Christmas: Prophecy of the Child to Come
Preached in Worcester on 12/9/07
Preached in Quabbin Valley on 12/11/11
ESV Isaiah 9:6 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.
Christmas is fast approaching. The time when people go crazy filling their shopping carts with all kinds of gifts. Someone said: Christmas is when you buy this year's gifts with next year's money
We are approaching the time of year when some people celebrate the birth of Jesus. Some people celebrate Christmas and have no idea why they celebrate it other than it’s a tradition and they get gifts. Now I think we all realize that the birth date of Jesus was not December 25 and in fact may not even be in the winter but people have come to set the date of December 25th as the day to celebrate the birth of Christ.
That being the case we will be looking at the birth of Christ and some of the prophecies of Christ and what Jesus came to do and in fact did over the next three weeks.
This morning I would like us to think about a passage of scripture that we are all familiar with, Isaiah 9:6. Let's turn there.
1) A Name
i) We need to talk for a moment about what a name is. We have names in the our society that often don't have meaning behind them or we don't know the meaning, for example my name is James and I am sure if I looked it up I could find out that it probably has some meaning behind it but my mother wasn't naming me James because she knew what it meant but because she liked the sound of it or maybe she knew someone with the same name and named me after them. But there are people even today in our society and in different cultures that name their children and the names have meaning, I believe Dan your new born's name means something like "born on Tuesday" is that right? It has meaning.
ii) Well biblically speaking when we read that a person had a certain name that name had a meaning behind it. For example Eve's name means "Mother of all the living" and Abraham means "Father of a multitude", or "Father of nations". The name of a person often told something about the character of the person or something about their nature. And so often we find in the Bible people's names being changed, remember Jesus changes Simon's name to Peter. Here in Isaiah we come across this passage and it says "His name shall be called…" This passage telling us something about his nature and character and that's what I want us to think about this morning. This child that will be born, what's so special about him?
2) Wonderful Counselor
He counsels us in the ways of God
a) The first descriptive name we come across is "Wonderful Counselor". Some translations actually separate these first two words so it would be "Wonderful" and then "Counselor" I don't think that's correct I believe they are to be taken together. So it's "Wonderful Counselor". What is the definition of a counselor? We might be tempted to think of our modern day counselors, one who is a shrink, psychologist or something like that. But a counselor in the bible has to do with leading, guiding, now it is true that some counselors today do this very thing, they try and lead people in the right direction but often we have a certain picture in our minds of a doctor sitting in a chair and a client lying down on a sofa spilling his guts out while the counselor does nothing more than write down what the person says and then say things like, Ah-ha, how does that make you feel, and things like that. Now Jonathan can give us some real information later about what a counselor or psychologist really does but again often that's what comes into our minds.
i) Remember in the times of the kings of Israel, David and other kings had counselors. They were most often wiser older men who would give the king their advice and tell them what the king should do according to their wisdom. There was a time when the kingdom was divided because a new king had asked his advisors, his counselors what he should do and the older wiser men told him one thing but he didn't like what they told him so he went to those who were his peers and asked their advice and they told him what he wanted to hear, well the kingdom of Israel divided over that bad advice the younger men gave him.
ii) What does this name mean "wonderful Counselor"? This is the one who will counsel, tell us about God and about life, he will be wonderful, full of wisdom and knowledge and he will impart that wisdom to those who ask, to those who seek.
iii) The Messiah, Jesus came and imparted the deep things of God, he counseled us about what life was all about, love. Love for God and love for mankind. In Colossians 2:3 we are told that in Christ "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." It is in this "Wonderful Counselor" that we find the answers to life's questions.
iv) Jesus said seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, he said love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as your self. He told us that God was interested in the heart and not the outward pomp of religious guise. He told us how we are to put others ahead of ourselves. Christ is the "Wonderful counselor".
3) Mighty God
God in the flesh
a) The next name we come across is "Mighty God". It is very interesting to note that this word that is used is not the word used in the Old Testament to speak about Jehovah God as well as humans like Moses who was said to be a god to Pharaoh. The word used here is the word "EL" used only of Jehovah God. What is this saying? This one to come will be none other than God himself, Emmanuel God with us. God took on human flesh and dwelt among us. We read in Paul's letter that although he was God he didn't think of his privileges as God something to be considered and held onto but emptied himself by becoming a man, taking on human flesh and being found as a servant. This one to come was God himself living and moving and eating with sinners. If we want to know God and want to know what God wants form us we need to look no further than Jesus. Look at him he is God with us, might God, Our great God and savior as Peter puts it in his letter.
i) That means that God is not some impersonal force he is not distant or uninterested, he is concerned and loving and wanting us to seek him and when we do we find he's never been far from us.
ii) We read in John 1:1 that the word was God then in verse 14 that the Word became flesh. There is a song that says "God is watching us from a distance". That song is dead wrong. God is not off somewhere looking at us from a telescope he was and is involved with us he came to this earth to show us that he is not far off somewhere. This one who was to come was God himself, "Might God".
4) Everlasting Father
Father or founder of eternal life
a) We read that the one to come, this child will be called "Everlasting Father". The idea of Father has a broader range of meaning than what we might think of at first. In fact we might ask the question is Jesus here the same as Father God that is God the Father? No, God is one God in three persons all three are the One God but three distinct persons. This name is saying not that Jesus is the Father and the Father is Jesus but that Jesus is the Father of Eternity, he is the one who ushers in Eternal life. He was and is Eternal himself, we know that as we read passages like John 1:1-3 and Colossians 1:16-17 that teach us that he was before anything else ever was and he is the creator, he is eternal but he is also the founder of Eternal life for those who believe in him and give their lives to him by faith, not only that the word Father biblically has reference to protector, for example in Genesis 45:8 we are told that Joseph was made father to Pharaoh, that is protector and ruler of Pharaoh's house and the land of Egypt.
i) Someone who is the head or the founder or the source could be called the Father. In ancient Rome when a citizen had accomplished some brave and noble deed of infinite value and of willing self-denial, soldiers would raise him up on their shields, maidens would throw garlands around his feet, and the populace would hail him in their songs as Father of his country.
ii) Jesus is the Father of Eternity as he is the one who opens the doorway to Eternal life, he is said to be the very door of life. No one gets eternal life except by him. He is the Father, or source of Eternal life.
5) Prince of Peace
Peace giver, with God, man, and ourselves
a) The last name given to this "One to come" is "Prince of Peace". What a beautiful name that is and as we mentioned earlier a name in the Bible has to do with the character or nature of the person. He will be characterized by peace. And he did bring peace. The announcement of his birth was sounded with the words "peace on earth". Not that this peace would be an outward peace where there were going to be no more wars but he would bring peace between God and man, between men and men, and peace in the midst of trials. You, I am sure remember that we talked about that a few weeks back how Christ brings peace.
i) In Micah 5:5 and Zechariah 9:10 we find in prophecy that this child will be "Our peace" and "He shall speak peace unto the nations". These were fulfilled in Christ. In Ephesians 2:17 we read about the peace that was preached in Christ.
ii) Peace with God because sin is done away with, Peace with men because Christ brings all different people groups together in Him and Peace in this world because we know that he is in control. Jesus truly is the "Prince of Peace".
What have we seen today? I hope we have seen Jesus a little closer. We are entering into a time of year that is often associated with religion and for a lot of people the birth of Christ the savior. The one who was to come is described as "Wonderful Counselor" the one who tells us about God and about ourselves, how we are to live, he is called "Mighty God", God in the flesh, God with us. Here we have God taking on humanity so he can save us and identifies with us; he shows us his love for us. He is called "Father of Eternity" as he opens up the way to eternal life, he is the head, the source, the father or eternal life, and he is called "Prince of Peace" the one who brings peace with God, men, and inner peace as he died for sinners and rose again. He is our peace.