A Word of Witness

South African Constitution
This is a long post, but one which I feel compelled to write. I hope you will read it through to the end and then comment freely to add your ‘word of witness’.

There is a foul wind blowing across the nations of the world, and its malignant force is most obvious in the land of my birth, the Republic of South Africa. Many local voices are speaking out at this time, but we all need to add our words until the gale of righteous protest is strong enough to counter the evil wind we confront. We all have something to say, we all have a circle of influence, and we are all citizens with birth rights and responsibilities.

It is easy to identify the effects of this noxious squall: poverty, violent crime, economic woes, and political instability. These are just broad categories, but the effects are intensely personal. Our people are dying, our women are being raped, many of our youth are derelict, addicted and without hope. Our currency is becoming increasingly worthless, our education standards a cause of sad derision, and our political antics a pathetic parody of leadership.

What is not so obvious though are the underlying causes of our current calamity. It is too easy and trite to simply blame the past, but we have to go deeper, for the underlying issues that blighted the past are the same that are devastating the present. And it will come as no surprise that the same malevolent causes of our current condition have been evident throughout human history.

The prophet Isaiah identified them in the ancient nation of Israel when he raised his voice and proclaimed:

“For our offenses are many in your sight,

and our sins testify against us.

Our offenses are ever with us,

and we acknowledge our iniquities:

rebellion and treachery against the Lord,

turning our backs on our God,

fomenting oppression and revolt,

uttering lies our hearts have conceived.

So justice is driven back,

and righteousness stands at a distance;

truth has stumbled in the streets,

honesty cannot enter.

Truth is nowhere to be found,

and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey”.

Isaiah 59:12-15

When we investigate the causes of today’s obnoxious gusts we find three low-pressure areas; injustice, unrighteousness, and untruth. Furthermore, there is one calamity that has given rise to this malign trinity, but to appreciate this fully we first need to understand these three.

Injustice has been a problem for our nation for several generations. In the past, it was most evident in racial prejudice and social inequality. Today it manifests in a number of ways. It is unjust that power, privilege, and wealth are in the hands of a few while the majority live in want of all three. In the past, the culprits were exclusively white, but today colour is not the determinant, despite the vain attempts of government mouthpieces to say otherwise. It is unjust that many politically connected criminals go free while multitudes of lesser offenders languish in an overloaded penal system. It is unjust that millions of our young people are subjected to expensive and increasingly worthless education. And it is unjust that those who deeply desire to work the land, run business, and contribute to society in other ways cannot do so because the opportunities are given to the family, friends and sycophants of those in power.

What is just or unjust is meant to be determined by the justice system of the nation, and it is here where the foul wind is blowing strongest. Despite their transparently disingenuous protestations to the contrary, the political leaders of our land are consistently attacking our juristic foundations. The examples are all too numerous: flouting international law and then protesting that our nation should not be subject to it, blatantly overturning the lawful ruling of the Public Protector, and then pleading ignorance of constitutional law; and so on, ad nauseam. The government agenda is obvious as it seeks to break down that which it is constitutionally responsible for upholding. The latest, not so subtle, onslaught against justice came the other day. The constitutional court ruled that our president had acted in a way that violated the constitution of the country, and his response was to address a gathering of traditional leaders and state that he would be very happy if matters could be settled outside of the legal system because judges dealt only with cold facts and did not take into consideration other perspectives. I need say no more!

The second low-pressure system over our land is unrighteousness. At a social level, this translates as, ‘lack of moral virtue’. When we look at the lives of our president and his henchmen, what do we observe? We see adultery, fornication, greed, corruption, lying, and arrogance. I am a 68-year-old with the incredulity that comes with age, but what of our young people? What models are they observing, and what are they aspiring to as they seek to emulate the powerful figures in our nation?

And as for truth, well Isaiah expressed it better that I ever could when he said that ‘truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey’. It is appalling to realise that we expect politicians to lie. When they spin the truth, distort the truth, or just flat out lie, we tend to grimace or laugh and wait for the next outrageous fabrication. Quotes given in blatant isolation of their context, half-truths and pathetically nonsensical prevarications are the norm. Yet politicians are supposed to be servants of truth, justice, and the wellbeing of the people. They should be held to the highest standard and we, the citizens of the land, fail ourselves and future generations when we do not demand the best from them and of them. But, as it stands now, truth is a swear word, honesty an inconvenience, and anyone who shuns this evil becomes a prey, as is obvious in how our Public Protector has been treated.

It is no coincidence that Matthew applied Isaiah’s prophecy to the Lord Jesus when he said; “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim JUSTICE to the nations” (Matthew 12:18). And Paul was choosing his words carefully when he concluded his sermon to the people of Jerusalem with; “The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the RIGHTEOUS One and to hear words from his mouth” (Acts 22:14). And Jesus was quite specific when he declared; “I am the way and the TRUTH and the life” (John 14:6). So, to look for justice, righteousness, and truth we need to look to Jesus, the divine incarnation of these qualities.

Now, the underlying source of our bad national air is also found in Isaiah’s words; ‘For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God,’ When our new constitution was hammered out some twenty years ago, it was presented to the nation as the body of fundamental principles by which our secular state would be governed. Accordingly, the preamble to the constitution reads ‘We, the people of South Africa, Recognise the injustices of our past; Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity. We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic…’ The original document did not read this way, but commenced with the words, ‘In humble submission to Almighty God, we the people of South Africa…’ The label ‘secular state’ carries with it the idea of being non-religious, and so the first six words were erased from the constitution. This, in my view, was a disastrous deletion. Those six words would place the constitution and the people who are governed in terms of it under the authority and providence of Almighty God. They imply that there is a higher source of authority and that the constitution itself is an expression of the values established by this higher power, God. Those six words would have given context and perspective to all that the constitution embodies and a final point of reference for the way our government lives up to their constitutional obligations.

If we, the people of South Africa, are to survive the poisonous winds that threaten us, then we must restore Justice, Righteousness, and Truth to our nation.

Ultimately we must restore the lost phrase to our constitution; ‘in humble submission to Almighty God’. And this restoration must start with us, ‘the people of Almighty God’. It is we, who are sons and daughters of the Most High, who need to raise the standard and raise our voices. If we, the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, do what is right, if we speak out to the rulers of our land, and if we humble ourselves and pray for divine intervention, will God not bring a mighty Revival hurricane to blow away the foul wind of corruption, lies, and violence that pollutes our nation?

What can we do to make a difference? We can recognise the true causes of our national ailment, we can speak out into whatever circle of influence we have, and we can pray and ask God to send a mighty wind of revival through the church and across our nation. In this wind of the Spirit, the injustice, unrighteousness, and untruth of our current leaders will be exposed. In this wind of the Spirit, Christian men and women will be inspired to stand up and ascend to the positions of power in our land. In this wind of the Spirit, we the people of South Africa will be refreshed and empowered to take our place as citizens of a nation that is in humble submission to Almighty God.

If you agree with what I have written, then please share this article so that our combined voices can go out into our circles of influence.

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10 Responses

  1. Vlasta Ross-Jones

    Amen!

  2. Rob Large

    Chris,someone once said we should all pray earnestly to God to bring down the wicked and lift up the righteous, which is something I do. But then Jesus did not stand back and simply accept injustice and untruth, he spoke out boldly and fearlessly. Also in the OT it behoves (forces) the Israelites to fight against injustice wherever they see it.( This is one of the causes of anti-semitism as usually it was the rulers they spoke against, it is no coincidence so many Jews fought against Apartheid) The big question is what should we do as Christians? Has anyone got more ideas to add to Chris’s?
    P.S. I think Isaiah and John are the most spectacular Books in the Bible. They amaze me every time I read them.

  3. Jo Kruger

    Rob has it. If we all stand up and be counted in the spirit of righteousness, justice and the freedom from oppression then in the end we will make our difference. Let us roll up our sleeves and get vocal and be large in the name of the Lord.

  4. christa

    Die Afrikaanse vertaling is skokkend.

    • chrispeppler@telkomsa.net

      Hi Christa. You probably know that Google translate often gets it wrong, but at least it gives you the gist of something. For instance, it translates ‘gist’ as ‘kern’, which it then translates back into English as ‘core’ 🙂

  5. Hi Chris, our prayers continue to be with our country of birth, supporting as we can from afar. We’ll spread the message and also pray that the day will come when those six words and the nations soul, are restored to their rightful place in this world.
    Pray also that when the attack comes on Australia’s constitution to “revise” the phrase “humbly relying on the blessing of Almightly God” that the Church and the people have the courage to stand up to prevent further deterioration of morality.

  6. Ann van der borden

    In South Africa we see the evidence of Satan’s activities with sickening clarity….yet where darkness abounds the clear Light of God shines more brightly. God’s plans will come to pass and those who choose evil above righteousness will have to face His soon coming wrath. As a very senior citizen of South Africa and, more importantly, a child of God, I share His mercy and love and above all, pray without ceasing for His will to be done on this earth as it is in Heaven.

  7. Mike Guest

    Chris, as we follow the rest of the world into a culture of covetousness, greed and amorality, I can’t help but wonder if those amongst us who say that we are entering the End Times are not correct. What you have written is 100% for our country, and a little research will show that is a worldwide trend that seems to be irreversible. For those of us without much influence in the secular world the only option is, as you say, to humble ourselves and pray

  8. Ken Haiden

    Having listened to your sermon on the same topic last night, I affirm wholeheartedly the content of your blog posting and your sermon, Chris. Recently I posted a strongly worded response in support of the Avaaz posting on the same topic, which deals largely with the need for change in SA starting with the urgent need to see the removal of our President and his cronies and sycophants. Your blog posting, however, deals with the topic far more correctly and accurately, because it places Jesus Christ at the centre of the need of the people of our beautiful country. Justice, righteousness and truth are found only in the person of Jesus Christ and, without Him at the centre, our country is doomed. The removal of the original preface or preamble to our Constitution shortly before it was finally agreed upon back in the early 1990s in an indication, generally, of our political and other leader’s disregard for God and unwillingness to submit in humility to Him. Although our Constitution is regarded as a model Constitution worldwide it lacks this one essential ingredient – a humble submission to the authority and sovereignty of Almighty God. As a result, our political and other leaders, generally speaking, are not willing to submit to a higher standard and moral authority, unless there are those who have a personal relationship with Almighty God through our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. But those are few within the political realm and also within civic society. Hence it is up to the church of Jesus Christ, who are supposed to be the beacons of light and the carriers of hope, to be the catalysts for change in a nation which needs to focus on and implement justice, righteousness and truth. Ridding our country of corrupt politicians and evil leaders via any methods we choose which do not include a change of heart on the part of those being targeted for removal and on the part of those left behind to govern and lead, will be an exercise in futility. Corruption and evil deeds will merely continue. What is required is that the hearts of men and women are changed to the ways of Christ. The only way that will happen is through the power of the Holy Spirit actively at work in the hearts of those who do not have Jesus Christ in their lives as Lord and Saviour. The task of conveying the gospel of Jesus Christ into the lives of unbelievers is the task of the body of Jesus Christ, the church. If that does not happen, we have failed the country and our Lord and Saviour. Let’s shake ourselves out of our comfortable positions of complacency and silence, and urgently get on with the task of bringing the best message of hope ever told, the good news of Jesus Christ, to a nation in desperate need of His forgiveness and grace. There has never been a better time in our generation as there is now to act on the Great Commission of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is not an option for Christians, it is an instruction from God Himself. Let’s do it!

  9. […] week I published THIS POST, a Word of Witness, which I feel is so very vital and relevant to us in today’s uncertain […]

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