Tuesday, 31 August 2021
Title: God Is At Work
By: Amanda Foo
Today marks the 64th year of Malaysia’s independence. It is probably difficult for many of us to take pride in our country right now, especially when we look at the state of our politics. In the span of three years, we’ve had our premiership changed thrice; leaving many of us disenchanted.
Yet, Romans 13:1 says “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” According to Paul, our rulers have been put in place by God for His good purposes, and to rebel would be to disobey God’s authority and ultimately, oppose God. This can be a hard pill to swallow, especially when our country’s leaders are far from ideal.
However, notice that Paul does not say that those who occupy positions of authority are good people. Rather, Paul is saying that God is working through human government, and this can sometimes mean evil men being appointed to leadership positions so that God’s good purposes can be accomplished.
Take Nebuchadnezzar for example. He was not a “good” man, but God made him the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar, the Lord’s “servant”, was used to bring down Israel, take Israel captive and hold the nation as slaves for 70 years. It must have been difficult for Israelites to decipher God’s agenda at that time. Nonetheless, God’s purpose was still being carried out. Without their temple, the Israelites learned that obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). They learned the importance of obeying God’s commands. During this time, the Israelites were able to renew their faith. They returned from Babylon with a renewed focus on being faithful to God (see below for Ezra’s prayer of confession).
Now, our God, what can we say in light of this? For we have abandoned the commands you gave through your servants the prophets, saying “The land you are entering to possess is an impure land. The surrounding peoples have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness by their impurity and detestable practices…” After all that has happened to us because of our evil deeds and terrible guilt – though you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserve and have allowed us to survive – should we break your commands again and intermarry with the peoples you commit these detestable practices? Wouldn’t you become so angry with us that you would destroy us, leaving neither remnant nor survivor? Lord God of Israel, you are righteous, for we survive as a remnant today. Here we are before you with our guilt, though no one can stand in your presence because of this.” Ezra 9:10-11, 13-15 (CSB).
Let us not lose hope. It’s hard to see it now, but God has a plan for Malaysia. And it is playing out as He has willed it to be. As for us – let us shine the light of God’s love during this turbulent time. As far as it depends on us, let us live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18) and overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Prayer: Dear God, just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are Your ways higher than our ways, and Your thoughts than our thoughts. And so, we commit our country to You today. Though Malaysia is far from perfect, we want to thank You for the nation that You’ve given us. Thank You for the abundance and peace that You’ve blessed us with. Thank You that the national vaccination program is progressing well. We pray for Your intervention Lord, that the pandemic will be contained soon so that lives may go on. As for Your servants, help us to live at peace with everyone and give us the strength and courage to overcome evil with good. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
以尼布甲尼撒为例。他并不是一个 “好” 人，但是上帝使他成为巴比伦王。尼布甲尼撒是上帝的 “仆人”， 被用来攻下以色列，俘虏以色列人，奴役以色列人70年。当时的以色列人必定很难理解上帝的计划。尽管如此，上帝的旨意仍然实行了。没有圣殿，以色列人学到听命胜于献祭（撒母耳记上15:22），他们学会了遵守上帝诫命的重要性。在此期间，以色列人得以更新他们的信心。他们从巴比伦回来，重新专注在忠于上帝（见下文以斯拉的认罪祷告）。
让我们不要失去盼望。现在很难看到，但是上帝在马来西亚有一个计划；它正在按照祂的意愿行事。至于我们 － 让我们在这动荡的时期闪耀上帝之爱的光。这取决于我们，让我们和所有人和平相处（罗马书12:18）并以善胜恶（罗马书12:21）。