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What’s In A Name

Isaiah 9:6 - 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 Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Large corporations spend millions of dollars each year to maintain their good names. With a good corporation's name behind it, a product will more easily outsell its competition. Advertising campaigns will often use "creative exaggeration" to enhance the good name of a corporation and its products. A good name is important to politicians, too. They want their names to be synonymous with honesty and integrity and concern for the people. But in order to create and maintain this favorable name or image, political candidates sometimes resort to exaggeration and even coverup tactics.

Isaiah 9:6 is a well-known Messianic Scripture. Several names for the coming Messiah are given in this verse. These names are actually titles which describe the character of the One who was to come more than 700 years after Isaiah made his prophecy. The Messiah would be the kind of Person who is described by these names. The Lord Jesus lived up to His predicted names. There was not the slightest exaggeration in Isaiah's prophecy and no coverup was needed to protect the Lord's reputation. Let us look more closely at these magnificent names--names which continue to describe the character of our living Lord Jesus Christ.

This prophetic passage of Scripture is unmistakably Messianic in nature. Some unbelieving scholars have suggested that it is a reference to the great king Hezekiah of Judah who was born during Isaiah's day. But what human king, no matter how great, could ever be called "Mighty God" or "Eternal Father?" The only child ever born in all of human history who could rightfully be called by these titles is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Preceding the names of the coming Messiah in this prophecy are two statements concerning His Person. He was to be one perfect Person but have two distinct natures. He was to be God and Man at the same time. "AChild is born"--a statement affirming His humanity. "A Son is given"--a statement affirming His deity. In view of the New Testament teaching about Christ, we see that these statements are an amazing prediction of the incarnation. The eternal Son of God would be given--to be born as a human child! He would take on humanity without relinquishing any of His deity. Thus the Child to be born would be given titles appropriate only for the Son of God. The names leave no room for doubt as to the identity of the Child born in Bethlehem. He is God!

The first of the Messiah's names revealed here is "Wonderful Counselor." It is possible that this name is actually two names, "Wonderful" and "Counselor," as given in some translations or sung in Handel's "Messiah." However, the Hebrew construction and symmetry of the passage strongly suggests that these are two parts of one name. Thus there is a total of four names of the coming Messiah given in Isaiah 9:6, with each name consisting of two parts.

"Wonderful Counselor" stresses the fact that the Messiah would be endowed with extraordinary wisdom and understanding. His abilities to counsel would far surpass those of ordinary human counselors who are limited in knowledge and compassion. The Messiah would not only be a wonderful counselor but a wonder of a counselor! This Counselor would never have to change His mind or His counseling techniques in order to help His clients for "in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).

In view of the overall context of this Messianic prophecy, we can see why Wonderful Counselor is the firstname that is given to the coming Savior. At the time of Isaiah's prophecy, Judah's continuing existence as a nation was at stake. The Assyrian Empire was about to overrun the northern kingdom of Israel, and shortly thereafter, Judah's capital, Jerusalem, would be besieged. In chapter 8, Isaiah assured the nation that in spite of the odds against them, they would be preserved if they followed the counsel of the Lord. In chapter 9, Isaiah prophesied that God would deliver His people, not only from the threat of the Assyrian empire, but ultimately from every enemy. And this success would be based on the coming of the Messiah. "For a Child will be born to us and a Son will be given to us." The Messiah would be the means of bringing about the long­sought peace because "the government will rest on His shoulders." The Messiah would mastermind all operations with perfect strategy because He would be a Counselor with wonderful wisdom. The complete fulfillment of this prophecy awaits the return of the King of kings.

The fact that this Wonderful Counselor directs events for the good of His people on a global scale should not obscure the fact that the Lord Jesus is our personal wonderful counselor. Ephesians 1:11 informs us that "He works all things after the counsel of His will" for the specific purpose of our personal well-being in this life and in the life to come. Have you ever personally experienced the wise and wonderful counsel of the Lord in your life? Are you in need of direction in your life right now? Get in touch with the only Counselor who knows everything about you and has wonderful plans for you. His office door is always open!

The Messiah's wonderful plans for His people cannot be undermined or thwarted because He is also "The Mighty God." He is God, and His power is unlimited. Whatever He plans comes to pass. Even "the gates of hell" (Matthew 16:18) cannot frustrate the designs of almighty God. Great human leaders may have the best of plans in mind for their followers but they are limited in their power to carry out their programs. Opposition cannot always be overcome. A great and benevolent leader may die or be overthrown. But not The Mighty God! His overwhelming power will accomplish His every purpose as planned--with no problem and right on schedule!

Skeptics, however, constantly call into question His name of Mighty God. If He is an all-powerful God, they say, why doesn't His schedule include putting an end to all wars and suffering (as well as my problems!)now? We don't know all the answers to these questions. We do know, however, that the Lord is long-suffering and patient, giving men and women many chances to turn away from their selfish and evil ways--which, of course, are the real source of wars and human suffering.

The good news is that there is coming a time when evil and all its tragic fallout will be eliminated. When The Mighty God returns, He will make a clean sweep. His judgment will be complete and thorough, down to every last individual. When the Lord sets things straight, He will not deal only with wars and suffering. He will get to the root of the problem--individuals and their sin. Critics of our Mighty God's schedule should realize that they are part of the problem. They should be glad that The Mighty God is not impulsive, because their challenge to God to put an end to all wars and suffering is actually a call that will bring judgment on themselves!

"Everlasting Father" is another of the Messiah's titles. The fact that the "Son given" is also called "The Everlasting Father" is not a distortion or confusion of the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. The main idea in the name "Everlasting Father" is that the Messiah will be a Father to His people forever. As a good father nourishes and protects and cares for his family, so the Messiah will care for His own. He will eternally be a Father to His people.

The first two names of the Messiah enhance this third name of Everlasting Father. We can be sure that His perfect plans as "Wonderful Counselor" and His almighty power as "The Mighty God" are perpetually in line with His fatherly love for us as "The Everlasting Father." Are you feeling lonely and discouraged right now? Remember that The Everlasting Father knows and cares. "Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust" (Psalm 103:13­14). Won't it be great in heaven to know and experience the perfect Father's unlimited and unending love and care? But why wait for heaven? We are already His children! Let's turn our problems, anxieties and fears over to our Everlasting Father now, and confidently trust in Him to care for us. "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).

"The Prince of Peace" is a fitting climax to this series of titles. The bottom line in the Messiah's program for the world and for His people is peace. Human rulers talk about peace and say that their aim is to have a kingdom of peace--but does it ever really happen? Internal unrest and international strife continue in spite of the best peace-making efforts of individuals and governments. But the Messiah's kingdom will be different! Not only are all of His plans and programs directed toward the goal of peace and prosperity for His subjects, but His almighty power will pull His program off! And according to verse 7, His kingdom of peace will never decline, and it will never come to an end.

Have you come to know The Prince of Peace on a personal level? Have you experienced the peace of salvation that He offers to those who will trust Him as Savior? Have you also experienced the peace for living that is available for believers­­peace from stress and anxiety and fear? The Prince of Peace said, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).

What's in a name? We've seen that the four names in Isaiah's prophecy are nothing less than a superb character description of the Messiah. As "the Child born" and "the Son given," Jesus alone is qualified and worthy to bear these titles. As His redeemed people, we have the wonderful privilege of praising Him by these names. Let's join together to praise our Lord Jesus Christ as our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace!
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