We have now entered the month of December and the season of Advent leading up to Christmas. Several hundred years before Jesus Christ was born, Isaiah prophesized his birth which is found in Isaiah 9:6 (NIV):
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Jesus as Wonderful Counselor
When Isaiah wrote his prediction of the coming of the “Wonderful Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6), he was spurring Israel to remember their Messiah was indeed coming to establish His Kingdom (Isaiah 9:7). Isaiah was writing nearly 800 years before Christ. This period of history was tumultuous as the Assyrians were on the march, taking people into captivity by droves. Isaiah’s prophecy gave the people of God a hope they so desperately needed: a Child would be born to fulfill the Davidic Covenant, and He would bear the titles “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The Child was Christ; the prophecy will reach its consummation at Christ’s second coming.
That Isaiah calls the Messiah the “Wonderful Counselor” indicates the kind of character this coming King has. The word wonderful in this passage literally means “incomprehensible.” The Messiah will cause us to be “full of wonder.” The word is much weightier than the way it’s used in normal conversation today—we say things are “wonderful” if they are pleasant, lovely, or the least bit likable. Jesus is wonderful in a way that is boggling to the mind. The same word for “wonderful” is used in Judges 13:18 when Manoah, Samson’s father, asked the LORD (in a theophany) what His name was. The angel of the LORD responded, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” In other words, “Why do you ask my name, since it is beyond your understanding?”
Jesus demonstrated His wonderfulness in various ways when He was on the earth, beginning with His conception in the womb of a virgin (Matthew 1:23). He showed He is the “wonderful” One in His power to heal (Matthew 4:23), His amazing teaching (Mark 1:22), His perfect life (Hebrews 4:15), and His resurrection from the dead (Mark 16:6). Jesus taught many wonderful things that are counterintuitive to the human mind: “Blessed are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4). “Rejoice and be glad” in persecution (Matthew 5:11–12). “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Jesus’ kind of wonderful is awe-inspiring and superior to any other kind, for He is perfect in every way (Matthew 5:48).
The second part of the Messiah’s title is the word counselor. In ancient Israel, a counselor was portrayed as a wise king, such as Solomon, giving guidance to his people (1 Kings 4:34; Micah 4:9). Isaiah uses this word again in 28:29 to describe the LORD: “This also comes from the LORD of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.” Jesus is a wise counselor. “He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person” (John 2:25). He is able to advise His people thoroughly because He is qualified in ways no human counselor is. In Christ is “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3), including the knowledge of all human nature (Psalm 139:1–2). Jesus always knows what we are going through, and He always knows the right course of action (Hebrews 4:15–16).
Christ’s position as our Wonderful Counselor means we can trust Him to listen to our problems and guide us in the right direction (Proverbs 3:6). We can be sure He is listening because He told us to pray to Him about our worries (Philippians 4:6; James 1:5). We can be certain He has our best interests at heart because He loves us (1 John 4:19). And His love is so wide and deep (and wonderful) that we cannot fully understand it (Romans 5:8). (Quote source here.)
Jesus as Mighty God
Our Daily Bread provides the following description of Jesus as described in his second name given in Isaiah 9:6 as “Mighty God”:
What is the meaning of the name “Mighty God”?
This name is the compound Hebrew title “El Gibbor,” and both parts of the name need to be understood.
“God.” The first part of the title is El, the singular form of the word Elohim. In the Old Testament this referred to the one true God (though on occasion it was used of mighty heroes, or even false gods). Yet even though Jesus Himself pointed out that the title is sometimes used of mighty sons of men (John 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. That Isaiah 9:6 was predicting One who would be far more than a man is indicated by the third name “Everlasting Father” and by the New Testament record of Christ. The Christ who walked on water, died voluntarily for our sins, and then physically rose from the dead is the One who also said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 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 (John 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 often determined by athletic prowess, personal talent, or financial power, we are told that the only One truly worthy to be called “hero” is the One whose might is unparalleled.
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!
What is the evidence that Jesus Christ is the “Mighty God”?
By His perfect life, sacrificial death, and resurrection, He showed we could trust Him, though most of His own people rejected Him. John wrote, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).
Yet in many cases He was recognized as the long-awaited Messiah. Nicodemus, a rabbi of Israel, recognized Him (cp. John 3 with John 19). The disciples recognized Him (compare Matthew 8:27 with 16:16). Mary Magdalene recognized Him, and her life was transformed (Luke 8:2). Others’ lives were changed as well, including the church’s most feared persecutor, Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9).
These and thousands of other first-century people believed—and for good reason. Jesus Christ proved Himself to be El Gibbor as He displayed His life-changing might and power. Still today, for those who see their need of a Savior, the evidence of Christ’s mighty power is overwhelming. For those who sense their own 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” (John 1:12).
The New Testament provides us an opportunity to see the fullness of the “Mighty God” Isaiah predicted, showing both how His power was displayed in His life on earth—but also how it was seen before He even came to the earth.
Jesus, the Mighty God before His birth. The Bible clearly states that Christ displayed His might by creating the world before He physically entered it. 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’s display of might in the act of creation distinguished Him from mere humans. We have the ability to make things, but we require some basic raw materials. Christ showed His might in the ability to create—to make something out of nothing. It takes divine might to truly create. Christ demonstrated that power in the most profound way—by creating the universe.
Jesus, the Mighty God during His earthly life. Jesus showed His right to be recognized as the Mighty God by demonstrating power over nature (Luke 5:1-11), power over disease (Matthew 9:18-26), power over demons (Luke 8:26-39), power over sin (Mark 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 also intentional validations of His claim to be God (John 20:30-31). When we see the otherwise inexplicable demonstrations of God’s might in the unparalleled life of Christ, it becomes clear why Paul would call Jesus “the Son of God with power” (Romans 1:4) and “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24).
What is the importance of the name “Mighty God” to believers today?
While appreciating the evidence that shows Christ to be the Mighty God, we must remember that this is more than mere theological data. It is 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 the world. Inherent to this provision of the Spirit is the fact that He wants us to live distinctive lives 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 can endure in triumph. How can we do that? Only as we rest 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 Peter 1:5). Nothing can overcome God’s power to keep us in Christ. What a great assurance it is to know that we are secure not because of our own ability to hold on to Him, but by His power holding on to us.
In view of the evidence, how can we see our Lord Jesus Christ as anything less than the Mighty God, “El Gibbor”? In 1885, J. B. Figgis took it even further, describing in his book “Emmanuel” the surprising way in which the Mighty God not only showed His might by miracles, but also by His disarming meekness:
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. (Quote source here.)
Jesus as Everlasting Father
“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” (Isaiah 9:6, ESV).
In context, this verse is proclaiming the redemption of Israel and the activities, titles, and blessings of the Messiah who is to rule the earth and usher in a reign of blessing and peace that will have no end. One of His titles is “Everlasting Father.”
The Hebrew phrase translated “Everlasting Father” could be translated literally “Father of Eternity.” For this reason, some have suggested that the title means that this coming Messiah is also the creator of everything: He is the father of time and eternity, the “architect of the ages.” While we know this to be true from the New Testament (John 1:1–3, Colossians 1:16–17), that is not the emphasis in Isaiah. In the Hebrew construction of the phrase, “father” is the primary noun, and “everlasting” (ESV, NIV, KJV) or “eternal” (NASB) is the term that describes His fatherhood. He is Father forever.
The Hebrew word translated “everlasting” has the idea of “in perpetuity” or “without end.” Indeed, the next verse says of the Messiah, “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7). The emphasis is forward looking, so “everlasting” is probably a better translation than “eternal,” which not only indicates “without end” but also “without beginning.” (Again, from the New Testament we may argue that the Messiah is without beginning, but that is not the emphasis of this term in Isaiah.)
So, as the Everlasting Father, the Messiah will be a father, and His fatherhood will be without end. Some have objected that this designation as father seems to confuse the roles within the Trinity, calling “Father” the one who is really “the Son.” Some in the Oneness movement use this verse as a proof text to show that Jesus really is the Father and that there is only a Unity, not a Trinity. In both cases, the interpreters are reading New Testament concerns back into the Old Testament. Neither Trinitarian nor anti-Trinitarian concerns are being discussed in Isaiah 9:6.
Many rulers in ancient times were considered “father of the country.” Americans who read this term might immediately think of George Washington who is called “the father of his country.” It was Washington’s determination and leadership that led to victory in the Revolutionary War and his support of a strong national government that led (at least in part) to ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Without Washington, the United States might not exist today, or it might exist with a far different form of government. However, if some of the interpretations discussed so far are guilty of reading New Testament theological concerns into Isaiah in an anachronistic fashion, using George Washington as an interpretive clue to the meaning of the phrase is also anachronistic. The most appropriate analogy is far more universal.
In ancient times, the “father of the nation” was viewed in much the same way as the father of a family. It was the father who was to protect and provide for his children. In the same way, this Child to be born will become a king who will be a father to the children of Israel—He will protect and provide for them. And His role as protector and provider will not be limited by aging or death. His role as father (protector and provider) will continue in perpetuity. Just how this will come about is not revealed in Isaiah’s prophecy. The full identity of the Messiah—that He is God in the flesh, the second Person of the Trinity who would protect and provide for His people by His death and resurrection on their behalf; and that Gentiles could also be grafted into the family of Israel—may be hinted at in Isaiah, but God’s people would have to wait almost 700 years to see the Messiah revealed in the “fullness of time” (see Galatians 4:4). (Quote source here.)
Jesus as Prince of Peace
In a world filled with war and violence, it’s difficult to see how Jesus could be the all-powerful God who acts in human history and be the embodiment of peace (Isaiah 9:6). But physical safety and political harmony don’t necessarily reflect the kind of peace He’s talking about (John 14:27).
The Hebrew word for peace--“shalom”—is often used in reference to an appearance of calm and tranquility of individuals, groups, and nations. The Greek word “eirene” means “unity and accord”; Paul uses “eirene” to describe the objective of the New Testament church. But the deeper, more foundational meaning of peace is “the spiritual harmony brought about by an individual’s restoration with God.”
In our sinful state, we are enemies with God (Romans 5:10). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are restored to a relationship of peace with God (Romans 5:1). This is the deep, abiding peace between our hearts and our Creator that cannot be taken away (John 10:27–28) and the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s work as “Prince of Peace.”
But Christ’s sacrifice provides more for us than eternal peace; it also allows us to have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, the Helper who promises to guide us (John 16:7, 13). Further, the Holy Spirit will manifest Himself in us by having us live in ways we couldn’t possibly live on our own, including filling our lives with love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22–23). This love, joy, and peace are all results of the Holy Spirit working in the life of a believer. They are reflections of His presence in us. And, although their deepest, most vital result is to have us live in love, joy, and peace with God, they can’t help but to spill over into our relationships with people.
And we desperately need it—especially since God calls us to live with singleness of purpose with other believers, with humility, gentleness, and patience, “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1–3). This unity in purpose and gentleness would be impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit in us and the peace we have with God thanks to the sacrifice of His Son.
Ironically, the lightest definition of peace, that of the appearance of tranquility in a person, can be the most difficult to grasp and maintain. We do nothing to acquire or maintain our spiritual peace with God (Ephesians 2:8–9). And, while living in unity with other believers can be extremely difficult, living in peace in our own lives can very often feel impossible.
Note that “peaceful” doesn’t mean “easy.” Jesus never promised easy; He only promised help. In fact, He told us to expect tribulation (John 16:33) and trials (James 1:2). But He also said that, if we called on Him, He would give us the “peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension” (Philippians 4:6–7). No matter what hardships we are faced with, we can ask for a peace that comes from the powerful love of God that is not dependent on our own strength or the situation around us. (Quote source here.)
Jesus truly is our “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and our Prince of Peace”! I’ll end this post with the verse that follows Isaiah 9:6 (verse 7): Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever….
The zeal . . .
Of the Lord Almighty . . .
Will accomplish this . . . .
YouTube Video: “His Name Shall Be” by Matt Redman: