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The Ulfberht Sword
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By Bill Roberts

But he knows the way I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.  Job 23:10 NIV
 
The Vikings have always been known as fierce warriors.  Through the years they successfully raided and colonized coastal and river communities using a secret weapon whose technology was a thousand years ahead of its time:  The Ulfberht Sword.  These pure steel swords were made by melting crushed iron ore at 3,000 degrees and adding carbon.
 
While the Vikings wielded swords of impressive strength, blacksmiths across Europe did not know how to heat iron ore to a point that it would liquefy.  As a result, European swords possessed slags that made them brittle and unable to maintain a sharp edge.
 
So where did the Vikings get their pure steel Ulfberht swords?  Now we know, thanks to archeological discoveries in riverbeds and burial sites.  Coins and other artifacts tell us the story behind the 171 Ulfberht swords that have been found among thousands of Viking weapons.
 
The Vikings traded with people in far-away places like India and Iran.  Using a trade route of rivers and lakes that moved through Sweden into Russia, and then down to Iran and India, the Vikings delivered furs and other goods to lucrative markets.
 
In ancient Iran they found craftsmen with dome-shaped brick ovens that could melt iron ore at 3,000 degrees.  At the bottom of these ovens was a small opening through which they pumped a steady stream of air with hand-operated bellows.  Thus they were able to produce exceptional swords made from pure steel.
 
The Viking merchants exchanged their wares for crates of gleaming Ulfberht swords and shipped them home over the familiar shipping lanes.
 
When the Russians shut down the trade route in 1,000 AD, they effectively cut off the supply of Ulfberht swords to the Vikings.  It was then that enterprising craftsmen begin to peddle knock-off Ulfberht swords that were completely fake.  They were not made from crucible steel.  They simply fell apart when used in battle.
 
In the spiritual war in which we are engaged, we need our own crucible-forged swords.  We need swords that have been sharpened by the Word of God.  Swords that have been sharpened by the fires of affliction.  Is your sword sharp?  Are you using your sword to grow in Christ?
 
Bill Roberts is the senior pastor of the Auburn Academy Church in Washington