“ ‘I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?’ (Jeremiah 32:27)”
It is a military maxim that generals always prepare for the last war (especially if they have won it). In relation to the the Allied military leaders in World War II, this seems to have been the case.
First, the Belgians put their trust in a huge fortress near their border with the Netherlands and Germany. It was designed to fend off attacks from the east, mainly from the latter country.
Fort Eben-Emael was attacked on May 10, 1940 by the Germans. However, they did not use a frontal assault of troops.
The Germans sent soldiers from the air by using gliders. They neutralized the fort in short order, paving the way for the German invasion of Belgium and France.
As the Belgian’s put their faith in Fort Eben-Emael to stop the Germans, the French depended greatly on the Maginot Line to do the same. This was a series of forts, tank obstacles, gun positions and other defensive posts along the French Border with Germany.
The French built it after World War I to prevent a repeat performance of the German attack then. However, the line of fortifications was useless.
The Germans simply bypassed the Maginot Line by attacking through the forest to the west. France was quicly defeated by the German blitzkrieg.
The greatest sea power of the time were the British, who trusted heavily in big battleships for the defense of their island and their empire. They built their pride and joy, the Prince of Wales, which they commissioned in January, 1941.
She was sunk by Japanese torpedo bombers in the Pacific in 1942. Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister and heavily experienced naval minister, was accused of having an exaggerated belief in the power of the battleship.
Land-based and sea-bound fortresses are by definition thought to be impregnable. The Allied leaders of World War II found out the truth.
Through the creative ingenuity of their enemies, their strongholds were defeated. These opponents found innovative and modern ways to beat the heavily fortified citadels.
As a believer in Christ, I know that I am faced with spiritual strongholds that need to be defeated. The Bible speaks of them outright, and exemplifies them through the stories of real people.
One person in the Bible with a stronghold in her life was Naomi. This woman of Israel had had a tough life.
First, she moved abroad with her husband during a famine. Then her husband died.
After ten years in a foreign land, her two sons also died. They left widows, women of the country to which she had moved.
When Naomi learned the famine in Israel had finally abated, she moved home, accompanied by Ruth, one her daughter in-laws. The other daughter-in-law, Orpah, stayed behind.
Naomi convinced Orpah that to follow her was a no-win proposition. She believed Naomi’s statement,”It is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD’s hand has turned against me (Ruth 1:13b)!”
Naomi had developed a stronhold of bitterness based on a false concept of God. This was made clear when she arrived in Israel and caused a stir among the women there:
So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”
“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” Ruth 1:19-21
Naomi had a new name for herself. It meant “bitter”.
The lady’s difficult experiences in life had caused her a lot of hurt and trauma. As a result, Naomi’s wounded heart began to engage in a pattern of negative thinking and behavior against God. (See the web article “Cross Walk Life: Tearing Down Strongholds” for a detailed explanation of how this happens.)
Some time this summer it occured to me that I had several strongholds in my life. They ranged from anger to pride.
On the many early morning walks I took on a local trail, I began to attack these fortresses in my life. My prayer would take this form:
“Lord, I demolish the citadel of ________ in my life. I take it down in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I crush it and plant your flag over it, Jesus. I ask for you to come in and create a new fortress of ___________ (the opposite of the old stronghold) in my life.”
I realized over time that I had to do this every day. I saw some results, but Satan has kept trying to rebuild the old strongholds brick by brick, so I have to stay with it.
David G. Evans notes in his book “Dare to Be a Man” that when we finally face God, we stand there naked. If we’re honest with him about our lives, we are pretty much what he calls a mound of ruins.
The good news according to Evans is that God can use those old ruins as the foundation for a new life in Christ. We learn from the old previously entrenched garbage and Jesus reconstructs us into what Ronald Reagan called “a shining city on a hill”.
All I know is that in my own experience what I have learned about living the Christian life hasn’t worked very well up to now. I have been fighting the last war in my spiritual life.
This anachronisitic thinking and behavior has led to defeat for me. Surely, there has to be a better way.
If evil enemies like those who opposed the Allies in World War II can come up with creative ideas for demoloshing fortresses, surely through the all-knowing Spirit of God within me I can develop some imaginative plans of my own to beat my spiritual enemies. After all, God has demonstrated over time that He is pretty good at tearing down enemy citadels.