“I Have Raised You Up For This Very Purpose…” – Part 4 of My Reflections on the Death of Malawi’s Third President, His Excellency, the Late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika

Exodus 9:16

As I pointed out in my previous post, Romans 13:1-7 also has massive implications for our national leaders precisely because it is the LORD God who sovereignly appoints and ordains “governing authorities” as the following verses from Romans 13 indicate:

Verse 1:  “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God;”

Verse 2:  “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Verse 4:  “For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

Verse 6:  “For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.”

This post is mainly directed to the current President, Her Excellency, Mrs. Joyce Mtila Banda – and I hope that somehow this post will make its way to her.  Here is my message to you Madam President:

  1. Seek First the Kingdom of God:  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
  2. Pursue the glory of God in everything you do:  “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
  3. Pursue the fear of God (not man) in everything you do:  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10).
  4. The LORD God honors those who honor Him:  “…But now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Samuel 2:30).
  5. Pursue justice for the poor, orphans, widows and the oppressed“If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.  And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water,    whose waters do not fail.  And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;   you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in” (Isaiah 58:10-12).
  6. Be Prepared to Take the Necessary Risks for the Greater Good and for the Glory of God:  “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14)?
  7. Trust the Lord and Commit Your Ways to Him:  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:5-8); “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday” (Psalm 37:5-6).
  8. Be Still and Know That God is LORD:  “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! (Psalm 37:7); “Be still, and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10)!
  9. Refrain From Anger:  Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!  Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.  For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land” (Psalm 37:5-9).
  10. Be Strong and Courageous with God’s Word as Your Guide:  “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6); “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6-9).
  11. Relax – The Battle is the LORD’s:  “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24); “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand” (1 Samuel 17:45-47).  “And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:13-14).
  12. Walk Humbly with Your God:  “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

The LORD God delegates authority to “governing authorities” and appoints them to be his “servants/ministers” for one purpose:  that He may be glorified!  This means that all “governing authorities” must make a conscious effort and make sure that they are exercising their powers and responsibilities to the glory of God.  I pray that your will dedicate yourself to this grand purpose as you carry out your responsibilities at the Fourth President of the Republic of Malawi!

May the Lord richly bless you – and may He bless the nation of Malawi!

Please visit the Bible Answers blog for Part 1; Part 2 and Part 3 of these reflections.

“There is No Authority Except From God…” – Part 3 of My Reflections on the Death of Malawi’s Third President, His Excellency, the Late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Rome, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned the following words found in Romans 13:1-7:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Map of Malawi, "The Warm Heart of Africa"

As the nation of Malawi continues to mourn the loss of her third President, His Excellency, the Late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika, I would like to remind us all of this biblical teaching that “there is authority except from God” (Ro. 13:1).  These words have massive implications on us all as a nation especially at this particular time.

As I pointed out in my post yesterday,

“…Times of great tragedy and loss like the one that we are going through now as a nation, provide us with wonderful opportunities for deep, serious and penetrating reflection, soul-searching and evaluation of our priorities and the orientation of our lives.  Tragic times like these as unpleasant, hard and painful as they are often special gifts and conduits of blessing from our gracious Lord who does all things well.  The LORD often orchestrates and uses such tragic events to shape us into the kind of people that He wants us to be and to fulfill His purposes in/through us to His glory.”

In today’s post, I would like to reflect with you on some of the implications that Romans 13:1-7has for all of us even as we mourn the death of our former President.

His Excellency, the Late President, Professor Bingu wa Mutharika & Madam Callista Mutharika

Implications for the Citizenry in General:  The Bible here clearly teaches that it is befitting that subjects give due honor and utmost respect to “governing authorities” whoever they may be.  To reinforce this, Paul reaches for the highest reason he could find, namely that God is the One who appoints these authorities.  These governing authorities (regardless of who they are or what one may think of them), are God’s chosen servants.  Consider the following verses in Romans 13:1-7 and notice the highlighted phrases:

Verse 1:  “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God;”

Verse 2:  “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Verse 4:  “For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

Verse 6:  “For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.”

It’s interesting to note how much emphasis Paul puts on the fact that the governing authorities are God’s servants (seven times in these seven short verses).  The implication is that anyone who messes with these governing authorities messes with God and “will incur (God’s) judgment” (verse 2).  This is huge!

We are to Honor and Submit to Both Good and Bad “Governing Authorities.” 

Emperor Nero mercilessly persecuted and killed many Christians

It’s also interesting to note that Paul does not give any other qualification when he talks of these “governing authorities.”  Some of us would expect him to say, “Let every person be subject to ‘good’ ‘governing authorities’”.  But the Bible is silent there.  Why?  I think the reason is this:  It doesn’t matter whether we consider those “governing authorities” to be good or bad.  That’s irrelevant when it comes to this exhortation.  We are to submit to them all – the good ones and the bad ones.  In saying this of course, the Bible is not condoning bad government.  Besides the fact that these “governing authorities” have been appointed by God and that they are His “ministers,” Paul wants to impress upon us that if we find ourselves under bad, cruel, uncaring and oppressive “governing authorities,” we still need to submit to them by honoring and respecting them as those who have been appointed by God to be His “servants/ministers” vested with His authority to rule over us.  Their failures, mistakes and sins do not exempt any of us from this divine obligation.  We will all give an account for our own sins – other people’s sins are in no way excuses for our sins – neither are other people’s sins licenses for us to indulge in or rationalize our sins (hate speeches, retribution, mercilessness, etc).

Another interesting thing to note regarding this is the fact that Paul wrote these words in about 57 A.D.  That is very significant because Caesar Nero was the “governing authority” during this time.  He reigned over Rome as Emperor from 54 to 68 A. D. – and he was not a good leader by any stretch of imaginations.

The implications are doubly binding and serious for Christian citizens as they were when Paul wrote these words.  One Bible commentator makes this observation:

The grace of the gospel teaches us submission and quiet, where pride and the carnal mind only see causes for murmuring and discontent.  Whatever the persons in authority over us themselves may be, yet the just power they have, must be submitted to and obeyed…This directs private persons to behave quietly and peaceably where God has set them (1 Ti 2:1,2).  Christians must not use any trick or fraud.  All smuggling, dealing in contraband goods, withholding or evading duties, is rebellion against the express command of God.  The lesson here taught it becomes all Christians to learn and practice, that the godly in the land will always be found the quiet and the peaceable in the land, whatever others are.

Madam Callista Mutharika, Former First Lady
In our present situation, it is a known fact that not everyone thought well of the late President, Professor Bingu wa Mutharika especially in the last two years of his regime.  Although we would all agree that his first five years was excellent, very few (if any) would have described him as a good, caring and kind “governing authority” at the time of his death.  Yet, the fact remains that he was God’s appointed “governing authority” (President) for Malawi for the time that he was in power (2004-2012).  Regardless of what our personal view concerning our late President, His Excellency Professor Bingu wa Mutharika, it is my sincere hope and prayer that as Malawians, we will give honor his memory and respectfully mourn his death for he was truly a God-appointed servant to rule over us.  One of the ways we can do this is by praying for, expressing our sympathy and giving our support to Madam Callista Mutharika, and the bereaved family.

The LORD God will hold us accountable (not Bingu) for how we conduct ourselves.  Each of us will answer for himself/herself before God at the end of our lives.  Let us then be careful not to “incur (God’s) judgment.”  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Finally, I applaud the incumbent State President, Her Excellency, Mrs. Joyce Mtila Banda for calling on us all, to respectfully mourn our late President.  I also applaud “Soldier” Lucius Banda for putting Romans 13:1-7 into practice by honoring the memory of the late President with this beautiful song entitled, Tribute to The Late Bingu wa Mutharika.  You can listen to this song here:

The teaching of Romans 13:1-7 also has implications for our national leaders, but for that, we will have to wait until tomorrow, Lord willing.

Please visit the Bible Answers blog for Part 1 and Part 2 of these reflections.

May the LORD God bless Malawi and bless us all!

“It is Better to Take Refuge in the LORD than to Trust in Man” – Part 2 of My Reflections on the Death of Malawi’s Third President, His Excellency, the Late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika

“Oh, how I pray that Malawi will see “the LORD high and lifted up…” even through the death of our beloved President (the late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika).  Let us not question God’s purposes.  He is the LORD and He answers to no one.  He does whatever He pleases for He is the LORD!  Rather, let us (in faith) say with Job, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).  AMEN!!”

The Late President, Professor Bingu wa Mutharika

That was how we ended our discussion yesterday in a post which I entitled, “In the Year That King Uzziah Died…” – Part 1 of My Reflections on the Death of Malawi’s Third President, His Excellency, the Late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika.  I decided to do these posts because I believe that times of great tragedy and loss like the one that we are going through now as a nation, provide us with wonderful opportunities for deep, serious and penetrating reflection, soul-searching and evaluation of our priorities and the orientation of our lives.  Tragic times like these, as unpleasant, hard and painful as they are often special gifts and conduits of blessing from our gracious Lord who does all things well.  The LORD often orchestrates and uses such tragic events to shape us into the kind of people that He wants us to be and to fulfill His purposes in/through us to His glory.

In this post, I would like to consider another important truth in Psalm 118:8, which calls us to place our trust, fix our hopes and focus our eyes on the LORD God.  Yesterday, I pointed how “the LORD God used King Uzziah’s death to show (Isaiah and the people of Israel), His great power and magnificent glory which is far better!”  And “in revealing His power and glory, the LORD was showing His grace and mercy towards the people of Israel.”  Once Isaiah had seen the glory and grace of the LORD, the total orientation of his life changed.  He kept his eyes on the LORD.  There was no one else to turn to.  King Uzziah was dead and the LORD God alone was Isaiah’s and Israel’s hope.

The Late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda

This is what Psalm 118:8 was intended to teach us:  “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.”  Perhaps there is no better time than now for us all to examine ourselves and see where we have been placing our hopes and trust as a nation.  Judging from people’s comments on social media and elsewhere on the internet, I think it would be safe to conclude or at least ask the question whether or not Malawi as a nation had put all her eggs in Bingu’s basket instead of the LORD’s.  Could it be that much of the anger and frustration with the late President Bingu wa Mutharika could be a direct result of misplaced hope and trust?  I wonder.

Because the LORD God is the King of kings and the LORD of lords, glorious, majestic and in a class of His own, the Scriptures tell us that He is very jealous for His glory.  Could it be that perhaps the LORD wants us as a nation to grapple with this reality?  As a nation, we have a history of making idols and gods of our leaders.  Consider with me for a moment how people feared and revered our first President, His Excellency, the Late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda to whom we affectionately gave the title, Ngwazi (Chief of chiefs).  After him came former President, His Excellency, Dr. Bakili Muluzi, affectionately known as Atcheya (the Chairman – though not as exalted as Ngwazi, but nevertheless carries the same connotation in practice).  Then came another “Ngwazi” our third President, His Excellency, the Late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika.

Former President, Dr. Bakili Muluzi

As a nation, we must confess that we naively placed too much trust in each of these men to the extent that they became our make-believe gods.  Ironically, we pride ourselves as a God-fearing nation in principle.  But I am afraid that we may not be in real practice.  Or at least the foundation of our fear of God is quite shallow and shaky.  Our roots may not be very deep when it comes to having the true reverential fear of God.  We seem to easily be swayed by our leaders and carried away by them (their power, rhetoric and/or temporal achievements) to the extent that we begin worshipping them.

This is quite ironic especially when one takes into account the fact that the majority of the population of Malawian is Christian and that many of them have at one time or another sang in their churches, homes or Bible Study groups the popular praise song, Palibe Ofanana Ndi Yesu (There is No One Like Jesus).  Furthermore, the Bible is very clear that the LORD God is in a class of His Own.  He has no equal!

Consider these few passages of Scripture with me as we conclude:

Exodus 15:11, “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?  Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before me.”

The Burning Bush (Exodus 3)

Exodus 34:14, “For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God…”

Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD; that is My name; My glory I give to no other, nor My praise to carved idols.”Isaiah 45:5-7, “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.  I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.”

Isaiah 48:11, “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned?  My glory I will not give to another.”

The list could go on and on, but I think the point is well made:  the LORD God is a Jealous God!  He will not give His glory to another (whether President or not).  The LORD God is no respecter of persons.

Two Concluding Thoughts:

Her Excellency, Malawi's Incumbent President, Mrs. Joyce Mtila Banda Taking Oath of Office on April 7, 2012

First, I sincerely hope and pray that as we mourn and reflect on the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika, we will humbly come before God confessing our sins before God as a nation for giving to mere men that glory which He alone deserves.  We need to repent of this sin and seek forgiveness from the LORD through Jesus Christ.

Secondly, I sincerely hope and pray that the current President, Her Excellency, Mrs. Joyce Mtila Banda will be careful not to rob the LORD God of the glory that is due to Him alone!  I plead with you Mrs. President to resist that temptation.  I am proud that you are a professing Christian.  Praise the LORD!  As a committed Christian and follower of the LORD Jesus Christ, I trust that you will not let that happen for your own good, for the good of the nation, but ultimately to the glory of the LORD God Most High who is the King of kings and the LORD of lords!  He Alone deserves to be worshipped!Until next time, may the LORD impress these truths deeply in each of our hearts.

For more on this and related posts, please visit the Bible Answers blog or for Part 1 of these reflections, please click here.

“In the Year that King Uzziah Died I Saw the Lord…” – Part 1 of My Reflections on the Death of Malawi’s Third President, His Excellency, the Late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika

This is the first of a number of posts that I hope to write as Malawi mourns the sudden death of our beloved former President, His Excellency, the Late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika, Lord willing.

First, I join many Malawians who have expressed deep sorrow and condolences to the Mutharika family and to the nation for this tragic loss. No one was prepared for this, not even the last President himself. Professor Mutharika was a great leader. He was an achiever and no one can really question the fact that he wanted to make Malawi a nation of achievers as he himself said at many times. Despite all the issues that one might have had with him, the fact remains that he did much good for Malawi as a nation during his tenure of office and for that we ought to be thankful.

His Excellency, the Late Professor Bingu wa MutharikaBut this post is not about the late President’s achievements (If you are interested in that, let me recommend Rex Chikoko’s article which you can access here). My main goal in writing this post is to offer some consolation, encouragement and hope to the nation during this time of mourning. My prayer is that the Lord will take whatever is shared here and use it to produce a God-ward focus in us all as we mourn. I also pray and trust that even through this great national tragedy, the Lord God will work out His own great and magnificent purposes to the glory of His Holy Name and to the blessing of the people of Malawi.

In any country, the death of a president would be a tragic and “earth-shaking” event. There is no doubt that the death of the President wa Mutharika has sent shock-waves across nation. Everyone has been affected in one way or another. For some, the President’s death has brought deep sorrow and grief. For some it has brought despair, uncertainty and fear due to broken dreams, shattered hopes. I have written this post mainly with such people in view. My word to you and us all is this: do not despair! Look to the Lord and commit yourself entirely to Him.

Many centuries ago (around 740 B.C.), the children of Israel found themselves in a similar (if not worse) predicament. Their beloved and strong king (Uzziah), who had ruled over them for fifty-two (52) years, died (Isaiah 6:1). You can imagine the trauma, despair and uncertainty that would have engulfed the people of Israel. Certainly, it must have been paralyzing to them.

The full account of the success of Uzziah’s kingship and the events that led to his death is recorded for us in 2 Chronicles 26. Uzziah became king at the tender age of sixteen (16) and reigned until he was sixty-eight (68). He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2 Chr. 26:4). He fought and won many battles for the children of Israel and did many wonderful things (2 Chr. 26:5-15). “His fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong (2 Chr. 26:15).

However, his success led to his downfall. The Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). And so it was the case with Uzziah for we read, “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense (2 Chr. 26:16).

From that point on, everything went downhill for Uzziah. “…King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the LORD” (2 Chr. 26:21). His fame, strength and achievements were all caught up in this irreversible downward spiral which worsened by the day until the time of his death so much so that the only thing that people could remember of him was the fact that “he was a leper” (2 Chr. 26:23). The epitaph on his tombstone would have read something like this, “Here lies Uzziah (808-740 B.C). He was a leper.”

It was against this background that Isaiah wrote the words that we find in Isaiah 6:1, “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up…” We could say that it took the death of King Uzziah for Isaiah (and indeed the whole nation of Israel), to see that the LORD God King above all! That He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords (Rev. 17:14)! To put it more positively, the LORD God used King Uzziah’s death to show (Isaiah and the people of Israel), His great power and magnificent glory which is far better! In revealing His power and glory, the LORD was showing His grace and mercy towards the people of Israel. In the end, Israel’s great tragedy (King Uzziah’s death), became her great blessing (Israel realized that the LORD God alone was her True King). Romans 8:28 tells us that “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Oh, how I pray that Malawi will see “the LORD high and lifted up…” even through the death of our beloved President (the late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika). Let us not question God’s purposes. He is the LORD and He answers to no one. He does whatever He pleases for He is the LORD! Rather, let us (in faith) say with Job, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). AMEN!!