“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. 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.” Isaiah 9:6-7
What we see in these passages in Isaiah is a Promise of a great hope. Isaiah prophesied of a coming Messiah, a Wonderful Counselor, a Mighty God, an Everlasting Father, and a Prince of Peace. This Righteous King will rule from the throne of David over His kingdom and establish His reign to uphold His Kingdom with justice and with righteousness and as Isaiah tells us “from this time forth and forevermore.” We know that this is a Kingdom not yet realized. We know it is a Kingdom yet to come. The hope of Israel and the hope of humanity was to be realized by the coming of the Promised Messiah, the Righteous King with the advent of Jesus Christ. Yet with the first advent of Jesus was the Promised Kingdom fully realized by God’s people? Did Jesus’ resurrection, His ascension into Heaven and His sitting at the right hand of the Father usher in the fulfillment of these promises and the hope they convey?
Hope is what we all need and find in God’s promises. With Jesus, during our present state, this is fulfilled by being at peace with our Creator through His Son. We are brought into a “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Jesus left us with this promise. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). This is a peace we have in a sinful world. This is a contentment brought about through our faith that the Promises of God will be literally fulfilled through a Kingdom righteously ruled by a Wonderful Counselor, a Mighty God, an Everlasting Father, and a Prince of Peace. This is a peace of an eternal nature yet to be fulfilled.
We as believers bow down to and worship the Prince of Peace. There was a time when the Church felt that this promised kingdom was being fulfilled in the Church Age. Augustine lived in the late fourth century into the early fifth century. The Church had lived through brutal persecution but during Augustine’s lifetime had become the dominant faith of the Roman world. It seemed to Augustine that the promised kingdom was the Church Age. It seemed that life on earth would evolve through the efforts of the Church into the Promised Hope that God had promised through His Son.
From the perspective of Augustine, he saw the course of history as generally improving. Constantine’s Edict of Toleration in the Fourth Century was clearly a triumph for the Church and may have prompted Augustine to conclude, “Therefore, the Church even now is the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of heaven. Accordingly, even now His saints reign with Him…” (City of God, XX, 9). We in retrospect know that not to be the case.
As a student of history, particularly Church history, I have always been distressed by the Church as an agent of peace. I can see from a different historical perspective than Augustine what was to follow his golden age of the Church. What was to follow were inquisitions, pogroms against Jews, Crusades against the Waldensians and other nonconformists, witch hunts, Reformers warring against each other, and the European Wars of Religion. We should thank God that the Church age is not the Promised Kingdom of Hope. Jesus Himself assured us “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
The Prince of Peace assured us that “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. That is a wonderful promise and that is the hope that the Prince of Peace leaves with us until His Kingdom is realized.