“The Lord shall open thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shall lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them: And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them” – Deuteronomy 28: 12 – 14.
For 430 years the Israelites lived in Egypt and under Egyptian rule (Exodus 12:40), until Moses and his brother Aaron showed up at the calling of their God, “The Great I Am”, to go and deliver His people of Israel from slavery, bondage and captivity and lead them out to the Promised Land, Canaan” (Exodus 3: 1-22).
God promised to be with Moses the whole way, he will show Pharaoh the power of his God by his own faith in the God of Israel; though Pharaoh’s heart will be hardened but eventually, under the mighty hand of Almighty God, he will let the Israelites go.
For 40 years the Israelites wandered through the wilderness, taught to learn obedience, belief, trust and loyalty in their God and that many promised blessings in our opening scriptures above shall be theirs if they hearken and keep the laws and commandments of the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
There were about 600,000 men on foot, besides this there were women and children who left Egypt in the Exodus (Exodus 12:37); with the women, children and some Egyptians not counted, Bible scholars have estimated a total number of about 2.4 million Israelites left Egypt as led by their leader Moses.
Under the Monarchical rule of Israel dating from 1050 to 931 B.C., the United Kingdom of Israel was ruled by Saul, David, and Solomon each reigning for 40 years. After the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam, succeeded him.
However, 10 of the tribes of Israel refused to accept him as king, splitting the United Monarchy in the northern kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam, while Rehoboam continues to reign over the much smaller of Judah with two tribes only.
Israel remained a divided kingdom from 931 BC, until April 14, 1948 when Israel finally became a united state once more, 72 years to this present day. It is a sure wonder and marvel to know why this very tiny and most persecuted nation and people, more than any other throughout our human history, was for two consecutive years (2018 and 2019) ranked as the 8th most powerful nation in the world.
Early this year, the power ranking ranked Israel as in the top 10, behind the United States, Russia, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Japan. Neighbours Saudi Arabia and the United Emirates were 9 and 10; fellow Middle Eastern countries Iran and Turkey were 13 and 14.
As our nation the Cook Islands is established a Christian nation since the arrival of Christianity on October 26, 1821; we have pretty much been rooted and grounded in a Judaeo-Christian religious faith based upon both the Old and New Testament teachings of the Bible.
The Cook Islands became a British Protectorate in 1888, annexed as British Territory in 1900, became a Colony of New Zealand in 1901, 77 years under colonial rule to internal self-government on August 4, 1965, in free association with New Zealand.
We celebrated our 50th anniversary of self-government in 2015; on July 10, 2019, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development graduated the Cook Islands to the category of high-income country, ending eligibility for overseas development assistance this month.
Generally speaking, our Cook Islands has become Pacific’s first developed island nation to achieve such high commendable status of accreditation which should have been reason and great cause for a big celebration.
Who could have thought or believed that we could reach such huge milestone, considering the fact that over 80,000 of our population live abroad compared to a mere 16,000 remaining to till the land, fish our lagoons and oceans and do both office and manual labours?
This certainly is a clear path and sign of progress, growth and development in all strategic and sustainable economic programs set in place to achieve such level of accomplishment.
We as fellow human beings have to arrive at some point of either elevation or relegation, promotion or demotion, progress or regress, prosper or forbid, and all depends on our performances. Could this be our best of times?
Is our country in the best of times to be awarded this graduation achievement? I must give it a big positive, yes!
We must be reminded that it wasn’t a certain group of elites or certain group of academics or certain government that brought this about but a combination of blood, sweat and tears; hard labour, much sacrifice, dedication, commitment, patience and perseverance by all of yesteryears; even that of our forebears and predecessors of old.
Our very early Christian missionaries did their best in laying down Christian education programs to train very early converts how to read the Bible, write and communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ.
We had a wonderful grandma who taught us table manners, cooking, washing and ironing that she learned as a housekeeper from an American Military Officer who landed in Aitutaki as coast guards during the Japanese invasion of the South Pacific in the Second World War.
Many local men and women were employed and learned to read and write of the English language while working for the papa’a missionaries, colonial expatriates and all whatever resources were available back in the days.
The very first legislative assembly members, first Cook Islands Party, Democratic Party, other political party leaders, fishermen, planters, small and large business people, all taxpayers, all papa’as, Maoris and others of different nationalities and ethnicities who in a small or big way contributed to the economic development of our beautiful paradise Cook Islands from yesteryears to this very day and year 2020 – this is our graduation.
All Reverends, Pastors, Bishops, Priests, church members of every denomination on Rarotonga and in the outer islands who prays much for the souls of their parishioners, intercedes for whatever natural disasters may happen or come our way – this is our graduation.
All tourists, guests, visitors, expatriates, families and tere parties returning for family reasons – your graduation too.
Local, national, regional and international forums, conferences, sports, beauty contest pageants, singing, dancing, musical and church conventions chose Rarotonga as the most popular place for these grand occasions to be held – their graduation too. The list just goes on endlessly.
What I especially like to highlight is that – now that we are and have graduated, it simply means that we have grown and matured to quickly, smartly and wisely cut down on relying too much on foreign aids and soft loans but trust our God to give us wisdom, knowledge and understanding to trust in our own God-given self-sufficiency, self-sustainability and self-economised.
Time that government invest back and more into our agriculture which was once our major industry back in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
God is reminding us to stop looking at other gods of other nations – like relying on buying oils from the Muslim world of the middle east, soft loans from the Buddhists populations of Chinese, Japanese and Asian countries, and look at the treasures that he has deposited right underneath our feet, our lands to plant, ocean to fish, pearls to harvest and seabed to mine with expert guidance and direction, humbly learning from the mistakes, errors, abuses and corruptions of others and aggressively avoid them.
Our God of the Bible promises to make us the head, not the tail; above only and not beneath, to lend unto many nations than borrowing.
Now that we have become the head in economic strategic capability and accredited graduation boost; our current government has already promised 100 per cent solar energy saving by this year 2020; our Marae Moana and Exclusive Economic Zone is now safely in our hands; more will eventually come our way if we keep our head, our Almighty God where He rightly belongs, Head and Sovereign Ruler Jesus Christ.
Finally, let us heed and hearken to the words of the Great King Solomon in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths”.
Have a safe and Jesus-focused weekend!