The worst bear attack in Japanese history killed seven settlers in Rokusensawa, Sankebetsu, Tomamae, Rumoi, Hokkaidō, Japan. The incident took place between December 9 and 14, 1915, after a large brown bear woke up from hibernation and repeatedly attacked several houses in the area. At the time of the incident, Ōkawa Haruyoshi, the son of the Sankebetsu village mayor, was only seven years old. But he grew up to become a dedicated bear hunter and swore an oath to kill ten bears for every victim of the attack. By the time he reached the age of 62, he had successfully tracked and killed 102 bears.
The gruesome event in Japan, while tragic, also illustrates human tendencies to overshoot. Ironically, only a few decades later one of the endangered species listed worldwide was the Grizzly Bear. It’s an exception that human beings are hunted down by an animal. Usually it’s the other way around. We are the hunters.
In the spiritual world, however, the tables are turned; we are being hunted. Peter is using the imagery of a wild man-eating lion to depict a situation hard to digest. Personally, I don’t like to dwell on this topic too much and leave the monsters up to God who has an angel army fighting for His children. I don’t believe it is irresponsible to think this way. Clearly, the enemy force described in the Scriptures goes way beyond our own capacities and resources. Why even bother? So, I hide behind the Lord, so-to-speak. Call me a coward; quite frankly, I don’t care.
Peter reminds us in his letter to be aware of an enemy force whose profession it is to hate everything God has made, us included. It does not matter whether or not we believe in the existence of such forces. The devil does not need us to believe in him. He does what he does with and without our permission. The only way to resist him is in faith.
Psalm 91 talks about that (Psalm 91:9-13):
“If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.”
Loving the Lord is our protection from anything life throws at us. It may not be evil forces attacking us when something goes terribly wrong – I don’t like to see the devil behind every bush – but regardless how bad things are, we are going to be OK. The Lord makes all the difference in the world. We are going to get through everything. In God we trust. He will never let us down. My favorite psalm expresses this beautifully, and I want to close with these words today. The Lord says in Psalm 91 (Psalm 91:15):
“He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.”