A Just Reign
“Behold, a king will reign righteously, And princes will rule justly” (Isaiah 32:1 NASB).
by Robert Goodman
Whenever we examine a passage of scripture, it is important to frame
it in the context of surrounding verses to correctly understand its meaning. The prophet Isaiah provides us with exciting insights into God’s plan in just two verses. Our examination of these verses will use the New International Version translation because it seems to accurately render the Hebrew text here.
Isaiah chapter 9 reveals the hope for a coming Messiah. Isaiah 9:6 reads, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” We frequently refer to this verse when considering Jesus’ birth. It promises a coming Messiah and describes the many roles which he would fulfill.
A phrase in verse 6 links the Messiah with another dimension of God’s plan. The phrase is, “and the government will be upon his shoulder.” This key connects verses 6 and 7. Isaiah 9:7 provides additional insights in the words: “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Here we focus attention on one part of this verse: “establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.”
To understand the phrase “establishing and upholding it,” we must first understand what “it” is. With the phrase in verse 6, “the government will be upon his shoulder” and the statement in verse 7, “Of the greatness of his
government,” provides a clear idea of what “it” refers to — his government. A closer examination of Isaiah 9:7 reveals three words that describe the distinct aspects of this government.
The first aspect of Messiah’s rule is the word “government.” According to Strong’s Concordance, the word “government” is translated from the Hebrew word misra, which means rule, dominion, or government. This Hebrew word is found in only two places in the Bible, Isaiah 9:6 and 9:7. We think Isaiah uses this specific word to distinguish that this divinely authorized government is unique and distinctive from any government established by men.
If asked to describe the US government, our answer might be: “The federal government is a constitutional republic made up of three branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial. It has authority over the 50 states plus US territories. Each branch of government has administrative departments that are responsible for carrying out and enforcing the mandates of the government.” This definition describes the workings and structure of a functional government. Likewise, the “government” mentioned in Isaiah 9:7 represents the structure and workings of God’s new order.
The second aspect of Messiah’s rule is the word “throne.” According to Strong’s Concordance, the Hebrew word rendered “throne” is kise, which means seat of honor. This word is commonly used in the Old Testament to designate the seat of power for a ruler. It represents the authority and justice of a government. In Revelation, the word “throne” is found 39
times and is symbolic of God’s authority, power, and justice. Likewise, the throne in Isaiah 9:7 represents the authority, power, and justice
of this new government.
The third aspect of the Messiah’s rule is the word “kingdom.” According to Strong’s, the Hebrew word translated “kingdom” is mamlaka, which means realm. This word is commonly used in scripture to designate the land or people that a ruler governs. Isaiah uses the words government, throne, and kingdom to reveal that God’s divine arrangement has all three aspects of a complete government.
In Isaiah 9:7 the prophet uses the phrase “establishing and upholding it” to reveal another characteristic of this government. The Hebrew word for “establishing” is kun, which means to set up. This marks the beginning
point of the institution of this new government. The word rendered “upholding” is saad, which means to sustain. This illustrates the truth that this government will be ongoing. Men have fought throughout history to gain power and then to hold onto it. The struggle to rule is a theme that has been painted across the canvas of history. But the government described in Isaiah 9:6-7 is very different. Unlike any earthly government that has come before, it is divinely structured and authorized.
Isaiah 9:7 adds the expression, “From that time on and forever.” This describes the span of Messiah’s government in two Hebrew words — “for” and “ever.” The Hebrew word translated “for” means “as far as,” and the Hebrew
word rendered “ever” means “the vanishing point.” Thus, these two words combined convey the meaning, as far as the vanishing point (as a road reaching to the horizon, distant in space or time). Isaiah 9:7 further says, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.” This divine government will have a beginning but no end! It will mark the end of man’s futile attempts to create a government that provides peace, stability, and happiness.
This new world order will be founded upon God’s attributes. God’s love for man-caused Him to design a way for man to emerge from his sin-sick and dying condition. God’s wisdom knew that mankind would best learn the price of disobedience through experience. God’s justice demanded a corresponding price to offset Adamic sin. God’s power is necessary to raise the dead and provide ideal conditions for man to learn righteousness on a restored earth.
To ensure peace and happiness for coming ages, God provides a government founded on justice and righteousness. Without these, the scale would not be balanced, and peace and happiness could neither be attained nor sustained. A government is not righteous without justice. A government without righteousness cannot endure. Both of these attributes are essential to an everlasting government.
Another key to this divine arrangement is the concept of “one” government. In today’s world, competing religions and governments have been a continual source of conflict and instability. When Isaiah uses the terms “the government” and “his government,” he is confirming that there will be just one government to rule the entire earth — Messiah’s government, whose structure is ordained by God.
Isaiah 9:7 reveals much about God’s coming divine government. It will be founded on principles of God’s love, wisdom, justice, and power. It will be operated with justice and righteousness for all. It will provide the structure, authority, and span to assure peace, prosperity, and happiness for all of God’s creation. It will provide the stability and continuity for all mankind to learn to know and appreciate their God. And it will last forever.
God has spoken it and it will be accomplished. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Luke 1:32,33 states: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Amen.