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.
Isaiah prophesied some really wonderful things about this Child called Immanuel. But the way we go from here to there, from prophecy proclaimed to prophecy fulfilled, is actually counterpoint to the picture we get from these verses in the Book of Isaiah. Perhaps we can swallow the idea of a helpless Child as our starting point—sure God, I can become vulnerable so that I can become strong later—but that’s not the way of the Kingdom.
Yes, we are promised to go “from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7) and from “glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18) but we have to ask, “What lives between each place of strength, between each revelation of glory?” Paul the apostle connects the dots for us when he says, regarding strength and weakness: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
We are not going to grow stronger in ourselves as we mature in Christ, but rather it’s God’s strength residing in us that will grow stronger. To put it differently, only you or God can be strong in the same space, in your heart; you both cannot be strong. Someone will have to be in a weakened or marginalized position, someone in a strengthened and presiding position. You get to choose!
Either you will be strong, through pride or fear or some other work of the flesh, or you will choose to be weak and let the Lord step forward and be strong in you, with patience and goodness and kindness as the fruit of this. We will not grow stronger in ourselves if we want to let God be strong in us. In fact, we will grow weaker and weaker if we want Him to be stronger and stronger—but the beauty is that, the stronger He is in us, the more human we become and the more likely we are to live out all the promises He made to us.
So the picture in this verse of a strong King who carries the government on His shoulders like a sack of wheat is not a picture of a weak child that became a strong man. Rather, it’s of a Child that starts out weak and grows weaker, but the weaker He grows, the more He relies on and trust in His Father—the Father who in the Son carries all the weight of government on His shoulders.
It is God in us that carries the weight of His promise to us, but we will never see that aspect of God unless and until we first look for the God with us: the weak, helpless, vulnerable Child showing us the way to the strong, perfect Father.