Bow the Knee: a word for Australia
This message is a written form of a prophecy given to a group of Christian leaders last Friday evening on the verge of the federal election.
Last week God graced Perth with the visit of two eminent Christian leaders from Asia. Jason Wong has been catalytic in reforming the prison system in Singapore and launching a nationwide initiative, Dads for Life. Daniel Pandji is a key facilitator in the prayer movement in Indonesia and a major architect of the World Prayer Assembly (2012). Their appearance in our city was largely unheralded and unnoticed by the preeminent “movers and shakers” in the Church scene. This itself was a manifestation of God’s wisdom for these brothers are among the nameless and faceless company that the Lord is raising up to disciple nations today. It was not what these men said that was most significant, but the spirit in which they came contained a foundational message for the Church in Australia. The soon-coming revival which has often been prophesied will never come unless we have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches NOW (Rev 2:7 etc.). To put it bluntly, “the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land”, and especially with its churches (Hos 4:1). This controversy has to do with a prized aspect of national character.
Seeing the Presence of Jesus
What I saw in Jason Wong was a man who wanted to repay Australia for its kindness to him, for as a university student he came to Christ in our country. His desire to give back without return was tangible. Quite frankly I have rarely encountered such a disposition amongst Australian Christians; so many of our leaders are racing after the fulfilment of their vision and in a way that will contribute to their reputation and influence.
Daniel Pandji came with a familiar message about the priority of unity and prayer as steps to revival, but it was what he did that was most impactful. He called all Indonesians present in our meeting to come forward and bow down in confession and repentance on behalf of their nation for the 2002 Bali bombings which took the lives of 88 Australians. Of course these particular Christian Indonesians were totally innocent of involvement in that massacre, but it was precisely this fact that began to open up the gathering to the spiritual truths the Lord was seeking to convey to us Aussies.
Jesus Bows the Knee
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV). The reality of Jesus’ life as a servant of humanity is clearly seen as he fell on his face and knelt in prayer in Gethsemane (Matt 26:39; Luke 22:41). The express humility of the Son of man before humans and his Father is the direct cause of his exaltation whereby “every knee will bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil 2:10-11). The future submission of all hostile powers to Jesus will be in direct proportion to his own submissive service to the Father.
The word which prophetically foretells the triumph of Christ over Satan, “you ascended on high leading a host of captives” (Ps 68:18; Eph 4:8) is totally fulfilled because of Jesus’ perfect union with the Father in the attitude of servanthood. When the scriptures repeatedly proclaim, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; 1 Pet 5:5; Ps 3:34), they mean that victory in spiritual conflict is assured to the lowly. Any nation which is not seeing the hand of God move in power must be a land which is suffering divine opposition because of its pride. This is certainly the case in Australia.
An Unbroken Spirit
From the time of the convicts, outwardly brutalised but inwardly resistant to all authority, through the ANZAC spirit of “never give up”, to the legendary Australian sporting attitude of “its not over until the final siren” through to our attitude to the Global Financial Crisis we are proud to be a people who never bow the knee. Australians truly struggle to be serve others from the heart. As I was listening to our humble Indonesian brothers it clearly came to me that we were about to enter a federal election and change Prime Minister who, even as a professing Christian, has pledged to “Stop the Boats” even if it means towing them back by force into Indonesian waters. One of the richest nations of the world doing this to one of the poorest nations certainly does NOT image a spirit of servanthood. The stronghold of pride lies heavily over our nation. If “judgement goes out from the household of God” (1 Pet 4:17) repentance must begin in the Church.
Serve One Another
One of the most remarkable sayings of Jesus is this, “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.” (Luke 12:37). It was unthinkable in the ancient world that a master should stoop down to serve his attendants. Yet this is exactly the attitude and action that Jesus is calling us to take as individuals, as churches and as a nation. If Australia is to function as a fatherly nation blessing the nations of the earth we must “bow the knee before the Father from whom every family on earth is named” (Eph 3:14-15; Gen 12:3). If we would be an Antioch Church from which the Spirit sends out missionaries to the world we must be those who hear the impassioned cry of the needy for help (Acts 16:9). Our response must be service from below rather than action from above. The place of our calling is beneath others; for this is the place that Jesus took for us all on the cross (Phil 2:7). Lowliness is the calling of God upon our land and in this the Church must take the lead.
According to Jesus the primary form of leadership is servanthood (Mark 9:35). This is in direct conflict with the emphases of vision, charisma, competence, gifting and influence which dominate Church and state today. We are in dire need of corporate repentance in order to come down from our high place and receive the blessing of God. A tsunami of spiritual restoration can break upon us as a transforming revival if the people of God humbly enter together into the perfect union with the Father for which Jesus prayed (John 17:23). But if we persist with our lofty ambitions this wave will shatter into a thousand fragmentary pieces and our last state will be worse than our first (Matt 12:45; 2 Cor 10:5). To “bow the knee” on behalf of Christ and of others, this is the sole springboard for revival