For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 (NASB)
Most of us are familiar with this grand prophetic utterance from the prophet Isaiah. It is one of the great themes of the famous cantata by G.F. Handel called “The Messiah.” The music is very exciting, remaining a favorite section of that great work.
What I want to consider with you is the sheer scope of that short verse. The subject of this part of Isaiah’s prophecy is a “child” to be born. Arguably, the term “son” is exactly equivalent and is used for poetic emphasis. Hence the child/son is the one to whom the remainder of the passage refers. The rest of the verse contains two kinds of information. First, the verse refers to His primary labor – He is to carry “the government” on His shoulders. Second, in performing that labor, several ascriptions are attached to Him. These ascriptions seem to refer to the quality of His labor in bearing the government.
Jesus’ declaration to His disciples, just before instructing them concerning their own work, was that “all authority” had been given to Him, both “in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18, NASB). That was certainly compatible with the second line of the prophecy. If all authority was given to Him, then the government was entirely on His shoulders.