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. (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)
We are in Isaiah for a second week, and again, the passage is also in Handel’s Messiah. Last week’s reference was to the more pastoral Comfort Ye My People. This week you should be standing and singing when you read this, which will get some attention if you are at Starbucks.
I will include some personal confessions this morning, the first is that I love to listen to Handel’s Messiah at full volume around Easter and Christmas and sing along. It’s not pretty, but I am by myself in my “music room” in the basement. This week, I have not listened to the recording, but instead thought and prayed about this verse. It is a wonderful promise. The phrase that I keep coming back to is “and the government will be on his shoulders.” The promised son, Jesus, will be the head of the government in God’s kingdom in the new heaven and new earth. The cable news networks, if they exist there, will refer to him as: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. Isaiah goes on to tell us there will be no end to the greatness of his government and peace.
Now, a second confession. When I think of our government and our elected leaders, I don’t use any of the terms Isaiah uses. Instead, I think “swamp” and “dumpster fire.” I understand that Isaiah is talking about a future time after Jesus has returned and God has established His eternal kingdom. But, though Jesus is not here in bodily form, he is here and he works through those who follow him. This has led me to think this week about how I, and other believers, can place our government on Jesus shoulders. This is not a political rant, so please don’t stop reading.
There is controversy within political and Christian circles about whether our nation’s founders intended to establish a government based on Christian principles. The “Truth Project” from Focus on the Family made a compelling argument that they did. My constitutional law profession made a compelling argument that they didn’t. The question may be interesting for someone who likes to talk about the law. It is irrelevant for most believers. Regardless of the founders’ intent, we live in a democratic system and Jesus can have an impact on the government through his followers.
A third confession, as a believer, I don’t think much about my role in the political process. In fact, there are times I dread it and actively avoid it. I am turned off by believers on both ends of the political spectrum who want to tell me what I should think and how I should vote. I will add a voice to that discussion that I hope will be a voice of reason and faith.
Jesus’ followers are called to be salt and light in a dark and decaying world, including our political system. That calling may lead some to run for elected office or lead efforts to reform parts of the system they perceive as broken. But, it should lead all of us to pray for our political leaders and elected officials. A final confession, when I was getting ready to write this post, I had to Google the names of the House majority and minority leaders. I can’t pray for people when I don’t even know their names.
Would you join me this week to pray for our political leaders? Pray that God will give them wisdom, that He will help them work together, and lead wisely. These are the top six national political leaders, you should feel free to expand your list if you like:
President – Donald Trump
Vice President – Mike Pence
Senate Majority Leader – Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader – Chuck Schumer
House Majority Leader – Kevin McCarthy
House Minority Leader – Nancy Pelosi
There will be a day when Jesus leads the government. It will be a theocratic monarchy and not a democratic republic. Until that day, will we take up the calling to be salt and light and pray for our elected leaders?