The Amazing Prophecy Of Names
- What's In
Predicted Names Of Messiah
Guiding Name: Wonderful Counselor
Powerful Name: Mighty God
Timeless Name: Everlasting Father
Comforting Name: Prince Of Peace
- What Do
You Call Him?
Ministries--Grand Rapids, MI 49555 Printed in USA
THE AMAZING PROPHECY OF NAMES
During World War II, my father-in-law spent 18 months in a prisoner-of-war
camp. In the camp, loudspeakers often played music, and one of the songs that
was heard repeatedly was "Lili Marlene." Somehow it gave him hope, and he fell
in love with the beauty of that name. Years later he gave that name, which was
filled with personal significance, to his only daughter--my wife Marlene.
Names are like that. They have great importance in human relationships.
Nowhere, however, is a name more important than in our relationship with the
living Lord. In a way that sets Him apart from all others, He ties His name to
His reputation, and then to His own self-introduction as "God with us."
This booklet is about the amazing prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, where the prophet,
700 years before the coming of Messiah, described the One whose names reveal His
importance to us.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
"What's in a name?" Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet made this question
famous. They fall in love before learning they bear the names of rival families.
Romeo is a Montague and Juliet a Capulet. Willing to deny name before love,
Juliet cries out, "Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou, Romeo? Deny thy father and
refuse thy name. Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I'll no longer
be a Capulet." A few lines later, Juliet asks, "What's in a name? That which we
call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet."
In other settings, the family name can seem more important. I remember as a
young boy watching my father go through the pain of a failed business that left
my parents several thousand dollars in debt. Rather than declare bankruptcy, he
went to each of his creditors and told them he would pay them back every cent if
it took him until the day he died. On his handshake and his name, each creditor
took him at his word--and he kept his promise to the full, furthering his
credibility and testimony of integrity in the business community.
A name is important. From the day of our birth, our parents use our
name to link us to their own preferences and values. People name their sons
Peter and Paul, and their dogs Nero and Brutus. But no one uses the name
Judas--not even for a dog.
The significance of a name was particularly true in Bible times. In both Old
and New Testaments, names were used to reflect personal experience or express or
Jacob (Gen. 25:26)--Jacob (which means "supplanter") was so named
because, though the second of twin brothers, he would overtake his brother,
Esau, in position and significance. This was foreshadowed during his birth, and
became reality as Jacob stole both the blessing and the birthright from his
Naomi (Ruth 1:20) --The name Naomi means "delightful one." Upon
her return from the land of Moab, however, she changed her name to Mara,
meaning "bitter." Why? Because in Moab she had suffered the bitter loss of a
husband, two sons, and a daughter-in-law.
Samuel (1 Sam. 1:20) --In the opening chapter of 1 Samuel, Hannah, in
extreme anguish of heart, prayed intensely for God to give a life to her barren
womb and bless her with a son. She promised to commit that son to the work of
God among His people Israel. God graciously granted her request and gave her a
son, who would be the final judge of Israel. He would also anoint Israel's first
two kings, Saul and David. The name she gave to that son was Samuel,
which means "heard of God," because God had heard and granted her request.
Barnabas (Acts 4:36) --In the New Testament, we find a man named
Joseph, who was so active in caring for people and encouraging others that he
received a new name--a nickname. That name was Barnabas, which means "son
of consolation" or "son of encouragement."
Names are important to the people of the Bible. Nowhere is this more
significant than in the one who, according to the New Testament, has a name that
means "Savior." In Matthew 1:21, we read words attributed to an angelic
messenger speaking to Joseph:
She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for
He will save His people from their sins.
The name Jesus means "Jehovah our Savior." It is the New Testament
equivalent of the Hebrew name Joshua, Yeshua, or Hoshea. While
others wore these names in honour of God, Jesus bore His name as an expression of
the Savior-God that the New Testament says He was.
Whether or not we have accepted the claims of the New Testament regarding
Christ, it's important for us to see that the Scriptures honour the name
Jesus for several reasons. According to them:
It is the name by which we must be saved. "Nor is there
salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among
men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
It is the name that is to set the tone for everything a Christian
does. "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord
Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Col. 3:17).
It is the name at which, one day in the future, every knee shall
bow. "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in
heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every
tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father" (Phil. 2:10-11).
It is just as clear, however, that from the time of Jesus' birth
until now, many have missed or dismissed the significance of His name. In the
days of His childhood, His neighbours knew Him as the son of Joseph the
carpenter. In our generation, many of our neighbours know Jesus only as an
expression of anger, alarm, or profanity. Many more have only a casual
understanding of the scores of additional names given to Him in the Bible. For
that reason, in the following pages we will look at four significant names that
are used in anticipation of a coming Messiah more than 600 years before the
birth of Jesus.
As we consider these names, keep in mind that while others use aliases to
hide their true identity, the Scriptures use many names for Christ to help us
get to know Him. By discovering that He is a person of many names, we will be
led deeper into an understanding of who He is and why He deserves our trust.
THE PREDICTED NAMES OF MESSIAH
No Old Testament prophet had more to say about the promised Messiah of Israel
than the prophet Isaiah. In a period spanning at least 64 years, Isaiah (whose
name means "the salvation of Jehovah") was God's spokesman to Israel during the
reigns of four kings--Uzziah (or Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.
Isaiah predicted a coming messianic age marked by world peace. He foresaw a
world government in the last days that would turn the eyes of the international
community on Jerusalem (Isa. 2:1-4). He also described the coming of a
Servant-Ruler who would bring a mysterious blend of power and suffering (Isa.
53; 61:1-3). But the character of this coming Servant is most clearly stated in
Isaiah 9:6, where the prophet declared:
Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the
government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful
Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Here, Isaiah says several things that remained a mystery until the coming of
Christ. While it was clear that he was predicting a coming world leader and the
inevitability of a messianic age, what could not have been seen until after
Jesus' life, death, and resurrection is that Isaiah was actually predicting the
arrival of the Son of God. All of this we can now see packed tightly and
profoundly into a series of names Isaiah used for the coming Servant of God.
Before we look more closely at these names, let's review the scope of this
amazing prophecy. Let's share the wonder of a passage that could be understood
clearly only after the prophecy's partial fulfillment in the first coming of
The Birth Of Messiah. "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is
given . . . and His name will be called . . . Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace." Because of such prophecies, generations of Jewish women
dreamed of being the mother who would give birth to the promised and
Ever since the Bethlehem arrival of Jesus, it has been clear that this
prophecy anticipated far more than the birth of an eventual world leader. We can
now see in the phrase "unto us a Son is given" the entrance of God's own Son
into the human race that He had created.
The Kingdom Of Messiah. " . . and the government will be upon His
shoulder . . . ." These are words filled with both prophetic and practical
significance. Prophetically, Isaiah saw the day when a son of Israel would bear
upon his shoulder the weight of world leadership. In chapter 2, Isaiah predicted
that in the last days the house of the Lord would be established in Jerusalem.
He said the Lord Himself would "judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their
spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isa. 2:4). Revelation, the last book of
the New Testament, says that on that day an angel of God will declare, "The
kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ
[or Messiah], and He shall reign forever and ever!" (Rev. 11:15).
Those who have bowed their knee to this coming Messiah and Lord can find
present encouragement in that future day. While we regard as mythology the image
of Atlas bearing on his shoulder the globe of the world, we can see in God's
Messiah a real Lord who can carry the combined weight of all human
problems. Inexpressible comfort can be found as we discover that the "shoulders"
which will someday carry the government of the world are large enough to bear
any personal weight or burden that we bring to Him now.
The Character Of Messiah. ". . . and His name will be called . . .
." Remember, Hebrew names are significant. In this final portion of the
verse, the prophet used a marvellously descriptive set of names to unfold to us
the very essence of the person of the Messiah. In order to give us a full
understanding of the coming Redeemer, Isaiah used four compound names, each
giving a different window through which to view the Son of God who was to become
the Son of man for us. These four names shape our understanding of who God's
Messiah is. They can help us develop a personal relationship with Him, and show
us in moments of fear where to find Him.
Let's take these names one at a time. The first of them is "Wonderful
A Guiding Name: "Wonderful Counsellor"
Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given . . . . And His name will
be called Wonderful Counsellor.
What is the meaning of the name "Wonderful Counsellor"? This name
literally translates, "a wonder of a counsellor." But what does it mean? Let's
look at it in two parts.
"Wonderful. " The first is the word Wonderful. The
Hebrew word pala indicates "something uncommon or out of the ordinary."
It reflects "a phenomenon lying outside the realm of human explanation; that
which is separated from the normal course of events; something that cannot be
The same Hebrew word is used in Psalm 139:6 in just this way: "Such knowledge
is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it." It is something
miraculous! The problem is that we have a low view of the miraculous, and
therefore a limited sense of wonder.
Think of some of the ways we routinely use the word miracle. In 1980,
when the US Hockey Team won gold in the Olympics, Al Michaels' now-famous cry
was, "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" In a once-popular television ad, a monk
is able to get productive work out of his photocopier, and all present exclaim,
"It's a miracle." A college student comes out of a classroom holding her exam
paper, which bears the grade "A+" and says to her friend, "This is a miracle! I
didn't think I was anywhere near ready for that test."
In reality, however, those things are not miracles. They can all be
explained--though some may take a little more effort to explain than others.
Do we have a sense of wonder that goes beyond all human,
rational explanation? Or have the successes of human science and technology
robbed us of our ability to worship a God of miracles? Do we honestly believe
that the greatest "miracles" are not come-from-behind victories by our favourite
sports team, or the latest in technological wizardry, or the wonder drug that
calmed our hay fever? All of those can be explained.
A real wonder is something beyond human explanation. And the prophet Isaiah
declared that the coming Child and Son would be a wonder. This not only
describes what He does, it describes who He is. Do you see Him that way? He,
Himself, is the wonder!
"Counsellor." The second part of this compound description of
the coming Messiah is Counsellor. In its historical Hebrew usage, the word
is used to picture a king giving counsel to his people. To that end, Micah
declared the dilemma of the captives in Babylon this way, "Now why do you cry
aloud? Is there no king in your midst? Has your counsellor perished?" (4:9).
Long before the Child was ever born, long before the Son was given, Isaiah
foretold that God was planning to send a Counsellor for the broken-hearted people
of the world. And long after Jesus' entrance into the world we can see that He
personified the kind of counsel that will go out from Jerusalem in the last
- "He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths. For out of
Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem" (Isa.
- ". . . the Spirit of wisdom and understanding" (Isa. 11:2).
- ". . . the LORD of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in
guidance" (Isa. 28:29).
What is the evidence that Jesus Christ is the Wonderful Counsellor? For
us who live on this side of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, these
statements are not just theory. We can see them fleshed out in a Person. We now
can read, and reflect, and appeal for help from the One "who became for us
wisdom from God"(1 Cor. 1:30). From our point in history we can see that Jesus
is the very wisdom of God.
When you take all that we know about Christ, it adds up to a marvellous
truth--He is the God who is, and who is called, a "Wonder of a Counsellor."
His wonder. If a wonder is anything that excites amazement,
then it describes everything about the One who came in fulfillment of Isaiah's
prophecy. In 1 Timothy 3:16, Paul expressed the wonder of the Lord who clothed
Himself in human flesh:
Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was
manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached
among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.
The wonder of this brief statement disturbs philosophers, delights beggars,
and comforts the broken-hearted. It speaks of the Hero of heaven who gathers
little children to Himself. He is the Son of God who offers to bring people of
all nations to His Father, and who invites all who trust Him to be part of His
What He did in His work of redemption for us is beyond
comprehension. Try to imagine what it will mean to enjoy for all eternity a
wondering, worshiping, loving relationship with the Creator God, the Son of
heaven who became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:20-21). Think about Him: God the Son,
deity in every way, yet willing to bear our sins in His body on the tree.
Everything about Him should stir our hearts in wonder-filled submission!
His counsel. Even as a child of 12, Jesus astounded Jewish
rabbis with His wisdom (Lk. 2:46-47). Luke recorded that "the Child grew and
became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him"
(2:40). In His public life, people were amazed at the truthfulness of His
counsel. "When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their
synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, 'Where did this Man get this
wisdom and these mighty works?'" (Mt. 13:54). Later, the apostle Paul wrote that
in Him "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3).
It's appropriate, then, to ask ourselves whether we are as astonished at the
wonder of a counsellor as Isaiah was. Are we captivated by His charm, insight,
and practical genius? Where else can we go to learn how to love, how to cry, how
to live, and how to die? Where else can we be so assured of the acceptance and
forgiveness and comfort of God? Where else can we look into a face that is the
face of our Creator, Savior, and Counsellor?
What is the importance of the name "Wonderful Counsellor" to believers
today? How does this "Wonder of a Counsellor" give us help? How does He
impart His wisdom, and how should we seek it? It would be a serious error to
think that we can now come to Him the way a person comes to a fortune teller or
a spiritual medium.
Because the Wonderful Counsellor whom Isaiah predicted is also our
Creator and Savior, and because He is the fulfillment of all that both Old and
New Testaments teach, His counsel is found wherever we can find the words and
provisions of God.
The Old Testament is His story. The New Testament Gospels are the record of
His conversations with the people of His day. The letters of the rest of the New
Testament represent the practical application of His teaching to life.
We find His counsel in the Sermon on the Mount, and in His conversations with
Peter, James, and John. We find His teaching and wisdom in the letters of the
apostle Paul. We find His insight in the letters to the seven churches of
Our Wonderful Counsellor urges us to let Him bring us to the Father. He offers
Himself as the sacrifice for our sin and the basis of our acceptance with God.
He offers to be for us everything we need for this life and the next. He was not
just telling us what we want to hear when He reassuringly said:
Do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we
drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For after all these things the Gentiles seek.
For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first
the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added
to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about
its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Mt. 6:31-34).
How then does our Wonderful Counsellor help us with our problems and lead us
to a place of security, satisfaction, and enjoyment? He does so through His Word
and prayer (Ps. 119:24; Jas. 1:5). He does so by reminding us that there is
safety in a multitude of good counsellors (Prov. 11:14). But most of all He does
so with the assurance that because of who He is He can help us in ways that go
far beyond our ability to understand (Ps. 32:8).
Our Wonderful Counsellor's ability to help us goes far beyond the limited help
that we are able to offer one another.
I was reminded of our own limitations to help one another while on a brief
stopover in London on a return trip from Israel. While standing on a corner of
Oxford Street, a man came to me and asked me for directions to a certain place
in London (where I had now been for a total of about 18 hours). No matter how
concerned I was for this man, or how sincerely I wanted him to reach his
destination, the problem was that he was asking the wrong person for directions.
I simply was not equipped to give him the guidance he needed (and told him so).
Christ is able to give us the needed direction for life. How thankful we
should be that Isaiah spoke of a Wonderful Counsellor, who is also rightly named
the "Mighty God."
A Powerful Name: "Mighty God"
Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given . . . . And His name will
be called . . . Mighty God.
What is the meaning of the name "Mighty God"? The name "Mighty God" is
an Old Testament title here applied to the coming Messiah. It is the compound
Hebrew El Gibbor, and both parts of the name need to be understood.
"God." The first part of the title is El, which is used
in the Old Testament to refer to the one true God (though on occasion it is used
of mighty heroes, or even false gods). It is the singular form of the word
Even though Jesus Himself pointed out that the title is sometimes used of
mighty sons of men (Jn. 10:34), the title is so often used of God, and only God,
that the prophet Hosea used El to set God in contrast to man in Hosea
11:9. Isaiah himself used El in the same way when he declared, "Now the
Egyptians are men, and not God [lit. El ]; and their horses are flesh,
and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out His hand, both he who helps will
fall, and he who is helped will fall down; they all will perish together" (Isa.
That Isaiah 9:6 was predicting One who would be far more than a man is
indicated not only by the third name "Everlasting Father" and by other prophetic
references such as Isaiah 2:1-4, but by the New Testament record of Christ. The
Christ who walked on water, died voluntarily for our sin, and then rose bodily
from the dead is the One who also said, "Before Abraham was, I AM" (Jn. 8:58).
He is the One of whom John wrote:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the
Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through
Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (Jn. 1:1-3).
"Mighty." The other part of the name is Gibbor, which
means "strength, power, hero." What a statement! In a world where heroes are
determined by their athletic prowess or financial power, we are told that the
only One truly worthy to be adored is the One whose might is unparalleled!
Isaiah 10:21 describes Him as the refuge of the remnant, and Deuteronomy 10:17
declares that He is the "great God, mighty and awesome."
The focus of Isaiah's prophecy is El Gibbor, the Mighty God
who is our true Hero. What this prophet in the seventh century BC anticipated,
the New Testament confirms. Because the Messiah would be God, He would have
God's power. But to Isaiah, the amazing thing was that the Messiah would not
only have the power of God, He would be the God of power!
In other parts of his prophecy, Isaiah gave more details of what this mighty
power would look like. For instance, in a messianic section of his prophecy,
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has
anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the
brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the
prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console
those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for
mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be
called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be
What is the evidence that Jesus Christ is the "Mighty God"? Jesus used
Isaiah 61:1-3 to make His claim as the Messiah (Lk. 4:16-21). But because He
only partially fulfilled this prophecy in His first coming, He was only
partially recognized. By His resurrection, perfect life, sacrificial death, and
many mighty signs He showed we could trust Him to return one day to rule the
world. Most of His own people rejected Him. John wrote, "He came to His own, and
His own did not receive Him" (Jn. 1:11).
In many cases, however, He was recognized as the long-awaited Messiah.
Nicodemus, a rabbi of Israel, recognized Him (cp. Jn. 3 with Jn. 19). The
disciples recognized Him (cp. Mt. 8:27 with 16:16). Mary Magdalene recognized
Him, and her life was transformed (Lk. 8:2). Others' lives were changed as well,
even the life of the church's most feared persecutor, Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9).
These and thousands of other first-century Jews believed--and for good
reason. Jesus Christ proved Himself to be El Gibbor as He displayed His
life-changing might and power.
For those who see their need of a Savior, the evidence of Christ's mighty
power is overwhelming. For those who sense their own weakness and inability to
live up to God's standard, the apostle John wrote, "As many as received Him, to
them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His
name" (Jn. 1:12).
What the New Testament provides is an opportunity to see the fullness of the
"Mighty God" Isaiah was predicting. Before we go on, let's make sure we
understand what a Mighty God our Savior and Champion is to those who trust Him.
Jesus as the Mighty God before His birth. The clear statement
of the Word of God is that Christ displayed His might in the creation of the
world before He physically entered the world. John 1:3 says, "All things were
made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." Colossians
1:16 agrees: "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are
on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities
or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him."
Christ displayed His might in the very act of creation itself, and He did so
in a way that distinguished Him from mere men. Man has the ability to make
things, but he requires some basic raw materials. Christ, however, showed His
might in the ability to create--to make something out of nothing! While
ingenuity, genius, and creativity are all commendable and necessary in inventing
and making new things, it takes divine might to create. Christ demonstrated that
power in the most profound way.
Jesus as the Mighty God during His earthly life. Look at the
way Jesus showed His right to be recognized as the Mighty God that Isaiah
predicted. He demonstrated power over
nature (Lk. 5:1-11), power over disease (Mt. 9:18-26), power over demons (Lk.
8:26-39), power over sin (Mk. 2:3-12), and power over death (1 Cor. 15:1-19).
Throughout the course of His public life, Christ revealed His divine might in
ways that not only were undeniable (Acts 2:22), but were also intentional
validations of His claim of deity (Jn. 20:30-31). When we see the otherwise
inexplicable demonstrations of the might and power of God in the unparalleled
life of Christ, it becomes clear why Paul would call Jesus "the Son of God with
power" (Rom. 1:4) and "Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor.
What is the importance of the name "Mighty God" to believers today? In
the midst of evidence that shows Christ to be the Mighty God, it is important to
remember that this is more than just theological data. It is divinely inspired
evidence that urges us to see and respond to Christ as He is--our "Mighty God."
He is the source of our power. In Acts 1:8, Jesus promised to
send the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to be His representatives in all
the world. Inherent to this provision of the Spirit is the fact that He wants us
to live distinguishable lives and to display an honesty of heart in an impure
world as evidence of His presence in us.
He is the strength of our lives. In Philippians 4:13, Paul
wrote, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." What a great
promise! He will strengthen us for all the circumstances and inevitabilities of
life. This doesn't mean that we will never know pain or hardship, but that we,
by His might, can endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. How can we
do that? Only as we do it in His power, not in our own.
He secures our eternity. The apostle Peter wrote that we are
"kept by the power of God" (1 Pet. 1:5). Nothing can overcome the divine power
that keeps us in Christ. What a great assurance it is to know that we are not
secure because of our own strength to hold on to Him, but because of His power
by which He holds on to us.
In view of the predictive evidence of Isaiah and the historic record of the
Gospels, how can we see our Lord Jesus Christ as anything less than the Mighty
God, El Gibbor? In 1885, J. B. Figgis described in his book
Emmanuel the surprising yet ingenious way in which the Mighty God showed
Himself by miracles, as well as by His disarming display of approachable
Christ's inimitable meekness and patience never once forsook Him
in a vexatious, ungrateful, cruel sphere. He never stepped out of the humble
sphere in which He was brought up; He does not seem to have ever possessed for
Himself so much as the smallest coin, and when He died had no means for
providing for His mother, and could only commend her to one of His disciples.
Yet, His life was infinitely superior to all others. If Jesus were no more
than a man or a hero, why are there not more men like Him? What God did for
one man, God would certainly do for others. It is unaccountable that it has
never been done. The incarnation, when Jesus came as "the Mighty God," alone
helps us to the solution of such an enigma.
A Timeless Name: "Everlasting Father"
Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given . . . . And His name will
be called . . . Everlasting Father.
What is the meaning of the name "Everlasting Father"? This name offers
honour that goes far beyond recognition given to the Jewish national father
Abraham. For centuries it was a name, like "Mighty God," that was shrouded in
mystery. What mortal could bear such a name?
The symbolic use of the word father was an ancient Hebraism for
"possessor of." Notice that in Isaiah 9:6 the Messiah is described as both a Son
("unto us a Son is given") and a Father ("His name will be called . . .
Everlasting Father"). He became a child in time (through the incarnation), but
He is the Father (and possessor) of eternity. This means several basic things:
He inhabits and possesses eternity. "For thus says the High and
Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and
holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit
of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones'" (Isa. 57:15).
His name is eternal. "His name shall endure forever; His name
shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him; all nations
shall call Him blessed" (Ps. 72:17).
He is the eternal provider. "He said to me, 'It is done! I am
the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain
of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit
all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son'" (Rev. 21:6-7).
He is eternal in all that He is and all that He does! This implies several
crucial truths claimed for God's Messiah in both Old and New Testaments:
He is pre-existent. "Before the mountains were brought forth, or
ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to
everlasting, You are God" (Ps. 90:2).
He is self-existent. In Exodus 3 we find the name "I AM." This
name describes and defines the God who is. He is totally independent of His
creation, and totally independent of time. He is the God who is Alpha and Omega,
the God of the eternal present tense. As self-existent, He is wholly and
completely self-dependent. Frederick Faber wrote, "No age can keep its outward
years on Thee, dear God! Thou art, Thyself, Thine own eternity."
What is the evidence that Jesus Christ is the "Everlasting Father"? In
the events recorded in John 8:12-58, a fascinating dialog occurs. The exchange
is between Jesus and His religious antagonists, the Pharisees. Jesus called God
His Father. The Pharisees called Abraham their father. Jesus said that if
Abraham were their father they would do the works of Abraham. They responded
that at least they were not born of fornication (implying that Mary had been
sexually active before marriage), and then matched Jesus' claim that all have
one Father--God. To this Jesus replied:
If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth
and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not
understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are
of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do (Jn.
The Pharisees were making their claim to Abraham and to the God of Abraham,
but Jesus wasn't backing down. More important, He clarified that their link to
Abraham was only physical. Spiritually they were of their father the devil.
Then Jesus made the most amazing statement of all. He said, "Before Abraham
was, I AM" (Jn. 8:58). To His countrymen, He had finally gone too far. They
recognized that by such a claim He was making Himself equal with God. (In Exodus
3:14, Moses met the God who identified Himself as the "I AM WHO I AM.") As on
several other occasions, Jesus so infuriated the Pharisees that they picked up
stones with the intent to kill Him.
In retrospect, we can see more than the Pharisees' rage. We can
also see One who by His miraculous life, death, and resurrection has shown His
right to the name Isaiah's prophecy had given to the Messiah 600 years before
The truth of the eternality of the Messiah is something that has come under
continuous attack for centuries. But the inescapable fact is that all groups who
reject the eternality of Christ also reject His deity. The two are inseparable!
If Jesus is not eternal, He is not God--and vice versa. Yet Isaiah said that
when Messiah came, He would be the physical embodiment of the Everlasting
The ability of Christ to be a timeless source of fatherly protection and
provision is claimed in a number of ways in the New Testament.
- His character is described as eternally consistent and immutable
(unchanging). Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today,
- His New Testament title Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8) uses the first
(alpha) and last (omega) letter of the Greek alphabet to symbolize that Christ
is before everything and will surpass everything.
- He declared that His divine judgment will be an eternal one (Mt.
- John the Baptist, whose birth preceded Jesus, still recognized the
eternality of Christ when he said, "This is He of whom I said, 'After
me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me'" (Jn. 1:30).
He is the eternal One!
What is the importance of the name "Everlasting Father" to believers
today? The self-existence of God's Messiah means that He will not leave us,
as all earthly fathers eventually do. This, among many other facts, makes the
incarnation an amazing thing. The Eternal God took upon Himself the limitations
of a human body so that He could bring us into an everlasting relationship with
The New Testament reminds us that it is not proper for the children of God to
act as if we do not have all that we need. Even though this world is marked by
unfairness, inequality, and suffering, those of us who believe in
God's Messiah are in the hands of an Eternal Father and Provider. Let your
conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He
Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Heb. 13:5).
A. W. Tozer wrote, "We poor human creatures are constantly being frustrated
by the limitations imposed on us. The days of the years of our lives are short!
Life is a short and fevered rehearsal for a concert we cannot stay to give. Just
when we appear to have gained some proficiency, we are forced to lay our
instruments down" (The Knowledge of the Holy, p.52). This is true, and it
demands that we turn from our limitations to an uninhibited dependence on the
Father of Eternity who has no limitations!
This is the Father who will never leave us:
- He provides the strength of "everlasting arms" (Dt. 33:27).
- He ministers with an "everlasting consolation"(2 Th. 2:16).
- He performs His work with "everlasting power" (1 Tim. 6:16).
- He rules over an "everlasting kingdom"(2 Pet. 2:11).
- He maintains an eternal presence (Mt. 28:20).
- He gives us life that is eternal (Jn. 14:19).
- He graciously provides for those who realize that the values that will
never end are what really count (Mt. 6:33).
Eternal values are not easy to think about. But we cannot
afford to ignore them! It is of everlasting profit for us to ponder the timeless
vastness of our God. If He were only God for the length of our lifetime here on
earth, He would still deserve our reverence and trust. But as the God of
eternity, He is worthy of our fullest, unending devotion and most careful
Someone has said that the most important thing about us is what we believe
about God. In that light, consider again the words of A. W. Tozer:
It is not a cheerful thought that millions of us who live in the
land of Bibles, who belong to churches and labour to promote the Christian
religion, may yet pass our whole life on this earth without once having
thought or tried to think seriously about the being of God. Few of us have let
our hearts gaze in wonder at the I AM, the self-existent Self, back of which no
creature can think. Such thoughts are too painful for us. We prefer to think
where it will do more good--about how to make a better mousetrap, for
instance, or how to make two blades of grass grow where one grew before. And
for this we are now paying a too heavy price in the secularization of our
religion, and the decay of our inner lives (The Knowledge of the Holy,
May we take time to think about Christ, the timeless One who invaded time to
rescue us from sin and self, the Father of Eternity who has given eternal life
to make it possible for us to have eternal peace with God and with one another.
A Comforting Name: "Prince Of Peace"
Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given . . . . And His name will
be called . . . Prince of Peace.
What is the meaning of the name "Prince of Peace"? The name "Prince of
Peace" is the Hebrew Shar Shalom, which means "the one who removes all
peace-disturbing factors and secures the peace." This automatically sets Him
apart from most human rulers whose reigns often depend on bloody conquest. His
rule rests on a bloody sacrifice! What a contrast to such biblical kings as
Nebuchadnezzar, and even David, whose rule was established on might, but
not necessarily on right.
The name "Peaceful Prince" helps to explain why Jesus disappointed His
countrymen when He came! They did not want a peaceful prince. They wanted a
monarch who would annihilate their foes and establish again the glories the
kingdom of Israel knew in the golden days of Solomon. They wanted Rome taken
away and all their other oppressors with them.
Peace or a sword? Jesus didn't lift a finger against Rome. He
didn't make one international peace treaty. How can He then be considered the
Prince of Peace? Notice two very different statements from the New Testament:
Luke 2:14 states, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill
toward men!" But in Matthew 10:34, Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to
bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword."
How can these two statements be reconciled? Can we blame Jesus' countrymen
for rejecting the Prince of Peace if our own world is still engulfed in conflict
as we move into the third millennium?
The two phases of peace. The answer of the New Testament must
be considered. It claims that the first phase of His coming was to
establish a basis for peace with God and to offer it to individuals of all
nations. The New Testament also claims that He will come a second time to bring
peace to the earth.
According to the apostle Paul, the first phase of Messiah's coming produced a
peace unknown to man since the fall of Adam into sin. It is rooted in the saving
mission carried out by Christ on our behalf. Paul wrote:
God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing
their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation
(2 Cor. 5:19).
This means that the peace Jesus brought is more than a negotiated ceasefire
between ourselves and God. It is a peace that changes us from enemies into the
children of God.
What is the evidence that Jesus Christ is the "Prince of Peace"? This
is seen in a variety of ways in the New Testament Scriptures:
His power. So significant was the power of the Son of God that
He was able to bring calm to the natural storms on the turbulent Sea of Galilee.
"He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, 'Peace, be still!' And the
wind ceased and there was a great calm" (Mk. 4:39).
His cross. So effective is His work on the cross that it is
able to make peace between God and man. "It pleased the Father . . . by Him to
reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in
heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were
alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled"
His gospel. The good news of salvation in Christ is
acknowledged as the root of peace in the hearts of the redeemed. "The word which
God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ--He is
Lord of all" (Acts 10:36).
His body. Though Judaism separated Jews and Gentiles, Christ
has not only reconciled God and man, He has reconciled Jew and Gentile so that
we are now one body in Christ. "He Himself is our peace, who has made both one,
and has broken down the middle wall of separation" (Eph. 2:14).
What is the importance of the name "Prince of Peace" to the believer
today? Those who trust Christ as their Mediator and Savior are given by God
an assurance that flows out of a right relationship with Him. Once we are in
Christ, the Prince of Peace shows us that He can bring peace wherever He rules.
He can bring:
Peace in life's trials. "Peace I leave with you, My peace I
give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be
troubled, neither let it be afraid" (Jn. 14:27).
Peace in life's maturing process. "Now may the God of peace
Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be
preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Th. 5:23).
Peace in life's victories. "The God of peace will crush Satan
under your feet shortly" (Rom. 16:20).
Peace in life's relationships. ". . . endeavouring to keep the
unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3).
Peace in life's witness. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
self-control" (Gal. 5:22-23).
What a treasure is ours in Isaiah's predicted Messiah. He is our Wonderful
Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. May we give Him
worship, as we ponder the great God that He is!
WHAT DO YOU CALL HIM?
Jesus asked His disciples two questions:" Who do men say that I am?" and "Who
do you say that I am?" (Mk. 8:27,29). The first question is
significant because it allows us to get a read on the minds of the people
around us. The second question, however, is eternal because it is only by
acknowledging the Lord Jesus Christ and responding to His gift of forgiveness by
faith that a person can live forever.
Isaiah made it very clear that when the promised Messiah would come, He would
fulfil the matchless titles he had prophesied: "Wonderful Counsellor," "Mighty
God," "Everlasting Father," and "Prince of Peace." Jesus Christ came into the
world and proved beyond a doubt that He was the Messiah by fulfilling all those
requirements. He was God in human flesh, come to display deity and redeem
humanity. And on the strength of His ability to fulfil all these things, He
made this claim: "No one comes to the Father except through Me" (Jn. 14:6).
This is the claim of the Bible, and the heartbeat of the Christian faith:
Jesus Christ is God and He came into the world to save sinners. What is your
response to that claim and to the evidence that He is the only deliverer for
sin-laden, lost people who are the object of God's love? Will you receive His
gift of forgiveness and be saved?
If you are already saved, having been rescued from your sin and its just
punishment, will you live under His perfect will and wisdom so that He may guide
you into a life that pleases Him? May it ever be so, for He brings peace
wherever He reigns!
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