Battlefields and Fiery Darts
Updated: Oct 9, 2019
Ephesians 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:"
Who was Anne Askew and why am I referring to her? Anne Askew was a Protestant martyr of the 16th century (I heard of her in Book of Mormon Central, NT Commentary for Ephesians 6). In 1534 Henry VIII made himself head of the Church in England. However, King Henry kept the old Catholic doctrines mostly intact. He had no sympathy for Protestant beliefs-and apparently forgot about compassion. completely! During his reign Protestants were persecuted. The persecution continued under other English Monarchs (notably Mary Tudor).
It's into this environment that Anne Askew was born in 1521 in Lincolnshire, England. She was born into a wealthy family, the daughter of William Askew, a rich landowner. Anne was well educated and when she was very young became a Protestant. When Anne was 15 her older sister Martha died. Martha had been engaged to a landowner named Thomas Kyme. Anne's father decided she should marry Kyme instead. Kyme was a Catholic and refused to accept his wife's beliefs.
Eventually, in this unhappy state, Anne Askew was thrown out by her husband and moved to London. Here she met other Protestants. They held meetings to study the Bible. Anne used her own name Askew instead of her husband's name and she became a preacher. Anne Askew was arrested in March 1545. Her husband was ordered to take her back to Lincolnshire and keep her there. She soon escaped from him and returned to London where she resumed preaching. Anne was arrested a second time in March 1546 but was released again. In May 1546 Anne Askew was arrested for a third time. This time she was tortured in the Tower of London. (She is the only woman recorded as being tortured there). Her captors hoped to force her to name like-minded women. However, Anne heroically refused to talk. She was executed on July 16, 1646-burned at the stake.
She wrote a poem that, according to reports, she proclaimed while she was being martyred. I imagine her standing in majesty at the pyre reciting these words that had come from her own heart, receiving strength and comfort. Like Paul, she mentions receiving strength by putting on the armor of God-specifically the shield of faith "wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."
"Like as the armed knight
Appointed to the field,
With this world will I fight
And Faith shall be my shield.
Faith is that weapon strong
Which will not fail at need.
My foes, therefore, among
Therewith will I proceed.
As it is had in strength
And force of Christes way
It will prevail at length
Though all the devils say nay. . . .
Anne was martyred for her Christheld beliefs.
I have to mention my 11th great grandfather John Rogers. Born in abt 1507, he died burning at the stake on February 4, 1555-put there by Mary Queen of Scots. He was born a Catholic and was actually a priest when he later converted to Protestantism during the Protestant Reformation in England. He fled to Antwerp, Holland where he became friends with William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale, the translators of the English Bible. John Rogers, working under the pseudonym, Thomas Matthews, was instrumental in getting the KJV completed and licensed by Henry VIII. Rogers moved back to England where, ultimately, Mary Tudor, a Catholic, came into power. John Rogers continued faithful to his beliefs and so was arrested, tortured, and executed. It's said that he went to his martyrdom singing psalms. Maybe he was singing Psalm 121:1 "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth."
Just days before his death he wrote an ode to his family:
". . .Be always thankful to the Lord, With prayer and with praise, Begging of him to bless your work, And to direct your ways.
Seek first, I say, the living God, And always him adore, And then be sure that he will bless Your basket and your store.
And I beseech Almighty God, To replenish you with grace,p. 28 That I may meet you in the heavens, And see you face to face.
And though the fire my body burn, Contrary to my kind, That I cannot enjoy your love, According to my mind,--
Yet I do hope that when the heavens Shall vanish like a scroll, I shall see you in perfect shape In body and in soul.. . .
I know I am a sinner born, From the original, And that I do deserve to die, By my forefather's fall.
But by our Savior's precious blood, Which on the cross was spilt, Who freely offered up his life, To save our souls from guilt,--
I hope redemption I shall have, And all who in him trust, When I shall see him face to face, And live among the just.
Why, then, should I fear death's grim look, Since Christ for me did die? For king and Cesar, rich and poor, The force of death must try.
When I am chained to the stake, And fagots gird me round, Then pray the Lord my soul in heaven May be with glory crowned.
Come, welcome, death, the end of fears, I am prepared to die; These earthly flames will send my soul Up to the Lord on high. . . ."
Today's battlefields may not (probably won't) include suffering physical searing fire for our beliefs (although this seems to be possible in some other regions of the world!). But, metaphorically, this burning for belief befalls the consecrated Christian continually. How?
1 Nephi 15;24 "And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction."
"If we could calculate how many darts Satan throws at us every single day, I imagine the number would be astronomical. We live in a world that actively seeks to destroy what we believe. Inappropriate images and messages surround us everywhere, along with pressure to use harmful substances or break the law of chastity. Even more rampant is the pressure and temptation to argue and to be unkind, either in person or especially online; to mock or belittle others for expressing their opinions or beliefs; or to tease a person for something as small as a grammatical mistake. These spiritual attacks, if heeded, dull our senses and reduce our ability to sense warnings from the Holy Ghost.
The list of “fiery darts” that Satan throws at us is literally endless and always dangerous. Elder Taniela B. Wakolo of the Seventy said, “The many distractions and temptations of life are like ‘ravening wolves.’” So how are we to protect ourselves? Later in that same talk, he added, “I promise that participating in ordinances and honoring the associated covenants will bring you marvelous light and protection in this ever-darkening world.”2
If the “darts” Satan throws at you every day were literal sharp objects that you could both see and feel, would you leave a shield at home? Would you ignore the knowledge of how to defend yourself—or of the path to a place of refuge? Would you put off making or keeping covenants with God when He promised that those covenants would help you be victorious?" Kealohilani Wallace, Ensign, March 2019
Gaining strength and power to withstand Satan's inferno requires that we put on the whole armor of God. Let's be sure to take up the shield of faith as a protection against the fiery darts of Satan and of society that existed in Paul's day, in John Rogers' day, in Anne Askew's day, and in our very own day!
Ancient Greek Armor