The Battle Belongs to The Lord
You may well be aware of the Battle of Alamo, a short battle during the Texas Revolution in 1836, around ten years before Texas became part of the United States of America. The Revolution was
fought between the Mexican armies, led by Antonio Santa Anna, and the Texian Armies, led by Sam Houston, their land was most of what is now Texas and New Mexico in the south of the USA.
The Alamo was a small fort located in what is now the city of San Antonio, Texas, it was originally made by Catholic missionaries to protect themselves from any attacks by natives in the area – so not exactly the most secure and robust of structures.
The Battle of Alamo lasted about a fortnight with very few casualties for either side, inside Alamo there were around 200 Texian soldiers, who were not entirely well equipped. Outside camped around 2000 Mexicans. The battle started with a siege, on February 23rd and during this time the Mexians 2000 men had doubled in number thanks to reinforcements.
The Texians attempts to get reinforcements was largely unsuccessful around 50 men led by Davy Crockett did make it in to the fort, but other groups of soldiers turned back to where they had come from when they saw and heard how uneven the numbers were.
Having not slept properly for nearly two weeks due to the fighting, the majority of the Texian fighters rested on the night of March 5th as the Mexican armies stopped their attack. This was however, part of their plan and it didn’t last very long, however, shortly before sunrise, at the point they expected the Texians to be in a deep sleep, the Mexican army began their assault. A tactic that ultimately won them that battle.
However, it was not the end of the war. Alamo was a very small fort in comparison to the settlements that were spread across the area of conflict. Santa Anna continued to lead his men to claim new land and they did so successfully, getting to an area called San Jacinto (north of Houston, Texas stands today).
Having travelled far, and having the support of nearly double the men of the Texian armies Santa Anna made the decision to order his men to rest. Sam Houston became aware of this and after a 20-minute battle the Mexican army had been halved in number, another 200 men fled back to Mexico, while 300 surrendered, including Antonio Santa Anna himself. So, the man that won one battle by allowing the enemy to rest lost his next battle by ordering his own men to rest.
This historical event is not just to tell an entertaining story but it reminds me of a few passages of scripture but I’ll focus on just one, Gideon.
Gideon, who with 300 men fought a battle against the 135,000 men of the army of the Midianites (you can read the whole account in Judges 6 & 7). That battle was won as the Midianites slept, perhaps both armies in the Texian-Mexican battles could have done well to remember this passage, as the missionaries who built the Alamo Complex would have wanted them to.
Of course, the story of Gideon is not a story of the dangers of sleeping, but rather the strength of our God. Gideon’s army started with 32,000 men but God used just 300 to win this battle. Perhaps you find yourself in a battle of physical, mental or spiritual need, perhaps you feel overwhelmed or outnumbered?
Allow me to remind you of Psalm 121 verses 3(b) and 4: “he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”. We have a God who does not rest and who will not stop caring for you. What’s more he tells us in many places that he gives rest to those that need it. Ezekiel 34:15, “I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down [to rest],”. Psalm 23:1-3 “The Lord is my Shepherd […] He makes me lie down in green pastures […] He refreshes my soul”. Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”.
So, if you are feeling weak, perhaps heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care, know that we have a precious saviour, he is still our refuge we can take it to the Lord in prayer. Should prayer become the activity that makes you weary, please share your requests so that we can uphold you in prayer too – share it with friends you trust or wider through the prayer chain. As Paul wrote to the Ephesian churches “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6.12)
It is difficult to think about the account of the Battle of Alamo with out thinking also about the situation in Ukraine, where similar sieges and attacks have become common over the course of the last week. I attach below some prayers from different church groups as we continue to pray for the situation you may find them helpful when the words are not easy to find:
Father God, King of all nations, we cry out to you now for the people of Ukraine. We ask you to rescue those who are vulnerable from the hands of their enemies that they may live without fear before you all their days [Luke 1:74-75]. Lord have mercy.
Lord of lords and Prince of peace, our politicians are predicting the biggest war in Europe since 1945, and we simply cry out to you urgently to write another story in our time. Thwart the dark machinations of evil men. Give wisdom beyond human wisdom to peacemakers seeking an equitable and less violent way. May politicians exercise the wisdom from above, which is peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, and full of mercy [James 3:17]. Lord have mercy.
Holy Spirit, we pray for the church in Ukraine, a nation in which 70% of the population call themselves Christian. Give our many brothers and sisters in that nation courage in this crisis that they may proclaim the good news of your kingdom, bind up broken hearts, and bring comfort to all who mourn. [Isaiah 61:1-2]. Lord have mercy.
You Lord, make wars cease to the end of the earth; you break bows, shatter spears, and burn shields with fire [Psalm 46:9]. And so we ask you now to save the lives of many people in Ukraine. Make a peace that is strong and not weak. De-escalate this crisis. We hear of wars and rumours of wars (Matt. 24:6], but you Lord are our rock, our fortress and our deliverer. Our hope is in you. And so we address the nations now. In the name of Jesus we say: “Be still and know God! He is exalted among the nations; he shall be exalted in the earth [Psalm 46:10]. Lord have mercy.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace. Amen.
We pray for the people of Ukraine, for all those suffering or afraid, that you will be close to them and protect them.
We pray for world leaders, for compassion, strength and wisdom to guide their choices.
We pray for the world that in this moment of crisis, we may reach out in solidarity to our brothers and sisters in need.
May we walk in your ways so that peace and justice become a reality for the people of Ukraine and for all the world. Amen.
Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) The following requests for prayer come from BMS partners on the ground:
· Pray for the people of Ukraine – for those in shock at this sudden and violent violation of their country – that they will be able to seek safety and know the comfort of God’s presence at night
· Pray for Baptists in the region, as they prepare to use their churches as safe havens and emergency supply distribution points for those fleeing. Please pray that God gives them wisdom in an ever-changing situation
· Pray for the coming days, that there will be enough food, money, fuel and resources in the country for ordinary citizens
· Pray for those who are fleeing across the country, that their paths will be clear and they have places to rest. Pray also for neighbouring countries, some of whom have already begun preparing to receive refugees – that they will welcome and care for those who choose to flee across borders
· Pray for those who cannot, or will not, leave. Pray that they are not discouraged by those who do and do not feel that the international community has given up hope for the possibility of peace
· Pastor Igor requests that we pray for his fellow pastors to “keep believing that God will be glorified”
I close with the following message which was sent by Pastor Igor (possibly the same one mentioned by the BMS prayers above but I’m not certain as they come from different places):
“please tell your people, because of their prayers God really fights our battles. The rockets disappear in the air without reaching our homes and no one knows where did they go. Enemy tanks run out of fuel, Russian troops get lost and ask our locals for food and directions – that is definitely God because we are dealing with the second strongest army in the world. And this morning Kyiv and other major cities are still free and we, in Lviv, did not have to run to the basements – thank you for your prayers!”