The Bible is full of stories of how God dealt with people and nations throughout generations. Those who believed in Him always rose up and defeated their enemies and did amazing things.
One of the things that I have discovered as I paged through the book is that many of those who were being used to create these powerful stories that still provide inspiration today were ordinary people who were going about their normal lives and not seeking fame. These were ordinary people — some not in any position of power — but their faith ended up contributing more stories to the Bible than many kings, princes and judges whose lives made no eternal impact.
In need of heroes
When you reflect on many stories of courage and determination anchored by faith, one cannot help wonder whether God could be speaking to some people today like He did in the past. Most especially at this time when our nation is in desperate need of heroes like David, who resolved a security crisis in Israel that all its soldiers, intelligence and king did not know how to resolve.
In those days kings would consult prophets in the land to find out about their destiny, and to get advice on which economic and military strategies to employ. There were times when prophets were the only hope for to the kings, whose economies were in dire situations.
At the word of the prophet the economic status of nations would change for the better or worse, like when Elijah decided there should be no rain for three and half years, leading the nation into a season of drought.
The story of Joseph is another one that, if read too quickly, one can miss the depth of lessons in it. God spoke to Pharaoh through a dream, but he couldn’t interpret the dream. Joseph was sent to him because someone knew he had a relationship with God that gave Him access to His divine wisdom.
When Joseph interpreted the dream, he was hired on the spot to a position similar to that of a prime minister, who was fully trusted by the king.
Joseph was then given a task to formulate and implement an economic development plan based on divine insights.
Because of him Egypt had divine intelligence that other nations didn’t have and were able to formulate and implement a strategy that ensured food security for years of famine.
When the famine finally hit, people ended up coming to Egypt from many parts of the world. They used their land as collateral for food and when they defaulted Pharaoh gained more territories, which expanded his empire. To this day the Egyptian pyramids are a reminder of the great kingdom Egypt once was.
I don’t believe Joseph’s family were the only people who ended up relocating to Egypt and eventually becoming slaves.
These stories make one wonder if there is not perhaps a Joseph or David in our nation today who could get divine wisdom and strategies from heaven to help our nation overcome its many challenges.
South Africa’s trial and error years
Since the dawn of democracy our country has developed a number of economic strategies from Reconstruction and Development Plan (RDP), Growth Employment and Redistribution (GEAR), Accelerated Shared Growth (ASGISA) to the current National Development Plan (NDP).
In addition, we are hearing of developing black industrialists, township economies and radical economic transformation, but the reality on the ground is something else. What all this means is we have been playing trial and error for the past 24 years and have not been able to develop a plan that works.
A word from God in 2017
Last year I covered a story, on behalf of The Christian Times, of an interdenominational prayer meeting that was held at the Union Buildings. This meeting was convened by Dr Eva Seobi leader of Women Alive Ministries, who said God gave her the date of October 3 2017 for the event.
The message that Dr Seobi received was to gather South Africans to repent for the sins of the nation so that God could extend mercy and rescue the nation from a downward spiral. The timing of the prayer day was interestingly just shortly after Yom Kippur, the day of repentance for the Jewish people. I’m told that at least a month before that day Jewish people begin to search their hearts in order to repent to God for their sins against Him and to one another. So, it seemed South Africans were also being called to a similar thing.
What Dr Seobi didn’t know was that on that day, Robert Mugabe, then president of Zimbabwe, would be visiting South Africa. In preparation for the prayer day an invitation was extended to the South African president — Jacob Zuma at the time — but apparently he didn’t deem this meeting important.
At a recent meeting of Women Alive Ministries, one of the leaders who was at the Union Buildings, Linda Gobodo began by reminding the women about what God has done over the last year. How God called the nation to repent last year at the Union Buildings, and how, coincidentally, President Mugabe happened to be visiting President Zuma.
She spoke of how the two presidents had ignored the call to repentance and how both had lost their positions before their terms were completed. While others might argue that these facts are just coincidences, it is something that cannot be totally ignored.
Could it be that God was giving the two presidents an opportunity to repent?
What are we missing?
If God is speaking to our nation and we are not paying attention, could we be missing out from having divine strategies and insights that would help us to break the cycle of formulating policy after policy without achieving real transformation?
It is clear that the best economic minds that South African government money could buy, both locally and abroad, have not been able to crack the code of what is required to resolve the economic dilemma of South Africa — just as all the wise men of Egypt couldn’t interpret Pharaoh’s dream.
We have not been able to figure how to grow the economy and lift people out of poverty at the same time. How do we respond to the growing number of young South Africans who remain outside the economic system and are driven to drugs and crime? How do we educate our children and make them ready to bring solutions to these problems?
Joseph in South Africa
Joseph was not active in the mainstream economy, with an established big business. He just had the wisdom of God despite being on the periphery of strategic decision-making bodies of the day. He was perhaps like Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng at the time he was applying for the job. Judge Mogoeng was then unknown to opinion-makers and the media made a meal out of him when he said God had chosen him for that job.
South Africa can no longer afford more years of trial and error. Many people believe that we have a new government under brand new leadership but when you look closely you discover it is the same people — just new slogans. These people have demonstrated their limited power and wisdom to radically transform the nation, these are the people who led us through the trial and error years.
It’s time for us to pray for more people like Joseph, who were not in the top echelons of Egyptian power or Pharaoh’s inner circle, to arise out of obscurity and lead the nation into its destiny. South Africa can only speak of a new dawn when these people have taken their positions because new wine cannot be contained in an old wine skin.