In the overnight hours, the scripture from Isaiah 9 promising a Messiah, someone to carry my burdens and set me free, ran through my mind. Isaiah foretells the birth of a child followed by qualifying phrases that describe what the Messiah will accomplish and the kind of person he will be to his people. The first phrase he uses is especially thought provoking.
6For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders.Isaiah 9:6
Pause a moment and meditate on the phrase. The government will rest on his shoulders. What image does this phrase inspire in you? What does it look like for the Messiah to carry the government on his shoulders? Is it like Atlas holding the earth?
The phrase “rest on his shoulders” is an idiom — a group of words for which the meaning has been developed by usage rather than what the individual words mean. In this instance, the phrase means “to be the sole responsibility of someone.”
Now take a moment to meditate on this idea: the government will be his sole responsibility.
It is no wonder the religious people in Jesus day expected him to overthrow Rome and introduce a new government of which he would be the King. After all, wasn’t that what Isaiah had prophesied. Obviously there was a disconnect because Jesus resisted every effort to be crowned king on earth. He knew his purpose was beyond an earthly reign.
Jesus didn’t come to earth to regain power or to assert his power. Power wasn’t the question. It was authority Jesus came to take back from the enemy. Recall chapter 3 of Genesis when the serpent came to Adam and Eve. At creation, God gave authority to Adam and Eve to rule on earth. He told them to subdue the earth and fill it. (Genesis 1-2) When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the forbidden tree – knowing good and evil, they surrendered the authority given to them by the Creator. They gave it away just like that.
When the time was right, Jesus humbled himself and came as a man to do what Adam and Eve, and all humans since then, were unable to do — say no to Satan and take back authority over the earth. In this way, the government – authority – rests on the shoulders of Jesus.
18Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.Matthew 28:18
It isn’t the governments of the world that rest on his shoulders. It is bigger than that. It is the government of the heavenlies — all authority in heaven and on earth. “What difference does that make to me'” you ask? Great question.
I find that when I am not careful, the activity and actions of not only my government, but other governments as well, distract me. It distracts me from keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus, the One who carries all of it on his shoulders. I begin to feel responsible to carry the government on my shoulders. It is a heavy weight and before long, I stumble under the load. Then I am reminded it isn’t mine to carry. It is his. Then I recall Isaiah’s words to the nation of Israel. He says this:
11The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said, 12“Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. 13Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble. 14He will keep you safe.Isaiah 8:11-14
Who are you looking to for safety and consolation? Have you taken on the care of the government? The world? Is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in our life? Do you hold him in a place of reverent awe and respect? Does he make you tremble?