I have long been intrigued by the term “fiery darts” in the scriptures. It’s a tiny term and only shows up four times in the scriptures but its presence, each time, is very powerful.
We read about “taking the shield of faith,” in Ephesians 6:16 so that we will “be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” A similar scripture is found in D&C 27:17 when the Lord is instructing the Saints about the sacrament and then He reminds them of the armor of God, telling them to take, “the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
Then, in 1 Nephi 16:24 we read, “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.”
Finally, in D&C 3:7-8, we learn after Joseph Smith lost the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon, “For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.”
When this term of fiery darts first intrigued me I did what I always did…I went searching for more information. I learned that flames have been part of warfare since man could hurl a burning stick or light an enemy field on fire. I also learned that, in ancient warfare, one very effective tactic was for the enemy to line up his archers and have them shoot several volleys of flaming arrows or smaller, lighter “fiery darts” at the opposing ranks.
These smaller, incendiary arrows or darts were soaked in resin or oil. Some may have had small flammable cloths or fibers, called “tow”, wrapped around the shaft. They were shot from bows with loose strings since too swift of a flight could put out the flames. Because of that these arrows didn’t travel fast or very far. They weren’t very big, either…many were simply ‘darts’…smaller arrows…but they played a major role in the battle.
These fiery darts were often the first assault tactic deployed, and for good reason. As the flaming envoys rained down on the enemy they would ignite fires behind the lines. The ground, supply wagons, tents, even buildings behind city walls were at risk of catching fire and being destroyed.
Now, if you were waiting for a battle to begin and had an important supply wagon next to you catch fire, what would you do? You would try to put it out to protect the supplies and minimize the damage—and that is just what the enemy wanted. While everyone was running around trying to put out the fires he had started, they didn’t see that real battle was approaching.
With the ranks distracted by these fires, the enemy general could then move his battle archers and javelin throwers into position, order in his cavalry and charioteers, and march in his heavy infantry, well-trained foot soldiers and axe-men. Busy with the ‘fiery darts of the adversary’ those targeted were now disorganized, distracted and at a very dangerous disadvantage. They didn’t see, and weren’t prepared to face, the real battle coming their way.
Satan has employed that very tactic today. He is sending in small fiery darts all around us as a distraction. Yes, these fiery darts can cause lots of fires and distress, but we must remember they are only the small, first wave of attack. We must never forget that they are not the real attack but a small tool Satan is using to divert us from a greater threat: his ever-advancing ranks. That’s why we need the whole armor of God, not just a shield. That is why we need to hearken to the word of God, not man's, and hold fast to what God says. He sees the entire battle. He knows where Satan is positioning his ranks next. He, and He alone, is the voice we must heed on the battle front.
If we do that, He will support us. He will “go before you…and be your rereward” (Isaiah 52:12).
In the video below, Elder Robert D. Hales shares thoughts about putting on the armor of God.
Put on the Whole Armor of God
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