The Rise and Fall of Nations
Being here in Australia, there has been more opportunities to live, work and interact among people from different nationalities. Many had resided in Australia for a long time, having migrated since they were children from different parts of the world such as Europe. Others are second generation Australians, born and bred here. In metrochurch, it has been said that there were sixty over nationalities in the church itself. There was once when the congregation was asked to raise their hands if they were born in Australia or specifically Western Australia, the percentage was actually on the minority side.
We have quite close contacts with Italians in particular. Our neighbours are Italians, a wonderful family who has been very kind to us and “adopted” us like part of their extended family. My driving instructor was born in Italy and migrated to Australia in his teens. He has great work ethics, and he was also very kind in giving me extended lessons without charging extra.
We used to have to walk past a Greek orthodox church, enroute to our favourite Sunday lunch place. It has quite a formidable architecture. When the doors were closed, it sounded like a very solemn service was in progression within its walls. Sometimes we got to meet the congregation after the service had concluded. The men were typically in heavy suits whether in summer or winter. The congregation was also dressed mainly in black or dark garments. In the country, one well-known Greek has to be the lovable judge on Masterchef Australia, George Columbaris. He is the one in the centre.
Cuisine wise, the different countries have contributed much to the culinary scene in Australia. Our favourite chocolate place is currently Chocolateria San Churro, with Spanish chocolate holding court in the establishment’s snacks and beverages. When Spain won the World Cup in 2010, we congratulated one of the staff (or perhaps he was the franchise owner) of San Churro and a big smile lit up his face.
Europe was recently very much in the centre of attention. Other than the London Olympics, it was largely bad news for many European countries. The world watched nervously as Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland and Portugal tottered and quivered through their respective financial woes.
It is interesting how nations like Greece, Italy and Spain used to be the dominating empires or great navigators of the world. But today, each has fallen on dire straits. We cannot even tell the people apart from the general populace. Other than some prominent distinguishing features, it can be hard to tell the originating countries of the people around us. Like we were once ferried by a taxi driver whose accent sounded Italian. But he was in fact Polish.
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed,
and if that nation I warned repents of its evil,
then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.
And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted,
and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me,
then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.
But even now, there is still widespread reliance on the world’s super powers to recover and be restored to their former glory. Certain economies are watched closely… for it seems that they must continue to thrive and grow, in order that global depression can be averted. Some of us may also place faith in our own little earthly “kingdoms”… we have a roof over our head, we have a stable job, we have our health, etc, etc… our world seems infallible.
“Your Majesty looked, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.”
But as Daniel has already foretold, no earthly kingdoms can last forever. Does this make you discouraged? Fearful?
Recently, metrochurch showed a video of children from the different centres in Cambodia, who had been gathered together for a 2012 Transform Cambodia Conference. As I watched the children singing and worshipping God with all their little hearts and minds, tears just rolled down uncontrollably.
I have witnessed God’s kingdom… the only one that will remain victorious forever and ever!
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.