A Mighty Fortress

October 31, 2013
by Joel Jongkind

As those of you who now live, have lived, or have travelled in Europe will know, there are many castles and fortresses there, having been built many centuries ago. Some are well maintained and open to the public, while others are in ruins. On a "Cities of the Reformation" tour some years ago, we visited Wartburg Castle and saw where Luther stayed for a couple of years during the troubles he had. Luther's actions and insights in the early 1500s were a real inspiration to me when I visited the castle, and still are, to some extent.

On October 31st, 1517, Luther had posted his 95 statements on the castle church doors in Wittenberg, Germany. He was unhappy with the way things were going in the church at that time, and he wanted to change things. The church fathers were most unhappy about his actions, and they sought to kill him.

As a consequence, his life was in danger, and from 1521-1522, he was allowed to stay in Wartburg Castle, away from the limelight and away from people who wanted to kill him. It was hoped that this would give the Reformation a better chance to succeed. While he was there, he translated the New Testament from Greek into German in just a few months. This enabled the people to read the words of Scripture themselves, rather than having to depend on the priests to do their reading for them.

I am sure that Luther felt relatively secure in this fortress. He lived there incognito; he grew a beard; and he was known to only a few of those who lived in or visited the castle. Later, he wrote a hymn which reflected his many months in this place. He was aware that all man-made structures will eventually disappear, but our God is always there for us. God was the solid foundation on which he built his faith, a lasting fortress.

    A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
    Our Helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
    For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
    His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
    On earth is not his equal.

Martin Luther was inspired by two verses when he wrote this hymn:

Psalm 46:1 – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (NKJV)

Psalm 18:2a – The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer. (NKJV)

There are so many times when we put our trust and faith in ourselves and in others around us. At such times, it is good to remember those words written so long ago. God is indeed our refuge and strength and a fortress in the storms of life.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, it is so good to know that in all the times of our lives, we can depend on You to be with us: You are our mighty fortress indeed. We offer this prayer in Jesus' name. Amen.

About the author:

Joel Jongkind <austria67@bmts.com>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    EXCELLENT.


    Wonderful reminder Joel.


    So true. I enjoyed this, it was very interesting.


    Thank you, Joel, my husband and I have been there.


    Dear Joel,
    Martin Luther has always been an inspiration to me, especially during the times I have sung his hymn. Thank you for reminding us of this great stalwart of the faith. God bless.
    (California, USA)


    Dear Joel:
    The introduction of your devotional, mentioning the various castles and fortress in Europe, brings to mind a passage in Patrick Leigh Fermor’s account of his travels through Germany and Central Europe in the early 1930’s in a Gift of Times. He noted that he could tell the denomination of the villages he was passing through by listening to their hymns: Ein Feste Burg = Protestant; Ave Marie = Catholic, etc. While the hymns may vary, they all reflect the power and glory of our God and our thanks for His blessings and protection.


    Having grown up as a Lutheran, I truly appreciated the reminder your devotional brought on this day. My family is going through some tough times, but you encouraged me today. Blessings.


    Joel,
    Thank you for the the informative and inspiring devotion.
    As I approach the anniversary of my wife’s passing on Remembrance day, I’m reminded that God is my fortress in times of trouble. He has kept me strong. Praise the Lord!
    God bless.


    Thank you for writing & sharing the same.
    Authors like you bring information & educate us. This effort or your part gives us more strength for our witness. Again thank you. I pray FATHER rain down blessings of health, happiness & prosperity all the days of your life till HE calls you home. AMEN & AMEN
    (Texas, USA)


    Good Afternoon Joel:
    An interesting devotional. We owe much to Martin Luther, a true servant of the Living God. A man who was bold enough to take a stand for what he belived was true and posted his 95 statements on the castle doors.
    I too have been to Europe several times and love the castles, each time I enter, I think, “if only the walls could talk.”


    Your reflection has led me into some wonderful healing help. I too tend to lean on myself and others when I should remember to be leaning always on Him.
    It’s hard to believe that when we feel we love Him so very much, we still forget to call on Him first, before involuntarily making our own judgments, and/or calling a trusted friend. (I speak for myself!) so thank you for this. It will be my topic for our next evening of singing followed by the story of a hymn and the circumstances surrounding the writing, composing of the words; followed, of course, by singing it. May our singing of this hymn bring us all closer to Him in all our needs and troubles, for the enemy is the power of darkness within us to bump us off the path of righteousness and faith in the Only One who can save us. Amen! Thanks so much.

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