Glory of the Nations

A lad whose form teacher and Head of Year I once was now plays as a rugby league footballer for the Brisbane Broncos. I dutifully watched their recent game against the Gold Coast Titans, which they won, with his help. I sent him a congratulatory message which he was pleased to receive, and he also noted my suggestion that his team mates’ propensity to sport mullet hairstyles ought to result in their barbers’ immediate deportations. Before the game began, however, a bizarre ritual was performed. The week’s games were part of the ‘indigenous round’, which warranted various aboriginal figures blowing smoke about and making musical offerings. An ‘elder’ or ‘auntie’ then spoke a few words, urging those assembled to respect the ‘First Nation’ and all get on together. 

Australians, or rather those middle-class Australians who enjoy power and privilege, continue to feel bad about the way the land’s first inhabitants were treated. Certainly, they are a people against whom awful crimes were committed, and for whose justice the God of heaven will hold many to account. Yet to what extent modern Australians must acquiesce in the perennial hand-wringing and pseudo-religious ceremonial at their sports matches, I do not know. Many peoples have been displaced from their lands, even the ancient Britons, whom we now label the Welsh, whom my ancestors pushed westwards. Nations and cultures have always displaced and overshadowed those that came before. Yet there are several comments in the Book of Revelation which talk about the final state’s celebration of national distinctives:

And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honour into it. (Revelation 21:24)

And they shall bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it. (Revelation 21:26)

One preacher I heard at the North West Gospel Partnership conference in Wigan this spring suggested it meant that various national pastimes, such as bagpipe-playing and line dancing, would be performed in New Jerusalem. I’ll confess to feeling nauseous at such a prospect, and I'm relieved I'm likely to be seated towards the back. Yet somehow, the glory of the nations will be found there, as well as representatives from each one. Whether this means semi-naked smoke-blowers from Australia, I do not know. Suffice to say, it will be far greater and better than anything we could imagine.