Names and descriptions tell us something, don’t they?
Isaiah 9:6-7 Authorized (King James) Version
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God,
The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,
upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,
to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice
from henceforth even for ever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
The Word of God for the Children of God. In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Names are important, aren’t they?
Most parents will spend a significant amount of time trying to decide what to name their children – first born children especially. Why is that? Because we know a name is more than just what someone goes by. It sets a tone for us. Some of us are very strategic and specific when it comes to choosing names.
In Old Testament times, a name stood for a person’s “reputation, their fame and their glory.” The word translated “name” literally means “a mark or a brand.” Parents often gave children names to describe their hopes and future expectations regarding that child. Many are told by God what to name them.
A careful study of Bible names reveals much about the personality of the person bearing that name. For instance, David means “Beloved.” Abraham is “Father of a multitude.” Jacob is “Deceiver.” Isaac implies “laughter.” Moses means “drawn out.” And Jesus is “Jehovah saves.” All of these people proved true to their names!
Today we’re going to zero in on a four-fold name given to Jesus, 700 years before He was even born! We’re going to see that Jesus is indescribably unique.
From Gloom to Gladness
Isaiah’s primary purpose was to remind his readers of the special relationship they had with God as His covenant community. The nation had experienced prosperity but now Assyria was poised to pounce on them. In the midst of this impending threat, Isaiah gives a number of glorious promises.
Grab your Bibles and turn to the opening verses of Isaiah 9. We focused on this when we learned Jesus lights the way for those living in darkness. This original birth announcement was made in the midst of grief and gloom.
Look at verse 1: “But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.”
Zebulun and Naphtali are tribes from the north of Israel, making up the land of Galilee. For many years the people knew only grief because of the onslaught of enemies unleashed by the Almighty as a result of their sins. Isaiah tells of a time in the far distant future where gloom will be replaced with gladness in Galilee.
Verse 2 describes how the birth of Christ will bring brightness to a world of despair and darkness: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.”
In reflecting on this truth, when people are in the dark, they can’t see what is directly in front of them and end up stumbling through life with no sense of direction. In order to help those dwelling in the dark, those of us who are Christians must make sure we’re giving off a pleasing aroma. Someone might not be able to see but they can smell the fragrance of Christ coming from those who follow Him as 2 Corinthians 2:15 says: “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
In Isaiah 9:4, we read the enemies of Israel had burdened the people with “the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder.” When the light of life comes, the heavy yoke will be shattered. Instead of wiping us out, Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew Matthew 11:30, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” In the place of burdens, God wants to give blessings of joy, peace, hope and love.
With that as context, let’s get to our text. Read and then reread Isaiah 9:6: “For unto 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.” (My emphasis)
A Child and a Son
We see here the indescribable uniqueness of Jesus and the core truth of Christianity. In the incarnation we notice both His humanity and His deity.
• “For to us a child is born.” This describes his birth as a baby (his humanity as a man)
• “To us a son is given.” Jesus is God’s son given as a gift (his humility as deity)
The child was birthed in Bethlehem and the gift of the eternal Son is given to us. I appreciate the insight of one commentator, “The Son wasn’t born, the Son eternally existed; the child was born, the Son was given.”
On top of that, the “government shall be upon his shoulder.” The Baby bundled ever so snugly in the straw just happens to hold the universe together. The One nestled on Mary’s shoulders, bears the weight of everything on His shoulders. He is redeemer and ruler of all. (John 1:1-5, Colossians 1:15-23, Hebrews 1:1-14)
Part of the reason we have been inoculated by the incarnation and even bored with the baby is because we tend to focus only on the infant Jesus.
The phrase, “and his name shall be called” means “He will justly bear this name…” Technically, all four of these descriptions make up His name. Do you see that it’s in the singular? It doesn’t say “names,” but rather “name.” This is similar to the “Fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23, which is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the “fruits” of the Spirit. We cannot just pick and choose like a buffet because it’s the whole meal deal.
Let’s look at His four-fold name now.
I should warn you ahead of time that you may break out into worship.
Do you remember what a preposition is?
Prepositions tells us where or when something is in relation to something else, indicating direction, time, location and spatial relationship.
I see a number of prepositions in our passage today
– Jesus speaks to us, He stands for us, He sits near us, and He satisfies within us. Jesus is indescribably unique.
1. He speaks to us as “Wonderful Counselor.” This title literally means “a wonder of a counselor.” The word “wonderful” means, “full of wonder, glorious, exceptional, astonishing, extraordinary.” In Judges 13:18, the Angel of the Lord says, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” Isaiah 29:14: “…Behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder.” Psalm 77:14: “You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.”
The adjective “wonderful” is coupled with the word “Counselor,” which refers to an “advisor” or “consultant.”
Life is filled with decisions, details, and disasters. That’s why we need a wonderful counselor. David wrote these words in Psalm 16:7: “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel.” Another example is found in Isaiah 11:1, which describes a shoot that will come out of the stump of Jesse. In the very next verse, the Messiah is referred to as having the “Spirit of counsel and might.”
What are some elements that make someone a good counselor? When we’re in need, we want a counselor that is available, gives undivided attention, able to provide comfort while remaining confidential, and can tell us the truth about ourselves while giving us what we need to make changes. In short, we want someone who has empathy, expertise and experience.
However, keep in mind that as our Wonderful Counselor, Christ is not just someone who makes suggestions. I appreciate what Reverend Dr. Tim Keller wrote in his book called, “Hidden Christmas.”
“When you come to Christ, you must drop your conditions. You have to give up the right to say, ‘I will obey you if…I will do this if…’ As soon as you say, ‘I will obey you if,’ that is not obedience at all. You are saying: ‘You are my adviser, not my Lord. I will be happy to take your recommendations. And I might even do some of them.’ No. If you want Jesus with you, you have to give up the right to self-determination. Self-denial is an act of rebellion against our late-modern culture of self-assertion. But that is what we are called to. Nothing less.”
I have a serious question for you to ponder and pray over: Is Jesus your Wonderful Counselor? Are you willing to follow Christ without conditions?
2. He stands for us as “Mighty God.” The word “mighty” means “strong one” or the “powerful, valiant warrior.” In Isaiah 9, the adjective “mighty” literally means, the “God-hero.” Jesus is the hero of the Scripture story!
David asks the question in Psalm 24:8: “Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle.” He is profound in His counsel and He has the power to accomplish what He wills.
This facet of His name tells us Jesus is not only the Son of God; He is also God the Son. The Baby born in the feeding trough is also the King of glory. Or to say it another way: “The humble Carpenter of Nazareth is also the Mighty Architect of the Universe.”
Jesus can manage anything because He is mighty. He healed the lame, the blind and the sick. He calmed the storm. He brought Lazarus back from the grave.
Therefore, as much as He already did for them during His lifetime, He can do the impossible in our lives right now. He will give us the victory over whatever we’re struggling with today. Let Him fight our battles as we honor Him as your Holy Hero. Worship Him as your warrior, praise Him for His power. (Psalm 100)
Another question to seriously ponder and pray over: Are you and I trusting in our own finite strengths or are we now ready to make Him our Mighty God?
Jesus is indescribably unique.
3. He sits near us as “Everlasting Father.” When I was growing up, God always seemed so distant.
I had no trouble seeing Him as powerful; I didn’t know He was also personal. I had a sense of awe of Him, but never knew I could know Him personally. I saw Him as big and mighty and mad at me. In Jesus, He has come near. In this third facet of His name, we observe Jesus is “everlasting,” meaning He is before, above and beyond time. This literally means that He lives in the forever.
Isaiah 57:15: “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.’” He lives forever and He loves like a Father.
Christ is holy and human, dwelling on high while lying in the hay. And He sits near us.
Jesus is a child and a Son, and He is also eternally like a father to us. Some are fortunate to have a very good father, but some of us struggle because we did not or do not have a positive father image.
As you see the Savior lying there in the stable, focus on the fact that He is your forever Father, who cares for you with compassion. Psalm 103:13: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.”
If you are a mother with young children, listen to how tender the Savior is toward you in Isaiah 40:11: “He will tend His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”
A third question for us to seriously ponder and pray over: Have you and I put our faith in the Everlasting Father? Will we ever allow Him to sit next to us?
4. He satisfies within as “Prince of Peace.”
Jesus comes into our desperation with the promise of peace within.
This phrase “Prince of Peace” can be translated, “The prince who’s coming brings peace.”
A prince in Bible times was the “General of the Army,” and describes leadership and authority. This title reverberated across the centuries and echoed through the hallways of Heaven, finally culminating in a melodic expression of angelic adoration in Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.”
In the Old Testament, the word shalom was a state of wholeness and harmony that was intended to resonate in all relationships. When used as a greeting, shalom was a wish for outward freedom from disturbance as well as an inward sense of well-being.
To a people constantly harassed by enemies, peace was the premiere blessing. In Numbers 6:24-26 God gave Moses these words to use when blessing His people: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”
Some of us are on an elusive search for peace. Hold on to Isaiah 26:3: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
The New Testament describes at least three spheres of peace:
• Peace with God – that’s the vertical dimension
• Peace of God – this takes place internally
• Peace with others – happens horizontally
Jesus has come to put us back together as Ephesians 2:14 states: “For He Himself is our peace…”
Even more serious questions for us to ponder and pray over:
Are you and I out of sorts with God? Receive the Prince of Peace into your life and be made right with Him immediately.
Are you and I all shaken up on the inside? Give all your anxiety to the Almighty and His unexplained peace will give you calm in the midst of chaos.
Are yours and mine relationships with others severed? Do the hard work of being a peacemaker. Do you and I TRULY know Him as our Prince of Peace?
There is much here which has been given and written for you and I to devote some serious time to in both prudent study and continuous diligent prayer.
May God bless you with His Peace in this time.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Let us now Pray,
Loving Heavenly Father – no matter how many times I read of the wonder of Your incarnation as the Word made flesh it fills me with wonder and praise – and I worship You in the beauty of holiness – I bow down before Your throne of grace in wonderment – for holy in You name, Alleluia! Alleluia Alleluia! Amen