The word "armor-bearer" has the same meaning as a Greek phrase whose literal translation reads, "the one carrying the armor." It was customary for the armor-bearer not only to carry the armor for their master/king but also to watch over their weapons. This position was held in high esteem. Often, the armor-bearer was willing to take the place of their king—to the death if needed. This is the level of integrity, honor and sacrifice an armor-bearer willingly offered to the one they served.
First Samuel 14:13–14 tells us that Jonathan's armor-bearer was willing to go with Jonathan anywhere he went, even into extremely dangerous places where they could both be killed: "Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet with his armor bearer behind him. And they fell before Jonathan. And his armor bearer was dealing death blows after him. That first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armor bearer made, was about twenty men within about a half-acre field."
Too many mistakes in leadership/ministry have resulted from the lack of a great armor-bearer who could have prevented certain immoral, and sometimes fatal, situations from happening to great Christian leaders. God is properly placing the right leaders with the right armor-bearers for the assignments ahead. In a recent dream that I will share, God gives three directives for armor-bearers and those who serve leaders in the body of Christ.
In this dream, I was suspended in the air over a major city in the United States. I could see two people: an armor-bearer to a well-known international minister and the man of God. I knew immediately who this international voice and church leader was because he has been around for well over 30 years. This anointed man of God was scheduled to speak at a very large church conference that same evening. He and his armor-bearer were both in a hotel suite, but it was on the church property. The guest quarters were a very large, restored top section of a warehouse-like building, well-built and immaculate on the inside, that connected to the church.
Guard the Doors and Turn on the Lights
While still observing the scenario from above, I could see that several entryways led to the guest ministers' top-floor area. Likewise, the armor-bearer was also aware of the many entryways, but from his perspective (and mine) we could tell that the place was properly secured. Like a good armor-bearer, this one was on high alert and leaving nothing to chance.
As the evening played out, the man of God with his armor-bearer began to prepare for the soon-coming conference meeting. I noticed that the armor-bearer had an extremely hard time finding the light switches in the main areas for the minister. This made it difficult for the man of God to see where he was going.
First Samuel tells us that when David prepared to fight Goliath, Goliath's armor-bearer carried his shield before him right into battle: "The staff of his [Goliath's] spear was like a weaver's beam. His iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels. And a shield-bearer was walking before him"(1 Sam. 17:7).
In some pagan or earlier cultures, the term "armor-bearer" was synonymous with "shield-bearer." Every step Goliath's shield-bearer took was one step closer to his death if things didn't work in Goliath's favor that day. (And you know the end of the story.)
Although the armor-bearer was guarding the doors for the man of God, he was unable to activate the light for the one he served. The light represents the power of God's Word being spoken over our church leaders. Secondly, the light also represents the faithful prayers spoken over our leaders (church and government) for God's light to shine a clear path for them.
As God's servants, we must put a high priority on praying for those who are over us. God will not continue tolerating His children complaining and speaking word-curses over our church and governmental leaders, regardless of whether the person over us is right or wrong. If they are wrong in our eyes, or even in God's eyes, then it is not our place to be the judge and juror (dishonor them). It's God's place to deal with and discipline that individual. Our role is to honor their position and pray for them daily. With now twenty-five (25) years of preaching, I have learned some hard lessons on honoring those under whom I served. Honoring may not always be easy, but it must be done.
Tighten the Belt of Truth
Finally, once the armor-bearer got the main lights on, it soon became obvious that the armor-bearer's leather belt wasn't put on around his waist correctly; the belt no longer worked right or fit properly. I gasped when I saw this in the dream! I knew in my heart that something wasn't right with the relationship between the armor-bearer and the man of God.
As the time for the main conference meeting approached, I could see that the man of God wasn't getting spiritually ready as he had in the past; he was lying on a bed-type couch, completely unconcerned with the real reason why he was there that night: to minister God's Word. While lying on the couch, the man of God quickly looked at his armor-bearer and said, "Throw me the TV controller. I'm now over 200 pounds, and I don't want to get the controller; get it to me now." As the armor-bearer tossed the TV controller, I could see from my angle that the man of God was way over 200 pounds and most of the weight rested in the fat of his gut. The man of God, who was watching TV and eating junk food, was within 45 minutes of stepping onto an international platform with thousands sitting before him and probably thousands more watching online.
In the dream, I could tell the current physical (overweight) and spiritual condition of the man of God deeply saddened the armor-bearer. Unfortunately, the man of God had grown accustomed to so much "fame and power" that he had come to a place where he really didn't answer to anyone. He was no longer accountable at all! Those around him were scared to speak the truth when the truth was going to hurt. Sadly, the armor-bearer chose not to speak up and looked the other way. The belt of truth, once tight around this young man's waist, now loosened even further.
In 1 Samuel 20, Jonathan discovers his father Saul's true intention to harm David. Going against his own father's will, Jonathan then takes his servant out in the field and shoots an arrow far away, telling his armor-bearer to go out quickly to find the arrow. This act tells David that his life was in danger because of Saul and that he needed to go. In doing this, Jonathan went against his father—which in those days could have gotten Jonathan killed. Because it was the right thing to do, however, Jonathan spoke up and spared David's life.
A "Jonathan" in our lives might be our best friends, but they are also covenant friends—those willing to speak the truth out of love even if it costs them dearly. In the dream, the armor-bearer lost the "covenant relationship" role with the man of God because of a fear of failure or backlash. As servant-warriors, we must stand against fear in the church, making sure that our leaders are spiritually covered as well as covered by our willingness to share the truth. How many great leaders in church history have crumbled because they no longer had someone around them who would share the truth out of love? It is time for genuine armor-bearers to take their places and tighten up the belt of truth.
Be Willing to Fight for Those You Serve
Still watching all of this unfold in the dream, I noticed that the man of God was preparing to leave the room leading to the conference platform when four criminal intruders suddenly entered the area. The intruders breached one of the security doors and were in the room with them both. While not big and strong, these four men were capable of harm. The armor-bearer knew this would be some serious trouble to deal with, but he didn't seem frightened. It was as if the armor-bearer were already willing in his heart to die for the one he served. Without a doubt, the armor-bearer was in fight mode, ready to protect the man of God.
The four men attempted to reach the man of God to rob him, but the armor-bearer was able to get in front of the crooks to shield the minister. I could tell that the armor-bearer would eventually be overpowered, but I could also tell that it was going to be OK. If one of the crooks reached the man of God, the armor-bearer and the minister had enough know-how to deal with them one-on-one and still survive the ordeal. The armor-bearer didn't doubt that he might not make it through this scuffle against the four men, but no way was he going to let them harm the person he was called to serve. He fought them with his whole heart. Eventually the man of God and the armor-bearer were both spared. Then I woke up.
God is raising up armor-bearers who are willing to give their all, even if it requires them to lose everything.
"Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:10-12).
Andy Sanders had an encounter with God just before his high school graduation that altered his life forever. He has since devoted his time to preaching the gospel and writing. He co-authored the Capturing the Supernatural series (capturingthesupernatural.com). Andy has a B.A. from Central Bible College and carries a master's degree and a doctorate in Christian education from Freedom Seminary, graduating with honors. His family resides in Syracuse, New York.
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