Written by: Rachel Chai (Photo by: Ronald Lim)
Moving as One in the Jubilee
On 23 March 2015, Singapore grieved at the loss of a prolific statesman and a founding father. In the week of national mourning that followed, I saw Singaporeans from all walks of life stand together in honour of this man and his legacy. It has been months since his passing, but a burning question remains: What’s next for Singapore?
My heart wrestled with this question as my eyes remained glued to the live broadcast of the state funeral. A nation was now thrown into an uncomfortable but necessary transition in a symbolic year. Amidst the whirlpool of thoughts, I heard a small whisper, “It’s not a coincidence that today is Palm Sunday.” Palm Sunday originated from Matthew 21:1-11, where the multitudes welcomed Jesus with palm branches as He entered Jerusalem. That whisper brought fresh perspective to my thoughts and caused me to perceive the procession in an entirely new dimension. It dawned on me that the heart of the matter is not what will follow, but rather who we welcome into our nation.
The state of this nation is a reflection of the influences that land upon our shores. It is through seeking the heart of God for Singapore in such pivotal times that will position each individual to witness the full manifestation of our nation’s destiny. As Singapore turns fifty in August, let us dig deeper into the prophetic implications of the Jubilee in light of the passing of our founding father. The common denominator between Israel’s Jubilee and our spiritual Jubilee points to the redemptive heart of the Father — characterised by the call to return to the land He apportioned and to release each other from one’s debts.
Just as we feel an inevitable void when we lose a loved one, a vacuum exists in the bedrock of Singapore as she forges forward after the loss of her father figure. In this hour, we have to return to re-examine the fundamental values that girds our land and then contend for our foundations to be built on rock and not sand.
From our early beginnings, Singapore was deemed incapable of surviving on her own due to the evident lack in every sphere thinkable. We were an orphan, evicted from Malaysia and trapped in a “do everything to survive” narrative. Right from the start we have been compelled to prove our adversaries wrong. This spirit of strife has insidiously crept into our culture and even made its way into one of our National Day songs: “We’re going to show the world what Singapore can be.” As the baton is passed from one generation to the next, it comes with the mandate that we need to “do more” than the efforts of our forefathers in order to sustain the progress we have made.
In the course of re-examining our values, the roots of “fighting for what we want” as a core value of Singaporean society has to be weeded out. There is absolutely nothing wrong with putting our best foot forward. However, we must be wary not to welcome an environment where strife is allowed full reign.
We conquer the earthly value of strife by returning to the kingdom value of abundance. The first realm has our eyes fixed on the areas of lack and what we must do to compensate for that lack. In the realm of the kingdom, our eyes are captivated by the Giver of abundance. As we behold the nature and character of the living God, we recognise that Singapore could never have come so far by the strength of her own hands.
“Unless the Lord build the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the Lord builds the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1 ESV)
The Singapore Story was not written by one man nor by our efforts but by God who authored this nation into existence. Moving forward, may we rid ourselves of self-sufficiency and return to accord the glory and honour of this city to the Lord as we reset our foundations in this Jubilee year.
Whilst Israel’s Jubilee demanded for Israelites to release slaves from debt, there is a larger spiritual principle governing the law that Singapore can apply in her Jubilee year. The principle is that of a national consecration.
I was recently reminded of an interesting image I received during a time of prayer that spoke of consecration. This image took the form of a black-and-white comic strip, in which I was enlisted in an army taking up position in battle. What confounded me was that our army seemed to be throwing in the towel; a white flag was raised before the battle had begun. I eventually realised that it was not the enemy that we were surrendering to, but to God.
What then does Singapore have to surrender?
“By our wisdom and our understanding we have made wealth for ourselves and have gathered gold and silver into our treasuries; by our great wisdom in our trade, we have increased our wealth, and your heart has become proud in your wealth…” (Ezekiel 28:4-5 ESV)
Although Ezekiel referred to the Prince of Tyre in the passage, it also seems to be an apt description of modern-day Singapore and points to the need of consecrating the very thing we esteem to the Lord. This takes the form of consecrating our wealth to model the heart of generosity of our Heavenly Father.
This also involves a laying down of our time and effort in prayer as we set this nation apart for the Lord. It is through travailing in prayer as a generation that we shall witness such a national consecration. We have a responsibility to intercede for our nation; it is a privilege to experience how God can transform our society through us. This rallying call to prayer is not just for a select few. It goes out to all who are in the kingdom of God.
The time has come for us to bid farewell to our prized treasures and earnestly ask ourselves: What will we lay down as we seek to see this nation on her knees?
Praying for Singapore
Prayer has to be at the heart of this national consecration. We, as children of God, have to position ourselves in prayer; a call for holiness needs to be planted in our soil. There have been many occasions where I felt overwhelmed by the scale of the prayer, questioning if my prayer made a difference. Other times, I found myself at a loss of where and how to start praying. Let this word empower us as we pray for matters that are on the heart of God — “greater is [He] that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4 KJV).
These are some areas close to my heart that we can stand together in prayer for:
a) Unity in the Church
“I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one — as You are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in Us so that the world will believe You sent Me.” (John 17:21 NLT)
This was the prayer that Jesus made for all believers and should still be the cry of our hearts today. Let us not be found squabbling amongst ourselves when the true battle is against “principalities [and] powers” (Ephesians 6:12 KJV). I yearn for the day where the Church of Singapore will join together in one accord — where the present denomination divisions are bridged by love.
b) Heavenly Governance
Regardless of whether we support the form of our nation’s governance, we have not been called to moan. We have, however, been called to stand in the gap for our country’s leaders. Just as “righteousness and justice are the foundation of [His] throne” (Psalm 89:14 ESV), so should we desire for Singapore to be governed by principles of Heaven instead of values espoused by the world. I firmly believe in interceding for God-ordained leaders to fearlessly arise in leading this nation forward.
c) Destiny of Singapore
Our forefathers saw a metropolis when the reality that surrounded them were rural villages. The foresight they had and the commitment to see it come to pass has shaped the destiny of Singapore. Similarly, what we currently envision for her will shape her destiny in the future. A question I frequently pose myself is, “What will fulfilling our destiny as the Antioch of Asia look like?” One of the phrases I wrote in response was:
“I see tongues aflame, sowing seeds of revival
I see the prayers of saints, watering the earth
I see golden fields, ready for harvest.”
What do you see?
I believe wholeheartedly that His destiny for our nation extends beyonds our shores. May we stand in faith to see revival sweep across our land and propel us out into the ends of the earth.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://selah.sg/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Chai_profilepic.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]RACHEL journals best with UniBall 0.28 pens, soothes her soul with Pokka Green Tea, and resembles many things fictional. She lives to capture God’s fingerprints @holdsteadfast.[/author_info] [/author]