On Christmas Day, the Admiral toured the scene of wreckage and carnage; sunken battleships and navy vessels were everywhere. The tour boat returned to the dock, and a young helmsman asked what the Admiral thought of all the destruction. Admiral Nimitz replied, "The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make -- or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?"
If you are a history buff like I am, I wanted to know what the Admiral saw as mistakes. Here they are. Mistake #1: The Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk--we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800. Mistake #2: When the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed the dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed the dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. The ships were in shallow water and could be raised. One tug could pull them over to the dry docks, where they could be repaired and at sea by the time they could be towed to America. And there were already crews ashore anxious to man those ships. Mistake #3: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war was in top-of-the-ground storage tanks five miles away. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed the fuel supply.
And that's why Admiral Nimitz made the statement that the Japanese either made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make -- or God was taking care of America. So that got me to thinking ... do we really believe God has a vested interest in taking care of, or protecting, nations? And if He does, is it all nations, or are there specific ones He protects, and others He rejects? We know that Romans 13 tells us that there is no authority in a nation, except from God; and that which exists has been placed there by Him. But that is specifically about human government of a nation. Is there a spiritual component, and what part do other gods play in the history of nations?
Now, that last comment might throw you for a loop. As a Christian, why would I even consider the existence or the importance of other "little g" gods? First of all, because they do exist! God spends a large portion of the Old Testament warning the Israelites, His chosen people, against following other (false) gods. But where did these other gods come from; and how does that play into Israel being "chosen" by God to be His people; and finally how does that fit into my thoughts about a spiritual perspective on war? Hang on, I'm going to take you on a wild ride!
I am a huge fan of Dr. Michael Heiser, an American Biblical scholar, who earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages. He has opened up the Bible to me, by providing the Hebrew context of our English language Bibles, and offering interpretations that English-only commentaries are lacking. By providing the meanings of words and concepts from a uniquely Hebrew position, the Bible expands and increases in scope; broadening our understanding to deeper levels.
Such is the understanding of the word Elohim. Most Christians understand that it is the most common word in the Bible for YHWH, The Creator. But did you know that in Hebrew, the word Elohim can have both singular and plural applications. Think, in English, something like: Look at that deer (singular); or look at those deer (plural). Well, in Psalm 82, we get a clear example of Hebrew grammar in verse 1: God (Elohim) stands in the divine assembly; He administers judgment in the midst of the gods (elohim). It cannot be denied; it is as plain as day, or as Dr. Heiser says: The God of the Old Testament was part of an assembly -- a pantheon -- of other gods.
But where did these others gods come from? I'm going to give you a very short explanation, knowing that this topic could take days to explore (and I hope you do). But put very simply, God, as Creator, is responsible for creating these other gods, who in the ancient Semitic world, were known as sons of God (Hebrew: beney elohim), divine beings with higher-level responsibilities or jurisdictions. Obviously, God would have hoped that they would play by His rules and exert their responsibilities in a holy or righteous manner.
It is very clear from this passage that YHWH's dispersal of the nations at Babel resulted in his disinheriting those nations as His people. In effect, He decided that the people of the world's nations (at that time) were no longer going to be in relationship to Him. He would begin anew, and enter into covenant relationship with a new people that did not even exist yet (Israel). This idea is astounding and monumental in understanding much of what the Old Testament tells us.
NOTE: Several versions of the Bible erroneously translate verse 8 to say, according to the number of the sons of Israel. That is a wrong translation, because Israel didn't exist yet. In fact, Abraham had not even been called yet!
So, what does this have to do with our discussion? As odd as it might sound, Scripture is telling us that after the Tower of Babel, God decided to keep the peoples who would become the nation of Israel for Himself, while the rest of the nations were placed under the authority of members of YHWH's Divine Council, the elohim of the divine assembly mentioned in Psalm 82:1. In other words, the other nations were assigned to lesser elohim as a judgment from the Most High for their actions at Babel.
I'm now going to take a huge leap to modern times and try to connect the dots. When we understand that from that moment in history until now, the nations of the world have been under the jurisdiction of lesser elohim, we can see the history of the world's wars from a different and spiritual persecutive. These lesser elohim were in rebellion against God at Babel, and nothing has changed. They inspired the nations under their jurisdiction to battle against other nations, in a never-ending quest to reach that designation of Most High. That's why history has seen nations conquering other nations, and borders being defined and re-defined.
And when you consider that during the last world war, you had both the Germans and the Japanese vying to be the Master race, it's not hard to imagine the lesser elohim in the spiritual realm working their plans, trying to convince the leaders of these wartime giants that they had a divine calling. In fact, Emperor Hirohito of Japan believed he and the Imperial Family were divine descendants of the sun goddess Amaterasu.
One can also look to the emergence of ISIS and their hatred of Israel to see the influence of their lesser elohim, Allah, and his influence against the Most High; Elohim, the Creator. Hopefully, you can see how war and gods are inherently intertwined. The Old Testament is full of stories of God warning the Israelites (His allotted portion of the world's people) against being influenced by the other nations and their false gods (lesser elohim). That same pattern has occurred throughout history and we have seen ample proof of this model of rebellion during the wars of the last century. As crazy as it may sound, we live in a world governed by other gods who have become hostile rivals in the wake of YHWH's judgment against them at Babel. They are still in rebellion and influencing the leaders under their jurisdiction, in a constant attempt to replace the Authority of the Most High God.
But back to Admiral Nimitz's hypothesis. If the people who would become Israel was the only nation that God kept for Himself, do you think it is possible that He will take care of us? That's where we have to once again go to the Bible for the answer. In the Old Testament, God says in Genesis 12 that He will make a great nation of Israel, and "I will bless those who bless you (Israel), and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed". So the nations that stand by Israel; support and honor her will be blessed by God. And in Joel 3, God makes it abundantly clear how he will deal with nations who dishonor His inheritance: "I will gather all nations and will bring them down into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and there will I deal with and execute judgment upon them for their treatment of My people and of My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations and because they have divided My land."
So, all nations are not Elohim's chosen; nations will receive blessings or curses depending on how they treated Israel. And we are grafted in as His inheritance, His children, if we have faith in His Son, who came to deliver Israel from her rebellion. And until the day His Son returns, the lesser elohim will continue in their own rebellion, still trying to execute the plan they initiated at Babel. But their judgment is sure, and it will be swift. Peace will not reign on this earth until the Prince of Peace comes in final judgment of all who oppose, disobey, and challenge the Authority of the Most High. When Jesus says. "there will be wars and rumors of wars", He is prophesying a truth of the human existence. But I praise God that we know one day it will end. And what a glorious day that will be!
Psalm 89:5-7 Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the sons of God is like the Lord, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him?