If the Mountains Should Crumble
A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD
What was it that lead to the writing of Psalm 46 we wonder. Surely God uses real life events to bring out the testimony and resolve of faith in His people.
The children of Israel were backed up against the Red Sea with the armies of Egypt bearing down upon them. Sheer terror struck the hearts of God’s people. Moses stood up and proclaimed, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14)
How can God’s people “be still” when their very lives are about to be crushed! The psalmist must have known such terror also. The threats to his own life were right before his eyes. God’s people were in danger of being destroyed. Even God’s good purposes were in jeopardy it seemed. How can the psalmist hope to comfort the people with God’s simple words, “Be still and know that I am God.”?
The psalmist pictures for the people a “worst case scenario”. How bad can things get? Well, what if the mighty mountains of old that stand so solid and sure as if they would hold their ground forever, should suddenly give way, crumble, and fall into the heart of the sea? That would certainly make God’s people fear that their whole world was crumbling around them. Yet even then, God stands sure and firm for us. God is with us. God will help us. God will save us. God’s good purposes will not fail—even if the mountains should crumble!
When Dr. Luther took the words of Psalm 46 and wrote “A Mighty Fortress”, the battle for the reformation of the church was fully engaged! Luther was Moses at the Red Sea with the power of the mighty Roman Church bearing down on him and on all who held to the truth of Scriptures and God’s Word of salvation through Christ alone. He could be crushed. God’s people could be annihilated. The very truth of the gospel could be submerged once again in the polluted sea of work righteousness and superstitions. What hope was there?
Luther could not have known how God was going to open up the Red Sea and bring His people safely through. But this he knew. A mighty fortress is our God! When the mountains crumble, God will stand. And the Lord is with us! He who gave us the victory of salvation through the battle fought and won by Christ Jesus our Savior, would not fail.
Luther was well aware that there was an even greater and more devastating “worst case scenario” than any mountains crumbling. The physical threats to this life must have seemed small compared to the spiritual threats to eternal life thrown up by satan and all his evil forces. And yet, even at this, with Christ our Savior and Lord fighting for us, there is nothing, nothing in all the world to fear! “Though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us, we tremble not! We fear no ill! They cannot overpower us! This world’s prince may still scowl fierce as he will. He can harm us none! He’s judged. The deed is done! One little word can fell him.”
Yes, they may take our life, goods, fame, child and wife! And they have! And they will! But they have won nothing. God has given us the kingdom in our Lord Jesus Christ, and nothing can separate us from His redeeming love. (Romans 8)
Every day I look up and see the mountains ready to crumble around me. How can we meet the church budget? The demands of my personal life, and my professional life, are sometimes more than I think I can deal with. I pray with an anxious heart for people who are hurting, people who are wandering, people who just don’t seem to care. The Gospel doesn’t seem to be doing its job. Or is there some kind of deep guile that is deceiving us and tempting us to abandon the only true hope we have?
Open your Bible to Psalm 46. Even if the mountains should crumble, even if devils all the world should fill, be still and know that the Lord is God! He is with us every day, every hour with His blood-bought forgiveness and resurrection life to lift us up and sustain us through every battle of life! He is our refuge and strength, our very present help in every trouble. A mighty fortress is our God. Amen.
In our Savior,