Nigerian Independence Holiday


As we approach Independence Day holiday in Nigeria, we reflect on the meaning of the word “holiday.” Obviously, it means “holy-day,” a day that is consecrated to faithfulness. Considering this shows us a major point about what worship and faithfulness was supposed to be in the Old Testament. On the Hebrew holidays, people gathered to share food, labourers were rested. The day of Jubilee was celebrated on the Day of Atonement. Jubilee meant to free slaves, forgive debt, lift economic burdens off widows and orphans.

All Hebrew holydays were in this direction. They were Days of Remembrance: Israel was to remember that God had compassion on them when they were slaves in Egypt, so Israel should likewise have compassion on the slave, the refugee, the stranger, the people in unfortunate circumstances. The fact that this Jubilee was the main point of the Day of Atonement meant that restoring the suffering in our societies today is a form of atonement: it cleanses our societies of evil, it takes away Satan’s opportunity at destroying our relationships and peace.

The sabbath is similar. It means giving rest to the worker, to the servant and maid. It’s the day that economic masters give rest to and restore those under their realm, so that there may be oneness, fellowship, care, and love in society. It’s neighbourliness that is genuine. The Pharisees in Jesus’ time had made sabbath just a religious event as though God was pleased with ceremony and not the substance of the faith, which is love of neighbour. The Pharisees put heavy burdens on lesser people and didn’t help them carry those burdens. Jesus kept the sabbath by lifting these burdens, which he signified by healing the sick on the Sabbath Day.

Returning to the Independence holiday in Nigeria, it should be celebrating the liberating and lifting of burdens from the people of the nation. These are spiritual burdens that are lifted through faith in Christ, but also burdens of oppression we exact upon others. Isaiah 58 is just one of many passages in which Isaiah treats this head on. He said, why do we call upon God as those who love him, when we live in such a way that others are oppressed? He said, if we address this injustice, then God will answer us even before we pray. That is, our new lives will bring all the things we pray for. John and James also said this: “How can we say we love God whom we don’t see, if we don’t love our brother whom we do see?”

One of the things that has kept the common Nigerian person under severe conditions is the rule of the global economy. It takes away Nigeria’s wealth into offshore bank accounts, robbing hundreds of millions of Nigerian persons of billions of dollars over and over again. It prevents the development of Nigeria’s infrastructure and industry. This means constant untold brutality being foisted upon millions of people, getting worse year after year. And all this is easily fixed, if criminals were stopped and we had the will to do so. This burden should be lifted: that is a major part of what holidays/ worship means. Nigeria and the other “Commonwealth” nations should be free from this treatment, from being tied to the “Rules-Based International Order,” being forced to follow its crimes in the treatment of others or be punished and destroyed. These nations should be given justice. This is what God demands. This is what scripture and the sufferings of Christ point us to. We should give ourselves to set others free, without violence, but with faith, hope and love. 

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