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.