Isa 22:25 In that day, says the Lord of hosts, the nail or peg that was fastened into the sure place shall give way and be moved and be hewn down and fall, and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off; for the Lord has spoken it.
As someone who was born and raised in Zimbabwe and witnessed the handover to a black majority government in the late 1970’s, I watched with amazement and gratefulness the sudden turn of events in this nation of my birth. The Lord began to teach me some spiritual principles through what occurred. For those in other parts of the world who are unaware of the complexities of this situation, I would like to lay a foundation before I share what I learnt.
Once known as the breadbasket of Africa, this beautiful nation had been reduced to a shambles by the governance of Robert Mugabe, who refused steadfastly to step aside to make the way for a new leader. During 37 years of President Mugabe’s leadership, tens of thousands of people were tortured, forcibly disappeared or killed. ‘President Mugabe condoned human rights violations, defended criminal actions of his officials and allowed a culture of impunity for grotesque crimes to thrive. Mugabe surrounded himself with witchdoctors when he first came to power who gave him a ceremonial axe as a token that he could not be removed from power because of the strong witchcraft that entrenched his rule.
The extremely difficult circumstances in Zimbabwe caused the church there to seek the face of God for deliverance from this despotic leader day and night… and as the years passed, they grew strong in the spirit in spite of the long enduring trial. This fierce refiner’s fire purified the Zimbabwean Church. Yet God continued to allow this cruel defiant man to rule. It was a mystery and the church prayed on year after year, decade after decade assaulting Heaven to seek an answer from their God. In 2008, Robert Mugabe was confident in his grip on power: “Only God who appointed me will remove me,” he famously exclaimed. In the natural, the situation seemed hopeless.
Then suddenly, in a surprise move, Zimbabwe’s armed forces seized power on November 15 and placed Mugabe under house arrest. The military takeover was triggered by Mugabe’s decision on November 6 to sack Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had been First Lady Grace Mugabe’s main opponent to succeed the veteran leader. Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans took to the streets on Saturday 18th to express support for the military’s operation. There were mass public calls for him to resign – an amazing sight in a nation where just a week previously, any criticism of Mugabe brought severe punishment and often death. On 19th November, he was fired as party leader but he still refused to resign, giving a speech to the nation that did not even mention this possibility.
The church continued to press in with spiritual warfare as, on Monday 20th, Zimbabweans gathered opposite the Parliament for the first day of a week-long prayer meeting praying for his peaceful removal. It seemed like this was going to be a difficult battle, with plans being made for Parliament to impeach this stubbornly entrenched 93 year old tyrant. Then suddenly, on Tuesday 21st, without any prior signs of relenting, Mugabe handed in his resignation letter. The scenes of wild jubilation erupting in Parliament as his letter was read were incredibly moving. In the streets people leapt and shouted and wept for sheer joy. The battle was over, the iron grip of this ungodly ruler finally broken on this devastated nation. As I watched a scripture came to mind and I knew I was witnessing a demonstration of the fulfilment of its words for this nation:
Mal 4:2 But unto you who revere and worshipfully fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings and His beams, and you shall go forth and gambol like calves [released] from the stall and leap for joy.
Mal 4:3 And you shall tread down the lawless and wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, says the Lord of hosts.
I had a quick vision at that moment –I saw Zimbabwe as a burning oven situated in the center of Africa and suddenly the door swung open and multitudes of freshly baked loaves of bread moved at great speed to other parts of the continent and even the world. I knew I was witnessing the thrusting out of an apostolic company from the heart of the oven as harvesters into the harvest field. Just like Daniel and his friends were removed from the fire heated seven times hotter when the fourth man was seen in their midst, and emerged to positions of great power and influence in the Babylonian kingdom, so too this purified church in Zimbabwe will greatly influence the nations of this world as they carry the fresh bread of His presence wherever the Spirit takes them.
I too, wept with my Zimbabwean brothers and sisters at the faithfulness of a God who hears and answers prayer in His perfect timing. And I was grateful for the visual demonstration of some powerful spiritual principles concerning breakthrough for those who have waged long battles against seemingly unyielding spiritual strongholds. Mugabe was a strong man and he had a strong hold on this nation, as the enemy attempted to hinder and destroy its Kingdom God-given destiny but what the enemy intended for evil, God turned for good. I pray they may bless you as I share these insights gained in the deliverance of the land of my birth.
- A strongman is always invited and welcomed to take up his position
Mugabe was hailed as a saviour and hero of the people when he first took up his position as president of Zimbabwe. His strength of will and determination was seen as an asset at that time. Only the passage of time allowed the people of Zimbabwe to know him by his fruit as his true character became discouragingly evident. In the same way, in our circumstances, there is always some sort of permission given, some door opened wide in welcome, for a strongman to move in and take over. And initially, it appears as some sort of beneficial relationship, bringing welcome change from what has been before. No strongman can operate without permission at some point in our walk. Therefore we have to take responsibility for our own part in the establishment of the stronghold. The arrival of a strongman and the construction of his stronghold is also connected to us giving something idol status in our lives; when anything or anyone is seen as a source of comfort or help above that of Almighty God, we have just built a pedestal for that strongman to step up onto.
- The Strongman will work to produce the opposite manifestation to God’s intended purpose for a person or family or nation.
The policies of Mugabe reduced the breadbasket of Africa to poverty, unable to even feed itself. The once wealthy prosperous nation saw its currency reduced to such worthlessness that people had to take wheelbarrows full of bank notes to buy bread and milk.
Whatever God’s intention is for your life, the operation of a strongman will produce exactly the opposite manifestation. Place him under house arrest and decree his stronghold over your future broken! And remember, some strongmen only go out with prayer and fasting!
- The strongman exercising his stronghold will occupy the position of authority geographically which is intended to be filled by the man or woman of the Kingdom of God.
Emmerson Mnangagwa was the vice president of this nation for many years and had a fearsome reputation for ordering the death of thousands of the opposition party members. However what few people know about him is that he is now a Believer, having accepted the sacrifice made for him on the cross. He has been known of late to preach the Word of God with passion. At his brother’s funeral, he told mourners, “For those of us who were taught to destroy and kill and have seen the light in the last days of our lives, and will die in Christ, our rewards are in Heaven.” He preached from Proverbs with such intensity that those listening were amazed that this man linked to the brutal political violence of his party could be so transformed. He further said, “I have found favour in the eyes of God because I have accepted Him with all my heart”. Isn’t this just like our God! To radically convert the president-in-waiting before removing the strongman’s iron grip on a nation, so that the vacuum created could be filled by the invasion of a vessel carrying Kingdom authority. No wonder the church in Zimbabwe can weep with joy as God installs His appointed man to begin the process of restoration and reconciliation under the direction of the Spirit of God.
For those of us who have also been shown we are to be moved into positions of influence in the coming season, perhaps there is a strongman occupying the position intended for you. Jesus gave the solution – Bind the strongman and plunder his house. The army confined Mugabe to house arrest, effectively binding him, so that Zimbabwe could be removed from his iron grip. However, the people under his unrighteous rule had to keep decreeing that he must resign for 6 days and then suddenly he was removed and the witchcraft hold on the nation broken. It is reminiscent of the fall of Jericho’s walls which fell on the seventh day amidst shofar blasts and a mighty sound released by the people of God.
- While the strongman remains in power, God’s vessels are being brought to perfect readiness under his tyrannical reign.
I venture to suggest that one of reasons Mugabe was allowed to remain in power for so long was because God was busy preparing His vessel Emmerson. What may have looked like years of unnecessary delay in answer to prayer may actually have represented the process of getting this newly inaugurated president’s heart to a state of readiness and surrender which would benefit the purposes of the Kingdom of God. Remember Joseph was in prison two years longer than he expected to be, while God did further surgery on this man who was destined for a place of power.
Remember this, saint of God, your destiny will not unfold one day late, nor will the enemy be able to take you out before God’s purposes are fulfilled in your life. Recently there was an attempt on Mnangagwa’s life, reputedly by Mugabe supporters and while recovering from the poisoning, Emmerson said, “After this close shave, I don’t know how many more years God will give me. Perhaps He will return to pluck me. Everything is under the control of the sovereignty of God…. Everyone is a flower in God’s garden, and in another aspect, we are all sojourners here, this world is not our home.” Quoting Psalm 135:6, he continued, “Whatever the Lord please, He does, in Heaven or earth, in the seas and all the deeps.”
- The strongman will overplay his hand because of pride, which will trigger the launching of the answer to years of prayer.
Mugabe’s wife, Grace, a true Jezebel if ever there was one, had designs upon the presidency and persuaded Mugabe to fire Mnangagwa so she could have his future. Listen to me, Beloved, your inheritance is stored up in Heaven, beyond the reach of change or decay – or even Jezebels’ clutches. It is preserved until God’s appointed moment of releasing it to you. Be at peace and cooperate with the last flames of the refining fire. You are going to need those graces it brings forth in your heart. The strongman may think he can do what he likes with you but he is only working towards the manifestation of what God has intended to bring forth all the time.
- It will look like things are getting radically worse for you just before the stronghold is broken.
It took 18 days from the firing of the vice president to his inauguration as the new president of Zimbabwe. In that time, he had to flee for his life to a hidden location and trust God to work on his behalf when he was absent from the country. It looked like all was lost, but actually him being removed started the dominoes falling and, when it was all over, he just had to return to assume his God-given leadership position. Never draw conclusions from what your eyes see in the natural. God is still working unseen to bring about His purposes.
- The Removal of a Strongman is a Process, not an instant miracle.
Even when Mugabe was under house arrest and removed as head of the party, he refused to step down. The strongman does not want to let go of power. The intercessory prayers did not stop when the strongman was bound. They continued until he surrendered. I was reminded of a piece I read describing the use of a battering ram by the Roman General Titus:
‘The day the Roman General Titus laid siege to Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and brought Jewish nationalism to crushing defeat, one of the power-weapons he used against the city was a gigantic battering-ram named Nico. In a very real sense, the title Nico was prophetic and still speaks to the church today. It means “conqueror”.
Ancient battering-rams, such as Nico, were usually assembled by invading armies at the battle site and consisted of immense wooden platforms overlaid with iron plates. This metal-covering protected the scaffolding from enemy fire. The ram itself consisted of a huge log, suspended horizontally by chains, that could be swung back and forth by squadrons of men holding onto ropes below. As the huge butt-end struck the wall and bounced back, the men maintained a rhythm much like the pendulum of a clock. The slamming of the ram against individual stones was important, but of equal value was the fact that the constant thudding set up a vibration that affected the molecular structure of the whole wall. Though unknown to the Romans, they employed a principle of physics which would not be identified until much later times. It is this: Energy stored in the log by the “rhythm of input” was transferred into the wall at the instant of impact. This sudden impact overcame what is known as the “moment of inertia” in the stone.’
Do you notice that there is no outward appearance of the impact of the battering ram on the stone it strikes. Yet the energy imparting by the blow is creating havoc inside the stone’s molecular structure with each successive blow. Then suddenly the wall of the citadel gives way. Mugabe gave no sign of being affected in any way by being taken captive. His face was as impassive as ever as he participated under guard in opening a ceremony at the local University. He even announced he would chair the upcoming party conference when he made his nationwide speech. This caused the church to convene the week-long prayer vigil right in front of parliament. Every decree for Mugabe to resign was a battering ram blow applied to the stronghold of witchcraft surrounding him and keeping him in power. It looked like nothing was having an effect but in the spiritual realm, there was havoc created within that stronghold and finally, overnight, victory came!
People of God, keep swinging that battering ram in prayer – ‘Release my inheritance’; ‘Release my God-appointed position of influence’; ‘Release my destiny’, ‘Release my family to fulfil God’s plan”. Do not stop. The moment of inertia in the stone will be overcome! Victory is certain if you are praying according to the will of God.
- As you step into your appointed place in God’s end-time Plan, the Enemy will Try to Tell the World Who You Used to Be
In the days following the placing of Mugabe under house arrest, the world media began to speculate concerning Emerson Mnangagwa. Over and over again, headlines called him ‘the Crocodile’, a nickname he was given before he was born again because of his reputation for ruthless cunning. However that Emmerson is dead and the new creation Mnangagwa stands in the position of president of Zimbabwe. Few know of his conversion and the powerful work God has done in His heart. This is not a Saul, but a Paul who begins the challenging task of rebuilding a nation. Yet almost every report on the mainstream media declares that ‘the crocodile’ has come to power.
I read an interview with two of his children and both alluded to the fact that he is a man of few words; so much so, the son explained, “that you wonder what he is thinking…” My prayer is that the deeds of this man of God in the days ahead would speak more eloquently concerning his transformation than any ancient gossip the media may dig up about him.
Remember, Beloved, to set your face like a flint as you fulfil whatever God calls you to do. Your older brother Jesus did not let himself be distracted by the hearsay and innuendo that the Pharisees stirred up against him. He was about His Father’s business, as Emmerson now is… and as you too will be. Become deaf to every opinion except that of your Father as defending your reputation will sap you of your vision.
I believe what occurred this week in the nation of my birth was a prophetic sign of a new season emerging from the darkness of the predawn hours over the continent of Africa. Like a bright pulsing explosion of light in the center of the ‘dark continent’ Zimbabwe is announcing the arrival of a new day. The Sun of Righteousness is arising with healing in His wings over this nation. Saints of God, pray for Zimbabwe. The nation that is famous for its ruins is about to become fruitful again. Lift up your brother Emmerson before the throne as the Spirit of God works through him to fulfill the following scripture:
Isa 58:12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of [buildings that have laid waste for] many generations; and you shall be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.