One of the things I noticed when I was working at a local Japanese University was that few of my students had dreams. The girls expected to get married and the boys expected to spend the rest of their lives working for a company. So far as they were concerned, the best times were coming to an end…
…and the future wasn’t very bright.
What made all this worse was that those students who did have dreams, dreamt of getting out of Japan and living abroad. As graduation day approached I remember most of them had little idea about what they wanted to do with their life – they had no hopes or dreams. In fact many of them talked more about the past than they did about the future.
‘In the past it was good to work for a Japanese company, but not any more’, they would say. ‘In the past the Japanese economy was booming, but not any more’, they would explain. ‘In the past you could send your children to college and expect a pension, but not any more’, they would complain.
There was a time in the journey of the Israelite nation when they sounded similar to my students. But one person made a difference. Moses made a difference.
‘The Israelites said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians that to die in the desert!’ (Exodus 14:11-12).
The Israelites had been slaves to the Egyptians, but a man called Moses wanted to change this. God eventually equipped Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery and into a good land that He had promised to them. But as soon as they were out of slavery they wanted to go back, they couldn’t look to the future – they could only talk about the past.
But Moses counteracts this negative speech and continual talk about the past by referring to the future.
‘Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still”’ (Exodus 14:13-14).
The Israelites only talked about the past – but Moses talked about what God would do in the future.
When things don’t meet peoples expectations or when they don’t receive answers to things straight away, people will often complain, criticize or refer to a point in their lives when things were different. But Moses knew that there was a need to speak about what God will do in the future.
There is a need in Japan, and other nations around the world, for people to speak positively about God, about their church, and about what God will do in the future.
When people are going through difficult times, resist the temptation to join in with the crowd as they complain and criticize – be like Moses, be a leader and set yourself apart – and speak about what God can do!
Japan is currently like a bucket with a whole in it. I have met so many Japanese people who speak badly about their own nation. These same people speak more positively about English speaking nations, such as England, America and Australia, than they do about their own nation. This negative speech is having an impact – you remember we said that God heard the negative talk of the Israelites and as a result things happen just as they said.
You have young, intelligent people moving out of Japan. They are under the false impression that life is easier and more exciting abroad. There are even Christians who wrongly believe that it is easier for Japanese people to be Christians abroad than in their own nation. This is the result of Japanese people complaining and putting down their own! The truth is that there are just as many obstacles abroad and the Christian life is no easier. I praise God for Japan, because I know that same God who is working in England, America and Australia is also working in Japan.
God has great plans for the Japanese nation. We need to be like Moses – we need to stop looking back to the past, stop looking to other nations and believe in the future that God has prepared for each nation.
Do you think God loves Europe more than Japan? Do you think God loves American people more than the Europeans? Do you believe that Bible believing Christians can only get into government in other nations, but not in your nation?
The tide is already changing in Japan. God is already moving powerfully through a new generation of Christians who believe in the future of their nation. Many churches across Japan are proving that Japanese people are not closed to Christianity. However, like the Israelites, there are some Japanese Christians who keep looking back to the past, or looking to other nations instead of speaking life into the future of their own nation.
Be like Moses and use your mouth to speak positively into your future! Use your mouth to speak positively into other peoples futures! Use your mouth to speak positively into your nation’s future!