Fewer Americans, steeped as we are in the folklore of overwhelming U.S. victory over Japan in WWII, will know how close the United States came to being defeated in the early days of U.S. offensive operations against the Japanese in the South Pacific (Operation Cartwheel). The Japanese are an island people well acquainted with the sea and their navy presented a formidable opponent to U.S. naval forces, especially early in the war. During the first stage of the Solomon Islands campaign within the purview of Operation Cartwheel, U.S. naval forces were tentative, cautious and even cowardly in their actions towards an aggressive Japanese Imperial Navy that liked to intimidate with "scary" night time attacks. For example, the USS Chicago broke off engagement with Japanese forces at the very height of a critical battle, The Battle of Savo Island, and her commander, Captain Howard D. Bode, subsequently committed suicide.
It is not for no reason that, three months later, Rear Admiral Norman Scott's actions in the wild and brutal Naval Battle of Guadalcanal posthumously won him the Medal of Honor. Admiral Scott lost his life in a fusillade of enemy shells while he quietly went about his business taking the battle to the enemy on the bridge aboard the USS Atlanta (CL-51). The Medal of Honor citation read thus:
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty during action against enemy Japanese forces off Savo Island on the night of 11–12 October and again on the night of 12–13 November 1942. In the earlier action, intercepting a Japanese Task Force intent upon storming our island positions and landing reinforcements at Guadalcanal, Rear Adm. Scott, with courageous skill and superb coordination of the units under his command, destroyed 8 hostile vessels and put the others to flight. Again challenged, a month later, by the return of a stubborn and persistent foe, he led his force into a desperate battle against tremendous odds, directing close-range operations against the invading enemy until he himself was killed in the furious bombardment by their superior firepower. On each of these occasions his dauntless initiative, inspiring leadership and judicious foresight in a crisis of grave responsibility contributed decisively to the rout of a powerful invasion fleet and to the consequent frustration of a formidable Japanese offensive. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country. (emphasis mine)
The deeper meaning I wish to point out is the spiritual truth hidden in plain sight behind the facade of battle tactics analyzed and interpreted by historians, and seen by eye witnesses. We can know for certain that Japanese strategy and tactics in WWII originated, and were directed, not by flesh and blood, but by
the rulers... the powers...the world forces of...darkness...the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12)
The reason we can know this is the tactics employed. Satan favors the surprise attack and so nighttime is when he often accosts us:
And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel. (Genesis 3:15 NAS)For the serpent to bruise on the heel it is necessary for him to engage in sneak attack, from behind. Satan, at core, is terrified of Christians, so he prefers sneak attack. He does not prefer to assault us front on. However, like God, Satan is not one dimensional - he is shrewd. Satan knows that a Christian disciple's supremacy over him in Christ is a spiritual reality that can only be realized by an exercise of faith. We have supremacy over Satan only to the extent that we believe we have supremacy. Our lack of faith is a weakness that Satan exploits. Consequently, a favored tactic employed by Satan is the frontal assault - the Banzai charge, if you will - intended to get us off balance physically and mentally. This is the tactic lions use - when a lion charges, after the crouch, it roars and then attempts to use its bulk as a battering ram to send its prey reeling. Christ described Satan as lion:
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NAS)A lion devours nothing it has not first charged.
At the The Battle of Savo Island, Captain Howard D. Bode, allowed the lion to intimidate him; we can all relate to that weakness. At The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, Admiral Scott refused to be intimidated. It did cost him his life, but the battle was won, and in confronting Satan, Jesus lost his life on the cross but won the battle.
We can perceive the true nature of our opponents in life by examining their tactics. If they:
- Mimic the sneak attack of the serpent (the devil) from behind (Japanese night attacks), which in your own life might take the form of a co-worker, or family member covertly attempting to undermine your standing at work, or in family, or
- The intimidation assaults of the lion (the Japanese Banzai charges), which in your own life might take the form of someone trying to intimidate you from retreating from hard won ground at work - a promotion -, or at home, an environmentalist neighbor threatening to picket your driveway with The Sierra Club if you disturb "wetlands" to install a boat dock on your waterfront property
if we see this then we know our struggle is not against flesh and blood.