This is the substance of a prophetic message I shared during the Commonwealth Prayer Initiative (CPI) in Perth on October 22nd 2011. Since it was prepared in the midst of meetings and early morning, it lacks the footnoting, biblical detail and supporting data I would usually include in my articles. The context of the CPI is the imminent visit of the leaders from the commonwealth nations to Perth for CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting).
There is a shaking of the nations happening across the earth (Heb 12) which is ultimately connecting to a taking of ground/shifting of space in the heavenlies (Eph 2:6; 3:10). What unites the seemingly diverse disturbances in America, the Middle East and Europe is a God-given opportunity to shift from old patterns of fatherly government to those more in tune with the kingdom of God (Eph 3:14; 4:6). In the plan of God, the people of God should pray that all images of tyrannical fathering (Arab), indulgent parenting (Europe) and benevolent providential fatherhood (U.S.) etc. be removed and replace by the godly government imaged in the face of Christ. We are in the midst of a global change of season governmentally; this is a time of great spiritual disturbance and intense pressure on those who are seeking the kingdom of God. The shaking-shifting in the heavenlies and across the world must be accompanied by a shift in our hearts.
There is a call upon Australia to become an Abrahamic nation, i.e. a nation with a heart to bless other nations, all other nations (Gen 12:3). The Lord is raising up in Australia men and women who will be fathers and mothers of nations (Gal 4:19). (The NT word for nation, ethnos, simply means “people group”, not the complex political modern state.) When the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne to judge the nations (Matt 25:31-46) there will be only two types of peoples, goats and sheep. Sheep nations can be discerned in their action to disciple goat nations, that in turn these may become sheep (Matt 28:18-20). Sheep nations clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty, feed the hungry, welcome strangers and visit prisoners. Australia is definitely a goat nation, for as a people we do not have an overwhelming heart to bless other nations. How can a land that has never experienced a national revival become a sheep nation?
How is this Possible?
We must turn to the cross, and the shaking of God’s heart which includes and conforms the hearts of nations into the likeness of his own Fatherly heart. Who are these “nations”? The “goat nations” are not placid and friendly, they are the raging and angry nations of Psalm 2 who oppose the rule of the LORD and his Messiah. They are also the impoverished, despised and broken nations of the world. It is these wrathful and destitute nations that God made room for in his heart (John 1:18) in Christ upon the cross. The shattered heart of the compassionate Father is revealed in the terrible cry of dereliction from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). The proper destiny of the angry and broken goat peoples is “the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41), is taken into Jesus in the cross so that every nation cam be made whole.
But which are the angry and impoverished people groups to which the heart of the Father of Christ is reaching out today, which ones should we as Australians see as a particular opportunity to bless?
What Sort of a Nation?
There is an invisible people group in our midst (one whose voice has not been heard so far in our Assembly), a group we would rather not see. These are the aboriginal peoples of our land and they are a very very angry people. How else can you explain that the imprisonment rate for young Indigenous people in Western Australia is 48 times that of the rest of the population! The imprisonment rate for aboriginal peoples has increased 12 times more quickly than the rest of Australians in the last 20 years (Surely a sign of a loss of true fatherly government in their communities.) Anyone who has ever been exposed to the inner state of many leading Christian aborigines will be shocked by the level of anger at white people in their hearts. Many Christians do not even know an aborigine by name. There is another set of nations we would rather be without. An aboriginal Christian friend says, “You’re all boat people”
We are very comfortable to receive those who come to us from Sri Lanka by civilised means (one of the speakers at the Assembly was Sri Lankan), or fly in to be with us from Papua (alluding to a PNG pastor in our midst) or hear stories about the miraculous conversion of Burmese and Moslem peoples, but should these folk approach our shores in boats all hell breaks loose. (Despite the fact that the “boat people” are only ever a small percentage of annual refugee intake and no such arrival has ever been linked to a terrorist act.) We simply are not a nation/Church that has ever taken these people groups into our heart.
I see a map of Australia and in its midst is a heart, and around the border of our whole shore line I see a huge fence. This fence has been there from the beginning. (We rioted on the goldfields and threw the Chinese out, now we are happy to have them here because of their money. The Vietnamese boat people were an exception, they fought with us and could easily be fitted into out mythic war culture.)
We are a nation called to be an Abrahamic nation but one that has been handed over in this history to its own characteristic sins. We are an imprisoned nation, imprisoned on our own soil by our own possessiveness (and especially our national conscience’s inability to deal with the history of aboriginal dispossession). There can be and there will be no great missions movement into the nations from Australia whilst our obsession with owning our own space/home is not dealt with. (Career missionaries, especially those living by faith, will not be in a financial position to buy a home in the future.) This is an idol that must be removed so a new generation can arise and be sent to other lands.
As part of CPI the young people have launched the [now defunct] Justice Adds Colour project in order to educate and empower other young people in the pursuit of God’s ways on earth. The Lord led me to Isa 58:6-8 yesterday, “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness to undo the straps of the yoke to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.” As I read this I could see the colour which emanates from a just nation, a sheep nation, is the spectral colouration of the glory of God.
I see two hands reaching out; I know they are the hands of Jesus because they are pierced hands. One is reaching into the nearest of people groups within our shores, these are our Indigenous nations. The other is stretched out to touch the closest peoples beyond our borders, those coming near in boats. Jesus is reaching out to the right and to the left to hold all such peoples in his hands. Whatever happens politically I believe the boat people will keep on coming; they are a shaking and a shifting means by which the Lord is testing the heart of Australia and giving it an opportunity to pass from a goat to a sheep nation.
How ironic it is that all the aboriginal revivals I can think of have occurred in the most remote locations: Arnhem Land, the Central Desert, and the N.W. of W.A. – away from the influence of mainstream possessive Aussie culture where the Spirit is not quite so grieved. When I heard about the outbreak of a move of God within the Christmas Island detention centre for boat people (via a Chinese Church ministry) I immediately thought; “It had to be beyond our shores, once they get to the mainland the spiritual powers over this nation will isolate them into their own fenced people groups.
I was with a family recently who speak several languages who had been staying in an Australian home, “English only in this house the mother was told.” I have been in meetings with Asian and African pastors and not one of them could say they have one Australian born friend.
All of this is too hard for me/you/the Church/the nation. The task of healing the nations inside our borders and beyond is utterly impossible. We need the honesty and humility to confess this. To do so is actually a great relief.
Standing with Jesus
Only an outpouring of the Spirit of Jesus can change the situation. At 4.18 a.m. I awoke to realise the Lord was speaking to me about his encounter at Nazareth, ““The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”” (Luke 4:18); this was the first recorded preaching of Jesus – it is a word about justice to the needy. Then he went on to preach about Elijah’s ministry to a widow of Sidon, and Elisha’s cleansing of Naaman the Syrian, members of idolatrous nations often at war with Israel. At this point the crowd in Nazareth went berserk and tried to kill Jesus by throwing him off a cliff. How painful it was for him for he knew these people of his home town by name, they were childhood friends, some were relatives, uncles, aunties and grandparent figures to him. They were uncontrollably angry they wanted God to be only the Father of Israel; they were possessive of their land and possessive of their God and they could not tell the difference. Much like most of us Aussies!
Be warned, if you start to live like Jesus, if you live as a sheep they will rise up in rebellion against you, the goats will attack you. The Lord spoke to me later the same morning and said “The judgment is here.” it is upon us. Judgement upon mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, friends i.e. judgement through the presence of Christ in us when we as the Church begin to live as Jesus lived in his care for others (Mark 13:12-13).
How ironically necessary that God should have chosen a woman from beyond our borders (Wendy Yapp) married to a man from another place (Scotland + Brunei) to found this Commonwealth Prayer Initiative. Yet the Lord is calling forth an Abrahamic nation – mothers and fathers of nations from our midst.