By André Schutten
Happy Canada Day!
Canada Day (or, for those who remember, Dominion Day as it was called until 1983) is a great day to rejoice and be glad in the gift God has given us in this Dominion of Canada. I love my home and native land. Canada is a good country to live in, a good country to raise children in, to work in, and to minister and serve others in. She is stunning in her beauty, valiant in her history, and well-formed in her founding. We have more religious, expressive, and associational freedom, economic opportunity, and social security than many other countries, and the rule of law is well respected, if not always followed.
“Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law,” says the opening sentence of our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We have a legal, political and cultural history that rests on those principles. This foundation is also reflected in three Bible texts etched into our iconic Peace Tower: two from Psalm 72 and one from Proverbs 29.
On the east side of the tower, in the arch over the stained-glass window, is inscribed, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea.” That statement comes from the first half of Psalm 72:8 and is a prophetic part of the Psalm referring to the reign of Christ. Christ the King shall have dominion – sovereign rule – from one end of the earth to the other. An earlier generation of Canadians rightly applied that to Canada, recognizing God’s rule from sea (the Atlantic) to sea (the Pacific). When Canada was founded in 1867, she was called “The Dominion of Canada,” an allusion to Psalm 72. This is also where the motto of Canada, engraved on our coat of arms, comes from: Ad mare usque ad mare: also from sea to sea.
On the south side of the Peace Tower, facing those approaching Parliament’s front door, is inscribed the opening prayer of Psalm 72, a prayer for the king of the nation: “Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son.” It makes sense to etch this on the peace tower, high above the legislative building where the rulers of this country sit and work, and where our laws are crafted and debated and passed. The prayer of Psalm 72 is carved as a banner in the sky, a reminder to Parliamentarians as they approach and enter those hallowed halls, to enact the just judgements and righteousness of God for the good of the nation.
And finally, on the side looking toward the going down of the sun, is this proverb from Proverbs 29: “Where there is no vision, the peoples perish.” At the time those words were carved into Parliamentary stone, the vast majority of Canadians would have known the rest of the proverb: “But he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” The NIV translation is helpful: “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.”
When was the last time the revelation from God has been heard inside our political institutions? How many of our law makers hear the revelation from God proclaimed week after week? Probably very few. And the result is that “people cast off restraint.” I love my country but I am very concerned for her future. Canada has thrown off legal protections for precious pre-born children in the name of choice and removed legal protections for vulnerable humans with severe disabilities or diseases in the name of autonomy and dignity. We throw away restraints on family structure, on sexual ethics, on the beautiful biological reality of female and male. Limits on pornography, gambling, spending, drug and alcohol use, are cast to the wind. The proverb says, “he that keeps the law [of God], happy is he.” But our culture isn’t happy. Far from it. We are confused, and lost, and scared, and angry, and so depressed.
On this Canada Day, I want to encourage you to pray three things that correspond to the three texts on the Peace Tower:
- Commit to praying a prayer of thankfulness for the fact that King Jesus has dominion, and reigns right now from sea to sea. Praise God for the fact that Canada was founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law. Thank him that we do still have freedom and we do still have opportunity and we do still have the rule of law, more so than many other countries in the world.
- Commit to praying that God would once again give to our Parliament and Legislatures His justice and righteousness. Beg God to give to the sons and daughters in the House of Commons and Senate an ear to hear and an eye to see and a mind to comprehend and a heart to cherish His justice and righteousness. Plead with God to create many more opportunities for Christians in organizations like ARPA Canada, or working as staffers for politicians, to share what the justice and righteousness of God might be when applied to the laws of our land.
- Commit to pray and act to bring the vision back to the people, lest we perish. Without vision, the people will The vision comes from God, but he shares it through his people. “And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom. 10:14). Seek in prayer for God to throw open the doors to the gospel in this country, beg for a revival, plead for the Holy Spirit to move in this country! Imagine what God can bring about! Imagine the lives of precious babies and vulnerable seniors protected and embraced. Imagine teenagers struggling with their identity being embraced and encouraged to love the body they are in. Imagine reforms to criminal justice that incorporate biblical principles of restorative justice. Imagine the government punishing exploitative pornographers and child predators while Christians minister to the broken and the ashamed with the gospel that heals and wipes away shame. Imagine the freedom and joy our neighbours will experience by no longer casting off restraint, but rather embracing the one true God, saviour of the world, who came to save and to set free. That’s your calling and mine, as Christian citizens.
Dear reader, happy Canada Day! May God hear and bless our prayers for our nation. God keep our land glorious and free.