This month marks the 70th anniversary of the allied invasion of Normandy, a bold plan to land men, equipment and supplies on the mainland of France with the single purpose of wresting that country away from Nazi Germany and striking a driving blow against Hitler’s wehrmacht. The plan was approved by then President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill and carried out by General Dwight Eisenhower. Many of the men in the landing craft that morning recited the Lord’s prayer, while others recited prayers from the Torah. Many gave their lives on the five landing areas, their grave markers above the beach stand in silent testimony to the great love for their fellow men.
The warriors that took up arms against the evil unleashed in Europe and in the Pacific have been called “The Greatest Generation” and rightly so. If you were to talk to any of them they would tell you almost to a man that they didn’t think of themselves in that light. They were scared teenagers who answered the call of their country so that their younger brothers, sisters, their parents and relatives wouldn’t face the terrors they would see. This begs the question: How can a loving and just God allow such a thing to happen? The answer lies in that God IS loving, He loves all his children unconditionally however, that doesn’t mean He loves what they choose to do and He is just in that He will not abide sin.
The old testament has many accounts of battles fought by God’s chosen people. The famous battle when Moses held his arms up and the battle was in favor of the Jews. The wars entered into by Saul and David are among the most legendary in the bible. In all of these however, it must be understood that when the Lord God ordained the fight, it was for a righteous cause either for the advancement of his chosen people or to remove them from an advancing threat. When people took arms against one another for reason of sin such as coveting the blessings of another, greed or enslavement and the Lord was not with them, then the result was disaster and loss such as Saul experienced in 1 Samuel 31:1-9. Clearly the Lord was with the Allied forces as they went to war against the evil perpetrated by megalomaniac leaders in Germany and Japan. Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito thought they were gods here upon earth and they inspired their like-minded followers to appeal to the lowest human ego, without dignity or moral. In God’s eyes they became like Sodom and Gomorrah, except that instead of raining fire down from heaven, God used the Allied troops to vanquish the enemy.
The few warriors of that fateful day in Normandy would tell you that they remember hearing two distinct things as they left the protection of the mighty warships that had brought them within sight of the coast. The first was the command: “Away all boats.” The second was the intonation of the chaplains: “Our Father, which art in heaven..” God loves all his children and there are those who love their fellow man with the greatest love as Yeshua taught: “That he should lay down his life for his friend.” Let us pause to remember those who gained ground that day and celebrate their lives and sacrifice.