It’s all about who is ruling. I just returned from Africa. The nation of Zimbabwe is in the critical care ward–again. It may not survive. Super-inflation happened overnight. Gas lines have been blocks long for weeks. People pay crazy prices for daily needs. Food is scarce. Blame it on the president. He doesn’t care as long as he can get richer. The story is repeated a hundred times in developing countries. Elections are often rigged. The person who gets into power often doesn’t budge–even when voted out, if the army is behind him. He uses his power to serve his ends, not those of the country.
“Of the people, by the people, for the people.” Not in many places\]\. It is “for the ruler, by the ruler, of the ruler.” Mr. and Mrs. Citizen don’t matter. Their vote doesn’t count, and their concerns are not heard. Next step: riots. People are so mad because they can’t feed their children that they take it to the streets. Precious lives are lost, but the president still presides most of the time, if the army is behind him. If not, it’s up for grabs. A military coup could put the general into power, but is he any better? Chances are his lust for riches repeats the criminal government and the people suffer.
No wonder the prophecy of Isaiah came as such unbelievably good news. Israel had experienced the same mockery of authority. Hezekiah was a good king. He restored the yearly passover. He cared about bringing prosperity to the people. Peace reigned under his rule. But he was a better president than a parent. He named his oldest child Manasseh, and he is remembered for his godless leadership, even sacrificing his own children to the god Moloch in the fire. People remembered the peaceful and righteous reign of King David and hoped for a descendant who would rule in a godly manner, overthrow corruption, and give rather than take.
So the words of the prophet rang with fresh hope: “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 Counselor, 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” (Isaiah 9:6,7).
The birth of a special child would signal new hope for the nation of Israel. This child would not be like any other child. He would have the wisdom of a wonderful counselor, unlike foolish kings who only looked after their personal affairs. Peace will reside during his reign. He will be famous for it, in fact, called the Prince of Peace. He will have God backing him to the point that he himself will be called Mighty God. And his power will not be abusive. He will truly care for his people, as a father of a family rather than as a tyrant.
Could it be true? Will this government be endless? What would it be like to have peace extended for multiple generations, forever. Could it happen? Would it? The prophet declared how it would come to pass: “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” The One who presides over the army of heaven will make it happen. “Even so, come Lord Jesus!”