Every war utilizes what military people call “psyops.” It is a shortened way of saying psychological operations. This psychological warfare is an attempt to get into the heads of the enemy’s soldiers. The goal is to discourage them. This would make them less effective in fighting or maybe even convince them to give up altogether.
Perhaps the most famous example of this kind of warfare occurred during World War II when the Japanese used women to broadcast radio programs that were heard by American fighting men in the Pacific Theater. These women were called by a collective name: Tokyo Rose. They would tell the soldiers that the leaders of the United States were lying to them, and that Americans were losing the war and dying by the thousands on the various islands in the Pacific. These ladies declared that America’s allies had given up, and that the Japanese government simply wanted peace. In their feminine voices they told the men that their wives and girlfriends back home were going to abandon them and marry men who had stayed behind. From what I can tell, Tokyo Rose did not have much success. The vast majority of Americans fighting in the Pacific saw the messages for what they were: pysops.
There is a very clear example of psyops in 2 Kgs 18:17-35. The Assyrians were at war with Judah. The Assyrian army came to Jerusalem, and the Jews were holed up within its walls. The Assyrians sent some representatives to the city to tell the people to give up. The people were stationed on the walls, so the Assyrians, like Tokyo Rose, put forth their propaganda. They yelled out, in the Hebrew language, that the mighty Assyrian army was much greater than the army of Judah. It had more weapons of war. It had defeated all the nations around them. Those nations included their allies, so nobody was coming to help them. They had even defeated their Jewish friends and family in the nation of Israel to the north. The king of Judah had told the people to trust in God, but the Assyrians “broadcasted” that none of the gods of the other nations–not even Israel’s–had been able to save their countries from the Assyrians. Judah would be no different.
The Assyrians yelled out that if the Jews did not give up, they would be placed under siege. This meant they would eventually starve to death. But before they did, they would be reduced to eating and drinking their own human waste. If they gave up, however, they could return to their own farms, eat their own crops, and drink from their own wells. After a period of time, the Assyrians would take them to another land that was fruitful, and they would be able to live out their lives in peace and plenty. The choice was straightforward: The Jews could fight against the Assyrians and die a terrible death, or they could submit and live.
This was pretty strong psyops. It would have been tempting to give up. I must admit, I would have seriously considered it. If the Jews had done so, the Assyrians would have won without firing a single arrow. Such is the power of psychological warfare.
If we read the rest of the story, however, it proved ineffective. Under the leadership of a godly king and the Prophet Isaiah, the people decided to trust in the Lord to deliver them. They believed in what He said. He fulfilled His word, killing 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Even the king of Assyria later lost his life at the hands of some assassins.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you may not realize it, but you are involved in psychological warfare. We have an enemy. That enemy consists of Satan, the flesh, and the world. Through various means, including various teachers, they tell us that what God has said is not true. The demands that He makes are unrealistic. They tell us that we cannot know whether we have eternal life. They tell us that it is foolish to live for the world to come, which we cannot see. Wisdom is found in seeking the pleasures that this world offers. Happiness is achieved by satisfying the desires of the flesh, not by the communion that God’s Word says we can have with Christ by walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.
That is some potent psyops. Romans 12:1-2 tells us it is going on. It is a battle for the mind. But we can be victorious in this warfare if we do what Judah did in 2 Kings 18. Let the Word of God transform your mind. Don’t be overcome by the enemy’s lies.