By Rev Tan Eng Boo
Come August 9, our nation will celebrate her 58th birthday. It will be by God’s grace for us to do so. We cannot take the peace and blessings we enjoy for granted. The prophet Jeremiah told Israel,
“It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22)
We are where we are by the grace and mercies of the Lord.
To celebrate one’s nation’s National Day is always a wonderful feeling. I will be singing my national anthem. In the 1950s I had to sing “God Save the Queen.” It was not a nice experience to be colonized by the British (as some of us older people will remember). We lived like a second-class citizens in those days. The British were the masters of the land. I recall that when we were children, we did not even dare to enter FitzPatricks Supermarket, which was patronized mostly by the “ang mohs.”
When we became part of Malaysia in 1963, it wasn’t too bad. “Negaraku” (My Country) was sung, and we accepted it, only to be booted out of Malaysia in 1965. God certainly has His plans for Singapore. The prophet Daniel says,
“He (God) changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings….”
I am glad that God has His wonderful plans for Singapore. The Lord is in control of our destiny. He is sovereign and reliable in His doings. God, in His own timing, gave our nation good leaders (“He sets up kings”). We were blessed.
“This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23)
This verse speaks of Israel’s gratitude to God. The deliverance from danger was a blessing. That is, it is to be traced back to the Lord alone. It is not the result of human wisdom or power. Therefore, it is marvellous in the sight of the Psalmist.
I echo this verse for our nation today. This is the Lord’s doing and we can now celebrate our 58th birthday. Nothing happens by chance. Singapore did not become a first world country by chance. Of course, lots of hard work was put in to make us what we are today. But anything can happen to disrupt or destroy our efforts. Covid disrupted the nation for almost three years. Will anything else disrupt our nation’s peace and blessings? We pray for the Lord’s mercies that we will not be consumed.
The warning from Jesus:
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:7). “All these are but the beginning of the birth pains” (Matthew 24:8).
Anything can happen as we live in perilous times.
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34)
No nation is perfect. We will always have crooks with us in high places. It is never an easy task for any government to stand strong against corruption. But thank God for such a government in Singapore.
Righteousness will exalt a nation. David Guzik says in his commentary on Proverbs 14: “Because righteousness is to follow God’s will and God’s way, it will always exalt a person, a family, a neighborhood, a city, a state, or even a nation.
Guzik went on to say:
Many things may, in human perspective, exalt a nation. Military might, economic prosperity, status among nations, cultural influence, and athletic victory may each make a nation seem exalted. Yet ultimately, none of those things match righteousness as a way a nation is truly exalted. One might say that the most patriotic thing a citizen might do is repent of their sin and then receive and pursue God’s righteousness in their life.
How to have a righteous nation? It must begin with the Christians in high office in the government. They must not put the Lord’s name to shame by their sinful acts. Our Saviour tells us to,
“let your light shine before others” (Matthew 5:16)
Maintain a high standard of Christian integrity.
We must pray for our nation’s leaders, especially Christians in high office. May the Lord be gracious to bless Singapore as we celebrate the nation’s 58th birthday.