“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
Today marks the 79th anniversary of “a date which will live in infamy”, the day Japan attacked the U.S. naval fleet at Pearl Harbor. Just over 2,400 people were killed in the attack and over 1,000 more were wounded. The attack was unexpected and, so, the fleet was virtually unprotected. It was a stunning blow to the U.S. military that undoubtedly brought the Japanese an immediate sense of satisfaction. In the long run, however, it proved to be a disastrous move for the Japanese, for it drew the U.S. into the war, and the fleet that Japan hoped to destroy was rebuilt and used to defeat them.
It is good to remember this event on this day for many reasons, and, as disciples of Jesus, its remembrance invites us to consider the spiritual warnings of which it is a parable. As great as the U.S. military was at that time, and as powerful as the fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor undoubtedly was, it was vulnerable because of a lack of vigilance and alertness. The military leaders of the time assumed that Japan would attack other targets, and so those at Pearl Harbor lived in a false sense of safety and security. The attack was swift and terribly effective.
The apostle Peter warned the disciples of Jesus against making such a mistake in their great contest against the enemy of their souls. He gave clear and urgent instruction that they “be alert and of sober mind” because of their enemy. This is a call which can go unheeded so easily by Western Christians who live in relatively enormous comfort, safety, and luxury. How easy it is for us to get distracted from the real spiritual dangers we face because we so often focus on worldly concerns – “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). Don’t be lulled, Disciple, into a false sense of security in the spiritual realm. We do not need to be afraid of Satan, but we do need to be alert and sober-minded. We never need to be defeated, but we will suffer defeats if we aren’t aware of his schemes (see 2 Corinthians 2:11).
The ultimate victory will belong to our Master, and the Enemy will be eternally defeated. Yet, the Enemy can do real and lasting damage while the war still rages. May we be wise, discerning, and alert, never forgetting that our Master enlisted us in His cause when He saved us and the Enemy put his target on us when he lost his claim on us. Resist him in the power of the Lord, and he will flee from you (James 4:7)!
Choosing vigilance and alertness with you,