(Editor’s note: This essay was originally published here.)
By Mike Rogers
I think all Christians should desire an increase in government’s size and arena of control. More government in health care, more in education, more in environmental issues, more in our personal lives … more, more, more! We should not only desire governmental expansion, we should do everything we can to make it happen. We are not capable of ruling ourselves; we need government to do it for us.
Let me clarify. I speak not of pagan government, but of the government resting on the shoulder of the greatest Leader the world has ever known, the King of kings and the Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).
Isaiah foretold the coming of this government in the following words: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6–7; emphasis added).
This prophecy of governmental expansion reinforces a fundamental aspect of the prophetic framework we wish to construct. We saw in an earlier post that Jesus will continue to reign as he progressively overcomes his enemies. He will destroy the last enemy, death, in the bodily resurrection at the conclusion of his reign.
Here, we will notice several elements of Isaiah’s prophecy that also contribute to our model of prophecy.
A Government in History
This is a government that exists in history, a real here-and-now government. This reign is not relegated to a future age and certainly not to the eternal state. It is the government that was established after the birth of the promised Child. An angel announced the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy to the surprised virgin Mary: “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
Jesus taught that he now possesses the reins of government and instructed his followers to seek the expansion of his realm. After his resurrection, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in .earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18–20).
Christians, therefore, work to expand the reach of Jesus’ government in our generation—but only through the method Jesus specified. His kingdom is unlike that of other rulers. It never uses physical weapons (guns, bombs, ICBMs, etc.) to expand its reach. The nature of Jesus’ government is such that his followers do not fight to defend or promote it (John 18:36). The apostle Paul also spoke to this issue: “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
The government of which we speak rules over people who eagerly desire its authority. It is a rule of life, love, learning, legacy; of joy, peace, grace, forgiveness, and hope (e.g., Romans 14:17). There is nothing of coercion, guilt, death, or any other negative factor in this realm. Those of us who have tasted the goodness of this government have no longing to find another ruler.
In fact, we desire an expansion of this government . . . now!
An Expanding Government
God will satisfy our desire for the expansion of Jesus’ government. It will happen. Isaiah did not simply say Jesus’ rule would never end; he said there would be no end to the increase of this government. This is the promise of God, and unlike earthly rulers’ campaign promises, he has the power to make good on his declarations.
This increase is, of course, confined to the age in which we now live. The reason for this is simple–after the resurrection, final judgment, and ultimate purging of sin from God’s good creation, an increase of the kingdom will not be possible. This is the kingdom expansion of which Paul spoke in 1 Corinthians 15, a growth terminated by the bodily resurrection. (See our earlier He Must Reign post.)
How influential will Jesus’ government become prior to the resurrection? Very influential. It will affect the leaders of nations, who will seek to help us establish his rule of grace: “Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me” (Isaiah 49:22–23).
Presently, this government brings division between men, even between brothers and sisters, parents and children in the same family (Luke 12:51). We glorify God, however, because of the harmony it will ultimately produce. With the angels, we even now sing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).
There will come a time in this age when the numerous, very optimistic, prophecies about Jesus’ government will be a reality. Here is one more: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).
The age of big government is upon us! But, understood in the above terms, who would want it otherwise? Surprisingly, there are some. Jesus has received ambassadors who made this quite evident: “But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). People often reject Jesus’ reign and affirm their rebellion by declaring “we have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15).
What is your response to the gospel of the kingdom? Will you submit to Jesus’ gracious rule over you, or will you continue to pledge allegiance to some other person, philosophy, or worldview claiming your submission?
As for me, I will seek to limit the power of earthly governments and rejoice exceedingly in the ever-increasing reach of the kingdom of heaven into the affairs of men.