It was 75 years ago today at 7:55 am on a Sunday morning that a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings suddenly appeared out of the clouds above the Hawaiian Island of Oahu.
What followed was 360 Japanese war planes that attacked our naval and air base at Pearl Harbor. When the raid was completed our Pacific fleet was devastated. 2400 Americans were killed. 1200 were wounded. More than 200 of our aircraft were destroyed. 5 battleships, 3 destroyers and 8 other ships were either sunk or severely damaged.
It was a surprise and unprovoked attack on a peaceful nation that propelled the United States into World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it “a date that will live in infamy.”
I’m reminded that the Bible often uses the imagery of war and the metaphor of the Christian as a soldier to depict our battle against Satan. Paul put it this way in Ephesians 6:10-13.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
On this anniversary of Pearl Harbor 3 thoughts with spiritual applications come to mind.
(1) Satan’s assaults are a lot like the Pearl Harbor attack.
He strikes without warning. He attacks when we least expect it. Like the soldiers who were doing their routine duty on that fateful day, we are going about our business, feeling secure and safe, then suddenly Satan drops a bomb on us that leaves us wounded or running for cover.
I am amazed at how suddenly he can sneak up on me. One minute I am fine and the next I am fighting off some fleshly assault of word or deed. Peter’s warning is appropriate, “Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8)
(2) When you consider this attack in 1941, the United States was not involved in the war.
We were a bystander. Japan’s actions forced our participation. We had no choice but to defend our country.
Likewise the actions of others sometimes require our attention, even force us to take a stand. In this text Paul calls us to put on the Christian armor, wield the sword of the spirit and engage in the fight for the truth. While this should not be an excuse for brotherhood bickering or political posturing, there is a time and place for Christians to fight the enemy.
(3) In 1941 we knew who the enemy was and directed our efforts toward his defeat.
Americans were united in this. Personal opinions were put aside. Sacrifice was the order of the day. And each American felt obligated to do what they could to help win the war.
We have lost that spirit today. Not only patrioticly in our country, but spiritually as well. Brethren, we need to remember who the enemy is and fight him, not each other.
Spiritual warfare is real. Satan is cunning and crafty. He’s an expert in sneak attacks. Don’t be deluded by his guile. Stay alert. Stand strong. And be on guard.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman