I remember as a young lad my dad telling me about the war in the Pacific, specifically in the Philippines where he spent a lot of time. Then again he told me very little about his time fighting in the Pacific. And I still remember him telling me about General Douglas MacArthur and his commitment to the people of the Philippines… I shall return!
As the years passed and it was my turn to serve I learned a lot about General MacArthur and the struggles he went through after WWII and Korea. His famous speech to the cadets at West Point really summed up how he felt when it was time to step aside… Old soldiers never die, they just pass away. Well, I remember something else he said one time when he quoted one of his favorites; Plato. Only the dead have seen the end of war.
What a poignant statement! It begs the question for each of us… Have we seen the end of war? If your answer to that question is no, then you need to stop and ask yourself why not?
As Christians, our Lord has called us into spiritual battle. Our enemies are not the marauding barbarians that Israel faced but they are nevertheless just as real. Demonic forces are currently ruling the nations and all of their false gods, of which there are too many to number, and we face them every day. And because they come at us from all sides in every shape and form, it’s hard for us to see past our current battle. But that’s where we make our mistake, and that’s where I have to take exception to the General’s comments.
As the bride of Christ we “have seen” the end of war. Why? Because while we yet live we are “dead.” We have died in Christ and as His bride we know the war will end and that we have already won… We’ve read the end of the book. And as soldiers in His army, we also will “never die”… but we will never just “pass away.” Our general has also made us a promise… I shall return! And, unlike the promise of General MacArthur, His return in “guaranteed” because He is the only One who can make that promise with no doubt about it being fulfilled.
We are soldiers and because of His promise to return for us, we “have seen” the end of war. And with that promise validated by the presence of the Holy Spirit we can, along with Paul, Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice (Phil 4:4). And I think Paul may have had the Sons of Korah in mind when he said that:
Ps 47:1-3 Oh, clap your hands, all you Peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph. 2. For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth. 3. He will subdue the Peoples under us, and the nations under our feet.
This Psalm celebrates God’s triumphant reign “before” the battle, it looks ahead to His promise that I shall return! And that promise comes from The Lord Most High… our God who is over all other gods and all nations. Subdue the Peoples under us, and all the nations under our feet paints the picture for us of our putting our foot on the neck of our enemy. And to accomplish that we need to enter into the battle in front of us every day and complete our mission… taking the Gospel to all people. Our spiritual battles will not be over until that has been done, and then the war will end.
Yes, we see the end of war because we “are already dead.” We are dead to sin and alive to the promise of “His return,” because He has already won the war. Yes, we are old soldiers and we will never “die”… but neither will we “pass away.” We know that God is already the victor and we Shout to God with the voice to triumph!