Hard Knocks for The Watchman :: By Edwin Tan


The island nation of Singapore is arguably one of the better-off countries in terms of the ongoing pandemic. Australia and New Zealand would certainly squeeze this little red dot if one were to talk about the top spots where encouraging statistics matter – aside from short-lived spikes, the cases of people testing positive for the virus have been near to negligible Down Under!

Still, the figures for Singapore are nothing compared to those in Continental Europe and North America. The worst moments showed up around April last year, triple-digit numbers popping up daily – these were largely in dormitories that housed foreign construction workers. So much so that a brief but lenient lockdown was in force between early April and early June last year. Nothing like the draconian versions in force in Europe and the United States. Takeaways from a host of eateries were still possible, while supermarkets and convenience stores still had quite a lot on the shelves!

A calibrated easing immediately followed. Department stores and other retail outlets opened their doors after a two-month hiatus. Eateries were allowed diners, though in restricted numbers. By August, churches could open for services with an initial tight cap on the number of worshippers. Nevertheless, social distancing was rigidly adhered to, contact-tracing devices such as smartphone applications and tokens were in place. Same with a must for masks outdoors and in enclosed high-density settings. The powers that be were generous where free masks for the population were concerned – these face coverings were not just complimentary but also of superior quality!

By the end of 2020, the prognosis for a convincing turnaround was like music to many ears. As community cases became less frequent and low in number, a heightened sense of confidence flowed through many veins across the land. More relaxations began to take shape at the end of the year and right at the beginning of the new year. Churches could accept a larger congregation. Weddings could be held with a bigger figure in terms of guests. Even the restrictions for diners saw a further easing.

Before long, the air of confidence surged across the country. By the advent of the Lunar New Year, which was in the second week of February, all thoughts about lockdowns were virtually expunged from many psyches. Things were seemingly better by the day, if not the hour. So much so that property prices tested new heights while there was quick money to be made in cryptocurrencies. Beelines were visible in prime shopping malls, the likeness of this being so in eateries with Michelin ratings. Not uncommon were Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches on the thoroughfares – BMW seemed like an understatement!

This exuberance that was carried by a feel-good factor negated the demands of the new normal. The ingredients that made up for this elevated sense of optimism were likened to a fireworks display. Even the World Economic Forum saw it fit to hold their meeting in Singapore versus Davos – all because of a truly convincing backdrop. The streets were not just placid but squeaky clean. Food was plentiful and inexpensive if there was a willingness to forgo luxury. Incredibly, bucking trends that blitzed many nations, “homophobia” could survive without any repercussions. Homosexuality was yet to be officially decriminalized – Section 377A of the country’s Penal Code had not been repealed!

Against the above-said hedonistic atmosphere, the watchman on the wall has his task ahead more than cut out. Any mention of the Blessed Hope would be shouted down with incantations extolling the so-called virtues of the Prosperity Gospel. No one is keen on forgoing the pleasures of the present for the glowing future promised in the Counsel of God. More alarming is the incessant downplay of fast-evolving prophetic events.

They could be practicing Christians or non-Christians, but there is one thing in common that unites them – unquestionable faith in earthly institutions and materialism. All this would inadvertently command more attention than Jesus Christ, who died for all their wrongdoings. There is quite a number that pin their hopes in worldliness to the point of rejecting Biblical truth. A lot of these folk cherish the prospect of passing on ahead of these dreadful occurrences.

I have heard this all too familiar insistence that prophecy in the Bible has little consequence and relevance. A watchman like me would be deemed as an oddball. They probably wonder why I had time for Brent Miller’s Coming Convergence but not a millisecond for Crazy Rich Asians. Even with warp-speed prophetic events happening in other countries, these folk take it that would never cross their paths. They insist that the problem is not just light years away but sensationalized. Really!

There is undoubtedly a sense of peace and safety in concert with that gravy train of seemingly ceaseless prosperity. Would Colossians 3:2 be a turn-off for these folks? “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Reckon it might be so for people who put God on the back burner while celebrating the joys brought about by the love of the world plus the things of the world. Sad to say, I have journeyed at various stages of my life with individuals ingrained with this mindset. I truly have no pleasure when that twinkling of an eye moment sees them left behind to face the worst times in the history of mankind. Rather than tire myself in heated reiteration after saying what has to be said – the problem is beyond my frailties. It is in His hands.

Indeed, time is running out, and these folks do not see it. I can only do so much in the manner of sowing the seeds. Prayer in all earnestness would make a difference.

At the time of writing, there have been dramatic reversals. Late in April, an outbreak of the virus occurred in one of the nation’s big hospitals. This was shortly followed by another one at the international airport. Since then, community infections have spiked, enough to warrant tighter restrictions that came into force on May 16th – takeaways only once more as dining was forbidden. Just days later, the World Economic Forum decided to postpone their upcoming meeting. In the light of this worsening situation, people are asking a lot of questions. What next?

I could be that loner oddball in this country, but I ask no questions because I know the answers. They only come about when God comes first, above every other created thing. My soul yearns for many of my fellow countryfolk to walk this path that enables them to escape the upcoming horrors.



Contact me at edwinuk13@gmail.com