AN AMAZING FACT: The largest invasion in the history of warfare was Operation Barbarossa, the German’s code name for invading the Soviet Union during World War II. Three Axis army groups comprised four million soldiers.
The size and scale of Nazi Germany’s surprise invasion on Russia beginning June 22, 1941, has no comparison. The huge number of troops, combined with 3,580 tanks, 7,184 artillery guns, 1,830 planes, and 750,000 horses, simply boggles the mind. The German’s unbelievable plan was to cross a frontier of thousands of miles from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Barbarossa was the greatest example of a blitzkrieg ever attempted.
The strategy appeared to work at first. Adolf Hitler’s ambitious but cruel plan to conquer the USSR was not without cost. Almost 95 percent of all German army casualties happened during this attack. Tactically, the Germans appeared to win victory after victory, but their successes stalled literally outside the gates of Moscow. The Soviets pushed back, and the Wehrmacht never regained their grip. A bitter winter and muddy roads didn’t help.
The failure of Barbarossa was a turning point for the Third Reich. Hitler’s blunder of opening up the Eastern Front and pouring a significant amount of forces into this operation created some of the largest and deadliest battles in World War II. Conditions were horrific on both sides. The proud leader of Nazi Germany was eventually humbled.
The Bible text we look at this evening reminds me that those who lift themselves up too high will eventually fall. A haughty man exalts himself above everyone else. You can find many examples in the Bible of people who were arrogant, vain, and conceited. Saul refused the counsel of his advisors. King Zedekiah so resented the words of Jeremiah that he burned the scrolls sent to him. Even Judas, a disciple of Jesus, turned away from the gentle call of his Master; he believed he knew a better way.
Adolf Hitler was warned by his generals to not send troops east, to not enter into war with Russia, and to not drain the dwindling resources of the country. All of us, whether we are leaders or not, need to learn humility before receiving honor. We would do well to listen before we speak, to consider other viewpoints before insisting on our own plans. In the end, we will avoid destruction and save ourselves from shame.
Additional reading: Proverbs 18:13–24
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility. He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. Proverbs 18:12-13