“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”
Yesterday we looked at the titles given to the Child/Son, and today we’re going to look at what he will do and the kingdom he will build.
According to Isaiah, the Child/Son will have the Government on his shoulder. What does that mean? We might naturally be inclined to see this as a political title, and so think of a ruler taking the burden of governing upon himself. That is certainly true, and I’ll come on to that in a moment, but I think there is another equally important aspect to it.
In Exodus 28, we read this about the clothing of the High Priest:
“As a jeweller engraves signets, so shall you engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. You shall enclose them in settings of gold filigree. And you shall set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel. And Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for remembrance” (Exodus 28:11-14).
So the High Priest was to have stones of remembrance for all the tribes of Israel, and they were to be worn on his shoulders. The symbolism is therefore this: as the representative of Israel before God, and as the only Israelite who was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle and later the Temple once a year to make atonement for the entire nation, he was the bearer of Israel and the one in whom the fortunes of the nation were closely bound.
Yet it wasn’t just the fortunes of Israel that were at stake. Israel was never designed to be an insular kingdom, but was meant to be the centre of the worship of the true God, to which all other nations would come. For example, it was to be a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:5), and so at the Feast of Booths, seventy bulls were sacrificed on behalf of the nations (seventy being the symbolic Biblical number for the gentile nations). They were also to be a prophetic witness to the surrounding nations:
“…for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?” (Deuteronomy 4:6-7)
In other words, the fortunes of the world were very much connected with the obedience of Israel, and Israel’s fortunes were very much bound up with its High Priest. So the fortunes of both Israel and the nations are therefore bound up in the High Priest.
But of course both Israel and its High Priest fail miserably to obey God time and time again. And so a new and better High Priest is therefore required, one who can bear the world on his shoulder by making perfect atonement. The Child/Son of Isaiah 9 is that perfect High Priest, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Yet as I said at the beginning, he more than just a priest. Isaiah tells us that he will sit on the Davidic Throne, upholding justice and righteousness forevermore, and so he is also a political figure too – a king. Yet unlike the kings, presidents, prime ministers and rulers of the world, he is the perfect king, establishing the perfect kingdom.
In Psalm 110, we read of a Priest/King who rules over the world on the Throne at the right hand of God (symbolic of power and strength):
“The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool. The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty sceptre. Rule in the midst of your enemies! … You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Hebrews 5-7 then connects the Psalm to Jesus, and so it is he – the Child/Son of Isaiah 9 – who has the Government of the world on his shoulder.
One more thing, but very important. Isaiah tells us that of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end. What is the meaning of this? It is the same as Jesus tells us in the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven: The Kingdom of God, which was inaugurated at his coming, started off from tiny beginnings, but will grow slowly but surely, year by year, decade by decade, century by century, until it fills the whole earth. Jesus, the Child/Son, the High Priest and King of Kings, intends to Christianise the world.