Revelation 22:2 has been identified as a scripture that prophetically defines, at least in part, the call of the Canadian Church to serve the nations.
"THE LEAVES OF THE TREE WERE FOR THE HEALING OF THE NATIONS"
This scripture identifies our primary national gift/calling and it opens a window into the promise of spiritual abundance that the Canadian Church has received from the Lord. In this moment, in the drama of the nations, we need to see this promise clearly so we can be activated into this unique gifting and calling. It’s a moment we don’t want to miss.
In order to really function in this calling however, we need to understand it. We need to believe for what God is truly giving us, we can’t afford to just run with assumptions. If we’ve misunderstood and jumped to conclusions, even if we are fervent, prayerful and sacrificial, we end up asking amiss, (Jas 4:3), and this can cost us dearly. It is often misunderstanding what God has promised that leads to disillusionment and “hope differed” (Prov 13:12).
In the last blog post when we looked carefully at Ps 72:8 and considered its context, in the same way, it’s also important that we understand the context of our Revelation 22:2 promise.
Where is it? What’s happening? What does this same image communicate in other passages of scripture? Let’s dig in! We find our promise is right at the end of the book of Revelation, in the midst of the description of the New Jerusalem where the tree of life gives forth its fruit every month. You might remember the tree of life, we first encounter it in Genesis as a type (a symbol) of Christ. It’s eating from this tree that gives Adam and Eve life, and it’s this tree that they are separated from when they sin. The tree of life can also be a symbol of the cross, where Jesus’ saving and redeeming work provides —in exchange for our lives diseased by sin— His incorruptible life. But it’s not just a personal redemption, here in Revelation at the restoration of all things, the tree of life is providing the nations with fruit for feasting and leaves for healing.
How we long for this day!
So if the tree itself is a symbol of Jesus and the cross, where does Canada come in?
How then could this be a promise for the Church in Canada?
A SPECIAL GRACE FOR HEALING
First of all, this is a promise that the Church in Canada has a special grace for healing, as a part of our spiritual DNA. Healing of hearts, bodies, relationships, spirits, and more! This means when we see God moving in our nation, in big or even smaller ways, we can expect to see a strong theme of healing. It’s a spiritual gift from God that has, and will continue to, manifest in the Canadian Church.
This means we can and should knock, seek and ask in prayer for healing to flow from every church, every network and denomination, and from the life of every believer! Receive a bigger vision of healing than just physical healing-- but let’s keep contending for the sick and injured to be healed!
AND TO THE NATIONS
Secondly, this gift of healing is also a responsibility, a call to minister the leaves of the tree of life, (the leaves of Jesus’ gospel) to broken hearts and lives from around the world that have come to Canada.
As well, we take these leaves into nations as we are sent out. It’s both. Caring for the nations as they come, and carrying Jesus, as His servants, to the nations. What an honour and what a joy!
But with both of these applications, (healing as our spiritual DNA, and our call to carry healing to the nations) -- it must never become about us. That can sour the gift.
IT'S NOT ABOUT US
The Canadian Church cannot be exalted in this story, we must decrease in our national ego and our national self-life, to make more room for Jesus’ glory to increase. Remember Paul, who called himself the “Hebrew of Hebrews”(Phil 3:5), then went on to declare that what ever was gain for him (he included his Jewishness in this listing) he counted as rubbish for the sake of knowing Christ (Phil 3:8).
Being Canadian is wonderful, but Canadians, or even Canadian values and culture won’t ultimately heal anyone. It is only Jesus, His grace and power. We may be the vessel at times, but we are merely jars of clay, not the glory that the jar contains. That glory is the presence of God. We may have a rosy view of all things Canadian and see kingdom values in our desire for peace and our cultural politeness, but don’t let that turn to a form of national self-righteousness, where we subtly believe we merit God’s gifts to us.
If Paul considered being Jewish was of no value, how can we assert that being Canadian somehow makes us worthy? Let’s, like Paul, always make sure it’s Jesus who is glorified, honoured and proclaimed in every opportunity we have to minister. It’s Jesus the world needs, not Canada.
A PROPHETIC MOMENT
With hopefully a clearer vision of what our gift looks like, let’s notice that we are in a moment right now where the Church in Canada has an invitation to bring Jesus’ healing to nations. The world’s eyes are on Iran and because of the tragic loss of life in the recently downed Ukrainian flight 752 there is a sudden awareness of the link between Canada and Iran. We can’t let this moment get lost in the noise of international turmoil, it’s a strategic place where the Canadian Church can step in with Jesus’ healing.
How? Consider these ways:
CARRYING THE GOSPEL MEANS IT CONFRONTS US TOO!
As we pursue an activation of our gift: bringing healing to the nations that comes from Jesus’s life and redemption, (not just Canadian niceness or peacefulness) we can expect that carrying the gospel will confront our hearts as well.
We simply can’t function in this gift if we are anti-immigration or biased against other ethnic groups that have moved to Canada. I’m not advocating for open borders, but as Christians, those that are coming to Canada legally need to find the warmth of the Church’s generous embrace and welcome. “Welcome the stranger” — it’s a part of the gospel. If this is not fully our heart, we need to repent and realign ourselves with the call to authentically love our neighbours.
The two major prophetic promises God has given our nation are phenomenal! If we believe them, live into them, contend for their fullness we will find our true national destiny and our hearts will overflow with the goodness of God.
Read the other two posts in this series: Removing our Cataracts, Seeing His Dominion.
“May He have dominion from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth!” Ps 72:8
Without question, when we lift our eyes to see the powerful prayer of Ps 72:8 inscribed on the arch of our nation’s Peace Tower— the very front door of Parliament— we know this is a verse that has particular application to our nation.
Then when we also discover that this same verse was the inspiration for Canada’s original name of the “Dominion of Canada” it adds a whole other level of confirmation, indeed, this is a promise from the Lord for Canada! It is a promise that generations of Canadians can confidently trust will be fulfilled.
However, as we pray for the fulfillment of this promise, isn’t it vital to understand what we are actually asking for? If one of the reasons that prayers are not answered, is that we have “asked amiss” (Jas 4:3), then it seems very important that we line up with God’s intent, what He wants to give us through this wonderful promise. Yet as I travel all over Canada, and have done so for nearly 20 years, I hear a wide range of interpretations and expectations as to how the fulfillment of this promise should look.
In our last blog post we considered the need to have our vision renewed by washing our spiritual eyes in the scriptures (Restoring Our Vision #1). We talked about the importance of being Jesus-focused and handling His promises to us in a truthful, honouring way. This means not plucking promises out of their surrounding context nor imposing our ideas of what they mean upon them.
LIKE US-- JESUS WAS TEMPTED
Jesus was tempted by the Devil in the wilderness to do just that, to use the promise of God (Ps 91:11) to force God’s hand. Even though God had promised to provide angels to protect, yet this promise was not given to be leveraged for a power demonstration. Holding the promises in their context and in the greater story of scripture doesn't diminish them, it lines us up with God’s true purposes, so that we can pray and ask with extraordinary faith, seeing wonderful answers.
So the context of Psalms 72:8 matters. It is a Psalm which is written for King Solomon’s coronation, but also is a prophetic, Messianic Psalm. It speaks of Solomon and Jesus at the same time. It’s this weaving together the earthly kingdom of Solomon and the coming Messianic kingdom of Jesus that made it so hard for the Apostles and early disciples to understand that Jesus had no political aspirations.
DON'T LET YOUR LONGINGS DISTORT HOW YOU READ GOD'S PROMISES
But it wasn’t just the large number of OT promises for a Messiah to come and sit on David’s throne that created this expectation, it was also the desperate desire of the Jewish people. As an oppressed people, they longed for freedom. They longed for the glory days of David and Solomon’s reigns where there was might in Jerusalem, prosperity throughout Israel and respect coming from all the other nations. Right up to the time of Jesus’ ascension, the disciples still viewed the kingdom of God through this political lens. “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:6)”
Yet Jesus had a bigger plan and much better good news.
Jesus’ kingdom is an upside-down kingdom where those that want to be great in the kingdom become the bondservant of all, where you gain your life by loosing it, and where you find it is more blessed to give than to receive. These are not new thoughts, I’m sure you’re all nodding your heads in agreement. But not as commonly considered is that His kingdom is also an inside-out kingdom. A kingdom where He reigns, not by the iron rod of dictatorial oppression that the Romans imposed on Israel, but by winning our affections, capturing our hearts. His rule comes not by an outside imposition, but a life freely surrendered. He leads by winning the hearts of men and women who become consumed with love for Him.
So to truly pray this promise of Ps 72:8*, in a way that is consistent with Jesus’ kingdom, we can’t distort it to assert that Canada will become a politically Christian nation, imposing Christian morality and values on a largely secular population, (even for their own good). This is misunderstanding the word dominion and ascribing secular political power to it, selling this promise short.
It’s also forgetting that we are in the “now and not yet” age of the kingdom.
Rather, dominion, when applied to Canada in this age, refers to the scope, or range of Jesus’s influence. May it be —from sea to sea in our nation— that Jesus would have sway over the hearts and affections of the majority of Canadians! This is a promise for amazing revival. Pause there for a moment and let that sink in. It’s a picture of Canada loving God, I can’t think of better news for our nation, or a better promise to believe for. We’ve already seen tastes of it, in regions as moves of God have historically swept through parts of Canada, like the 1850s when Methodism was so prevalent in Toronto, that the city became known as “Toronto the Good”.
AND EVEN MORE OF JESUS' RULE TO COME!
There will also be a day of the total fulfillment of this prayer, when Jesus returns and every knee bows. In that day His kingdom will be in Canada from coast to coast as in every other nation. But that day is not yet, He is still giving Canadians a choice to love and obey Him.
So as we pray, let’s shift our focus off of just getting Christians in politically powerful roles as a way to see this promise fulfilled, and let’s set our prayers towards seeing a great move of God sweep our nation which captures the deepest affections of Canadians, turning their hearts to give Jesus their utter devotion in unprecedented numbers.
Let the glorious promise Ps 72:8 bring renewed fire to our prayers— the promise that from sea to sea, the hearts of vast numbers of Canadians will be His.
Lord may it be in our day!
* Psalms 72:8 is most accurately translated from the Hebrew as a prayer or a blessing: “May he have”, rather than a declaration of “He shall have”.
Haven't read Part One of this blog series? Click here for: Removing Spiritual Cataracts
As the new year of 2020 is spread out in front of us, full of possibilities and promise, it is a perfect time to take stock. A time to consider what has been fruitful (I don’t just mean productive, but that which has led us closer to Jesus) and a time to consider what might have been not as fruitful. In the natural, winter is often a time of pruning, a time where the long and leggy branches that consume the plant’s energy are trimmed off.
Thinking back on 2019, the most significant event for the Canadian prayer movement was the election. It was hotly contested and very emotional. The Canadian Church as a whole prayed and many intercessors united in various rallies, joined the multiple fasting initiatives and gave themselves to the work of intense intercession. Yet the outcome of the election was very different than many (most) were expecting, leaving believers confused, heartbroken, even disoriented.
We can compartmentalize this event, even commit it to God and move on, but how will that effect us the next time we are called to pray for an election or like event? If we don’t address the confusion honestly doesn’t this give an open door to doubt and unbelief? I believe it does.
This new blog series is to speak into this and help us to continue to confidently pray regardless of the political landscape. In this three part series, we will look at Canada’s two most well-received prophetic promises, and use them to reorient ourselves around what God has indeed promised to the Canadian Church. These promises have been discerned and confirmed by leadership across denominations, and we can trust that God has spoke through them. However we need to see them clearly and truthfully, not skewed with our desires projected on them. As we look at them again, we can be confident that they paint a picture of what the coming moves of God (and yes, there will be many) will look like in the nation of Canada.
Before we begin, there is a prophetic picture that has recently come through times of intercession, which I believe will set the stage.
CATARACTS ARE BEING REMOVED
This is a prophetic picture of older eyes which had developed cataracts, now receiving eye surgery and being able to see the brilliant colour and clarity again. The scriptures talk of Eli, the old priest who raised Samuel as having eyes that were dim (likely with cataracts 1 Sam 3:2), the contrast is Moses, whose eyes did not dim at all as he aged (Deut 34:7). These two leaders of Israel had vastly different walks with God, and their capacity to see was impacted by that reality.
Cataracts are a particular problem to older eyes, they creep up on you, gradually dimming and dulling your vision.
For some of us, who have been holding to a vision of revival in Canada for years, even decades— could it be that we are now seeing a dulled vision? Do we have spiritual cataracts? Have we lost the intensity, vibrancy, and clarity of a vision of the Church on fire with the love and power of God? Do we see in the spirit God’s vision of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of souls turning to Jesus, not just for a momentary experience but for glorious transformation? It’s a vision that sees what's coming-- the glorious features of revival, in 3-D like clarity: the crushing weight of sin rolling off the shoulders of so many, the joyous dance of the lost being found and the fame of Jesus spreading unstoppably through their lives. Do we have eyes to see? Do we see the vision of the presence of God coming and settling on the Church in such a way that hours and hours are spent on our faces in worship, repentance and awe. Is our vision of revival in need of a renewing?
WHAT ABOUT OUR VISION OF JESUS?
Have we also gotten comfortable and familiar with looking at Jesus, assuming we know what He looks like and unaware that our vision of Him has dimmed? If we are not awestruck with His beauty, His compassion, His humility, His power… we need to see Him with clearer eyes. If gazing at Him through the scriptures doesn’t profoundly move us to adoration and a desire to surrender everything to Him, we need our spiritual eyesight restored.
If this rings true for you, ask the Lord for the “eye surgery” that is needed to restore vision. This is something He’s offering right now as He’s speaking through this prophetic picture. But cooperate with Him for the restoration, it’s not just going to be a zap, it’s going to be a process. It begins with seeing Jesus afresh, so soak yourself in the gospels and the epistles — look deeper at who Jesus is, your spiritual eyes will begin to open again (Eph 5:26). From there, He will show you how He desires to move in the nation, leading His beloved Church into the glorious fire of revival.
With a fresh vision of Jesus and revival as a starting point, we are going to look carefully at the two promises of Psalms 72:8 and Rev 22:2 over the next two weeks. What has God promised us through these two words? Have we assumed they were offering us something that they weren’t? Even if this is the case, the good news is that the gospel is the best news imaginable! Our human dreams of what's best are always inferior to the greatness of God's plan. If we have misunderstood these promises, be comforted with knowing that the truth of what they offer is better than our miss-understood version. Hallelujah!
So join us next week as we open up Psalms 72:8 and rejoice in what God has promised Canada!