Christmastime a year ago felt like an unusually dark time. Hurricane Sandy had swept the east coast a short time prior and many people had been devastated by it. There was a general feeling of malaise by much of the population over the elections. Sickness seemed to be ravaging everyone, and a friend prophesied that the pervasiveness of the flu that year was an outworking of the general fear brought on by the state of the nation. Then came the heart-rending report of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, which left the nation reeling.
At a prayer meeting around this time, as we were pouring our hearts out to the Lord, the word that came to one of the women was this: “The kingdom of Heaven advances unwaveringly.” God was reminding us that despite the darkness around us, despite the devastation caused by our adversary the devil, the kingdom of God was advancing.
Isaiah prophesied these famous words about the Messiah (9:6-7 NASB): “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. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace “
That is an incredible statement! We hear it rattled off during readings at this time of year. But to stop and reflect on that is quite another thing. Perhaps our unconscious idea of God in the twenty-first century is that His influence and dominion are tottering – oh, we know someday He’s coming back. But right now, all Hell has broken loose around us and God is watching it all from a sovereign, sympathetic, but comfortable distance.
But that’s not at all what this passage declares is true. “There will be no end to the increase of His government (Hebrew word misrah meaning “rule” or “dominion”) or of His PEACE.” The Hebrew word here for peace is Shalom – which translates as completeness, security, overall well-being. That means, if it has ever been on the increase, that there is more of the kingdom rule of God NOW and more of the stability that comes through Him alone than there ever was at any time on earth!
How can that be? One glance at the world around us shows that it is in chaos. As Derek Prince said, “The world is in a state of decay, and once decay begins, you cannot stop it – you can use some means to slow down decay, but you cannot stop the process.” So the world – the arena of humanity that is separate from Christ – is rotting before our very eyes, and is getting worse all the time. That is true. But the church – the Body of Christ that establishes His government here on earth (Matthew 6:10) is only growing in power and in authority and in intimacy with Christ Himself.
But where is His government and where is His peace? If you read the book of Acts, in a matter of only a few years, the early church grew exponentially and globally, and signs and wonders were the norm. The increase of Christ’s rule was evident. Where is that power today?
I must admit, I do not see much of it in the United States at large. I see the increase of His government happening for believers in China, and it’s happening in dazzling ways every day through a friend of mine in Kenya, and through people we partner with in other parts of Africa and in India. I see it happening through our connections in Brazil and in Honduras. But what about America, where there has been virtually in every facet of society an unprecedented turn to lawlessness?
When the Messiah came, His death on the cross accomplished every single thing needed for God’s people to live and walk in victory. Colossians 2:15 says “having disarmed the powers and authorities [of spiritual darkness], He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
Jesus didn’t go to the cross for His own sake. Satan had no hold on Christ – ever (John 14:30). Jesus went to the cross in order to redeem – or buy back – the power that man had originally been given by God but had handed over to Satan in the garden (Genesis 3). When Christ said on the cross, “It is finished” He pronounced the accomplishment of all that needed to be done for His government to be established on the earth through His body, the church. He came “to destroy the works of the enemy” (1 John 3:8) and “that [we] may have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Therefore, Satan has no right over any territory – geographical or human – unless it is given to him by man.* Christ has accomplished everything needed for His people to rout Satan and his forces anywhere he can be found.
It can be deduced from this scriptural truth that something has been wrong for a long time with the church in this nation. I have touched on this topic previously, although by no means exhaustively. Today, I want to focus on another truth that is just as much a reality, and deserves the spotlight. For I believe with all my heart that there is an increase happening right now of Christ’s government in America.
Christ is healing His own body. Teaching is being restored to the church in America. Healing and deliverance is being restored. Prophecy is becoming part of the normal congregational experience, as it was in the early church and was always intended to be.
I can testify personally that by the grace of God, the increase of His government and of His peace is happening in me. There is less of my flesh and more of the Spirit than there was even a month ago, thanks be to Him and all those who pray for me and speak life into me.
The increase of His government and of His peace is happening in my local church body, where discerning friends who returned after a time away remarked how the level of power and love present in the congregation is noticeably stronger than it was only months ago.
The increase of His government and of His peace is happening in the region in which I live, and is evident in a myriad of ways, including a newspaper stats detailing the drop in county felonies since the year 2000, including murder, rape, arson, and assault – every one of which decreased. Likewise, testimony after testimony from friends in all kinds of circles who are seeing an increase in healings and deliverances, and pastors coming together across denominational lines to pray together.
This passage in Isaiah 9 ends with a thrilling statement. “The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish [the increase of Christ’s government].”
“The Lord of hosts” is a name of God that also translates as “The Lord of armies.” He is the Commander-in-Chief of the heavenly host, and The Lord of hosts indicates His omnipotence, or unlimited power, over everything. The original Hebrew is Jehovah Sabaoth, a name of God used over 200 times in scripture. According to mybible.com “The Lord of hosts” is a name that “denotes a God who reveals Himself unceasingly.”
So the zeal (translated from Hebrew as the ardor, the passion, and suggestive of a jealous husband) – will accomplish this. How glad I am that this verse does not say, “The best efforts of the church will accomplish this.” And how thankful I am that this passage doesn’t say “When the Messiah returns the second time, then His government shall increase.” The context of this passage is laid from the time of Jesus’ birth. God Himself in His consuming passion will accomplish this good thing. What a relief! And what an encouragement to us who live in these dark days that there is more of Christ’s rule available and accruing!
*After New Year’s, Lord willing, I will be doing a series on spiritual warfare: what it is, the weapons used, how it affects and is affected by human beings, etc.