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God’s Word for You

Isaiah 9:6

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, December 5, 2007

How would it all happen? How would God be able to bring about the fantastic promises about his Christ, that he would put an end to the power of the devil, overcome death, forgive sins, and bring all mankind back into a peaceful and loving relationship with God?

God’s answer: By becoming human. A child would be born.

6 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. (NIV)

The child is born among us: Immanuel means “God with us.” And to us, for us, a son—God’s son—is given. God entered into our world and walked and talked and laughed and broke bread and broiled fish and drank wine and walked on water and bled and cried and died among us and because of us and for us.

This is the one who would rule and possess the government on his shoulders. In verse 4, his burdened people were described as having “a bar across their shoulders.” Now that burden is taken up by him. His is the responsibility for the rule of the world, and, ideal ruler that he is, he took responsibility for the sinful actions of his subjects. The blameless one assumed the blame for us. For me.

He is a “Wonderful Counselor.” The word “wonder” is the same word (Hebrew pelí) used by the Angel of the Lord (God) in Judges 13:18, and the same idea occurs in Psalm 78, when God is described this way:

11 They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had
shown them. 12 He did miracles (pelé) in the sight of
their fathers in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea and led them through; he made
the water stand firm like a wall. (Psalm 78:11-13)

This is no ordinary advisor, but the one who speaks with the authority of God himself (Matthew 28:18).

He is also “Mighty God.” The word for “mighty” is the Hebrew word gibbor, used throughout the Old Testament to describe David’s Mighty Men or Heroes (2 Samuel 23:8; 1 Chronicles 11:11). The Messiah is truly God, but he is also human—and our Hero God in every sense of the term. Although this is not the word “Almighty,” the idea that Jesus Christ, our Messiah, is equal to the Almighty God and Father is also here in this name.

And he is also “Everlasting Father” and “Prince of Peace.” How is the Son of God also the Father? The Son is not the same person as the Father. But this passage describes his gospel work for us, his gracious entrance into flesh on our behalf, by which he makes children of God. That is his Father-work, bringing the children of God into the presence of God, and if we still wonder how it is possible, then we can be reassured by the title “everlasting” as well. This child is also the God who created the universe. Some of his qualities, indeed all of them including the peace he brings us (he is also the Prince of Peace) are beyond our understanding (Philippians 4:7).

But that doesn’t diminish the peace. Forgiveness, pardon, love, joy and peace! What a God we have! What gifts he gives! Today is a good day to praise our Mighty God.

Note: The old 1611 King James Version divided “Wonderful” and “Counselor” as two separate names. The Hebrew doesn’t insist that a comma be placed between the words, and grammatically they could be separate names. On the other hand, the other three terms are all pairs of words, and it makes sense that the first two would be a pair, too. The accents of the Hebrew words indicate that Hebrew readers understood the group as four titles, not five (the Latin translation also separates “Almighty” and “God,” leaving a trail of six titles in its wake.) But even more than this, Isaiah’s son Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Isaiah 8:1, 8:3) was a promised child of four names who foretold the judgment that would come on God’s people. Here Immanuel is given a series of names, too, and it makes sense that this would also be a “child of four names,” now displaying God’s grace and forgiveness coming to God’s people. But I’ll still take a belly breath between “Wonderful!” and “Counselor!” and treat them like two names when I sing along with Handel’s Messiah, the way Mrs. LaFave taught me.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.