Thursday, July 9, 2009

Government and the Kingdom of God

"For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
  and the government shall be upon​ his shoulder" (Isaiah 9:6a)
This is the fourth post in a mini-series on why I think the Kingdom of God is not quite here yet.

The first post was an argument based on the binding of Satan as part of the establishment of the Kingdom, the second was based on the separation of the sheep from the goats, the third had holes in it, and concerned John the Baptist.

The fourth goes something like this: scriptures, as in the verse cited above, teach that when the prophesied One comes as King, the government will rest on His shoulder. So below is a test I devised to determine whether the prophesied One has come as King or not.

1. When the KOG has been established, it will be true that "the government rests on the messiah's shoulder".
2. It is currently not true that "the government rests on the messiah's shoulder".
3, Therefore, it is currently not true that the KOG has been established.

Some might object to the subject of my link. Why select him to contrast with the messiah? I suppose I did this for a couple of reasons. Bypassing the obvious, the first reason is that at this moment, our government more or less rests upon his shoulder. Now, if you claim that it doesn't, because we have a three part government with checks and balances, then I say you are just driving my point home: our government is not the type of government that the Kingdom will be. And if you object by saying that this isn't the only government on earth and another one might be the Kingdom, (I have to first ask "which?" and then "why aren't you there?") I am forced to cordially point out that you are once again driving my point home: there currently isn't a single world government, which can be said to rest upon a single shoulder. Yet, that is what will happen when the prophesied One returns as King!

"Wait, wait wait!" you might say, "You've got it all wrong! The government, in a metaphorical sense, will rest on the shoulder of the prophesied One". If you find yourself in this camp, I can't help but ask: how it is possible that Satan was able to offer this world to Jesus? Could it be because Satan is the one governing this world (in the metaphorical sense)?

It appears that Jesus is neither the literal political King, nor the metaphorical spiritual King at the moment.

"Wait!" you might say again, "Jesus is the metaphorical King of believers!". It's funny how we're willing to restrict the extent of the Kingdom after diluting it's potency, just to be able to say that it's here. But at what cost? Why not let the full breadth and strength of the prophecies stand?

Alas, I hope my next argument will demonstrate why I don't think the promised Kingdom has only and metaphorically to do with less than a third of the earth.

Stay tuned for my next argument, which starts out with a verse from the same passage.


  1. I always understood this verse to be a prophecy concerning Herod's attempt to kill the Messiah as a child, as is recorded in Matthew 2. I always thought, too, that Matthew referenced the Isaiah passage as fulfillment of this prophecy. But, alas, Matthew does no such cross referencing like I supposed. However, Matthew's omission is not evidence that this passage does not concern Herod's massacre of the innocents.

  2. I don't follow. Are you saying that the prophecy that the government will rest on the messiah's shoulder is fulfilled by Herod's killing of the firstborns?

  3. Right. The gov't's "being on his shoulders" is a metaphorical way to express that "The Messiah's gov't will try to suppress Him".

    I don't know the Hebrew, but assuming the English connotations mirror the Hebrew, it seems that f Isaiah were trying to communicate your view, he would have said something less generic and less neutral, like, "The Kingdom of God will be on His shoulders."

    But since Isaiah says "government", it makes it sound generic and hence not necessarily something continuous or congruent with the purpose of Christ's ministry.

  4. Interesting - I never thought of it that way. I always assumed that the government being upon his shoulders meant that he would carry the government or lead it. I never thought it could be read as the government will bear down upon him. I wonder whether anyone has written something exegetical that could really clear up the author's intent for this verse. Being biased, I naturally think that the following verses in this passage suggest that my original assumption is correct ("there will be no end to his government", but still I think you have a good point.

  5. Yeah, you're right. The other uses of 'government' in the passage are used in the KOG sense. That doesn't mean that the term cannot have to different senses (KOG and Herod's), but your reading is definitely more straight forward.

  6. Another thing, though this doesn't settle anything, the chronology of 9:6 has a one-to-one correspondence to with Matt. 1 and 2. I.e.:

    "Unto us a child is born,
    a child is given..." Matt. 1

    "...and the government shall be upon his shoulders." Matt. 2

  7. Right I see what you're saying and you might be on to something, even if I am right about the Kingdom.


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