is releasing a groundswell of intimate, small group interactive prayer gatherings serving as the catalysts for seeking God in defining assignments, bringing unity and giving shape to the strategies now being birthed across the globe.
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Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner of the Joseph-calling and God’s economy message, being an international voice for the higher dimensions of spiritual game-changers and intercessors since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation, the Strategic Intercession Global Network [SIGN] and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program and the Jewish Business Secrets YouTube series, Mr. Ruddick’s messages equip leaders and economic community builders with strategy where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
Global Initiatives Foundation (www.strategic-initiatives.org) is a tax-exempt 501 (c) 3 non-profit whose efforts mobilize economic community builders imparting influence and the blessings of God. Checks on US banks should be made out to Global Initiatives and mailed to 3838 South Wabash Street, Denver CO 80237 or by credit card at https://strategic-initiatives.org/donate/
2023 Copyright Morris Ruddick — email@example.com
Since early 1996, the Strategic Intercession Global Network (SIGN) has mobilized prophetic intercessors and leaders committed to targeting strategic-level issues impacting the Body on a global basis. For more information go to https://strategic-initiatives.org