For the week of January 26, 2008 / 19 Shevat 5768
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 18:1 - 20:23
Haftarah: Isaiah 6:1 - 7:6; 9:5,6
(English 6:1 - 7:6; 9:6,7)
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 9:5,6 [English 9:6,7]; ESV)
We are in the month of January in a U.S. election year. This is the time when potential presidential candidates are vying for a chance to be chosen as their parties' nominee. Even in Canada, where I live, there is a great deal of interest in this process and its outcome. I don't know if this interest is due to the media coverage or if it is because of the significant effect American politics has on our country and elsewhere. I am pretty sure it is due to the latter, though the media certainly has a part to play.
Governments affect our lives. However one thinks about politics and politicians, governments affect us all. Governments set the rules whereby people within a society relate to one another socially and commercially. Governments have the responsibility to provide security and justice for those whom they govern and are called to protect the weak and the powerless.
Throughout history and around the world, there have been and are many different styles of government. Whatever one's political leanings, I am sure we would agree that few if any governments have ever pleased everyone under their rule.
While it seems some people follow the American nomination process just because it is interesting or entertaining, many do so in the hope that the coming election will produce a government more in keeping with their dreams of a better life.
Isaiah foretold of such a government. But his hopes and dreams were not based on his personal preferences or political opinions. He foretold God's vision of a better government.
Through Isaiah God provides us with a vision of a government of unending peace, justice, and righteousness. A King - a descendant of the great King David - would come and rule in such a way never before seen on earth - a way most people probably still don't think is possible.
Note the identity of this King. While coming into the world like a normal human being ("for to us a child is born"), he is actually God himself ("Mighty God," "Everlasting Father").
In the development of Judaism, this King, known also as the Messiah, was not thought to be God come to earth in human form as this prophecy claims. Yet the Scriptures speak for themselves.
That this prophecy has been fulfilled in Yeshua of Nazareth is significant as we anticipate the U.S. election or any election of any existing government. While elections and politics deserve our attention, we need to look at these things from God's perspective. Whatever human governments may do, God's government has already been established through Yeshua. Before he ascended to heaven to take his place at God's right hand, he said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18).
Whatever human governments may do, King Yeshua the Messiah is in charge. That at the same time the establishment of his reign is still in process is alluded to in Isaiah's words, "Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end." His government, while established, is on the increase.
For those who know him now as their King, it is his government under which we primarily live. God is at work through Yeshua to establish everlasting peace, justice, and righteousness. As we live under his rule, careful to follow his lead, we will see that it is his influence that is most dominant in our lives and in life in general. Human governments will come and go, but God's government will stand forever.
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