The Low, Clear Reveille of God
Visiting the memorial on Corregidor brought home lessons from the past and promises for the future.
Squinting through the sea spray lashing my face, I watched over the heaving bow of our motorized outrigger as our destination loomed.
Dividing the waters at the mouth of Manila Bay is a pollywog-shaped island, sometimes called “The Rock,” fortified since the 16th century to protect the Philippine capital from seaborne attack. Today Corregidor is remembered most for the final, heroic but doomed resistance of American and Philippine troops swept away by the Japanese military tsunami of 1942.
Our little craft had launched from the Bataan Peninsula, very near the starting point of the infamous “death march” that followed the final surrender.
Reminders of courage and suffering
The island is full of reminders of courage and suffering: wrecked fortifications, unseated artillery, collapsed tunnels and many monuments—American, Philippine and Japanese.
We docked within view of the statue honoring Douglas MacArthur, who initially masterminded the defense of the Philippines. When he arrived in Australia after escaping with his staff as ordered, he famously promised, “I shall return.” Two and a half years later, he kept his word, waded ashore and oversaw the liberation of the nation.
Focus on a future return
As this issue of Discern appears, we are in the season when the Bible, through its divinely commanded festivals, encourages us to focus on future events that will include another, vastly more important return, that of Jesus Christ.
He promised several times that He would return to earth from heaven to establish the Kingdom of God: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself” (John 14:3; see also Luke 21:27-31; Acts 1:11; Revelation 5:10).
The riveting Pacific War Memorial on Corregidor’s highest peak poetically describes one of the most remarkable promises of God, which will begin its fulfillment at Christ’s return. My eyes welled when I read the inscription on the white marble memorial:
Sleep, my sons, your duty done … for freedom’s light has come,
Sleep in the silent depths of the sea, or in your bed of hallowed sod,
Until you hear at dawn the low, clear reveille of God.
The Bible teaches that the dead are asleep, awaiting their resurrection. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Those in Christ shall rise first, but all will eventually rise to life. Jesus promised, “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth” (John 5:28-29). Every human being.
While we sorrow now over the suffering and the separation caused by death, this magnificent promise to all of us is one that should help us live in confidence and courage: the low, clear reveille of God.
That day will dawn!