By REV. SEIK PITOI
LAST year, when we as a nation crossed over into our 40th year of existence, there was much fanfare. Rightly so, as it was a time to rejoice in the goodness of God because of the blessings we have enjoyed thus far.
For instance, unlike many other countries, our transition into independence, and through to our 40th year, saw no bloodshed. We have enjoyed relative peace.
At the top of our celebrations last year, there was a strong emphasis on God and His word. Being a Christian country (i.e., one that subscribes in general to the Christian faith), it seemed right to place God at the helm. To emphasise the supremacy of the Christian God over all else, and the fact that God’s word is the foundation of our nation’s existence, a 400 year old Bible was acquired from the US and placed in the Parliament House.
This was to be a reminder that God’s word, and the counsel therein, must be the lamp to guide us in our walk as a nation (Psalm 119:105).
So after the fanfare and hype of ‘crossing over’ into our blessing of the ‘Promised land’ (Joshua 3) has died down, where are we now? How has our 41st year of life being for us? Have we changed from being a highly ranked corrupt and lawless nation to being the ‘Kingdom nation’ we seem to hear people talk about?
Over the past 12 months, regionalism has still reared its ugly head. Maybe, as someone once suggested, a law should be passed that during Independence celebrations, no provincial flags are allowed to be sold or displayed – only the PNG flag. (The only losers would be those who make millions in producing provincial flags and get kids to sell them on the streets.)
Provincial flags should only be displayed on their special days of celebration. It’s about time highlanders, coastal folks and islanders learn to stand as one under the PNG national flag.
What about church unity? The Church still blows the trumpet of ‘unity’ but it seems only the Pentecostals and charismatics care much for it. The Repentance Day celebration, which is the PNG version of the Biblical “Yom Kippur” Day of Atonement, doesn’t seem to get the whole nation down on its knees.
While some pray, others play. In fact, the day after the Repentance Day, we had certain Hagen Eagles players and supporters beat up the referee and opposing Rabaul players, while their fellow supporters even attacked a vehicle with unsuspecting workmen donned in Rabaul colours, killing one young father.
How many of those who sang patriotic PNG songs on the prayer day were seen the next day running around attacking innocent people simply because their team lost? Why are we bringing that hypocrisy across in our 41st year? Sadly, corruption and law and order problems still plague us.
Bible numerologists give us meaning of numbers. We have heard that 40 denotes testing, trial and probation. But the number 41 is explained in at least a couple of interesting ways. Some say 41 represents the rule of man; while others say it means separation, a departure from something. While I personally do not try to be superstitious about numbers, it is quite an interesting thought to put the two together.
The free world, including PNG, espouses democracy. As opposed to oppressive regimes of communism behind the iron and bamboo curtains, and Islamic extremists enforcing sharia law in some Muslim countries, democracy is like paradise. But how free is freedom in a democracy of sorts as in Turkey, for instance.
And is the ‘majority rules’ notion the right way to go? Interestingly, God doesn’t always think that is the case! God’s way is Theocracy – not democracy! Let me explain.
One example of democracy gone wrong is in the story of the 12 spies sent to check out the land of Canaan (Numb 13:1-2). Was this really the land of plenty, flowing with milk and honey that God had told them about (Ex 3:7-8)? Was it going to be easy to conquer and take the land from those dwelling there?
The report of the spies after their snooping around was interesting. All 12 agreed that the land was incredibly rich and fertile and could sustain their livelihood. For a couple of million slaves who had just left bondage in Egypt, anywhere was certainly better, and this was the best deal ever. However, there was one small catch – the people were very warlike, aggressive and tough. It was next to impossible to take the land from them!
Ten of the spies said it was not worth the risk. They saw giants in the land, massively huge men who would make minced meat out of them if they took them on. In their fear, they saw themselves “like grasshoppers” (Numb 13:33)
Sadly the ‘grasshopper mentality’ spread throughout the camp and the desire to be free from bondage was soon replaced by a wish to go back to bondage. On the other hand, however, just two men out of the 12 saw differently.
Joshua and Caleb encouraged their people saying, “… do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
God showed His disapproval at the cowardly attitude of the 10 spies and struck them down in His judgement, while exonerating Joshua and Caleb (Numb 14:36-38).
If democracy was the way to go, and the report of the 10 spies was accepted, there would be no Israel today. Consequently, no Saviour of the whole world. But God doesn’t work according to man’s ways and schemes. Man says 10 out of 12 is the majority, but in God’s equation 2 + God = the majority!
Let’s bring that back to PNG at age 41. As is the norm, man does rule. Many good men have led our nation to where we are today. But like we have read, we need leaders who will not lead us down the godless path that the majority of the nations take. If the majority of the nations choose to outlaw God and His word, choose to encourage same-sex marriage and redefine family away from how God’s defines it, and choose to ostracise Israel, God’s covenant nation – we must not follow them.
We must not compromise but be strong to walk God’s path – not man’s. For that, we will need strong leaders, those with backbone and not wishbone, to make it happen. Man must rule but it must be under the overarching authority and guidance of God.
Lastly, PNG still has a long way to go in being the ideal, safe and blessed nation we can be. The solution is to not sit back and pray for an idyllic utopia to come down and hit us in the face. Let’s trust God, and rise up and work at it. As in all things, however, it must start from the top, from the leadership of Church and State (Psalm 133).
Lastly, man’s rule has consequences. The ungodly man’s rule will separate us from God in a path of destruction and disaster, while a godly man’s rule will draw our nation closer to God and His ways (Prov 14:34). As we approach yet another anniversary, let us make sure that men and women of integrity, moral character and strong faith in God will lead this special nation of PNG.
Happy 41st anniversary!
By REV. SEIK PITOI