December 7, 2011

70 Years Later, Pearl Harbor Is More Relevant Than Ever

December 7, 2011 | From
The lesson you can’t afford to forget

Many of the personnel at Pearl Harbor were still sleeping that Sunday morning. Even those going about their routine duties were completely unaware that six Japanese aircraft carriers were just over the Pacific horizon, launching waves of fighters, bombers and torpedo planes their way.

Suddenly, their lives were consumed in the roar of diving planes, popping machine guns, thunderous exploding bombs, and the shouts of shocked people trying to summon a response to the surprise strike.

That attack holds a vivid lesson for you and me, a profoundly relevant lesson written in the blood of the 2,400 Americans killed 70 years ago today.

And for a number of reasons, it is particularly poignant for us here at the Trumpet.

Evidence abounds of a terrible truth: The tragedy of all those lost lives is compounded by the fact that they could have been spared. Before the attack, warning after warning went unheeded.

In 1940, as Japan’s land war with China raged, its need for more resources became plain; rumors spread of Japan possibly expanding the war. American strategists were aware that Pearl Harbor was a potential target. That is where the U.S. Pacific Fleet, usually berthed on the American mainland, was located at the time—despite commander Adm. James Richardson warning that it was too vulnerable there.

In January of 1941, Peru’s envoy in Tokyo, Dr. Ricardo Shreiber, told the U.S. Embassy that intelligence sources had uncovered a war plan involving a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The information reached the State Department and naval intelligence, as well as the admiral in Hawaii.

In August that year, a top British agent warned the FBI of the planned attack. He reported that a Japanese naval leader had been collecting secret data on a successful British surprise air assault on the Italian fleet in its home port—effectively, a blueprint for Japan’s assault.

Soon after, an agent for the Sino-Korean People’s League told CBS News of proof that Japan would attack Hawaii before Christmas; this information also reached U.S. Army and Navy intelligence.

Admiral Richardson protested to both the U.S. president and the secretary of the Navy—and was dismissed for his trouble. The chief of naval intelligence insisted that Pearl Harbor be warned of looming attack, and was also replaced.

How easy it is, and how distressingly common, to overlook a warning. Hindsight may be 20/20—but foresight is rare, and acting on it exceedingly so. Similar unheeded signals preceded 9/11.

Here is why the history of Pearl Harbor is so deeply relevant today. These examples of missed signs and unrecognized threats are mere shadows of a far deadlier surprise attack that is about to descend on us.

Before saying more about that, though, I’ll explain why, for us at the Trumpet, December 7 is also an important date to mark for another reason. It was 22 years ago today that this work began.

This magazine’s editor in chief was a minister in the Worldwide Church of God. In the nearly four years since that church’s founder, Herbert W. Armstrong, died in 1986, the new leadership had begun demolishing the doctrines of the church. For resisting them, Gerald Flurry was summoned to church headquarters in Pasadena on December 7 of 1989, and fired that very night.

That termination was more a beginning than an end, however. Out of that crisis point, the present work emerged. The Philadelphia Church of God held its first service December 16 of that year; it published and mailed its first piece of literature, Malachi’s Message to God’s Church Today, by Jan. 16, 1990; the first Philadelphia Trumpet was the February 1990 edition.

That the pcg began on the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack is uniquely fitting.

Our aim from the beginning has been to “prophesy again” (Revelation 10:11), holding fast the truth proclaimed by the work of Mr. Armstrong. However, given the urgency of the times and the rapid pace of world-changing events, this work puts a greater emphasis on warning.

America today faces many grave threats: economic distress; violence in the cities; moral and family breakdown; a dearth of quality leadership; terrorism and war. All these problems—and far greater—are specifically prophesied in Scripture to befall America just before this nation suffers its deathblow! (Read this article for a good overview of these prophecies.)

These are the final days before the surprise attack. The warning is going out! This magazine and website, this work, strive to trumpet the alarm as loudly as possible.

And yet, even as proof of the accuracy of those prophecies piles higher each day, most Americans slumber. Like the sailors at Pearl Harbor, people tend to their routines, unaware of the severity of the threat just over the horizon.

Very soon—suddenly—their lives will be consumed in the thunder of what Jesus Christ Himself called “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

Consider Christ’s warning in Luke 17. Prophesying of world conditions that would precede His Second Coming, He said this: “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.

They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (verses 26-27, English Standard Version).

Look at the history: Noah warned of that disaster for a hundred years—and it still shocked the world!

Christ continued, “Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (verses 28-30, esv).

God has given such warnings as long as man has lived on Earth, yet still, Christ said, when the present age closes in a spasm of unprecedented violence, it is going to catch the world completely off guard.

He specifically warned His followers not to be thus caught unaware (verses 34-35).

The Apostle Paul left us a similarly chilling warning: “[Y]ou yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3, esv). He concludes, somberly: “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (verse 6).

The time ahead will be filled with tragedy, to be sure. But these verses give a clear hope: God warns for a reason! He does promise to spare the lives of those who turn to Him (e.g. Ezekiel 33:11).

The attack is roaring up from the horizon. Time is short. Heed the warning—and live.

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