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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC Weekly, 2004-08-08

Text: Proverbs 14:34

Tomorrow we celebrate our nation's 39th birthday. May our hearts be stirred with gratitude as we remember our nation's many achievements. We thank God that despite the lack of natural resources, and despite the wide diversity of its people, Singapore has grown so well. Observers around the world continue to marvel that Singapore exerts an economic and even a political influence in the world today that is out of proportion to its size. The Lord has blessed our nation with a wonderful combination of good leadership, people, resources, talents and knowledge that has worked so well to make this nation what it is today. 

Hence, it is only right that we should acknowledge God and give all glory and thanks to Him. Let us seek His blessings upon our land, and pray that the Lord will continue to grant us good leadership in our government, and guide our leaders as they make policies that will have an important impact on our nation's future. How comforting it is to know that God has been ruling and overruling all the affairs of our nation. He has been at the helm, directing every event in our nation's history - from the founding of Singapore in 1819, to the Japanese Occupation (1942-1945), to the time when Singapore became a sovereign independent state in 1965.

God Is the Supreme Ruler of all Nations

Every king and ruler in the world, even the greatest among all rulers, receives his right to rule from God alone, and must be subject to Him. Romans 13:1 tells us plainly that there is no power but of God and the "powers that be are ordained of God." This means that every government, regime and kingdom can only be in power because the Lord grants it the right to exercise authority in this world for a limited time. 

No world empire, no matter how great or powerful, can last for long. The book of Daniel speaks of four great ancient empires: The Babylonian Empire lasted for only 67 years (606-539 B.C.). The Medo-Persian Empire that replaced it lasted for 207 years (539-331 B.C.). Then came the Greek empire through Alexander the Great and this lasted for 268 years (331 B.C.- 63 B.C.). This in turn gave way to the Roman Empire which lasted for about 560 years (A.D. 63 - 500). 

None can stay in power longer than God permits. "The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will." (Daniel 4:25). When the Lord sees fit to change the leadership of a nation, He will replace it with another through various means. Last year we saw how the Lord brought an end to the regime of an Iraqi dictator through war. Fourteen years ago we saw how the Lord brought an end to the Soviet Union. The outcome of every war, revolution, and military coup is determined by Him, as is the result of every general or presidential election. 

This then explains the rise and fall of every kingdom, regime and nation that this world has seen from the beginning of time until now. They all received their allotted time of glory in this world from the Lord. Why did God not allow any of these world powers to remain forever? The answer for this can be found in the latter part of Proverbs 14:34 "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." 

God Is the Supreme Judge of all Nations

The Lord takes notice of the sins of every nation that has existed in history. They are a reproach to the nation. And sin has been the cause of each nation�s downfall. As each nation grows and develops materially, it gradually degenerates spiritually. There is complacency, pride, bribery and corruption. Prosperity brings affluence, materialism, sloth and decadence. 

The Lord then is the supreme Judge of all the earth who sees all these things happening, and decides when a nation�s sins have reached such a level of reproach that it is ripe for judgment. One example of this is the judgment that befell the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. These twin cities were thriving because of their excellent location in the very fertile and well-watered Jordan valley. But the prosperity that the people enjoyed made them hedonistic and very decadent, to the point that sexual immorality and homosexual sins became their way of life. The Lord brought an end to the twin cities by sending a great cataclysmic destruction upon them. They have disappeared without a trace! It is significant that when Abraham pleaded with the Lord to rescue his righteous nephew Lot from Sodom just before this awful judgment came, he said to Him, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25). Like Abraham, we too must always acknowledge that God is the supreme Judge of all the earth. When the sins of any nation have gone past the limit that the supreme Judge has set, He has every right to bring an end to it.

In like manner, God brought an end to several other nations in Israel�s history because of their sins. The Amalekites were destroyed because of their 500-year history of sinful aggression against Israel (1 Samuel 15:2,3; 2 Samuel 1:1). The Edomites were likewise judged by the Lord because they had helped the enemies of Israel to destroy Jerusalem, although they were related to the Israelites. Edom's death sentence can be found in the book of Obadiah. 

The book of Nahum issues the death sentence on the city of Nineveh. Although this city had been mercifully spared from judgment when its inhabitants repented at the time of Jonah, they had returned to their old sins, and after 100 years they were ripe for God's judgment. Nineveh was one of the largest cities of ancient times, large enough to accommodate 600,000 people. It was located on the eastern bank of the river Tigris, and had been occupied from about 4,500 BC. But when the sins of the Ninevites brought God's judgment upon the city, the destruction of Nineveh was so thorough, that it literally disappeared, and for centuries no one knew where Nineveh was until the site was discovered in 1842.

Such is the awful judgment that the Lord, the Judge of all the Earth, will bring upon nations that refuse to heed His words of warning. Like the Psalmist said in Psalm 107:33,34 "He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein." 

Dear Reader, when you hear of such awful judgments that have happened to great nations that existed in the past, does it make you wonder if it will happen one day to our own nation? If God were to judge our nation today will He find us ripe for national judgment? Let it be our fervent prayer that this will not happen to our very own homeland. We must take heed to the message from the Lord in Proverbs 14:34 "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people."

The verb "exalt" here means that the people's condition in that nation is elevated. The prosperity and the power of a nation therefore depends on its righteousness. By God's grace, Singapore has been blessed with strong moral foundations. Over the years, good moral values have been emphasized in our education system. The administration has been kept clean of all graft and corruption. We have been enjoying a low crime rate all these years because of severe penalties imposed on lawbreakers (Romans 13:3-4). Until recently, our nation has enjoyed an unparalleled era of progress and prosperity. Doesn't this show us that the strength of our nation lies not just in good government alone, but in having strong moral foundations? Doesn't it show us that "righteousness exalteth a nation"? 

The nation of Israel prospered greatly under the reign of King David because he was a righteous God-fearing king, who loved the Lord with all his heart. Under his leadership, the kingdom of Israel enjoyed the best blessings it ever had: 2 Samuel 5:12 "And David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that He had exalted his kingdom for His people Israel's sake."

A more recent example is the British Empire, which reached its crowning glory and greatness during Queen Victoria�s reign. There was even a saying that "the sun never sets on the British empire." Victoria was a very god-fearing queen with a good administration. There were spiritual revivals in England during her long 64-year reign, which produced godly preachers and missionaries like Charles Spurgeon, George Muller, William Burns, David Livingstone, and Hudson Taylor. The godly legacy that has been left by the British Empire still abides with us till this day. 

But the British Empire no longer exists today. This is probably due to the erosion of its moral foundations. British Christianity has declined tremendously within the past century, and the result of that is that churches in UK are closing down, while mosques are springing up. The Church of England nearly ordained a homosexual as the Bishop of Reading last year. Immorality is rampant not only among the British people but also in the royal family. Although we can thank God that there are still a significant minority of faithful believers, the country has lost much of its once-great spiritual and moral strength. 

It would be a very sad day if our own nation were to suffer a similar loss of spiritual and moral strength as Great Britain did. As Christians, we ought to watch the things that are happening in our own nation with some concern. This would include changes to the national policy regarding same-sex relationships, censorship standards, public entertainment and legalized gambling. Are not the present increases in divorce, broken homes, and delinquency indicators of moral decline?

An unwise change in national policy with regard to moral issues may open the floodgates for a host of unwelcome trends. If the moral foundations of a nation are destroyed, can its future be a promising one? The Word of God assures us that it cannot be a promising future in Proverbs 14:34. As God, the Supreme Judge of all nations has already judged Sodom, Gomorrah, the Amorites, the Amalekites, and Edomites and the Ninevites, will the Republic of Singapore one day become as one of them? Will the Lord turn His face away from our nation in the days to come and bring about a reversal of all the prosperity and progress that we have enjoyed for so many years? We pray that this will not happen. Pray fervently for our leaders and policymakers, that they will uphold the righteousness and sound morality of the nation, and not allow anything to compromise them, for these are the very foundations of our nation! 

The question that may be asked then is, "What is the standard of righteousness for our nation?" Even though we live in a secular society, we who are Christians must ultimately take the Word of God as our standard of moral values. Whatever arguments that may be adduced from human philosophy, psychology and sociology cannot be used to define what our moral foundations should be. Only the Word of God can accurately define for us what righteousness is, and what constitutes sound morality. 

Finally, the message of righteousness that we should fervently be declaring to our whole nation is that of righteousness in Jesus Christ alone (Philippians 3:9). Our nation needs this righteousness badly. Let it be our prayer on this National Day, that we will have a new resolve to bring the righteousness of Christ to our beloved homeland, so that it will be a righteous nation, as sinners receive Him into their hearts and turn from their unrighteous ways.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11