In Isaiah 9, we come to a prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ’s coming and His future ministry. It is interesting because it’s a birth announcement, and yet strikingly different from any other announcement in that it’s an announcement before the birth of the child. Never in my life have I received a birth announcement before the child was born. Even when people know in advance if their baby is going to be a boy or a girl, you always get the announcement afterward.
But here is an announcement of the birth of Jesus Christ, and we’re told about it in advance. It’s significant in terms of His nature because verse six speaks of a child being born and of a son being given, which actually anticipates Christ’s dual nature. Christ wasn’t born as a son; He was already a son. He was the eternal Son of God, the second person of the Godhead. But He was born as a child. So there you have the eternal Son of God becoming man. And although the verse doesn’t teach that openly in so many words, certainly it does anticipate it. The language of the text is the Holy Spirit’s, who inspired Isaiah in the recording of it.
What I’m particularly interested in, however, are those terms which occur in the second half of the verse. In this text, that describes who He is, we also have terms that describe His gifts to us. He was to be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
What happens when a baby is born? Well, if you’re close to the family, you often bring a gift. Here’s a case where the child Himself brings gifts because, by virtue of who He is and what He should do, He brought gifts to men. What’s very striking about these gifts is that they match our needs, which is what I hope to show as we look at them one at a time.
The first is Wonderful Counselor. That speaks of wisdom, because that’s what a counselor provides. We are familiar with Handel’s rendering of this title in Messiah, which matches that of the King James Version, which puts a comma between “Wonderful” and “Counselor.” This makes it sound like these were five titles for the Lord, that He was to be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. However, I think that it is better not to put a comma in between the first two and keep it as one title. And certainly the parallelism with the other names is intact when the word “Wonderful” is linked to “Counselor. “His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,” and that is indeed what He is.
We have a great need in this area because we all lack wisdom. And even before that, we all lack knowledge of all the important things. It’s possible, of course, to receive a good education and learn a great deal about many things (and so become, in the opinion of this world, quite learned men and women), and yet to lack knowledge of the really important things, and also to lack wisdom, which goes a step even beyond knowledge. Think of the educated people of the world who can’t answer a simple question like “Who am I?” They spend a great deal of time trying to find answers to that question. “Who am I? Why am I here? Is there any purpose to my life? Is there anything greater or beyond myself? Is there a God? Is there a destiny to history? Is there something that I am made to fit into?” Apart from the revelation that God provides, there’s no answer to questions like that.
So in Jesus Christ, we find the beginning of wisdom in the impartation of such knowledge. It’s in Christ that we find who God is. Jesus said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). Do you want to know what God is like? God is like Jesus. It’s in Christ that we find who we are. We are sinful men and women; we are not like Him. He is the holy One, and we are not holy. Yet in spite of that, we are valuable in God’s sight and loved by Him, so valuable in His sight that He sent Jesus Christ His Son to die for us.
It’s in Christ that we find those answers. “Do I have a purpose in life?” We find the answer in Jesus Christ because He tells us to follow Him so that He can use us. He is going to make us fishers of men. He is going to send us out into the world with His Gospel so that through our witness other people are going to hear about Himself. Thus, we have a great task, and what we say and how we live and what we do in life are important.