Four Gifts for Christmas

Wednesday: Everlasting Father

Isaiah 9:6 In this week’s lessons, we look further at the four names of Christ seen in Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the child to be born.
Everlasting Father

I notice in the Christmas story that when the characters involved speak about the meaning of power, as Mary does in her Magnificat, what they talk about is the mighty acts of God on behalf of His people. Mary reflected the great psalms of praise that you have throughout the Old Testament, which talk about how God came down in power to deliver His people from Egypt, and how He drove out their enemies from the land and planted them in the land of promise, and how He kept them there year after year. This mighty God about whom Mary sang is our God, too. And we see that clearly revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Mighty God.

In a sinful and increasingly unrighteous world, we may feel that we lack power. It can seem as if the evil all around us is winning. But before Jesus’ ascension, He told his disciples, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And with that message and that assurance they literally went out and transformed the world.

Do you sometimes feel, as I do, that what we do doesn’t make a difference? Oh, it’s not just in politics that it can feel as if it doesn’t make a difference how we vote, or in our work because we know that if we were not there our job would get done by someone else. We also feel that as Christians. We say, “Look here, we have been trying to bear a witness and do the right thing. Really, though, when you look at it, does it make any difference in the world?” The early Christians didn’t feel that way. They knew it made a difference because, I suppose, more than we do they had a sense of what the world was without Jesus Christ. They knew what a grim place this is. We get familiar with these things, and we get bogged down in all the little worries of our lives. We lose the big picture. We fail to understand and to appreciate that to know Jesus Christ is to know the truth rather than falsehood. To enter into newness of life with Him is to have life rather than death! That’s what we are talking about. That’s what we need to remind ourselves of as we live for God.

Perhaps at Christmas as well as any other time we need to recapture what it is to have the Mighty God as our God, and to know that we are actually able to make a difference in the power of the Holy Spirit. Do you believe that? If you do, you won’t hesitate to speak about the Lord. You won’t say, “Well, they’ll laugh at me or insult me.” Speak about Him, because God will bless your witness and will make a difference in other people’s lives as He brings them to faith.

The third of these terms is Everlasting Father, and I suppose there are different ways to talk about that. One thing it speaks of is the deity of Christ. Mighty God does that, too, but it’s certainly striking that when Isaiah is prophesying of the coming of a son, this one to be the Savior, that he is inspired by the Holy Spirit to use the title Everlasting Father. We rightly make the distinction ourselves between God the Father and God the Son. But here is the Word of God calling the Son the Everlasting Father. It’s a way of saying that everything God the Father is His Son is as well.

This speaks of the deity of Jesus Christ. And when we approach it in terms of God’s gifts to us through Jesus Christ, what this name really talks about is our becoming a member of God’s family. It speaks of grace and belonging. Apart from the work of Christ and the gift of God in Him, we do not belong to God. We are alienated from God. It is only through the work of Jesus Christ in dying and paying the penalty for our sins and the work of the Holy Spirit in coming to quicken us and bring us to faith, that we who were outside are now brought near and made members of the family of God. There are great privileges that come with this.

Study Questions
  1. In the accounts of Jesus’ birth, how do the characters understand the idea of power?
  2. Why does Isaiah speak of the Lord Jesus Christ as Everlasting Father?
  3. What benefit does this name bring? Why is it not true of us naturally, and what must happen for this status to be conveyed upon us?

Application: When have you experienced God’s power in your life? What was the result? Praise the Lord for how He worked in your life, and for any blessings that also came to other people.

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Donald Barnhouse’s message, “Christmas Contrasts.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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