It seems that everyone these days has an opinion about who Jesus is. Oprah Winfrey has popularized a New Age spiritual Jesus that can be discovered within every person’s consciousness. Liberals acknowledge Him as a great moral teacher, but nothing more. Secularists consider Him a mere man who may or may not have ever existed. Our Muslim friends recognize Him as a prophet, but less than Mohammed. Our Jehovah’s Witness friends believe Jesus to have been a created angelic being. The confusion has spread to evangelical/charismatic circles as was evidenced by a blog in which Swedish pastor, Ulf Ekman, chided his friend, Benny Hinn, for preaching a message in his (Ekman’s) church about Jesus that Ekman said was “too much pure Gnosticism” (http://ulfekman.nu/2010/07/26/benny-hinns-besok).
We really need to get it right about who Jesus is; for it is this question, more than any other, which holds the key to the personal and corporate destiny of humanity. Jesus Himself said that He would build His Church on the revelation of who He is (Matthew 16:15-18).
One of the most clear and compelling revelations of who Jesus is, was declared 600 years before His birth by the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah revealed His identity by applying four compound names to the coming Messiah. The names are “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” and “Prince of Peace.”
The Significance of Names
In the ancient near East, the name of a person was bound up with that person’s very existence. Parents chose names for their children that embodied their hopes for those children. A change of circumstances or a change of character often called for a new name to express the change that had taken place. In Gen. 17:4-5, for example, God changes the name of Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of a multitude) to reflect the change that has occurred in his faith and circumstances. In Gen. 32:28 God changes the name of Jacob (supplanter) to Israel (Prince of God) to reflect the change that has taken place in his life and character. The name could, in fact, stand for its owner to such an extent that it could become a concept interchangeable with him.
God Himself revealed His person and character to Israel by the use of names. Names like Yaweh-Jireh, the LORD our Provider, and Yahweh Rophe, the LORD our Healer, revealed the God of Israel as a personal, caring God in whom Israel could put their trust. We thus have David saying to God, "I will praise Your name forever and ever" (Psalm 145:2), and declaring that "those who know Your name will put their trust in You" (Psalm 9:10).
Isaiah Names the Coming Messiah
Isaiah 9:6 is a Messianic prophecy and Isaiah’s use of these four compound names make a powerful statement concerning the identity the Messiah. Inherent in these Old Testament names of the Messiah is the revelation of His Deity. Understanding the significance of names, those first readers of Isaiah’s prophecy must have shaken their heads in wonder at the name of their coming Messiah.
For 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 Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end (Isaiah 9:6-7a).
Although “Wonderful” and “Counselor” are often spoken separately, most Biblical scholars agree that the two words actually belong together to form one of the compound names of the Messiah. The word “Wonderful” is translated from the Hebrew word pelẽ and refers to that which is marvelous and breathtaking and causes astonishment in those who encounter it. The word “Counselor” is from the Hebrew word yaas, which means to advise or counsel in regards to plan and purpose. What an incredible name! And what an incredible blessing to have this One whose name is “Wonderful Counselor” as our personal counselor and guide.
“Mighty” is from the Hebrew word gibbor and refers to greatness, power and strength. It was often used as an adjective to describe successful, victorious warriors. It was also used as an adjective for Deity. “God” is a translation of the Hebrew word El which was a common generic word for God and literally means “great one” or “mighty one.” It was often joined with other words to form a compound name for God, such as El-Shaddai, commonly translated as “The Almighty,” and El-Elyon, commonly translated as “The Most High.” Wonder of wonders! This “Child” that is to be born is actually gibbor El, the “Mighty God.”
“Everlasting” is from the Hebrew word ad, which refers to time without end or eternity. In Isaiah 45:17 it is translated as “forever and ever.” “Father” is translated from the Hebrew word ab, which, in the Old Testament, referred to a father or protector. From ab came abba, the word Jesus commonly used in addressing God. Abba was a term of endearment, such as Papa or Daddy, and was only used by children in the Jewish household. What a clear picture of the Incarnation. This “Child” that is to be born will be none other than the eternal God, the “Everlasting Father.”
Prince of Peace
“Prince” is a translation of the Hebrew word sar, which refers to a person of authority such as a chief, captain, governor, or ruler. “Peace” is a translation of the Hebrew word shalom, which is usually translated as peace, but has connotations far beyond an inner sense of tranquility. It means completeness, fulfillment, wholeness, and indicates the complete mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well being of a person. This world, which is continually rent with wars, will will never experience shalom (peace) until it recognizes and embraces the sar shalom--Prince of Peace. And we, personally, will only know shalom to the extent that we yield our lives to Him and allow Him to be the sar or captain (LORD) of our lives. He is the Prince (captain or master) of our shalom. Hallelujah!
This messianic prophecy begins with the phrase, For unto us . . .. Isaiah is saying, “The Messiah is coming for us. God will do all this for us.” Isaiah’s prophecy has been fulfilled. God has come to us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Thomas recognized this when he saw Him in His resurrected form and exclaimed, My Lord and My God (John 20:28). Jesus told Peter that He would build His church on the revelation of who He is (Matt. 16:15-18). Do you know who Jesus really is? Wonder of wonders! The Babe of Christmas is the Almighty God and Everlasting Father.
. . . to be continued
by Eddie Hyatt