What does it mean that the government will rest upon His shoulders? What government or governments?
It should be evident that the Messiah would have the government of Israel to bear. He is, after all, the eternal fulfillment of the Davidic promise. But is there more? Or does every government rest on Him? The answer is yes, or they will fall.
In Matthew 28:18, Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
Paul gives us the scope and duration of Christ’s rule when he said, “…then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.” – 1 Corinthians 15:24-26
Jesus may have come as a fulfillment of a promise to the Jewish people, but He also came as a blessing to the whole world.
Luke 2:10-11, 14 says this: “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David, there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…. Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
The great commission gives us a fuller understanding of who ‘men with whom He is pleased’ is referring.
“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” – Mark 16:15-16
So all government rests upon Jesus’ shoulders. But there’s more to ‘government’ than kings and dignitaries. When we look to the whole of Scripture, we see that there are three Biblically established forms of government: the civil governments (Romans 13:1-8), the government of the family (Matt. 19:4-6), and the government of the church (Eph. 2:17-22).
The church is tasked with governing Word and Sacrament. This includes spiritual and moral discipline. The family is responsible for health, education, and welfare. And the civil government is responsible for justice and protection. It’s important to note that these are concentric circles, so there is overlap. And it’s not always clear where the lines are.
I’d need several sermons just to scratch the surface of this subject so let me just say this, each form of government is carried on King Jesus’s shoulders. The reason this matters is because Advent is fundamentally political.Jesus may have come as a fulfillment of a promise to the Jewish people, but He also came as a blessing to the whole world. Click To Tweet
Jesus came to be King and not just in some castle far removed. Or over a select people group in competition with other kingdoms. He came to be King over our families, our churches, and even our statehouses. Here’s a statement for the principalities and powers of this age; Jesus is King whether Cesar likes it or not.
What about Romans 13? If God establishes all existing governments and they rest on His shoulders, how should this affect our faith as American Christians?
In case you don’t know, Romans 13:1 says, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”
The first thing we need to do is embrace the truth of these two statements—God does establish all governments (Romans 13:1), and they also rest upon His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6-7). If and when this is truly believed, we should have great peace. And when we don’t have peace it’s because we don’t believe one or both of these.
However, as it is with humanity at large, God gives the people running governments a will of their own. And because these institutions are composed of individuals, governments do go astray. Israel did. They are God’s chosen people.
But this doesn’t mean that God is any less in control. It only means that sin is still rampant. Just because God doesn’t prevent dissent doesn’t in any way imply that it’s too much for Him to handle. It surely doesn’t mean He’s no longer good or lacking control.
So again Isaiah said, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,” – Isaiah 9:6
As American Christians we have to remember these truths: God establishes all authorities and they rest upon His shoulders. Although our representative republic allows us to cast a vote (which we should do) God is still in control. This process is like the use of casting lots in the Old and New Testaments. Not all things that appear to be chance are actually chance.Just because God doesn’t prevent dissent doesn’t in any way imply that it’s too much for Him to handle. It surely doesn’t mean He’s no longer good or lacking control. Click To Tweet
In the next post, we will finish with our final questions.