“I Shall Return”
The general’s words served as a beacon of hope through the terrors of war. But they were only an echo of the promise that is this world’s only hope!
March 21 marks the anniversary of one of the most universally recognized quotes of the last century—“I shall return!”
Many assume these were General Douglas MacArthur’s words to the American soldiers and Filipino peoples as he left them, on the president’s orders, to escape the inevitable Japanese conquest of the island nation. He actually said this, though, to a group of reporters upon landing in Australia.
You couldn’t blame any onlooker at the time for skeptically thinking that MacArthur’s words were a great pep talk, but an unrealistic notion. The formidable Japanese army, following its stunning blitz of Pearl Harbor three months earlier, was sweeping aside any opposition in its quest to conquer the Pacific realm.
But MacArthur would remain resolute, fixed on his unfinished business.
The original “I will come again”
The evening of April 21 marks another anniversary, that of one of the most universally important quotes of human history—“I will come again.”
It was a foreboding night, and those who heard these words from their leader found in them, at that moment, little of the confidence they were meant to inspire. Who could blame them for despairing further when, within just a few hours, their Captain was taken captive, tortured and crucified?
But for those men gathered that Passover night 1,985 years ago, their mourning quickly turned to joy because their Captain, through the miracle of a resurrection, did come again! For 40 days He remained with them, only to tell them He had to leave once more.
Jesus Christ again left them with the same promise because He, too, still has unfinished business.
So when He departed again, an angel appeared to reassure them—and us—that “this same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
And from that time on that small group of men and women would risk their lives to witness far and wide that not only had He come back to life, but that He was going to come again in power, glory and authority to rule the world!
Redemption draws near
I suspect MacArthur drew on his knowledge of the Bible for his “I shall return” commitment to the Filipinos—anyone familiar with the Gospels recognizes Christ’s similar commitment to all humanity.
It would be a long 2½ years before MacArthur returned, but he fulfilled his promise, landing on Leyte’s shores Oct. 20, 1944.
With great emotion he told them, “I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil. … The hour of your redemption is here.”
In A.D. 31, when His disciples asked for signs of His return, Jesus listed several important indicators, culminating with, “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:27-28).
By the grace of God, Christ and His forces will stand again on the Mount of Olives, just in time to save us all from destroying ourselves physically. Then He will set about His unfinished business to save us all spiritually.
The real story of why He came, why He died and why, when and how He is returning is fascinating—and it’s not what you’ve been taught! That’s why we, too, keep returning to this theme, as in this issue.
Nothing is more important for your future than understanding the implications of Christ’s promise, “I will come again”!