Home > Church Commentary, Hermeneutics > The government shall be on whose shoulders?

The government shall be on whose shoulders?

We all do it some or other time in our lives. Reading into a verse of the Bible, a meaning that does not exist in that verse at all. Of course, many times we do not mean to do it, but it happens because most of the time we are not well equipped to study the and interpret the Bible properly.

On other occasions we come to the Bible rather maliciously, with a preconceived notion in our minds, looking for some verse to back up that notion. Any verse will do, really!

Such a misinterpretation happened just recently with regards to Is 9:6.

Isa 9:6-7 ESV “(6) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (7) Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

While giving his sermon/motivational speech, the preacher involved said, without referring to the Bible, “unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon our shoulders.” There was a deliberate misquotation of the verse quoted above.
In the sermon he said that the first part of this prophecy has been fulfilled (
unto us a child was born and unto us a son was given), the second part of this prophecy has not been fulfilled (the government shall be upon His shoulders) and the third part has been fulfilled (He shall be called Wonderful Counsellor…).

Continuing, he asked the question “Where was Jesus born? In heaven or on earth? Where was He called Wonderful Counsellor, etc? In heaven or on earth?” With each of these questions he clearly expected the people to say “on earth.” Then he asked the final question: “Where will the government come upon His shoulders?” The natural answer from the audience was, “on earth.” Then he went along explaining that Jesus is the head and the church is His body, therefore, the government spoken of in Is 9:6 will come upon the body of Christ, the church.

From this he concluded that South Africa needs a Christian government now, since the government is upon the shoulders of the body of Christ. I have no problem with Christian government and working towards that in any country, but to misinterpret this verse in that way is to do serious harm to the art of interpreting the Scriptures. This is clearly reading into this passage a meaning that was not intended by the writer of the passage, Isaiah!

The government spoken of in Is 9:6 has nothing to do with an earthly government in a country with boundaries around it. It has to do with the spiritual government of Christ over the Kingdom of God which has no earthly boundaries, but the hearts of men!

To make this passage mean an earthly kingdom surrounded by physical boundaries is to grossly misinterpret this verse and to eventually make it meaningless!

When we take passages of Scripture and allowing ourselves to insert meanings into those passages that were not intended the original author, we effectively render those passages meaningless! It no longer bears the caption “Word of God” but rather “Man’s Fantasy!”

It is this fantasy of man that leads to all kinds of doctrinal error and even heresy. It is incumbent upon us to guard against this by properly interpreting the Scriptures by letting the author speak without putting words in his mouth!

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