Quite Easily Done

Yesterday I snapped up a little piece of history at a local antiques fair. Pictured below, it is a badge which was issued to the thousands of troops manning the Maginot Line of fortifications on the Franco-German border in 1935-40. The string of fortifications, brainchild of French Minister of War Andre Maginot, was intended to repel any attack across the border. On the badge, a mighty gun turret thrusts skyward beneath the words “on ne passe pas” (‘They shall not pass’)

Of course, in the end, they did. Fast and powerful mechanized troops readily circumvented a defensive strategy which had been designed for the previous war. The mistakes of the past – preparing for the last war instead of the next one, had been repeated – QED.

Later this morning I shall be preaching on an inglorious episode in the life of Abraham. In Genesis chapter 20, he tries to pass his wife off as his sister, thereby risking all kinds of calamity – to say nothing of the trauma she may have suffered. The thing is – he had done this before. In Genesis 12, just after he set out on his journey of faith, he tried exactly the same trick. One commentator suggested that this must have been an accidental repetition of the same incident by the redactor of Genesis as ‘a man doesn’t repeat a lapse of this kind’. Oh really?

In the end, the story is a triumph of God’s grace over Abraham’s folly and fear – but it makes you think. Mistakes are quite easily repeated – QED.