Ever been tempted to cheat on an exam? Ever thought about taking a shortcut to achieve a means in order to make a gain? If you have, that’s normal. We’ve all come across one or two temptations to cheat within our lifetimes. It can happen in a person’s career, business, and in relationships.
At times, the temptation can be unbearable and eat away at you on the inside. It can be so irksome that you wish you didn’t have to deal with the temptation. What makes it worse is that you think you can actually get away with it without getting caught. Insane…right!
Do people ever get away with cheating? What makes us wonder about the possibility of getting caught is when we witness other people get away with it.
In the bible, a story about Jacob the cheater seemingly has no repercussions from cheating his older brother Esau out of his birthright, and later, also his blessing. As the story goes, Jacob had to run away because his older brother was very angry with him.
If the story were to end right here, it would seem to imply that Jacob got away without getting caught. We know he was caught and escaped death by running for his life.
Later, he would have to pay a price. He runs to his uncle Laban’s house. Meets his two daughters Leah and Rachel. He ends up having to work seven years to have Leah as his wife, then another seven years to have Rachel. He felt cheated out of seven years and then another seven years because Laban had the intention of cheating Jacob out of his labor.
Later, schemes of cheating one another would continue when Jacob tries to exact revenge on uncle Laban by cheating him out of large herds of goats, lambs, and sheep. He had to run away again.
This whole story of dishonesty, conniving and exacting revenge on one another takes place between chapters 25-33 in the book of Genesis. It seemed like an endless cycle.
In reading this entire story as a whole, we can see that cheating does not pay. An endless cycle of dishonesty, cheating and revenge will take place.
So if you ever had thoughts of cheating on exams, on your spouse, on your co-workers, better think twice. Cheating does not pay. You will get caught…eventually. Justice will be repaid.
It is interesting that Japan and Germany had been travelling on dangerous paths prior to the Second World War. People had been yearning for a great German nation. Japan was hungry for domination in East and South-East Asia. Their yearning back to greatness gave rise to regimes that indoctrinated an entire generation. What is interesting is what allowed these circumstances to arise?
My hypothesis is that there was likely a spiritual vaccuum in both of these countries. They had made greatness their god. They desired greatness more than anything. They didn’t care how it hurt innocent people. Many millions of people died at the hands of imperialist Japan and Nazi Germany. They either lost or did not have a spiritual foundation to support their societies. The Church grew weak in Germany. There was a spiritual and religious staleness within. Ethics and morality fell by the wayside and it allowed vain pride and desire for greatness overtake the souls of their nations.
A nation without a spiritual foundation will eventually be forgotten. What China lacks today is a strong spiritual foundation. China may be strong and gaining economic strength, but will it last? Its authoritarian government seems to seek to become a god or godlike. Any nation, China included, needs a government with a sense of humility at its core. What if China does become the pre-eminent economic or military powerhouse in 10-20 years? Well, what then? If we learn from history, any nation can fall like Germany and Japan had fallen during the Second World War. It sought greatness as their god.
Today, South Korea has become a rich nation. They have also become a great Christian nation. It is my earnest hope and prayer that China also becomes a Christian nation. Christianity could potentially provide China a spiritual foundation it never truly had. In its past life, it was inundated with Confucianism and Buddhism. This was sort of a spiritual foundation but it was not able to propel China to greatness. These philosophies and religions brought China a certain level of spirituality but the Chinese people eventually lost their way. It eventually became a weak nation that other nations picked on. A portion of the Chinese population fell prey to opium addiction. They lost generations to drug addiction and as a result, it became incapacitated. It allowed Communism to step in and take action against imperialistic intimidation.
Hence, the rise of Communism was needed to beef-up its borders. These former religions and philosophies, as good as they were, are limiting. Although Christianity has not yet taken hold of China as it has to the degree like it has in South Korea, they are on their way to becoming a greater nation than it used to be under Buddhism and Confucianism.
I hope and pray that their turn toward Christ will not falter. I also pray that my father’s motherland of China can become that great nation for Christ that it can potentially become. I believe it can do so with Chinese characteristics. Christianity can bring a humility to its national core that Confucianism and Buddhism could not bring. Christianity can help reinforce a spiritual core that communism cannot. Communism has at its core a requirement to control. It must keep a tight rein on its people through intense big brother tactics. It does not trust individual rights and private property.
I pray that these two nations of South Korea and China will not forfeit the opportunity to build their spiritual heritages as nations that follow Christ. All nations need a spiritual foundation in order to maintain peace in order that prosperity may come. Throughout history, all nations that have become prosperous have acquired the prerequisite for peace—that is, a strong and robust spiritual foundation. Without peace, nations cannot become prosperous. Poverty only results from political instability. In the past, English and American prosperity ensued due to a peaceful environment.
May God also grant peace and prosperity to China, South Korea, and other nations along with a reverence for God.
There are new nations rising from the ashes. Undoubtedly, China is one, and South Korea is another. I predict there will be many more to come as nations become more developed. Future nation states will rise from the southern hemisphere, South, South-East and East Asia, and perhaps eventually Africa. Europe and North America and Japan have had its turn.
Today, there are far fewer products being made in the U.S.A. and the western world. There are only a few items I own with this label. What we are seeing far more of today is the label, “Made in China.”
We ask ourselves, where have the good ol’ days gone? We hear the slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Nothing wrong with that. No doubt, America has had its days of greatness. Many products used to be produced in America and proudly stamped, “Made in the USA.” My father remembers those days. England used to be a great industrial nation. Germany and Japan are still strong but we are constantly look behind our backs and seeing other nations gaining ground.
Sadly, though, I do not foresee a total return to those good ol’ days of American made products. The cost of production is far too high and the value of world currencies do not help. I do not doubt America’s potential to produce top quality products. America still has the know-how and technology to succeed. However, what is most concerning is the spiritual condition of America’s national soul.
I am old enough to remember when America’s vehicles were considered unreliable and were not built to last, e.g., Ford’s vehicles were sadly referred to as: “Frequently On Repair Dock”. How true is this of many American-made products today? I don’t know. There used to be an innate desire in Americans to produce excellence but sadly it does not run throughout most of American society. Rather than producing quality and providing workers with good salary and benefits, corporate America is largely driven by profit and cost-cutting measures to benefit the bottom-line; hence, today’s desire of many people for Japanese-made and German-made vehicles like Lexus, Mercedes, and BMWs. It might seem surprising that some North Americans and most Europeans have never driven American-made vehicles.
I stated in a previous post, China is ramping up their production and innovation. As strong as they already are, I believe they have the potential to become even better. It might take a decade or two, but they will become one of the premier powerhouses in the world. Many predict that China will eventually overtake the United States in G.D.P. by this next decade. It has already become an innovation power-house. China is pouring billions into Research & Development. As I read about technology internationally, I’m learning about how they are now one of the top leaders (if not the top) in Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G networks, electric vehicles (EV), including solar energy and rechargeable batteries. I predict they will soon become the top providers of 5G technology in the world and artificial intelligence (hence America’s fear of Huawei).
It might just be a matter of time when China will improve and eventually overtake America in quality of production. Japan has already done so in many respects but have seemed to reached a plateau. My father remembers the days when Japanese products were also considered inferior products. That changed as Japan improved. Being younger, I only have memories of Japanese products being top-notch quality. Today, South Korea is gaining ground on Japan. Future generations will foreseeably consider Korean-made and even Chinese-made products as top-quality.
Chinese society and Chinese people are a people who vigorously strive for excellence. There is a deep-seated desire to become number one. One day, I was shocked to hear from my own daughter’s mouth, who is now only 11 years old, that she thinks China wants to become the world’s number one nation. I asked her where she got that impression? “Oh I don’t know”… or “I just know.” She likely picked it up from watching YouTube videos. I’ve seen a few myself. This is the impression that today’s younger generations have of China. It wasn’t like this when I was growing up. China was poor and looked down upon as a hopeless socialist basket-case country. Today, that’s changed.
In the future, perhaps a hundred years down the road, Chinese people might yearn to remember their good ol’ days too. China’s younger population will eventually decline and its overall population will shrink. Demographics experts predict trouble will begin looming on China’s horizon in about 30 years from now due to population shrinkage.
Today, however, China has a grand opportunity to make history. However, history will be remembered only if a nation becomes a spiritually strong people. How can this take shape? ( Read the next post. )
As a kid in the schoolyard, I remember making promises to do something, or making an oath to reinforce what I said was absolutely true. One went like this:
“Cross my heart, and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” And if we got away with crossing our finger hidden behind our backs, our promise didn’t count as a real oath.
Somehow, these silly antics were supposed to reinforce the truth. As we get older and grow out of our elementary ways and methods of making what we say sound more believable, we’ve changed things up a little: “To be totally honest with you…” Well, as if what we just said was going to be more truthful than usual.
I just ran into a very strange saying in the Old Testament Bible. This one has always stumped me and caused me to ponder upon its meaning and how it originated. It seems that an oath made under a man’s scrotum was somehow more binding.
“So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.” (Genesis 24:9)
Really stumps me. Hard to imagine its significance. Anyone get the meaning of this one or how it originated?!
This is the first of the posts on Great Nations. This first post is an introduction on our common spiritual foundation. Part 1 is my reflection on China’s implosion into Communism (Part 1), followed by nations rising from the East (Part 2), and our need for spiritual foundations (Part 3).
When siblings become rivals, they provoke, prod and poke each other. At their worst, they might sometimes hurt one another. In life, when two siblings fight, they can be so hard on one another they end-up beating each up black and blue. At other times, ironically, when an outsider intrudes upon one of the siblings, the other sibling comes to the other’s rescue. I can remember, I have had both my share of fights and rescues.
Brothers will be brothers. They can love and hate one another. When they are deep into rivalry, they will always remain as brothers. In the bible, there were sets of two rival siblings, Cain and Abel (Genesis 2), and Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25). These were rivals who ended hurting one another—one brother murdered the other sibling.
In Genesis, there was a record of two people whom God blessed. One was a woman, Hagar, and the other, Sarah. The two were not sisters but rival wives of Abraham. The two women both produced offspring that populated the earth. One is thought to have become an Arab people. The other have become the Jewish nation. These two ethnic nations still remain great peoples.
People descended from Hagar:
“God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” (Genesis 21:17-18)
People descended from Sarah:
“The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:15-18)
In the biblical past, the two nations of Hagar and Abraham have not been at peace with one another. They have been sibling rivals for centuries. They have cut each other down with hurtful words and war. Islamic nations can achieve prosperity if they maintain peace within their own sibling nations like Israel.
I pray that these two great peoples do eventually find peace with one another so that God’s blessings may be poured out upon their peoples and lands. May God bless these two Abrahamic traditions and grant them peace and prosperity.
In the brotherhood of nations, one nation might fight another nation with weapons that kill—brother against brother, sister against sister. Sometimes, they take jabs at one another using words. Sometimes they taunt one another using rockets, grenades and missiles. Arguments and battles of oratory brilliance can spark more than just lightening rods. They can spark rockets and explosives that can kill thousands, if not millions of innocent people.
Our hope is, of course, that their disputes do not end up with fatalities. Inevitably, there will be some bloodshed. Hopefully, however, there will eventually be healing and friendship. As nations continue to struggle with one another around the world, I hope that we as Christians might pray for peace around the world. A few examples in modern times are: North Korea and South Korea; East Germany and West Germany. There are other examples on every continent.
As Christians, we hope that we do not pound the other nation into submission. We pray that rival nations may resolve their disputes. We pray that sibling nations might put away their arms and offer gifts and palm branches of peace.
Throughout history, nations do rise up from ashes to become great nations. Nations will also fall from grace and end up becoming crippled, grow old and die. Nations ought never take for granted their golden days of prosperity. They need to count their blessings and remember to thank God for the prosperity that have been bestowed upon them in their history.
The United States, the U.K., Canada, and other western nations have become great nations. However, there is always the possibility that they might fall from grace, become impoverished, and worse, die. Think of the Assyrians and Babylonians. Where are they today? They have become merely records written in human history.
There is a need for a foundation of nations. Rivalry and fighting is not it.