In the battle of Thermopylae (Hot Gates) in the Second Persian Invasion of Greece (480 BC) three hundred Spartans under King Leonidis distinguished themselves by holding off the massive armies of King Xerxes for two full days while a larger Greek Army of united city states re-grouped for the ultimate rebuff of the enemy. The defensive coup had been made possible by virtue of the extraordinary battle capabilities of the Spartans and the strategic advantage of holding a narrow mountain pass by the sea. Ultimately the three hundred were destroyed.
In the recent film starring Gerard Butler and about a dozen others in the midst of thousands of computer generated images, the Spartans are given almost super-human capabilities. The audience thrill to panoramic views of rugged crashing coast-line, immense armies on the march and skies darkened with storms of arrows.
Today I thought of the spiritual parallels. We wage a war against unbelief, oppression, lust, confusion, self-doubt, deprivation, death and deceit. We are told that in this world we must travel cautiously in consideration of myriads of wicked spiritual powers. They are the true enemies, enslaving the ones described in Ephesians as "strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world".
But we have a tight place from which to battle with strategic advantage. It is the cleft in the rock and beneath God's hand. Remember Moses as God's glory passed by in Exodus 33: 21, 22? We have all heard the expression "one believer plus God equals a majority".
I would also have us take a second look at the numbers. There is that "chariots of fire" story in 2 Kings 6 when the prophet Elisha was facing the forces of the King of Syria:
15And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
16And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
17And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
18And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.
Add to this the encouragement which John the beloved gives in his first letter:
1 John 4:
3And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
4Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
I am trying to build confidence here for us. I am aware of the impact of fretful deliverance ministries which suggest a wicked spirit behind every tree, and prescribe prayers, scripture tid-bits, incantations, "bindings and loosings" and meditations for defence. Much of this material is based on the personal experience of high-profile teachers and not the foundation of scripture.
I remind all listeners. God has given us the "fighting chance", with His presence, His Word of courage, his Spirit of comfort and his ministering angels. Now, let us get on with living for Christ.
(Incidentally, our next post will be the 300th.)