It was a night of infamy, a night that would be recorded as one of the bravest moments in Israeli history. It was the midnight raid on the airport at Entebbe, Uganda on July 4, 1976. 106 hostages had been taken captive by terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The Air France flight had originated on June 27, 1976 in Tel Aviv with a destination of Paris, France. After a refueling stopover in Athens, the plane was boarded by 7 terrorists and commandeered to Entebbe, Uganda where they were joined by an additional 4 terrorists. Dictator Idi Amin had been informed of this from the beginning of the plan and welcomed the hijackers. Of the 258 people on board, only 94 Jewish passengers and the 12 member crew were held hostage and threatened with death. The rest were released and continued their flight to Paris. In return for the release of the 106 hostages, the hijackers demanded the release of 53 militants imprisoned in Israel and other countries. If their demands were not met, the terrorists threatened to begin killing hostages every day beginning on July 1. After diplomatic measures failed, Israel Defense Forces (IDF), under the command of Lt. Colonel Yonatan Netanyahu (older brother of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, began planning a daring and dangerous raid.
Four Israeli cargo planes each carrying 100+ commandos flew 2500 miles to Entebbe landing at midnight. The raid lasted 90 minutes with the Israeli commandos killing all hijackers as well as 45 Ugandan army soldiers. In addition, Israeli Phantom jets destroyed 11 Soviet-supplied MiG fighter jets of the Ugandan Air Force. Five Israeli commandos were wounded and one, Lt. Col. Netanyahu, was killed. Of the hostages, four were killed and 102 rescued. The account of the raid on Entebbe, code name Operation Thunderbolt, was made into a movie, “Raid on Entebbe” starring Charles Bronson.
Fascinating history lesson, right? Why tell us this story? Because there is a spiritual application. From eternity past, our God conceived a daring and dangerous plan to rescue sinners like you and me. We were being held captive by the devil. 2 Timothy 2:26 says we needed to “escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”
What was God’s rescue plan? To send His own Son, Jesus Christ, to a hostile, God-hating world. For sinners to be rescued, Jesus would have to die in their place. He came into our world, lived among us, proved Himself to be God, died in our place, and rose from the grave. It was the most audacious rescue of hostages ever. Was there a surprise element to Jesus’ rescue of sinners like there was at Entebbe? You bet. Not the cover of night but the resurrection from the dead! The resurrection stunned Satan. He thought he won when Jesus died on the cross. In his wildest imaginations he never dreamed Jesus would rise from the dead and give that same resurrection power to anyone who believes in Him. That’s an Entebbe rescue on steroids!
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,