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“God’s Revelation; Man’s Rejection” Part 1
Romans 1:20-25
September 6, 2015

The day after Christmas in 1944, Japanese soldier Hiroo Onoda was sent by his commander to Lubang Island in the Philippines with these orders:

You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand. It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens, we’ll come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier, you are to continue to lead him. You may have to live on coconuts. If that’s the case, live on coconuts! Under no circumstances are you [to] give up your life voluntarily.

Hiroo OnodaNeither he nor his superior would immediately understand how significant those orders would become. The Allies conquered the island two months later on February 28. Most Japanese soldiers were captured, but a few groups of 3-4 men made their way into the jungle. Onoda was in one of those groups. While most of the members of those groups were quickly killed or captured, Onoda and his men eluded capture. In October 1945 another cell of resisters killed a cow at a farm and found a leaflet stating, “The war ended August 15. Come down out of the mountains.” The remaining cells of men discussed the leaflet and decided it was propaganda from the Allies to entice them to surrender. They didn’t. At the end of the year they found another leaflet and made the same decision. They heard loudspeakers announcing the end of the war; they didn’t believe them either. It had to be a hoax; not knowing of the atomic bombs that had been dropped on Japan, they couldn’t conceive that Japan had lost the war so quickly. So they kept enduring and fighting small skirmishes against the enemy.

Soon Onoda’s cell of four men were the only ones remaining. In 1949, one of the four slipped away from the others, and eventually surrendered to the “Allies.” Five years later, another member of their group was killed in a fight with some Filipinos on a beach. That left Onoda and one other soldier, Kinshichi Kozuka. For 17 more years they lived together in the jungle, fighting small battles and moving around the jungle to elude detection. Finally in 1972, Kozuka was killed, leaving Onoda alone. Authorities were astonished that Kozuka had lasted that long — they had presumed the two men had been dead for years; so they renewed efforts to find Onoda. They didn’t find him. But in 1974 a college student named Nario Suzuki, decided to travel the world. Among his list of things to do on his journey was to find “Onoda, a panda, and the Abominable Snowman.” I’m not sure about the last two, but he found Onoda and while he couldn’t convince Onoda to leave, when he returned home, he contacted Onoda’s superior officer who traveled to the island, found him, and the commander ordered him to surrender to the Filipinos.

So on March 10, 1975, in full uniform, Hiroo Onoda marched out of the jungle and surrendered himself to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. For 30 years he had been fighting a war for his country that they had lost a few months after he’d begun fighting. He’d killed 30 Filipinos, injured 100 more and destroyed numerous crops. All in vain. It was, in his own words, a wasted life. [“Today I Found Out.”]

His life was wasted because he didn’t know. He didn’t know the war was over. But he could have known. He had been told. How many leaflets did he read? How many times did he hear the announcements broadcast into the mountains? How often did he recognize that there were no more soldiers on the island, and that there were no more fights besides his own? He had been told. He chose to ignore.

The situation of Hiroo Onoda is not dissimilar from the condition of the unbeliever. Some will classify themselves as agnostics (“we don’t know if God exists”), and others as atheists (“I don’t believe in God”). But they have been told. Every day, all around them is the declaration of God’s existence. God has revealed Himself to them and they have chosen to reject Him. God reveals; man rejects. That is a brief summary of the history of the world and man’s relationship with God.

As we come again to Romans 1 this morning, we are in a section that speaks of the wrath of God. It is against every form and all ungodliness and unrighteousness of all men. All sin of all men will experience the wrathful judgment of God. “But that’s not fair,” some might object. So Paul responds with affirmations of God’s revelation. God has told the world about Himself, Paul says, so that —

No one has an excuse to escape God’s wrath because God has revealed Himself to all men.

In these verses, Paul reveals five aspects of God’s revelation of Himself:

  1. When God Revealed Himself (v. 20a)
  2. What God Revealed About Himself (v. 20b)
  • He has revealed His invisible attributes
  • He has revealed His power
  • He has revealed His deity
  1. How God Revealed Himself (v. 20c)
  • He has revealed Himself in nature
  • He has revealed Himself in conscience (1:32; 2:14)
  1. Why God Revealed Himself (v. 21)
  2. The Result of God’s Revelation (v. 20d)

Download the rest of this sermon from Romans 1:20.

The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.