“The phalanx is a rectangular mass military formation,
usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, or
similar weapons. The troops were disciplined to hold a line which created a
nearly impenetrable forest of points to the front. The phalanx is a hallmark of
ancient Greek warfare.” (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
The valiant Spartan army used this formation at the Battle
of Thermopylae which is highlighted in The History Channel’s Last Stand
of the 300. It looks something like this:
The phalanx formation would operate by the front line lowering
their shields in defense and also preparing their spears at about waist level.
Simultaneously, the second line would raise their spears over the shoulder and
allow them to protrude through the first rank. Working together, there would be
a defensive and offensive wall of soldiers that could press forward into the
enemy ranks like a bulldozer.
Did Shawn accidentally
post a history lesson on Peace in the Storm?
What does this have to
do with hope and encouragement?
There’s actually a great lesson to be learned here as it
relates to living a victorious, abundant Christian life. First, we must note
that the Spartans took military preparation very seriously. Young boys who
showed promise were taken from their mothers at age seven and put into military
training. The training would be counted as inhumane by many standards, with some
boys dying in the process. Through the years, they learned formations,
sword-play, spear-play, defensive tactics, hand-to-hand combat, and stealth
maneuvering. Around age 17, if he passed all the tests, a young man would be
ready to serve in the Spartan army.
I am not advocating any of those practices, but they prove
the point that an individual Spartan soldier was very well trained and would be
quite fierce going into battle alone. Even so, the Spartan army understood they
were even stronger when they fought shoulder-to-shoulder, shield-to-shield.
This is the lesson for us as Christians when maneuvering through life, and
especially through trials and tribulations:
While we must be disciplined and trained as individual soldiers
in the Christian army, we are always stronger
together than alone.
Whatever you are going through, you need not – and should
not – fight the battle alone. I know very well that seasons of pain and
suffering can be very isolating. We are tempted to feel that no one understands
what we are going through, and perhaps that no one cares. That is absolutely
not true. It is a lie from the devil who, like any predator, would rather lure
his prey from the pack than attack the entire unit. I wrote in the past that
there is One
Who Understands (Jesus), and while He is the only one who understands perfectly, there are others among us who
are familiar with not-so-different trials.
It seems that we don’t hear too much about the importance of
a battle mentality in Christianity today, but when we really look at our lives,
I think we would all agree that we are in a battle. It is a battle of good and
evil. It is a battle of love and hate. It is a battle of joy and sadness. The
apostle Paul wrote about the need for us to prepare for battle:
A final word: Be strong in the Lord
and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to
stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against
flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen
world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in
the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of
God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then
after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on
the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on
the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In
addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows
of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the
Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:10-17 (New Living
Those are instructions for you and me as individual
soldiers. Here is further instruction from Paul:
Endure suffering along with me, as
a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of
civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.
2 Timothy 2:3-4 (New Living
We must be continuously training so we can be strong as
individual soldiers. But then, what is our plan as a collective army?
Pray in the Spirit at all times and
on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all
Ephesians 6:18 (New Living
So encourage each other and build
each other up, just as you are already doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (New Living
Did you realize the size of our army? All believers everywhere! Our immediate battalion consists of those
closest to us – our family, our friends, our church – and it is a fierce
battalion, indeed. Our forces are so much stronger, though. We must pray for
one another. Encourage one another. Build up one another.
You are not alone. I am not alone. There is no need for us to go into battle believing that we are. Let us fight side-by-side
and not fear. United in Christ, we will prevail.