This time of year, we frequently quote the prophecy concerning the birth of Our Lord which was immortalized in song by George Frideric Handel in The Messiah. The passage, lifted from the first few verses of Isaiah Chapter 9, reads:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7 NKJV)
This passage is rich with meaning, and I’m sure that, like me, you’ve heard many explorations of its depth. But one aspect that I’ve not heard explored nearly so significantly has to do with the unique terminology used only in these two verses regarding His “government.”
Digging one layer deep into the Hebrew, you’ll find that Isaiah used a word we’ve translated “government” that occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament. I’m no Hebrew scholar, nor do I claim to be. However, based upon my research, some might argue that translators would’ve hit closer to their mark if they had used the English word “empire” to represent this word. I’m also enough of a student of the Bible to know that any time you find a word in the original languages that is used only a twice – in this case, the two occurrences are only a sentence apart – there’s something worth searching out.
Additionally of interest is the fact that this Hebrew word comes from another rarely-used word: a verb meaning, “to struggle, prevail, have power over.” This verb is only used of one person in the entire Bible: Jacob. It is used only to describe Jacob’s wrestling match with God wherein he struggled and ultimately prevailed.
This is a powerful picture of the nature of the Kingdom which the Lord Jesus Himself came to earth to establish. It is a Kingdom – an empire – which is governed and ruled by the One True King, but which is only established – whether in the heart of a person or in the sphere of influence wielded by a person – through a process of struggle. From the time of the arrival of the Babe in the womb of Mary until now, the Kingdom meets with resistance everywhere it goes. From the struggle faced by Joseph at the discovery of his espoused wife’s pregnancy, to the ruthless destruction of human lives by Herod in an attempt to eradicate the young Boy… and on throughout history, the Lordship of Christ is realized in the face of resistance.
Perhaps you recognize the struggle in your own life… the one that occurs as you willfully choose to subject yourself to the King. It can be a painful journey as we continually recognize and honor the authority of the King.
And yet, the outcome of this struggle is that the Kingdom expands. The territory ruled by the King has been increasing its borders since the time that Jesus announced that it was, in fact, at hand. He taught us the nature of this Kingdom through the parables. He charged His disciples – His trainees – with declaring it and securing new territory for it to govern.
To the loyal subjects of the King… those who seek to expand the borders of His Kingdom through your labor and work in the business world, allow me to encourage you afresh and anew with the words of Isaiah’s prophecy:
You face resistance. There is struggle. Just as Joshua and the Nation of Israel had to battle giants and powerful enemies as they “possessed” the Promised Land, you and I will engage a variety of enemies in our mission.
“Of The Increase… There Shall Be No End”
This Kingdom is, however, destined to increase. In fact, it is an ever-expanding entity. We who labor at the edges of its borders – where the battle can be the hottest – are just the latest in a long succession of those who have been challenged and honored with the call to expand it. I’m thrilled to know that at no point will the King call “retreat.” At no time will He have said, “…it’s large enough, you can quit.” Or, “You’ve failed miserably, get out of there.” He has commanded that it will increase unendingly.
“The Zeal of the LORD of Hosts Will Perform This.”
And how refreshing it is to know that a powerful force bolsters us – the very zeal and passion of the King who longs to bring His Goodness, His Majestic Greatness and His Peace to bear over His created order. And there can be no question that it will be accomplished. May it be accomplished in and through you!
Where ever the battle may find you today, know that you are not alone, but instead are part of a victorious army called and commissioned by the very King of Heaven. Relish the struggle and the battles – they are part of your training. You are built for them!
For King and Kingdom!
Tags: Government on His Shoulders, Increase, Kingdom of God