I have written on the above topic before while serving as one of the writers for this rubric. I am writing this article today from a different perspective. My wife and I are enjoying, at the time of this writing, a four-week stay in Singapore. We were invited by Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church to be here for the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Covenant. This celebration so far has been full of joy and excitement for us as a returning missionary. In many ways the church and her members are doing well under the blessing of the Lord and in the way of confessing and living by the truth of God’s Word.
There are impressive things about life in Singapore. Singapore today is an extremely prosperous and world-renowned city. It now has a population of over five million, which is an astounding increase in just a few years. Government policy, in quest for continued growth and ever increasing prosperity, has encouraged immigration, especially from China. The privilege to emigrate to Singapore is usually granted to a select few who have the greatest potential to contribute to the economic success and prosperity of the nation.
One is reminded of the purpose of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon when he gathered from conquered nations the best, the most noble and gifted, young people to have them live and serve in his palace and kingdom, to contribute to its glory and splendor. Glamorous young people are everywhere in Singapore, on the subways and in public places, rushing here and there to fulfill the demands of successful careers and in pursuit of great heights of prosperity and glory. Young people predominate in the society, successful young people, who have gained heights of success and prosperity far beyond what their parents could ever have dreamed of. Young girls have been encouraged, pressed, and driven to pursue careers in the world, with the promise of prosperity.
The driving force for this is not only personal advantage. There is also a public philosophy that greatly encourages it. The thinking is that a rich and prosperous society cannot be attained if only men are working. It requires also that women not consider seriously the role of being a wife and a mother and a keeper of the home, because keepers at home will not contribute to a successful and prosperous nation. One is struck by the several very prominent features of Singaporean society. It seems that there are young girls everywhere, in greater numbers even than young men, all running very fast in the same earthly pursuit. Many of these are not interested in marriage, at least not in the days of their youth. They have seen the life of sacrifice required for marriage, raising a family, and being a keeper of the home. Such a life is seen as far less glamorous than a career. Though in a city the size of Singapore there are indeed millions of children, they are significantly fewer in number than in Western society. This is quite obvious when one frequents public places. If there are children in families at all, they are few in number. The role of being a homemaker receives little honor and dignity compared to being a worldly career woman. The role of motherhood and raising a family is considered to be drudgery and to require far too much personal sacrifice.
It is not only the girls that have this philosophy, the young men do as well. The men are taught to give their all to enter into successful careers, with the promise of great heights of prosperity, being able to own beautiful apartments, drive expensive cars, have the latest high tech devices such as computers, cell phones, and many other gadgets that are symbols of success and the envy of those who are not able to purchase them. So men also postpone marriage to later years in life, only after they have established themselves in successful careers through long periods of time pursuing advanced education and highly regarded careers. For Singaporeons this often means going overseas to obtain their degrees. There are two reasons for this: limited places available in Singaporean universities, and the added prestige in society of having a degree from a famous university in another country, often a Western country.
This is what Singapore is all about. Singapore is an unimaginably prosperous and glamorous society. There is great opportunity for luxurious living, possessing great riches, being able to eat in expensive restaurants, and being a member in a popular country club. Singapore has shopping centers everywhere that cater to the rich, with high-priced merchandise , name-brand clothes of the latest designer making, and sport and recreational equipment of the highest worldly standards and popularity.
Again one is reminded so often of the nation built by Nebuchadnezzar, where we finally hear of him standing in his palace boasting, “is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” Babylon was devoted in the whole of its philosophy and worldly pursuit to the idols of pagan religion. The Lord, the sovereign and true and living God, soon judged and humbled Nebuchadnezzar himself in all of his vain human pride and boasting and made him like the beast of the forest, until he acknowledged the true and living God of heaven and earth. And what happened to Babylon? She would soon be destroyed by a nation greater than she. This would not happen by mere chance or by reason of the flow of history and the natural course of the rise and fall of nations and great societies. The destruction was accomplished by the almighty, sovereign God of heaven and earth, the ruler of nations, who is also the righteous and holy judge of all the nations of the earth. This true and living God had weighed this nation in the balances and found her wanting. Chiefly she was found to be without the fear of God. God brought her to utter ruin and destruction, showing her the vanity of her whole existence and all her worldly pursuit.
The sovereign Lord accomplished the ruin of Babylon to make way for the glorious kingdom of His Son Jesus Christ that will continue for all eternity in the new heavens and earth. The glory of this kingdom will be that she is entirely devoted to the service and praise of the true and living God of heaven and earth, whose name is Jehovah and whose glory transcends all of the universe. He alone is to be feared and adored by the children of men.
The blessedness of this kingdom will be that she has God in her midst and His glory revealed among her in every place. The blessedness of this kingdom will be covenant life with God and the enjoyment of His favor and blessing.
America, once considered a nominally Christian nation, is more and more driven and devoted to the philosophy and pursuits of Babylon. She has largely forsaken the fear of God. She is busy with the same worldly pursuits. She has the same disregard of the Lord’s commandments. She too is found wanting in the presence of the sovereign and holy Lord of heaven and earth. In the end, she will receive the same judgment and be destroyed with the same judgment.
God’s people must be wise and learn the fear of God. They must set their hearts not on the kingdoms of this world but on the coming of the glorious and everlasting kingdom of Christ. They must separate themselves from and realize the vanity of the philosophy of Babylon and all of its pursuits.
Central to expecting the glorious kingdom of Christ is the establishing and maintaining of covenant homes. These homes must be characterized by the fear of God. The blessedness of these homes all have their source and fountain in the blessing of the Lord. This is the beautiful teaching of Psalm 128 from which I derived the title of this article.
The fear of God must be maintained in these homes. Only those who fear God shall be truly blessed. The fear of God is enjoyed in this home in the way of keeping His commandments by the grace of Jesus Christ in the hearts of the members of this home.
The maintaining of the fear of God in the covenant home is largely the responsibility of the covenant father of this home. The father must devote a great deal of time and effort to his family. He must have on-going and great interest in and concern for his family. He must promote the atmosphere of the fear of God in this home. He must himself walk in the fear of God and keep the commandments of the Lord. He must teach his children to do this, not only by teaching them the precepts of the Lord, but also by his own daily personal godly example. He must be sure that covenant life is real in his home through the reality of his own life and walk with the Lord, the love that he has for his children, and the godly discipline in which he raises his children. He must be an example of conversation and life with God, in prayer, the reading of God’s Word with his children, and seeking the favor and blessing of the Lord upon himself and his covenant children. This must be more important than anything else in his life. As important as a man’s earthly occupation is for the support of his home and family, he must be wise so that even this important calling does not take him away from an even more important calling: the spiritual instruction and care and fellowship of his covenant family.
The godly mother must realize the high calling of being a covenant mother. She must be ready to make many personal sacrifices to fulfill this calling. She must be devoted to the love of her husband and children. Her chief occupation must be the care and guidance of her home and family. This occupation is not glorious in the eyes of men. It is not recognized as being an honorable career in the world. The philosophy of the world is constantly urging her to forsake her covenant occupation in the home for a more highly regarded career in the world. She must resist the temptation to do this. Her occupation in the covenant home is honorable in the sight of God and will bring upon her and her family the great blessing of the favor of God. She is serving the cause of the kingdom. She will bring great joy to her home and be used of the Lord to raise the citizens of the everlasting and glorious kingdom of Christ. What could possibly be more honorable and blessed than this?!
“The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion [the Old Testament type of the kingdom of Christ], and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all thy days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children and peace upon Israel” ().