“His Government and Peace”

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder. … Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” —Isaiah 9:6,7

DESPITE the efforts of international statesmen, the close of 1978 finds the world no nearer to economic security and peace than it was at the beginning. Although the United States withdrew its armed forces from Vietnam many years ago, cruel warfare continues between the nations of that part of the world, fostered by Russia on the one hand and communist China on the other.

The so-called republic of Nicaragua in Central America is even now passing through a bloodbath; the power struggle between whites and blacks in Rhodesia is yet unresolved; turmoil exists in Iran; Lebanon is on fire. Although the two great superpowers continue to maintain a surface appearance of peace and cooperation, the underlying distrust between them is deep and is a constant threat to world peace. Israel and Egypt are presently endeavoring to patch things up between them, but the Mideast situation is far from stable. Recurrent hunger still exists in many nations of the world, while stubborn, persistent inflation, even in the United States, raises specters of the terrible suffering that accompanied past experiences with unchecked deterioration in the value of money.

To a very large extent, the fear of another global war arises from the desire of great powers to extend their spheres of influence over other nations. The building of empires has always inflicted hardships upon the conquered, both by restraint of liberties and by exploitation. It is no different today, except that it is no longer called empire building. Now it is known as the spread of totalitarianism on the one hand or the extension of democracy and imperialism on the other. But regardless of how the spreading influence of powerful nations may be described, it poses a threat of war and is certain ultimately to lead to war. But, thank God, this is not true of the world dominion in which Jesus will be the sovereign Ruler, the “King of kings, and Lord of lords.”

The blessed assurance of God’s promises concerning Jesus, whose birth the world celebrates this month, is that the expanding influence of his kingdom will also mean a corresponding extension of peace and goodwill—“of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,” is the way our text states the matter. Never in the history of man has the expanding influence of a government brought with it the assurance of lasting peace. Had the kings of Israel been obedient to the laws of God, that kingdom would have been an exception, but they were not obedient. Should we compare the better with the worse, there have been some noble rulers who have sought the best interests of the people over whom they have ruled. That is still true today, but even these are tainted with selfishness, and they lack the necessary wisdom to be entrusted safely with unlimited influence in world affairs.

Today a ruined and starving world bears stark testimony to the failure of all human efforts to govern the nations properly. The hopelessness of the people which has resulted from this failure haunts the human race and is as a plague which is robbing men and women everywhere of genuine peace and joy. In the face of this dire extremity, the people are turning in every direction to seek a way out of their dilemma, the vast majority not realizing as yet that there is only one way out, which is God’s way, the way of his kingdom, in which Jesus will be the King.

How meaningful, then, should be the Christmas message this year to those who can grasp its real significance and have faith in all that it implies! It should mean more—so very much more—than merely the singing of beautiful carols or the display of tawdry tinsel or the exchange of simple gifts. These, at the most, should be but reminders of the greater event which we commemorate by them; namely, God’s gift to the world, the gift of a Savior, a Redeemer, and a King who is soon to rule all nations. At no time has this knowledge been so important or so vital as a basis for hope in the hearts and lives of the hopeless. At no time has there ever been a greater opportunity or a more binding responsibility on the part of those who understand the real meaning of Jesus’ birth to herald wide the glorious message of his kingdom, that it is soon to be manifested for the blessing of all nations and the solution of all the problems of a dying world.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given,” wrote the prophet. (Isa. 9:6) This is one of the many prophecies concerning the birth of Jesus, that glorious One who was hailed by the angel in those unforgettable words, “Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”(Luke 2:10,11) Yes, the promised “child” was born, the foretold “Son” was given, and, as the promised Christ, or Messiah, he was to be the Savior of the world.

And then, to emphasize the importance of the event and to explain further its significance, “a multitude of the heavenly host” were heard “praising God, saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:13,14) No passage in the Scriptures is more familiar than this one. It will be repeated by millions again this year. But throughout the centuries, and more so now than ever, it has seemed to the majority as merely the expression of their wishful thinking, serving as an inspiration for a few days but forgotten during the remainder of the year, while the nations have continued on their bloody course of war.

One of the principal reasons the professed Christian world has failed to understand the full significance of the angelic message of peace and goodwill is the fact that they have supposed that the realization of its implications depended upon human efforts. So, in order to “Christianize” the world and thus bring peace to the nations, they have, in the name of Christ, joined hands with civil governments, taken part in political action and intrigue, and frequently threatened those who resisted—with the punishment of eternal torture after death. In reading the prophecy concerning the birth of Jesus, the “Son” whom God would give, they evidently failed to notice the prophetic assurance that “the government shall be upon his shoulder.”—Isa. 9:6

In this statement is found one of the principal differences of viewpoint between nominal churchianity and the true Christianity of the Bible. Briefly, that difference is that the triumph of real Christianity in a worldwide kingdom of peace and life is guaranteed by divine power and will be a genuine and blessed reality at exactly the due time foreordained by God, while the view of nominal churchianity is that the world must wait for its kingdom of peace until it can be brought in by human efforts. Today only those who can see the matter as it is set forth in the Scriptures and exercise full confidence in the promises of God can be truly blessed by the Christmas message.

Yes, “the government shall be upon his shoulder,” and to make sure that we understand this thought, the prophet adds, “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isa. 9:7) And what is it that the prophet refers to by the word “this,” which will be performed by the zeal of the Lord? Let us note what the prophecy says: First there is the promise of the “child,” the “Son,” who would be born and upon whose shoulder the responsibility of the new world government would rest.

Jesus was this child. His birth itself was not by the will of man, for even the fulfillment of this part of the prophecy was accomplished by divine direction and power. And when the angels sang “peace on earth and good will toward men” they meant that through this child and through the kingdom in which he would rule, God would bring peace to the nations. They meant, also, that his birth was an expression of God’s goodwill toward men, not that men would suddenly and of their own volition begin to exercise goodwill toward one another.

“His name shall be called Wonderful,” the prophet continues, “Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” All these titles are ascribed to Jesus by God and are indicative of the various ways in which the “increase of his government” will be manifested for the blessing of the people. The title “Counselor,” for example, describes his role as “mediator between God and men.” One of the fundamental causes of all suffering and death in the earth is the fact that the human race is estranged from God through rebellion against his law. One of the functions of Christ’s reign will be to bring about reconciliation between God and men. Peace between God and men is a necessary prerequisite to peace among men. As long as men are at enmity with God and defiant of his law, they will be enemies of one another.

The first step toward the reconciliation of the world by Jesus was the sacrifice of his life as man’s Redeemer. This outstanding act of love for, and interest in, the subjects over which he was later to be Ruler is one of the things which entitles him to be called “Wonderful.” The rulers of this world are considered wonderful if through their ability as leaders they can induce their subjects to die for them and for the cause they represent. But Jesus reversed this procedure. The foundation of his greatness, of his world rulership, was laid by his own sacrifice, the sacrifice of his own life that his subjects might live.

Is it any wonder, then, that Jesus merits the title, “The mighty God”? This does not mean that he is the Almighty God, the Heavenly Father. It simply means that Jehovah has exalted him to such a high position in the carrying out of the divine plan for the reconciliation and salvation of the human race that he is to be recognized as a god, a mighty one, to whom honor is to be accorded and who is worthy of being worshiped. We, his followers of this Gospel age, are bidden to honor the Son even as we honor the Father; and the restored human race at the close of the thousand-year reign of Christ are prophetically represented as saying of this mighty One, this divinely provided Counselor, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us.” (Isa. 25:9) This same text repeats the expression, “we have waited for him,” but applies it to Jehovah, saying of him, “We will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” The thought seems to be that the people will recognize Jehovah as the great Author of the plan of salvation, and Jesus, as the “mighty God” through whose death and kingdom rule they have been reconciled to Jehovah and saved from sin and death.

The thought of salvation from death is further emphasized by the title “The everlasting Father.” Verily, he is the One who will give everlasting life to the people. The word father means life-giver. No other ruler in the earth has even attempted to give life to the people; yet how essential this is to the lasting peace and joy of the people. We might visualize a world enjoying all the blessings of peace and security that human governments have ever promised; yet it would still be a sin-sick and dying world. But the “increase” of Christ’s influence among the nations will be so widespread and all-comprehensive that even the great enemy Death will crumble before him in defeat and destruction. “For he must reign,” Paul writes, “till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”—I Cor. 15:25,26

Think what this will mean to a dying race! The destruction of death, while it will first be manifested in the restoration to health of all the living, will not stop there; for all the victims of this great enemy—the billions of them who have been struck down throughout all the ages of the past—are to be restored to life in order that they too may take their places in the new world society.

Here again it is well to remember that the responsibility for the fulfillment of all the wonderful things promised through the kingdom of Christ will be “upon his shoulder,” and that “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” If we were thinking of these wonderful promises of the Bible from the standpoint of what human beings might be able to do, our thoughts and our wishes would be but vain imaginations. But not so when we take God’s viewpoint. Jesus’ birth was a miracle. During his brief ministry he demonstrated over and over again what miracles of healing and of resurrection are possible when divine power is employed. He was raised from the dead by a miracle—“the zeal of the Lord of hosts” performed this—and we have the blessed assurance that divine power will also be used for the restoration of all the dead. In a world in which death is becoming ever more prevalent, how blessed is the promise that “there shall be no more death.”—Rev. 21:4

The prophet also describes Jesus as “The Prince of Peace.” We have already noted that in his role as Mediator, or Counselor, Jesus will establish peace between God and men. This peace will be based upon obedience to the divine laws of righteousness and justice. Automatically those who are obedient to God will be at peace with one another, for they will all be recognizing the one supreme authority. The Prophet Micah tells us that “people shall flow unto it,” and “many nations,” in recognizing the authority of Christ’s kingdom and being taught the Lord’s ways, “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks,” and that they “shall not learn war any more.” (Mic. 4:1-3) When this prophecy is fulfilled there surely will be “peace on earth,” not because men have devised a way of living at peace with one another, but because of God’s goodwill toward men in providing a “Prince of Peace” to enforce obedience to the principles of justice and love embodied in his laws.

This “peace on earth” established by “The Prince of Peace” will be more than peace among nations. It will also be peace within nations—economic peace, symbolized by the expression that every man shall dwell under his vine and fig tree. (Mic. 4:4) It will also mean peace in every community and peace in every home. It will mean peace of heart and mind—a peace that will never be disturbed by the fear of war or the fear of poverty or the fear of sickness or the fear of death. Nothing will be permitted to hurt nor to destroy, says the prophet, in all that holy kingdom. (Isa. 11:9) In this promise the reason ascribed for the conditions of peace, tranquility, and safety assured by the kingdom of Christ is that “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”

When the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord and the people live in harmony with that knowledge, they will enjoy peace among themselves and within themselves. And this peace will be the outgrowth, as it were, of their peace with God, a peace which they will have found through the acceptance of the redemptive work of Christ as the means by which they are saved from death and through obedience to the divine standards of righteousness which are the foundations of God’s throne. Surely it is true that Jesus will be “The Prince of Peace” and that “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”

Our text also states that the reign of The Prince of Peace will be upon the “throne of David, … to order it, and to establish it.” This is a reaffirmation of the promise that the Messiah, the Christ, the “seed” of promise, would come through the lineage of David and that The Prince of Peace would reestablish the broken-down kingdom of David. God recognized the kings of Israel as representing him and that the kingdom of Israel was his kingdom. Of Solomon we read that he sat upon the throne of the Lord as King “instead of David his Father.”—I Chron. 29:23

But this arrangement ceased when King Zedekiah was overthrown and the nation was taken into captivity in Babylon. “Remove the diadem,” the prophet said, “and take off the crown. … It shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him.” (Ezek. 21:26,27) Jesus is the One referred to in this prophecy as having the right to reestablish the throne, or kingdom, which was there overthrown. From this standpoint, his rulership will be upon the “throne of David.”

From the time the Lord’s typical kingdom was overthrown until Christ takes unto himself his great power to reign, the world is without a government for which the Lord takes any responsibility. From this standpoint, the reestablishment of the throne of David by Jesus is the prophetic manner of assuring us of the divine authority to rule which is vested in him. While the kingdom of Christ will be vastly more powerful and more far-reaching than was the typical kingdom of Israel, it will in many respects be like it. God was Israel’s Lawgiver, and if the people had obeyed those laws, and if their kings had administered them properly, they would have been blessed indeed.

The laws of the kingdom of Christ will also be divine laws administered by Jesus, the divine King, who will have associated with him those who will have proved their worthiness of that high position by suffering and dying as he suffered and died. These will come forth in the “first resurrection” to live and reign with Jesus. Thus we are assured that all the rulers in the new kingdom will be righteous administrators of the law. Their representatives on the earth will be the “ancient worthies.” These, as “princes in all the earth,” (Ps. 45:16) will also have been pretrained and prepared for their positions of responsibility. Being raised from the dead as perfect human beings, they will be capable of administering the visible phase of the new kingdom wisely and in harmony with the righteous laws and instructions which will be given to the people through them.

Thus the “throne of David”—symbol of divine rulership—will be “ordered” and established, not temporarily, but “forever.” While the mediatorial reign of Christ will continue for only a thousand years—long enough to restore the human race to life and to at-one-ment with God—the will of God, his rulership, will thenceforth be without end. In the fullest sense of the word it will not be until the close of the reign of Christ that our prayer “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done in earth” shall be fully answered. Christ’s reign will be the means by which the prayer will be answered, and when he shall have completed the work of reconciling the world to God, and, as Paul explains, turns over the kingdom to the Father, then the supreme rulership of Jehovah himself shall have come, and his will shall be recognized and obeyed in earth even as it is in heaven.—I Cor. 15:24-28

Truly, then, the prophet was right when he wrote that “of the increase of his [Christ’s] government and peace there shall be no end.” It will have no end because it will not stop short of extirpating from earth every element of unrighteousness and every enemy of God and men. He will extend his sphere of influence until everything which has disturbed the peace of the people and robbed them of the blessings of God shall be destroyed. This is the blessed hope which may be ours now—this year—as we once more commemorate the birth of “The Prince of Peace.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |