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Hi my name is Dean Smith and in this podcast I want to talk about the concept of binding the strongman and how it played a major role in a significant revival that took place in Argentina in the 1950s.
In Luke chapter 11, the Gospel writer describes how the Pharisees were put in the awkward position of having to explain how Jesus had the power to cast out demons, an ability that the Pharisees and scribes did not have.
So they came up with a rather stupid and bizarre explanation, that Jesus was casting the demons out by the power of Beelzebul, who Luke describes as a prince of the demons (Luke 11:15). This description also hints of a hierarchy in the demonic realm with higher and lower level demons.
Jesus quickly countered this by explaining how stupid the idea was. How would the satanic realm survive if it was divided against itself?
Jesus then goes into a teaching on binding the strongman to explain how He casts out demons. Jesus said that in order to plunder a strongman’s house (the strongman being Satan), we must first bind the strongman (the word bind which is Greek word “deo” – literally means tie up with chains, to throw into chains, to imprison).
In order for Jesus to set people free from demonic oppression, the Lord first needed to bind the strongman and this appears to be what happened in the early 50s, when Argentina experienced a powerful Holy Spirit revival.
One of the more interesting stories to come out of this revival was published in a missionary publication called World Map. In his article, Ralph Mahoney tells the story of a missionary distributing tracts in the 1950s in a little town that sat on the border of Uruguay and Brazil. The main street was the actual border between these two countries. Due to the village’s isolation, there were no restrictions to crossing the main street, or from one country to the next.
This particular Saturday morning, the missionary was distributing his tracts on the Uruguayan side of the town where the people either refused the tract or, if they took it, quickly crumpled it up and discarded it.
After spending a couple fruitless hours he popped over to the Brazilian side and was amazed by the dramatic change, suddenly people were not only taking his tracts but many were intently reading them.
Thinking he was imagining things, he proceeded back to the Uruguayan side where he again found people resistant.
Puzzled, he decided to test what he was witnessing.
When a woman approached him on the Uruguayan side, he offered her a tract, that she immediately refused. When he noticed her cross the street into Brazil, the missionary moved on an intercept course with the woman.
When she passed in front of him again, he offered her a tract a second time. This time, the woman not only took the tract, but she thanked him profusely for it.
Fascinated by what had occurred, the missionary repeated the experiment, several times with basically the same result.
Why would people be so open to the gospel on the Brazilian side of the border and then those same people be so closed to the gospel on the Uruguayan side?
A short time later, this missionary remembered a particular involvement he had in a Bible school in Argentina. After weeks of intercession, a powerful prophetic word declared that the Lion of Judah had prevailed and that Argentina’s strongmen had been broken. It sparked a revival that spilled out of Argentina into Brazil, but stopped abruptly at the border of Uruguay.
For some reason, this move of God hit an invisible barrier and went no further.
In this little border town, as the people moved between Uruguay and Brazil, they were moving from darkness into light and their responses to the Gospel showed how significant that was.
So how could one country be so open to the gospel and the other so closed? And how could this difference be so sharply defined at the border?
I believe the key to understanding what’s happening here involves the concept of territorial spirits. This is based on the idea that Satan has put demonic spirits over countries and regions.
Some suggest that this incident on the border of Uruguay and Brazil revealed how the demonic territorial spirit over one country had been pulled down, but had not been pulled down over the other. One country was open to the gospel, and Uruguay remained blinded to the gospel, a concept that Paul referred to in (2 Corinthians 4:4).
To better understand territorial spirits we need to turn to Satan’s temptation of Christ in the wilderness where Satan offered Jesus all the Kingdoms of the world for a moment of worship.
Notice how Satan added this cryptic statement that He could give the Kingdoms to whomever he wishes:
During this temptation, Jesus never challenged Satan’s claim to the Kingdoms of the world and neither did Jesus challenge Satan’s claim that he could give the nations to whomever he wanted.
Satan not only has the authority to do this, but it seems Satan has put demonic spirits over countries and their job is to influence governments to oppose the Kingdom of God and to blind people to the gospel.
We see these territorial spirits on full display in the book of Daniel.
Now Daniel was a Jewish man whose family had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians. He was living in Babylon when the country was defeated by the Persian Empire. While still in captivity, Daniel received revelation that God would soon restore the people of Israel back to their promised land.
He entered into a time of fasting and prayer for three weeks. At the end of the 21 days, an angel of God appeared with the answer to Daniel’s prayer:
The godly angel stated that he was specifically hindered for three weeks by the Prince of Persia.
So who was the Prince of Persia?
Well, obviously it was some type of spiritual being, because how could a human prince stop a spiritual angel from delivering a message. The angel then adds that Michael, described as the archangel responsible for Israel, showed up to help the angel get by the Prince of Persia. Then in Daniel 10:20, the Godly angel adds that he would continue to battle or fight the Prince of Persia. The spiritual battle hadn’t yet been fully resolved.
It is generally believed the Prince of Persia was one of those demonic spirits that Satan had put over the Persian empire. It was essentially a high-level Prince of Demons similar to Beelzebul. Having dealt with the demonic spirit, the angel of God was able to deliver the message – and more importantly the godly angel played a key role in the arrival of Cyrus the Great, the King of Persia, considered by many historians as one of the most benevolent Kings in the ancient world.
After defeating Babylon in essentially a bloodless cue, the Persians under Cyrus issued a decree that any person taken into captivity could return to their homeland. This paved the way for Nehemiah’s return to rebuild Jerusalem and for Ezra to rebuild the Temple.
The angel of God makes a very curious statement saying that he had showed up during the reign of Darius and the Mede (the first of what would become the Persian dynasty) and took a position beside the King to confirm and protect him.
The Hebrew word confirm, ‘chazaq’, means to strengthen, to make firm, resolute and the Hebrew word for strengthen which is the Hebrew word ‘maoz’, means to protect, provide a place of refuge, to act literally as a guard and through this the Godly angel was able to influence the political decisions being made by the kings of Persia that allowed the Jews to return to their homeland.
More importantly, the godly angel was protecting the kings from the ungodly influences of the Satanic realm.
So we see from this, when God moves spiritually it often impacts the political realm as well.
Now the missionary distributing those tracts on the Uruguayan and Brazilian border was Dr. Edward Miller and when he arrived at a mission station located in the foothills of the Andes in Argentina in 1948 he was confronted with how closed the country was to the gospel. In a book, The Secrets of the Argentine Revival, written by Edward’s son Robert Miller he outlined the significant developments in the spiritual realm that led to the eventual pulling down of the territorial spirit over Argentina.
At the mission station where Edward worked, the church had a eight converts which was the fruit of seven years of mission work. Perhaps the most revealing indication of how bad things were in this South American country was the fact that the older missionaries considered the station quite successful because of its large congregation.
All Argentinian churches at that time were small. Three missionary boards working together in Argentina could only claim a total of 514 church members. Argentina was closed and dark and rightly considered the country most resistant to the gospel in the Western Hemisphere.
Miller quickly found out how tough Argentina really was.
After a dismal response to the gospel at tent meetings in the nearby town of Lavalle, Miller was ready to hand in his credentials. Despite hours of preparation, door-to-door invitations and a huge tent being put up at the edge of town, not a single person attended the nightly meetings.
It was at this point, that God spoke to Miller about spending eight hours a day in prayer and study as anyone would do in a regular job. Miller obeyed. One week became two, then seven weeks. Fellow missionaries questioned Miller’s sanity and wondered if he should be paid because he was not doing typical missionary activity.
During this time, Miller experienced his own personal revival, but also wondered if he was on the right track. But God gave him a sign by allowing him to lead one young boy to the Lord. Seven weeks of fasting and prayer for one salvation, this was close to revival by Argentinean standards that you could get – at this rate, eight people would be saved in a year.
Miller spent six more weeks in prayer and then felt the Lord tell him to start nightly prayer meetings in the church. Though only three people turned out, Miller pressed ahead. At the end of the first meeting, he asked if any felt the Lord asking them to do anything. No one felt anything, except a young woman who felt prompted to hit the table. But refused to do s0t.
Though this seemed to be an unusual request. God has required similar prophetic acts in the past and we have an example of this in the Bible. King Joash had been calling on God for deliverance from the Syrians and the prophet Elisha gave a prophetic word that God would deliver Judah, and told Joah to strike the ground with his arrows.
Joash struck the ground three times, then Elisha said because Joash had only struck the ground three times, he would only defeat the Syrians three times. If Joah had struck the ground five or six times, he would have completely eliminated the Syrians completely as a threat (2 Kings 13:9).
The physical act of hitting had a prophetic significance.
As Miller’s prayer meeting continued over the next four nights, the woman felt the same impulse to hit the table but was still to shy to do it. Finally, Miller came up with an idea to help the woman do God’s will. He told everyone to walk around the table and hit it and everyone did except the woman who God told to do it.
But finally, on the fourth night the woman tapped the table, and according to Miller the Holy Spirit fell.
Everyone collapsed on the floor — speaking in tongues — something that had never happened in that church. When people began to hear about the unusual things going on at this prayer meeting, they began to attend and got saved. In a very short time, the church was packed out and the prayer meetings were held every night from 7 pm to as late as 4 am. This revival slowly spread to other churches, setting the stage for what was yet to come.
Now to understand what was happening in the spiritual realm, you need to understand the political. From 1944-46, the military controlled Argentina. The leader of the military junta was General Juan Peron. But one cannot tell the story about Peron without talking about his mistress and eventual wife – Eva.
Eva was born into poverty in the little town of Los Toldos. At 15, she went to watch a handsome young tango singer singing in a local bar and left with him the next day to Buenos Aires.
Once she arrived, Eva basically slept her way to the top going from the owner of an important film magazine to the owner of a large soap manufacturing company through which Eva got her own radio show called “My Kingdom of Love.”
From there she moved on to a government cabinet minister and in 1944, while attending a national radio show raising relief for victims of a huge earthquake, she met General Juan Peron and became his mistress that night.
One story from this time reveals Eva’s strong personality that would lead her to dominate Peron. When Eva became Peron’s mistress, the general was living with another woman. One morning, while Peron was at work, Eva got a truck, loaded up her stuff, went to Peron’s residence, drove the other mistress out and set up residence in Peron’s home. Peron, who did not know what was happening, came home that night to Eva and said nothing.
In the waning years of World War II, Juan and Eva actually sided with Nazi Germany in the conflict thinking the Axis would win the war. Rumors suggested that Eva amassed a huge fortune through payoffs from Nazi leaders fleeing the Allied forces. No one knows for sure if that was true, but Argentina became the favored port of call for many Nazis fleeing Germany after the war.
In 1945, the other member of the military council jealous of Juan Peron’s growing power had him imprisoned. Eva used her radio persona to organize a huge rally in support of Peron forcing the military to release him.
One year later, Peron did the unheard of thing and married his mistress. In the general election that same year, with Eva at his side, Peron won the national election for President in a landslide.
Now firmly entrenched, Peron and Eva stamped out any resistance to Peron’s rule. Argentina became a police state.
Thousand fled from Argentina to escape the tyranny. Eva took advantage of her position to pay back any who had wronged her including kids who made fun of her as a child.
Eva then got a position with the Ministry of Labor where she controlled who got jobs and contracts with the government. At 28 years of age, she was one of the most powerful women in the world.
But by 1950, the extravagant spending and lifestyle of the Peron’s was catching up to the Argentinean economy. Inflation escalated. The workers who had once been so solidly behind their president were marching in the streets opposing Peron’s policies.
With his power slipping, Peron tightened the screws on the police state. Martial law was imposed. Opponents were jailed, tortured or tossed out of the country. Newspapers that wrote articles opposing Peron’s regime were closed down by trumped up safety violations.
But this political upheaval may have simply been an outward manifestation of the war underway in the spiritual realm. God was continuing to move on churches throughout Argentina. A number of youth were dramatically touched and converted and God put a yearning in them to attend a Bible School.
In 1951, many of these new converts converged on the Bible Institute located in City Bell and this school experienced the revival touch that was impacting many of the churches in Argentina.
The students experienced a tremendous burden from God to see Argentina delivered and entered into a intense 10-week period of prayer, up to 10 to 20 hours a day, for the nation of Argentina. They even experienced angelic visitations. One these angels mentioned that Michael would be involved in a spiritual battle for Argentina.
In September 1951, a prophetic word was delivered in a prayer meeting at the Bible school:
Included in this was a declaration that God was going to change the government.
At the same time, a prophetic word delivered at another church said that Eva Peron, the wife of the President, would die:
By this time, the president’s wife, Eva, was actively involved in spiritualism and because of her dominating influence in government Eva had installed a number of spiritualists in key government positions. She even organized spiritualist conventions in large arenas found throughout Buenos Aires.
War was definitely raging in the spiritual realm.
With a national election looming in 1951, Eva demanded that Peron allow her to run as vice-president..
At a staged rally, where Peron announced his plans to run for a second time, people shouted for Eva to be vice-president. At first, Eva appeared shy, but then in classic Eva style she bowed to the wishes of the people.
But unknown to most Argentineans, Eva was very sick and her rapidly failing health due to cancer forced her to withdraw her nomination.
Though she worked to re-elect her husband, by election day she had to vote from her bed. Though Peron won, attendants had to construct a special support so Eva could stand by Peron in an open car procession and tripled her dosage of pain killers to cut the pain.
Eva Peron died on July 26, 1952 at 8:25 pm. The Secretariat of Information, Raul Apold, announced to the nation that the “country’s spiritual leader” was dead at 33 years of age.
Though she died of natural causes, the question is asked would God specifically kill off a governmental leader as the prophetic word suggested?
Well we know God had previously done this exact thing in the past.
In Acts 12 we are told that God sent an angel to strike down King Herod. This took place shortly after Herod violently seized several Christians and ordered the murder of James.
When Herod found that this pleased the Jews, Herod had the Apostle Peter arrested as well. Though an angel of the Lord broke Peter out of prison, Luke writes that an angel of the Lord smote or struck down Herod.
According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Herod collapsed during a public ceremony in Caesarea and died a few days later in what was described as an extremely painful death.
President Peron was devastated by Eva’s death, and then he did the most bizarre thing that in some ways dramatically revealed Eva’s control. Peron approached a Spanish pathologist who had developed a process to preserve human flesh to have Eva embalmed so he could keep her body in the house with him, where he had her sitting in a chair in his living room.
But the satanic strongman over Argentina had been pulled down. Eva Peron was dead. Jesus was ready to plunder the strongman’s house.
Because of the dramatic change in the spiritual climate several Argentinean evangelical pastors thought the time was right to bring an evangelist into Argentina for some rallies.
Tommy Hicks, who was not the group’s first choice, agreed to come if the pastor’s arranged for a stadium to seat 25,000 people instead of the 2,500 seat facility the group had originally considered.
Under Peron, all religious activity was highly regulated. In order for a church to operate it had to give the police notice of meeting 60 days in advance. Special permission was needed for unscheduled meetings and was almost impossible to get for large events. Using the media to promote church events was unheard of.
But while Tommy Hicks was flying to Argentina for advance meetings on the rallies, he felt God tell him to speak to a man by the name of Peron. In the same way that many of us can’t name Argentina’s current President, Hicks had no idea who the president of Argentina was. When Hicks asked the stewardess about the name, she laughed and told him who Peron was.
After he arrived, Hicks decided he would try to meet with Peron. When he showed up at the Government House with an interpreter he was immediately confronted by an armed guard. After explaining why they were there, the guard who was experiencing health problems himself asked for prayer. When God touched the guard, the soldier told Hicks to come back the next day and he would try to arrange a meeting with Peron.
When Hicks returned, he was ushered into the offices of Juan Peron. The president was suffering from a severe case of Psoriasis. It was so bad by this time, that he wouldn’t allow photographers to take his picture. After explaining to Peron, that they wanted the use of a large stadium to hold healing crusades, Hicks asked Peron if he would like prayer for healing.
Peron agreed and was instantly healed. The reality of this healing was demonstrated in what happened next. In that meeting, Peron signed paper granting evangelicals freedom of religion in Argentina and permission to use the stadium.
The crusade was on and the power of God showed up. When the Atlantic stadium in Buenos Aires, which seated 25,000 people, filled up, the meetings were moved to the Huracan stadium, which seated 60,000 people.
People were dramatically healed. It was so outstanding, that the media began to report on what was happening. Columnists wrote their columns on people who had been healed in the crusades instead of their regular topics. Approximately, one million people attended these rallies.
An estimated 300,000 people made commitments to Christ during this crusade.
It’s impossible to explain all that happened as a result of this move of God in 1954.
But it got so bad they finally had to send ushers to the hotel where Hicks was staying because people were showing up by the hundreds for prayer – some were brought in ambulances and left healed.
But we see through this story, that because of a concentrated time of prayer and fasting, God brought down the spiritual strongman over Argentina and struck down Eva Peron.
One thing we need to understand in all of this is the importance of one person. One person, Daniel prayed for three weeks for the restoration of the Jews back to the Promised Land. One man, Edward Miller, prayed intensely for revival in Argentina for several weeks and one girl had the courage to hit a table.
- World Map Digest (Burbank, Ca.) March/April 1983, pg 2
- Miller, Robert, Secrets of the Argentine Revival (Peniel Outreach Ministries Inc: Fairburn, GA, 1999) p 17.
- Miller, Robert p 59