The Hand that Feeds You
By: Jim O'Brien
December 7, 1941 is a date that will live in infamy, as then-President Franklin Roosevelt said when he addressed the nation the next day. In the surprise military strike on the American naval post in Hawaii by the Imperial Japanese Navy, four battleships, three destroyers, three cruisers and two other ships were sunk. There were 2,402 people killed and 1,282 injured; the next day America declared war on Japan.
It is not the first time that aggressors have launched unprovoked attacks on free and peace-loving people. Several millennia of history have shown that many nations have maintained their economy and food supply by overrunning peaceful countries.
America did not want a war on the Pacific front. We were already engaged in an undeclared de facto war with Germany across the Atlantic, having had our US destroyers shoot down some of her ships while escorting American supply vessels to Great Britain. Japan’s vicious attack was all the more surprising because America was the principal supplier of oil to Japan—the canary nation—as well as a major supplier of material. One reason Japan attacked was her fear that America would stop the supply of oil.
A friend provided a first-hand report that was revelatory. Bob Overstreet was a deacon in the Melbourne, Florida congregation where I was privileged to serve in years past. Bob was a young 1st Lieutenant serving at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese bombers launched their surprise attack. His experience is recounted in the book from which the movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!" was taken.
It was a pleasant Sunday morning in Hawaii when the first wave of 353 planes reached Pearl Harbor. Bob was finishing breakfast when he heard the commotion. He ran outside and saw the Japanese insignia as the planes swooped close to the ground. As Bob told the story, the planes were so close he could see the faces of the pilots as they passed over his head.
Bob was an officer in the U.S. Army with men under his command. The Army trained him to fight and to lead. He knew the location of the guns and ammunition. So, he ran to the supply depot to get weapons, only to find it protected by an armed guard who stopped Bob as he tried to enter.
"Do you have authorization to get a weapon?" asked the guard. I won’t repeat Bob’s reply verbatim, but he pointed to a plane flying so close he had to shout to be heard above the sound of the engine. The essence was that he, as a soldier, was sworn to protect his country. The enemy was attacking, and the guard better move out of the way so he could get weapons for himself and his soldiers.
It is a mystery how men can get so involved in bureaucracy that they lose sight of the goal. Why would a soldier who is willing to die for his country turn his gun against a brother soldier who is fighting the same enemy?
There is another equally perplexing question. Why would a country attack another country that provides supplies that are its lifeblood of existence?
That is the very question the Prophets of God asked. Isaiah begins his book with a statement from God. "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me; The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master's crib; But Israel does not know, My people do not consider." (Isaiah 1:2-3).
Why would a nation that has been blessed by God with more abundance than any other nation, turn against the God that has provided the blessings? Even an animal is smarter than that.
The comparison with animals is fascinating. God has given man the greatest gift of all, a mind with which to reason. Yet in the most profound circumstance, the animal may make a better choice.
The Apostle Paul wrote that "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people" for a fairly simple reason— "what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain." Paul said the "invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." (Romans 1:18-20).
God equipped man with a mind capable of reasoning spiritual issues. Creation itself is sufficient evidence for a rational person to know that there is a Creator who is the Hand that feeds us.
Until next time,
December 30, 2022
Pastor, Church of God Cincinnati
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