Ignored Warnings at Pearl Harbor

This past spring, Nancy and I had the privilege of visiting the Hawaiian Islands and enjoyed the trip beyond words.  As you already know from a previous column, I baptized my cellphone but thoroughly enjoyed the waterfalls, the beaches, the flowers, the culture, and the food.  One day, God willing, we’ll return to take in all the amazing sights we missed the first time.

One tour that we especially enjoyed introduced us to various spots in and around Honolulu.  The most sobering part was a visit to Pearl Harbor to remember the horrible attack that took place 76 years ago next Thursday.  To tour the USS Arizona Memorial and see the names of all those young men and women who perished in that bloody attack was very moving and something we won’t soon forget. 

This brutal assault still ranks as one of the worst naval defeats for the United States as four battleships were sunk and four more were badly damaged.  The Japanese also sank or damaged eight other ships and destroyed 188 aircraft.

The effectiveness of the Japanese strategy was accomplished due to the complete surprise they were able to achieve.  US forces were entirely unsuspecting and unprepared.  That sleepy Sunday morning found the guns unmanned, the ammunition locked up, and all of our aircraft sitting on open runways with no protection.  Those GIs who survived the initial barrage had to spring from their bunks directly into action as the loudspeakers proclaimed, “Air raid Pearl Harbor. This is not drill.”

I tried to imagine how horrible it would have been to be one of those sitting ducks virtually powerless and at the mercy of the enemy planes.  Film footage from the actual attack as well as recorded eyewitness testimonies helped me to perceive just a little of the horror they endured.

While learning about the stealthy attack, I became aware that the first wave of 183 Japanese aircraft was actually detected by the US Army’s radar installation on the northern tip of the island.  Instead of reporting the massive formation, however, they mistook it for six friendly B-17 bombers expected later that day.  Lieutenant Kermit Tyler made the fatal mistake in judgment that cost 2,403 Americans lives and wounded 1,178 others.

One has to wonder how differently that Sunday might have gone if the ships in the harbor had had even a few minutes to man their guns and prepare for an attack.  I don’t know whatever happened to Lt. Tyler but the burden of knowing that thousands of lives and a major battle were all lost due to this one man’s mistake would weigh heavily on the minds of most.

In Ezekiel 33, God tells the prophet that the job of the watchman is to alert his people.  If he warns of impending attack or disaster and people do nothing to prepare, their blood is on their own hands.  If, however, the watchman sees danger approaching, fails to inform them, and they are killed, he is responsible for their blood.

We Christians know that trouble is rapidly approaching for all who don’t know Jesus.  The Bible is clear that an eternal separation from God awaits them, a fate much worse than that faced by the servicemen on Oahu.   If we warn them and they respond, they will be saved!  If we warn them and they don’t, they are responsible for their own souls and we are innocent of their blood.

If, however, we fail to notify them at all, the responsibility for their destruction rests upon us as they enter an everlasting fate of misery awaiting those unprepared for Judgment Day.  Imagine the guilt that must have weighed on Lt Tyler for his failure to act.  I don’t want to live under that burden and will endeavor to alert those in my charge of what the Bible says.

One good way to inform others is to take them to see the Case For Christ at the Community Theatre in Woodstock on either December 8, 15, or 22.  Admission is free and this movie powerfully presents the truth about Jesus.  It is one way watchmen can spread the word.

There are many other ways as well and the important thing is to tell those who don’t know Jesus about Him.  If you know Him, take the time this week to share His truth with others that they might receive the free salvation He offers and be prepared for that which is to come.

In Jesus, George

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