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. Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

Isaiah goes on to write, 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 9:7 ESV)

The prophet Daniel wrote, I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.  And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14 ESV) Daniel saw in a vision the prophesy of Isaiah.

There are two ways to approach the phrase “the government shall be upon his shoulder”, “the key” being the sign of authority to rule and “the burden” being the responsibility to rule.

In Revelation, Jesus dictating his letter to the church in Philadelphia, states that he has the key of David (Revelation 3:7). The key of David was the key to Zion that is Jerusalem. David most likely came into possession of the key when the Israelites captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites. To be in possession of the key to the city was a mark of office and represented the highest authority of government. It was not uncommon in ancient times for kings and other dignitaries to wear the key on or suspended from their shoulder or the kerchief of the shoulder as an ensign of office. With the key of David, Jesus was showing that he was the fulfillment of the covenant that God made with David to always have a son to sit on the throne of his kingdom; Jesus’ kingdom being the heavenly Jerusalem, the kingdom of God.

Jesus, the son, has been given all authority to rule and reign the kingdom of God in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). With the key he has the power to open and no man shut and to shut and no man open (Revelation 3:7). He has all authority to judge (John 5:22, 27) and his judgment is final and his sentence just (John 8:16; 2 Timothy 4:1; Jude 1:15).

The Hebrew word of shoulder used in Isaiah 9:6 means the neck between the shoulders, a place of burden. Jesus has not only been given the authority to rule but also the burden (task) or responsibility to use his authority. He fulfilled his responsibility when he taught the people (Luke 4:32), cast out demons (Luke 4:36), and forgave sins (Luke 5:24). Jesus exercised his authority when he gave his life and took it up again being obedient to the charge given by his Father (John 10:18). By his death on the cross, Jesus disarmed the rulers and authorities, putting them to open shame. And it is by the virtue of his resurrection that he said, “I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18).

Jesus claimed to be a king (Mark 15:2). He fulfilled his kingly responsibilities on earth by accomplishing the work that the Father gave him to do (John 17:4). Even today he continues to sustain God’s kingdom as he reigns at God’s right hand far above all rule, authority, power and dominion. And he will reign until he destroys every rule and authority and power and has placed all of his enemies under his feet (1 Corinthians 15:24-25; Ephesians 1:20-21).

Do you live your life under the rule and reign (government) of Jesus? Is he your king?

Scriptures for meditation:
Revelation 17:14

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