There is a time to ponder, and a time to act—quickly.
A story that comes from the Korean war illustrates the time to act.
An American destroyer lay at anchor in Wonsan Harbor, Korea. It was a still, moonlight night, and the tide was ebbing.
The hour was midnight.
The quartermaster was making his routine rounds of the ship when suddenly he noticed in the water, clearly revealed in the moonlight, a cylindrical black object. Aghast, he realized it was a live contact mine that had broken loose from a mine field. It was slowly drifting in the direction of the ship, and would soon be up against the destroyer.
The quartermaster seized the intercom and called the duty officer, who came dashing to the scene with the captain.
A general alarm was sounded and the whole ship burst into action. In consternation, the officers and men viewed the mine that was approaching ever nearer to the ship.
What could be done? Could they up anchor? They didn’t have time.
Could they stay the engines and swing the ship around? The propeller wash would only suck in the mine faster.
Explode the mine with gunfire? That would not work because of the proximity to the ship’s magazine.
Launch a boat and push the mine away? No possibility, because it was a contact mine.
What could be done—other than to alert everyone to brace for a dreadful catastrophe!
Just then a young seaman came running onto the deck. “Pull out the fire hoses!” he cried. “Pull out the fire hoses.” The orders were issued, and in minutes a heavy stream of water was being plyed in the direction of the mine. The water from the fire hoses quickly created a current that changed the direction of the drifting mine. As soon as the mine was out to a safe distance, they destroyed it with gunfire.
Quick thinking, quick action, and the ship was saved.
Suppose this young seaman had been looking for recognition. Suppose he had gone to the captain and demanded a round table discussion of his idea before it could be acted upon.
Suppose for the sake of argument, that the captain had wanted to go through proper chains of command before accepting the suggestion. The ship and its crew would have been lost, and there might have been none left to tell the story.
There is a time for deliberation, and a time for quick action. A time to pull out the fire hoses, so to speak!
When? When we see danger approaching. Spiritual danger. This is the warning from a minor prophet we may not think of very often.
Nahum 2:1 1He who scatters has come up before your face. Man the fort! Watch the road! Strengthen your flanks! Fortify your power mightily.
His message was: Be alert! Armed! Fortified! Ready for defense!
In other words, brace for action! NOW!
If we would take the help God provides, we must be all of that: READY. God will help, but we must do our part. We can’t relax and expect Him to defend.
2 Chronicles 13:12 12Now look, God Himself is with us as our head, and His priests with sounding trumpets to sound the alarm against you. O children of Israel, do not fight against the Lord God of your fathers, for you shall not prosper!”
What is the lesson? If we do not do our part, we are really fighting against God.
When Nehemiah was working with his people, rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, the enemies were present, scheming to take them down by any means possible. What sort of plan did Nehemiah put in place for their defense?
Nehemiah 4:13–21 13Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall, at the openings; and I set the people according to their families, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” 15And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work.
What plan did Nehemiah set up? Half to work, half armed to fight.
16So it was, from that time on, that half of my servants worked at construction, while the other half held the spears, the shields, the bows, and wore armor; and the leaders were behind all the house of Judah. 17Those who built on the wall, and those who carried burdens, loaded themselves so that with one hand they worked at construction, and with the other held a weapon.
One hand a weapon, one hand a tool.
18Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me.
The trumpet blower was the watchman, to sound when he saw the enemy approaching. And right beside Nehemiah himself!
19Then I said to the nobles, the rulers, and the rest of the people, “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall. 20Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”
Nehemiah was confident God would help.
21So we labored in the work, and half of the men held the spears from daybreak until the stars appeared.
Jeremiah was also preparing his people for defense. But they were bent on fighting AGAINST God. So Jeremiah put his message into negative terms. If they were going against God, they needed to be strong! Because God was the one initiating the attack. Did the people really think they could win against God? Did they think they could defend themselves against God? That is why he said,
Jeremiah 51:12 12Set up the standard on the walls of Babylon; Make the guard strong, Set up the watchmen, Prepare the ambushes. For the Lord has both devised and done What He spoke against the inhabitants of Babylon.
How does this type of defense translate to us? What is the lesson for us?
The apostle Paul saw the Word of God coming to his brethren with FIRE HOSE power. He said,
1 Thessalonians 2:13 13For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
Why the power? Because they took it as the WORD OF GOD, “which effectively words in you who believe.” He also said the gospel he was preaching was indeed a real POWER.
Romans 1:16 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
The gospel Paul had given them had real, FIRE HOSE power when applied.
1 Corinthians 15:1–2 1Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
We have the same gospel, the same power in our hands that will save us if we apply it.
James also saw the FIRE HOSE power of God’s Word. Use it to resist evil, and the evil will be gone.
James 4:7–8 7Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
All around us are those who would weaken our defenses against sin. They attack with their bland way of thinking, with their vain philosophies, wth their distorted world view, with their man-made gods, and the idea that God’s word is null and void and they can do as they please.
When we see and hear this type of thinking drifting toward us, it is time to pull out the fire hoses, and say,
Jeremiah 23:35 35Thus every one of you shall say to his neighbor, and every one to his brother, ‘What has the Lord answered?’ and, ‘What has the Lord spoken?’
Not “What does everyone here think,” but
35 …‘What has the Lord answered?’ and, ‘What has the Lord spoken?’
Because even though evil prospers at the moment, God is still in control. Why does evil prosper now?
Ecclesiastes 8:11 11Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
But when the time is right, God will act.
Isaiah 52:10 10The Lord has made [will make] bare His holy arm In the eyes of all the nations; And all the ends of the earth shall see The salvation of our God.
In the meantime He wants action from US. He wants us fighting against our inborn tendencies to jealousy, pride, envy and bitterness. He even wants us taking captive those wandering thoughts. What did Paul say?
2 Corinthians 10:3–5 3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
Here is serious warfare, requiring super alertness. Thoughts that would pull us away from God may be sparked by sights and sounds around us all the time—on the air, in the words and comments and topics of interest in people at work, on the street, on our cell phones, and on the internet. That is why we need the advice from Nahum to “man the fort.”
So when we see danger, remember, “Pull out the firehoses,” before it gets too close.
No enemy has a chance of winning if we are on the alert, and USE the tools God has put in our hands. When we do this, God will be with us.
The point is we must be prepared for action, alert to the dangers of complacency. We are surrounded by the enemy and must be vigilant because there are those who would weaken our defense by their own opinions of right and wrong.
Now justice is turned away backward, and “every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes” (Deut. 12:8). As a result our nation is in a state of self-destruction, and the world is following our example. We have seen it coming, and now it is upon us.
But our defense is in the Lord. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
Remember: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2).
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong! We have no time to waste, let us turn on the firehoses and keep the world at a distance.