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Devotionals

Human Rights Day

For today, I’m breaking away from “Dare to be a Daniel” because today, in South Africa we have a public holiday known as Human Rights Day. Human Rights Day in South Africa is historically linked with 21 March 1960, and the events of Sharpeville. On that day 69 people died and 180 were wounded when police fired on a peaceful crowd that had gathered in protest against the Pass laws. In the beginning this day, because of the tragedy, came to be known as the Sharpeville Massacre and it exposed the apartheid government’s deliberate violation of human rights to the world. Once apartheid ended and a democratic government elected and installed, they declared March 21 as Human Rights Day to commemorate and honour those who fought for our liberation and the rights we enjoy today.

1) We live remembering history. Whether it was Apartheid, Nazism or any other atrocity against human beings of any nation, language or ethnicity cannot be and must not be forgotten. We must remember the past however painful and however much we don’t want to remember the true history of our country. The same concept is true in Christianity. Take as an example …

Duet 5:15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

Israel was to remember that that were slaves in a foreign land. Coupled to the memory of slavery was the pain, suffering and hardships experienced over a huge part of the 400 years in that land. But then … the memory needed to include what God did for them by breaking the fierce iron fisted, chain of bandage of a stubborn hard hearted Pharoah. Remember deliverance. Then the response of the people was obedience to a Sabbath Day observance. In other words, they needed to remember their past and what God did for them through obedience to a day set apart to acknowledge God and His care. For believers there is another remembrance! The Lord Jesus said …

Lu 22:17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

Jesus was pointing to the Cross and what would happen and why it would happen. Spiritual slaves were taken out of the prison of sin. The Genesis 3 curse was reversed, where spiritual life was restored to those who through faith in Jesus’ blood sacrifice were redeemed and restored to sonship in God’s eternal family. Celebrating the Lord’s Supper is the mechanism of remembering the brutality of Calvary and the reason for it. So, like the delivery from Egypt, so more so the delivery from sin must be remembered. History must be remembered. The past must be remembered.

2) Although we live in the past, we need to live in the present. In the present we remember the past but we do not live in the past. Many want too! The problem of living the past in the present shows a lack of understanding of deliverance! Again, history is important but we need to stop living the past in the present. If we do we will never move forward, start a new, shaping the way ahead, ensuring that we never return to the evils of the past. Israel was to reflect through remembrance of their fore-father’s experience in bondage to prevent the same happening again. Sadly it did. They landed up in the Assyrian Exile (Northern Kingdom) and the Babylonian Exile (Southern Kingdom). In place of obedience to the Sabbath and what it meant spiritually, disobedience, idolatry and paganism followed. In the desert they wanted to return to Egypt. In the Promised Land they wanted paganism. Blatantly, they wanted to live in the past in the present. As followers of the Lord Jesus we need to be very careful of not falling for the devil’s tricks by living the past in the present. The enemy of the soul wants you to think you may enjoy the prospect of glory whilst living the “old nature” of the past.

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

The old has gone … we cannot live in sin thinking we will confuse God or do what He cannot see! The new is here. Christ is here. Gospel morality is required. If your morality is not Gospel, Jesus is not Lord and if Jesus is not Lord, He is not Saviour. Christians do not live the past in the present.

3) Whilst we remember the past, we live in the present for the future. The problem of living the past in the present is that you carry that philosophy into the future. You never mature out of the past. That was Israel’s main issue. The children lived out their for-parents sin in the present that carried into future generations … which destroyed the nation as the people of God. Should the Christian Church not live in the present for the future, her sustainability into future generations will erode. Over the last 100 years, many Church Grouping have lost the true Gospel because they have rejected the Bible, as we have it, as God’s final Word to man, without error and contradiction, which is fully inspired and authoritative. Their Gospel is no longer the true Gospel. They have ruined their future. Even when rejected and shut out, the True Church remains faithful to the True Gospel in the present because of the future. Our secular, materialistic society is filled with all shapes of pagan religions and rituals which offer people what they want. Living that way means living in the present with destruction for the future. True Christianity lives in the Word in the present preparing for life in glory in the future. Now we need to return to the background of Human Rights Day … Sharpeville Massacre. Whilst living in the present remembering the past but living for the future in the present will prevent such wickedness of the past in the future. Consider again Jesus’ summary of the Ten Commandments …

Mk 12:30 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

There are three components to the two most important commandments. (1) Love God. (2) Love yourself. (3) Love your neighbor. Once one is born again (loving God), are you able to love yourself for whom you are in Jesus. Then you can love your neighbor (everyone other than yourself). This is living in the present for the future. Christians move forward not backwards. Father, keep me focussed on Glory, living for the future whilst loving all people. Amen.

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