The Prince of the Four Names
The Prince of the Four Names (Isaiah 9:1-7)
Eight hundred years before He came, the prophet looked for a coming Somebody. In Isaiah's seventh chapter, He is a baby more potent than all man's battles. Here He is the Prince of the Four Names. He will be Wonderful in that His person and His performance excite amazement. He will be Counselor in His office as the ultimate administrator of God's truth and the fountain of all wisdom. He will be the Father of Eternity as the One who made it and gives eternal life. His principality will be one of peace. He is in summation the Mighty God.
Isaiah could not know all this meant. Just as an astronomer knows there must be another planet, although he has never trained his telescope on it, so Isaiah knew of His coming. What blessings will mark it?
He Brings Hope to the Hopeless
He will come to darkness, remoteness, and rejectedness to turn them into light, access, and acceptance. For Isaiah, the northern tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali represented all that was obscure, exposed, degraded, remote, and marginal. Far from capital and temple, that district was cursed with the intermingling of Jew and Gentile. It was in Isaiah's generation the last place on earth to expect the most significant event in man's history. In fact, Jesus was reared in Nazareth of the tribe of Zebulun.
The Prince of the Four Names brought hope to the most hopeless place both in anticipation and in fulfillment. What could be more hopeless than an unmarried, teenage mother laden with child turned away from the only accommodation? What more hopeless congregation than shepherds? What more hopeless future than an infant chased by a tyrant? The whole of the Christmas message in anticipation and in fact speaks of God's absolute ability to bring hope out of the hopeless. You believe the very fact of Christmas if you consider your own situation to be hopeless.
He Brings Peace to the Peaceless
The announcement of His birth is accompanied with the promise of universal peace both in Isaiah and in Luke. Says the prophet, "Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning" (v. 5). From the first fore-gleam of His coming the Prince of Four Names holds the only hope for peace. His coming will end the need of war for there is a way to peace. His coming will end the noise of war for angels sing of something better if benighted men can hear. His coming will end the knowledge of war for its implements are to be burnt. Hard beside the cradled Christ, Isaiah would see a terrible conflagration—the burning of the instruments of war. The coming of Christ means the rejection of the instruments of war. While we parade them and put them in museums, Isaiah says, "These are destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire" (v. 5).
He Brings Government to the Ungovernable
Everywhere we encounter this coming Somebody He will be Governor, Ruler, the ultimate King. His government will be personal for it is "unto us." Other governments of men are remote. God wishes to bring His government to us, as near as the breath of life. That we might be linked with the administration and the Administrator of the universe is the message of Christmas. His government is to be perceptible. "The government shall be upon his shoulder" (v. 6, KJV). He will be seen to wear the robe and insignia of government. In His first advent, He was the Ruler who served, and His government was not visible except to His own. In His next advent, He will be the Servant Who Rules, and all will know that the government is upon His shoulder. His government is to be perpetual, "there shall be no end." All men's government ends in time and space; it runs out of time and territory. His will expand in space and time forever. His government is to be purposeful, "with judgment and with justice." Men seek power for power's sake; He will be granted power for justice's sake.
The cynic looking at the world in 1987 would laugh this promise to scorn. But the fulfillment of this promise is not left to the cynic. It is not even dependent on the believer. "The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this" (v. 7, KJV). Nothing else but the zeal of Jehovah could do it. God's intense honor for His own name will see that this promise inaugurated in the first advent will be consummated in the second. It is as certain as God.