Dan Popp
And the government will be upon his shoulders
By Dan Popp
December 3, 2018

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. (Isaiah 9:6, NKJV)

Every year, along with that weathered wreath, Grandma's cookie recipe, and all the other ancient accouterments of Christmas, we drag out this verse. But I would guess that 98% of the people saying and singing it don't know what it means. Oh, there's nothing tricky about the identity of the Child – that's Jesus. And the Son? Jesus again. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace? It's like a Sunday School quiz; every answer is "Jesus." But what about the "government on His shoulder" part?


Some people imagine that they can cherry-pick sayings from the red letters and turn them into government policies. That's ignorant and dishonest. The only thing Jesus said directly on the topic of human government was, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.'" (John 18:36b, NAS95) This debunks the notion that whatever Christ said about the "kingdom" can be hammered into a template for civil government.

However, when Jesus returns, He will be a political ruler. And many human beings will go to war to prevent that from happening. We must understand this about the "government-on-His-shoulders" thing: When Jesus comes back to rule, the first thing He'll do is kill an enormous number of people.
    And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

    Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, "Come, assemble for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great." And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh." (Revelation 19:11-21)
Whoa! This doesn't sound like the Baby in the Manger. But it is. If you want to know who Jesus is, you must take into account His hatred for sin as we see it in the Old Testament, His birth, His death, His resurrection, His return – and His reign.

So how will Jesus run this planet? The most prominent description occurs four times in the Bible, both Testaments: "He will rule them with a rod of iron." To the righteous, Jesus on the throne of the earth will be practically paradise. To the unrighteous, it will feel like they are clay pots and He is smashing them with a crowbar.

Imagine a world in which all criminals are caught, all crimes punished. (That is, after all, what real government does: hurt and kill the unjust.) The perfect dictator will govern perfectly. His government will bring the hammer down on offenders with maximum speed and utter thoroughness. No one will "get off on a technicality." There will be no appeals, either. The judge knows exactly what you did.

So what will the laws be like in this political realm of Jesus? Well, we have reason to believe they will be substantially like the civil laws in the Old Testament. They will come from the same Legislator, after all. And He said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17) At least one of the Jewish festivals will be celebrated by the whole world (see Zechariah 14:16-19). Ultimately, looking past the Millennial Reign and going into the era of the New Heavens and the New Earth, sinners will be excluded altogether: "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)

You can see why most people – including many of those singing Isaiah – would rather die than see Him crowned.

Earlier I made the charge of "cherry-picking" sayings of Jesus. Now I'll prove it. The new theocrats often trot out snippets like "Turn the other cheek" and "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." But you'll never hear them quote the same Person saying, "But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence." (Luke 19:27) Or: "For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him." (Matthew 13:12 – see also Matt. 25:29, Mark 4:25, Luke 8:18 and Luke 19:16!) You may say that these don't refer to the political reign of Jesus, but that's precisely my point: neither do the usual chestnuts quoted to support anti-Christian Marxism.

The government will, someday, be upon His shoulders. That's a good thing. It's the second-best news, ever. But for those who reject the best news, the Good News, it will be the worst news. The only way to eagerly anticipate the rule of Christ on the earth is to make Him the ruler of your own life.
    Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, "Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!" He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them.

    Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, "But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain."

    "I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.'"

    Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! (Psalm 2)
© Dan Popp


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