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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 8 am Service, 2003-08-10

Text: Proverbs 14:34

Yesterday we celebrated our nation's 38th birthday. My family and I watched the National Day Parade on TV last night, and I think it was by far the grandest one we have ever had. Perhaps many of you watched it too and were stirred in your hearts by the recounting of our nation's many achievements. We think of how, despite the lack of natural resources, and despite the wide diversity of its people, it has grown so well. Many observers around the world have marvelled at the fact that Singapore exerts an economic and even a political influence in the world today that is out of proportion to its size. But as we think of these things, let us not lose sight of the fact that God is ultimately the One who has made our nation what it is today. 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 Singapore what it is today. Without all these blessings bestowed by Him, our nation may never have progressed beyond what it was at first: a 'sleepy kampung.'

Hence, it is only right that we should acknowledge God and give all glory and thanks to Him for what we have become today as a nation. And it is only right that we should seek His continued blessings upon our land, and pray that the Lord will continue to grant us good leadership in our government, and guide our leaders in making policies that will have have an important impact on our nation's future. How comforting it is to know that God is the One who 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.

I. God Is The Supreme Ruler of all Nations

And God is not only at our nation's helm. He is also 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 Him 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 that has power can only be in power because the Lord grants it the right to exercise authority in this world for a limited time. 

In the second chapter of the Book of Daniel, Daniel interpreted the dream of a Babylonian king and the message of the dream was that no world empire, no matter how great or powerful, can last for long. 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.). The Greek empire then gave way to the Roman Empire which lasted for about 560 years (A.D. 63 -500). Two chapters later, Daniel told the person who had this dream, that 'the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will.' (Daniel 4:25). 

None can stay in power longer than God permits. When the Lord sees fit to change it, He will replace it with another through various means. Just a few months ago we saw how the Lord brought an end to the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein through war. Thirteen years ago we saw how the Lord brought an end to an even greater regime: the Soviet Union. The outcome of every war, revolution, and military coup is decided by Him. The result of every nation's general election or presidential election is determined by Him. 

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 alloted time of glory in this world from the Lord. The question to ask then is: Why did God not allow any of these world powers to remain forever? The reason for this can be found in the latter part of our scripture text of Proverbs 14:34 'exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.' 

II. God Is the Supreme Judge of all Nations

A. He Brings Judgment Upon Sinful 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, and 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 makes it ripe for judgment. One illustration of this can be seen in the judgement that befell the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. These twin cities were thriving because of their location in the very fertile and well-watered Jordan valley. 

But the prosperity that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah enjoyed made them hedonistic and very decadent, to the point that sexual immorality and homosexual sin became their way of life. The Lord then decided to bring an end to them by sending a great cataclysmic destruction upon it. They have disappeared without a trace, though some think that they are buried under the southern end of the Dead Sea. It is significant that when Abraham pleaded with the Lord to rescue his righteous nephew Lot from Sodom 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.

Another example of such judgment of nations can be found in the Amorites that occupied the Promised Land. Although God had promised this land to Abraham and his descendants, the Israelites could not yet take full possession of it because of the Amorites that were already there. It was only after 400 years that God brought the Israelites out of Egypt to eliminate these Amorites. The reason for this delay is found in Genesis 15:16 '...for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.' Artefacts that have been unearthed from various sites that the Amorites (also known as Canaanites) were utterly depraved, practicing child sacrifice and having unnatural sexual relations.

Once again we can see the Supreme Judge of all nations at work, bringing a just end to a nation's existence. Why? Because of all its sins, which had multiplied and gone past the point of no return. In like manner, God brought an end to several other nations in Israel's history because of their sins. The Amalekites were destroyed by King David 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. The Edomite nation's death sentence can be found in the book of Obadiah. 

The book of Nahum the prophet 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.' 

Dearly beloved, when you hear of such judgements 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 lacking in righteousness, and therefore ripe for national judgement? Let it be our fervent prayer that this will not happen to our very own homeland, Singapore. Let us take heed to the message from the Lord in Proverbs 14:34 'Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.'

B. He Brings Blessing Upon Righteous Nations

Let us especially heed the message that God has for our nation today, that righteousness exalts a nation. 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 the severe penalties imposed on lawbreakers. This fulfills very well what the Bible states about good government in Romans 13:3-4 'rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.'

During all this time, 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'? We can cite other examples of this principle.

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 greatest height of glory and greatness during the reign of Queen Victoria. There was even a saying that 'The sun never sets on the British empire.' Now, history tells us that Queen 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. And the godly legacy that has been left by the British Empire still abides with us till this day.

However, the British Empire no longer exists today. And I believe that this is 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 there are closing down, while new mosques are springing up. The Church of England nearly ordained a homosexual as the bishop of Reading recently. 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 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 Britain did. And as Christians, we ought to watch the things that are happening in our own nation with some concern. I speak of the present proposal of 'remaking Singapore' to change the national policy in favour of tolerating same-sex relationships. Even without this recent proposal, we have already witnessed a steady erosion of moral values taking place in the last twelve years, since the censorship of the media was relaxed to allow R(A) rated movies. Pornography has increased, and so has adultery, broken marriages and broken families.

I shudder to think what a change in national policy with regard to homosexuality will do to our society. Such a change would open the floodgates for a host of unwelcome trends - gay and lesbian marriages (already condoned in Canada) and adoption of babies by homosexual couples. The once-quiet gay community is now already beginning to make its presence felt.

If the moral foundations of a nation are destroyed, its future cannot be a promising one, because the Word of God has already declared in Proverbs 14:34 that 'Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.' As God, the Supreme Judge of all nations has already judged Sodom, Gomorrah, the Amorites, the Amalekites, and Edomites and the Ninevites, will 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.

Dearly beloved, we must pray fervently for our leaders and policymakers. Pray 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. Pray that our nation's leaders will not base their policies on popular demand, or pressure from certain quarters, but on the Word of God.

III. God's Word Is the Supreme Standard of Righteousness for All Nations

And even though we live in a secular society, we who are Christians must ultimately turn to the Word of God as our source of all moral values. Whatever arguments you may hear from human philosophy, psychology and sociology cannot be used to define what our moral foundations should be. It is only with God's Word that we can accurately define what righteousness is, and what constitutes sound morality. 

A. What Does God's Word Say About Homosexual Relationships?

By following the Word of God, we know that the Lord regards homosexual relationships as unnatural and sinful relationships: Romans 1:26,27 'For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.'

The gay movement claims that it is due to an inborn genetic trait. But medical research has failed to find any evidence for this. It is now known that homosexuality is a socially learned response. God's Word shows that it is the result of man's depraved sinful nature interacting with a sinful social environment. Here are some biblical reasons that we can give why we should not tolerate homosexual relationships in our society:

Firstly, it violates God's design in marriage: He made Adam and Eve, male and female, and married them (Genesis 1:27; 2:22-24). Secondly, it undermines what God has ordained to be the basic unit of society: the family (Numbers 3:15). Thirdly it brought God's fiery judgment upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:1-25). Fourthly, it is prohibited in God's laws in Leviticus 18:22 ('Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination').and 20:13 ('If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.') Those guilty of homosexual sins were to be put to death. Fifth, it is condemned in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 'Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.'

B. What Does God's Word Say to All Sinners?

Having said all that, we must also emphasize that there is abundant hope for homosexuals if only they are willing to repent of their sin and turn to Christ for salvation. Christ's power is available to all who repent and sincerely want to change. In fact many have reported success in putting away their sinful past life. Some have even entered into a normal marriage relationship and have children. One such person testified: 'For many years I thought I was gay. I finally realised I was not a homosexual, but really a heterosexual man with a homosexual problem.'

There is no better freedom than to be freed from sin by the Lord Jesus Christ! And this freedom is offered not only to homosexuals but to all sinners as well. It was purchased for us at a great cost - through the sacrifice of God's only begotten Son, Jesus Christ when He died on the cross for us. 

Jesus Christ shed own His precious life-blood to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, so that those who put their trust in Him can stand before God cleansed of all sin and bearing the righteousness of Jesus. This is the message of righteousness that we should fervently be declaring now to our whole nation, a message of righteousness in Jesus Christ alone! Our nation needs it badly. Let it be our prayer this morning that we will have a new resolve to bring the righteousness of Christ to our whole nation, so that it will be a righteous nation, as sinners receive Him into their hearts and turn from their sinful 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

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25