“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