For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulders. (Isaiah 9:6) Did you know Isaiah’s prophetic words back then referred to King Hezekiah and to Jesus and now refer to President Barack Obama? On Dec. 6, in Osawatomie, Kan., President Obama, a Democrat, gave an historic address called “A Fair Shot for the Middle class.” This was the site where President Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, gave his vision for a “New Nationalism.” In the same place, each became “a child with a government on his shoulders.
These words, “For to us a child is born,” were probably not first sung at the birth of a royal heir but at his succession to the throne. They were written in royal dynastic language around 722 B.C. and probably composed for Hezekiah’s coronation.
Like Hezekiah’s coronation, President Obama’s inauguration in 2008 came after the reign of a weak president. In Isaiah’s day, King Hezekiah rose to power after a weak King Ahaz and after warfare with Assyria’s evil dictator Tiglath-Pileser III.
It is fascinating to consider the historical parallels. Isaiah’s Old Testament prophecy comes during Ahaz’s time and sets the stage for the New Testament, promising, “For unto to us a child (Jesus) is born,” during the time of a wicked leader named King Herod, who committed genocide, extracted unfair taxes and punished the poor in favor of the rich.
In President Obama’s Kansas message, he said of his parents, “They believed in an America where hard work paid off, and responsibility was rewarded, and anyone could make it if they tried… no matter who you were, no matter where you came from, no matter how you started out. These values gave rise to the largest middle class and the strongest economy that the world has ever known.”
The president went on to state, “These aren’t Democratic values or Republican values. These aren’t one percent values or 99 percent values. They are American values and we have to reclaim them.”
In 722 B.C., there were at least two reasons to celebrate. First, it was the end of Ahaz’s oppressive rule and the beginning of King Hezekiah’s just government. Second was the death of Tiglath-Pileser III, known to be the father of Islamic terrorism.
Hezekiah entered office promising church and government reform and he entered as a child — a young man — with a government on his shoulders. In 2008, President Obama’s rise to power followed weak presidential leadership, on the heels of the Iraq war, and he entered as a child — a young man — with the government on his shoulders.
In his speech in Kansas, the president quoted from Roosevelt’s 1910 message, saying, “Our country means nothing unless it means the triumph of a real democracy…of an economic system under which each man shall be guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that there is in him.”
President Obama went on to point out, “For this, Roosevelt was called radical, a socialist, even a communist but today we are a richer nation and a stronger democracy because of what he fought for in his last campaign: an eight-hour work day and a minimum wage for women, insurance for the unemployed and for the elderly and for those with disabilities, political reform and a progressive income tax.”
The president’s view of the future is a view only Christ could have given to him. In Kansas, he said his is not “a view that says we should punish profit or success or pretend that government knows how to fix all of society’s problems. It is a view that says in America we are greater together, when everyone engages in fair play and everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair share.”
This Christmas, we do not need to worry about our future, because, in my opinion, we have a leader who is a true Christian. When Christ comes into your heart, you know Jesus is the one who shoulders your burdens. Our president understands this and he knows that he does not have to carry the government on his shoulders alone — and neither does Congress, the Democrats or the Republicans. This Good News is my Christmas gift to all.
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: President Obama