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A Child,

a Son

Rev. Rodney A Gray

When Jesus was speaking to people who studied the Scriptures but refused to
believe in him, he said, “These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to
come to me to have life” (John 5:39,40). These “Scriptures,” of course, were the
Scriptures of the Old Testament. If we read and study them and they do not lead us to
believe in Jesus Christ, we have entirely missed their point and purpose. The best way to
read the pages of Old Testament Scriptures is to look for the footprints of Jesus on every
page. He was there before his incarnation, predicting, previewing, and pointing the way
to his incarnation. Sometimes his presence is less apparent and it is difficult to pick up his
trail. But the sermons that follow are based on a selection of Scripture in which the
testimony is clear and his identity is unmistakable. Here are some of those things “that
the prophets have spoken” concerning Jesus Christ (Luke 24:25). Isaiah was one of the
greatest of the prophets and he spoke about the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection
of Christ in ways that are unsurpassed by anything in the Bible.
I. A Child Born, A Son Given

Isaiah the prophet introduces his message as “the vision.” It is a vision that our English
Bibles use sixty-six chapters to contain. Nevertheless, it is one vision that Isaiah saw. It is
a vision that is as big as the whole world, and one that takes in all of human history.
Isaiah saw it all from his position right in the middle of it. He had front row seating on
the fifty-yard line. He saw everything from beginning to end. But more important than
that, his vision was a vision of the glory of God. Everything Isaiah said was possible only
because of what he saw and heard. And what he saw and heard was possible only because
the Lord had spoken. The Lord God of Israel was the Lord of all the earth. He had a
purpose that centered in Jerusalem and Judah, and he was controlling the history of all
men and nations to bring that purpose to fulfillment. Isaiah stood in the earthly Jerusalem
and saw all the way to the Jerusalem that comes down from heaven. Earth and heaven
were summoned to witness the sin of earthly Jerusalem. But Isaiah saw a new heavens
and earth in store for the new Jerusalem. The vision that Isaiah saw is a spectacular
demonstration that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and our ways are not his ways.
Isaiah saw clearly that God’s kingdom was coming into this present evil world, but his
kingdom is not of this world and it does not depend on mighty armies and political
alliances for its success.

King Ahaz, one of the weakest kings the people of Judah ever had to endure, was
unwilling to believe that, and many followed him in his unbelief. The mighty Assyrian
Empire loomed large on the horizon at that time. An alliance of the kings of Israel and
Syria wanted to depose Ahaz and install a puppet king in Judah who would join them in
resisting the Assyrian menace. What should he do? Ahaz was tempted to capitulate and
come to terms with the Assyrians when Isaiah confronted him with another idea. Why not
reject all human alliances and simply trust God? Isaiah and his family represented a small
remnant who did exactly that (Isaiah 8:18). He urged King Ahaz to join them in simply
trusting God and taking him at his word. God was calling Ahaz to stop trusting in man,
repent of his unbelief, and join those who waited for the salvation of the Lord. The faith
of God’s people has always been that “God is with us” (Isaiah 7:14; 8:8,10). It is a
promise that could be traced all the way back to Abraham and beyond to the word of God
in Genesis 3:15. When Isaiah called attention to the children God had given him, he was
pointing again to the promise of “the child” that would come through this remnant. Those
who believed God were staking their hope on a child that would fulfill his ancient
promise, not on men and nations. Isaiah’s message to King Ahaz was, “If you do not
stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (Isaiah 7:9). His message rings true
today. In other words,

“The arm of flesh will fail you,

you dare not trust your own”
(George Duffield).

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” Salvation for the people of God will come
through a child. God’s purpose depends for its fulfillment on a child to be born, a son to
be given.
To us a child is born.

This means that the salvation of the Lord will come in the person of one who is a real
man. The fact that he will be born is argument enough for his humanity. And his
humanity makes him qualified to put himself in our place. This child will know what it
means to live as a man. If he is a child born, he has a real, physical, material body. If he is
a child born, he has a real, rational soul or spirit. He will know by experience the
limitations of a finite existence. He will pass through the stages of human development.
The sufferings he will experience will be real, and he will suffer as a man. He will be
capable of dying a real, physical death. This is a child who is one with us, because he
participates fully in the human experience. Not only so, but there is the further provision
that he must come through Israelite stock. Isaiah saw that “A shoot will come up from the
stump of Jesse” and that “the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples” (Isaiah
11:1, 10). He is “the root and offspring of David” (Revelation 22:16) and “the lion of the
tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5).

We must understand the necessity of this. The fact is that the wages of sin is death, and
every person must receive those wages unless someone can be found qualified to take his
place. Sin’s wages require that a man die the death of a sinner. This death involves
suffering, but not just physical suffering. It is the suffering of body and soul which only
man is capable of bearing. Furthermore, this passage is not only about the judgment of
God on man’s sin. It is about hope for a better day. It is about light coming into darkness,
enlarging the nation, increasing joy, breaking the yoke of bondage, everlasting peace,
justice and righteousness. All of this is to be accomplished by a child to be born, so he
must be an uncommon child, a child unlike any other.

To us a son is given.

This son apparently belongs first to someone else, and as such he is given to us by the
one to whom he belongs. If he is the Son of God, this would be in perfect conformity to
the child called Immanuel and what his name will be called according to this verse. He is
“God-with-us.” His coming is the coming of God to deal with the issue of human sin. As
the son given he answers to all of the proclamations of Jesus as the Son of God (John
3:16; I John 4:9,10; Galatians 4:4). Therefore, while he is the child born of a virgin, he is
the eternally begotten Son of God. Not only is he the Son of God, he is God the Son,
partaking completely in the essence of deity. He is indeed all that God is, does all that
God does, possesses all that God possesses – yet he is given to us!

Consider the necessity of the deity of the Son. He is to undertake for man that which man
has proven he cannot do for himself. The history of Israel is the story of human failure to
attain righteousness under the most advantageous terms. It proved that the situation is so
desperate that only the coming of the Lord himself could meet man’s need. Righteousness
cannot be produced except by one who is himself righteous. The son who is given
represents God to men, not only demanding righteousness, but demonstrating it among
men and in behalf of men. He is able to do something about our sin because he is not a
sinner. Yet, by being given, he is given over to the penalty of sin in order to satisfy the
law’s demands for a multitude of people. He is the one mediator between God and man.

Isaiah saw a day of glory that would replace the day of gloom. He announced that
darkness would not last forever, because he knew that God was coming in saving power.
There would be blessings all around and they would come in relation to the birth of a
child. The birth of this child is what they were to count on, trust in, believe in and
receive. The kingdoms of this world with their political schemes and military alliances
would profit them nothing. But the child would accomplish everything because in the
child God would come and be with them. It is God compacting himself into the birth of a
baby that is the only hope of the world. He is the child born and the son given. He is the
God who makes himself a gift to men. It took an angel of the Lord to explain all this to
Joseph and Mary, even in the most rudimentary fashion (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:26-
38). The child born of Mary was the Son of God. He came to fulfill what Isaiah
prophesied so long ago. Jesus, and no one but Jesus, is “God with us.”

II. The Government On His Shoulder

“And the government will be on his shoulders.” Isaiah saw some awesome things
happening in his day. The map of his world was changing, and it was changing in a big
way. If you ever wonder if anyone is in control of your world, listen to the prophet Isaiah
as he speaks the word of the Lord. He tells about a child to be born, a son to be given. His
presence in the world will mean that God is with us in saving, ruling power. He is
qualified and authorized to shoulder the responsibilities of government. In the most
comprehensive terms, the government will be on his shoulder. This means that the
government is his entirely and exclusively. “Government” in this text is a word that is
related to the work of a “prince or executive.” The chief executive of government is this
child to be born and the son to be given. The wonder is that the accomplishment of these
great events is not attributed to the eventual manhood of this child. It is all regarded as
accomplished by his birth. Only in Christ Jesus do we find this fulfilled. Therefore we
must discover in what sense the government is on his shoulder.
The government of the bodies and souls of men.

The Lord Jesus rules in the lives of people. “The people walking in darkness have seen a
great light” (Isaiah 9:2). “In that day the remnant of Israel…will truly rely on the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 10:20). In numerous ways Isaiah’s message confirms that
when “God is with us,” people demonstrate his presence and power in their lives (Isaiah
11:1-5, 10; 40:9-11; 61:1-3). Jesus came announcing the kingdom of God. He came to
assume the responsibilities of God’s government in human lives. God’s everlasting
kingdom is embodied in him who is “God with us.” The scepter and ruler’s staff of
Genesis 49:9,10 are his. He is the enthroned king of Psalms 2 and 110. His is the
everlasting kingdom that will never be destroyed of Daniel’s vision. All of this is the
government on his shoulder. Jesus made it plain that you have to be born again to enter
this kingdom and submit to this government. But not only do you enter it, it enters you. If
you receive the kingdom you take on the character of a child who manifest the attributes
of his Father. Jesus alone is authorized to present you to his Father, because the
government is on his shoulder. He alone is authorized to save sinners. His government
extends to body and soul alike. He demonstrates his authority to forgive sins by
governing in the realm of the physical. He heals the consequences of sin in the body as
well as the condition of sin in the soul (Matthew 9:1-8). Restoring sight to blind eyes,
strength and vitality to useless limbs, soundness to diseased and ailing bodies (Isaiah
35:5,6), was all accomplished by the sovereign authority of the one who came with the
government on his shoulder.

The government of the spiritual and natural.

The kingdom of God is not a single-issue government. It advances on every front. Thus
Jesus asserted his power over both the spiritual world and the material world. He drives
out demons by the Spirit of God (Matthew 12:22-29), or “by the finger of God” (Luke
11:20). But not only are the demons under his command. The good angels worship him
and are his servants (Hebrews 1:6,7). If Jesus is the child born and the son given, he

“all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in
the present age but also in the one to come. And God place all things under his feet and
appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Ephesians 1:21,2).

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things
were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or
powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before
all things, and in him all things hold together…so that in everything he might have the
supremacy” (Colossians 1:15-18).

In the realm of the “natural” he also reigns supreme. Things as natural as water and wine,
bread and fish, wind and waves – all are compelled to behave in unnatural ways when so
ordered by their sovereign Lord. Plain water becomes the best wine (John 2:1-11). Small
portions of food become more than adequate for thousands of people (Mark 6:30-44; 8:1-
10). The storm is silenced at this command (Mark 4:39). The lake supports him as he
walks upon it (Mark 6:45-52). Even the fish in the lake act in strange and unpredictable
ways under the government of Jesus, yielding coins and filling nets (Matthew 17:27;
Luke 5:1-11).

The government of the heavens and the earth.

After his resurrection Jesus announced to his disciples, “All authority has been given to
me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). The government of the vastness of creation
belongs to him.
In the person of Jesus and through what he accomplished in his incarnation God has
established his government over everything.
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being,
sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he
sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 1:3).

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In the end he will create new
heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. And Jesus shoulders the
government of it all. Thus it is he who speaks through the prophet Isaiah,

“Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool…Has not my hand made all these
things?…Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 66:1,2; 65:17).

When the psalmists extolled the Lord God of Israel as the creator and sustainer of
everything, they rightly spoke of Christ.

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord
and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit…He covers the sky with clouds; he
supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the
cattle and for the young ravens when they call…He spreads the snow like wool and
scatters the frost like ashes” (Psalm 147:4,5,8,9,16).

Even the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar spoke truth concerning the King of kings when he
declared, “He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth”
(Daniel 4:35). Indeed, he is the creator of all and thus supreme over all. The government
of heaven and earth are on his shoulder. This is God’s testimony about this child to be
born, this son to be given:

“In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the
work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a
garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you
remain the same, and your years will never die” (Hebrews 1:10-12).

The government of life and death.

The Bible teaches that the difference between life and death depends on the Lord Jesus
Christ. In Genesis 3:15 he was promised as man’s only hope that sin and death would be
vanquished. Jesus is the only “seed of the woman” who accomplished that victory. But he
carried this burden all through the pages of Scripture, until he finally appeared in the
fullness of time. In him there is life (John 1:4) because he is the life (John 14:6). Eternal
life is possible only in knowing him (John 17:3). He is the Shepherd of the sheep, and he
comes to give life to his sheep (John 10:10). Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,
but whoever rejects the Son will not see life (John 3:36). He was declared to be the Son
of God with power by his resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4). If Christ had not
prevailed over death it would disqualify him from the government of all things. But his
resurrection proves him to be the Lord of life and death. It puts him in the position of
reigning “until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” What is more, his resurrection
guarantees that life prevails over death in those who trust in him (I Corinthians 15:20-28).
Because the government of life and death is on his shoulder, the one who believes in him
has eternal life because “he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24-29).

John the apostle saw Jesus Christ with the government on his shoulder. It was such a
blazing display of his glory, holiness, and power that for all practical purposes it knocked
John senseless. And no wonder, because Jesus assured him,

“I am the living one; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the
keys of death and hell” (Revelation 1:17,18).

In another place he said,

“These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he
opens, no one can shut; and what he shuts, no one can open” (Revelation 3:7).

These words come from Isaiah’s prophecy, and they pointed expectantly to the one who
has the government on his shoulder (Isaiah 22:22). Imagine one who holds the keys to
death and hell! Surely this is the only government under which there is safety!

The government of time and eternity.

When Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God, he announced that “the time has come”
(Mark 1:15). He who in our text is called “Everlasting Father” became the governor of
time! It was “at just the right time” that Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). “But
when the time had fully come, God sent his son, born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4). The
appearance of this child that was born, this son that was given, was at the right time
because it was his time. All of time converges upon him. What God purposed in Christ
was “to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment” (Ephesians
1:9,10). The government of time is on his shoulder.

But his name shall be called Everlasting Father, or Father of the ages, or Father of
eternity. He bears the government of eternity, too. This is why the joy of the redeemed is
“everlasting joy” (Isaiah 35:10). How could it be otherwise, if the Redeemer of men is
the Everlasting Father? The Bible does not know of a Christ who is anything less than
fully divine. He shares completely in the very nature of God and is therefore equal with
God (Philippians 2:6). “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”
(Colossians 2:9). One of the attributes of God is his eternality, and Jesus is eternal.

“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. He
was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were created” (John 1:1-3).

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to
come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

The writer of Hebrews could say that God has spoken his final and complete word
through Jesus in time, but also say that through him God made the universe. What is
more, his years will never end (Hebrews 1:1,2,12). He is the ruler of time; therefore our
times are in his hands (Psalm 31:15). But when he comes again time will blend into
eternity. The Lord Jesus will be proclaimed and acclaimed King of kings and Lord of
lords, and he shall rule for ever and ever (Revelation 11:15). His kingdom shall have no
end. He is the King eternal, the author of eternal salvation, who obtained eternal
redemption, the promise of an eternal inheritance. He is the one to whom eternal glory is
due and will be rendered. “He is the true God and eternal life” (I John 5:20).

Do you know this Christ who governs? Most people imagine they do, when the reality is
that they prefer a Christ whom they can govern. Does the Christ who executes the
government of all things truly govern your life? Have you submitted unconditionally to
his government? Have you agreed to be ruled by him? The world has many versions of
“the Christ child.” It likes to trot them out at Christmas time along with the ornaments
and decorations. The world dusts him off and carries him around to bring Christmas cheer
and good wishes. But where is he the rest of the time? Does Christ govern you? Is it
possible that the one upon whose shoulder the government of all things rests, is not
qualified to govern you? This is the verdict of all refuse his government.

III. Wonderful Counselor

The Bible is telling us something about the name of this one who is qualified to govern
God’s kingdom. His name shall be called… This does not mean that any of these titles
would be his proper name. Rather they are his name in the sense that they describe his
true character and identity. It is one name with many ways of describing it. When Adam
named the animals, he gave them names befitting their nature (Genesis 2:20). He called
his wife’s name Eve, “because she would become the mother of all the living” (3:20).
When they had children, they gave them descriptive names. In Bible times this became a
common practice. Names meant something. They reflected people’s hopes, beliefs, and
experiences with God. So the name of the one sent by God is described in ways that tell
us about him – who he is and what he does. These are titles of honor that belong only to
him. His name will be called “Wonderful Counselor.”

What is a counselor?

A counselor is someone who has a plan to solve a problem. A counselor must understand
the true nature of the problem presented to him, and should be able to offer a plan for its
solution. Consider some illustrations. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, identified a problem
and proposed a plan to Moses. He said, “Listen to me and I will give you some
advice/counsel” (Exodus 18:17-19). King David had a trusted counselor named
Ahithophel. It was said that “in those days the advice/counsel Ahithophel gave was like
that of one who inquires of God” (II Samuel 16:23). When Absalom, David’s son,
attempted to take over the kingdom, he listened to the bad counsel of Hushai, David’s
friend, because “the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in
order to bring disaster on Absalom” (II Samuel 17:14). Still later, after the death of
Solomon, Rehoboam ascended to the throne of Israel. He caused the division of the
kingdom because he rejected the counsel of the older men and accepted the counsel of the
young men who had grown up with him (I Kings 12:13,14).

These examples remind us that there is such a thing as evil or bad counsel. Sometimes
people who do not understand the problem give counsel as if they do, and it turns out to
be bad counsel. Or, seeing the problem, they give counsel that is intended for evil rather
than good. They give advice, but it is not the counsel of the Lord. God’s people should
beware of any counsel that is not according to the word of God. “Blessed is the man who
does not walk in the counsel of the wicked” (Psalm 1:1). Yet all too often, the people of
God seem more willing to consult the counsel of the ungodly than the counsel of the
Lord. They trust human philosophy and psychology more than they trust the word of
God. They do not believe that the counsel of the Lord as found in the Bible is sufficient
for life and living, even though God “has given us everything we need for life and
godliness through our knowledge of him who called us” (II Peter 1:3). This amounts to a
total repudiation of Jesus as the Wonderful Counselor

Thankfully, we are also assured that there is such a thing as the counsel of the Lord.
Whatever the problem is, he understands it and he has a plan to deal with it. He doesn’t
take advice from anyone else because he doesn’t need it. Eliphaz pointed out to Job that
“God places no trust in his holy ones” (Job 15:15). The Lord is “wonderful in counsel
and magnificent in wisdom” (Isaiah 28:29). And consider this: “Who has understood the
mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor?” (Isaiah 40:13,14). The counsel of
God is rooted and grounded in the character of God. If God is infinite, eternal, and
unchangeable, his counsel must be consistent with those attributes. He has no need to
learn anything. He never gives counsel on the basis of incomplete information. This is
why his counsel never fails. It is also why the counsel of the Lord prevails over the
counsel of men and nations. Often it is his purpose to defeat the counsel of men.

“Human counsels come to naught;

That shall stand which God hath wrought.”

“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I
say: My counsel/purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:10).

“The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the
plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations”
(Psalm 33:10,11).

Who needs a counselor?

In the first place, those who are ignorant need a counselor. The children’s catechism asks,
“Why do you need Christ as a prophet?” The answer the children are taught to say is,
“Because I am ignorant.” We need a counselor because we are ignorant of God and his
way of salvation. The wise man said, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many
advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). Just as kings had counselors in biblical times, so
presidents need them today. No one knows everything. Even great and powerful men are
ignorant of many things. But the worst ignorance is ignorance of God. When the apostle
Paul saw a roadside altar dedicated to “an unknown god” he used it to introduce a group
of Greek philosophers to the fact that they were ignorant of the one true and living God.
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth”
(Acts 17:23,24). Before we become Christians we “lived in ignorance” (I Peter 1:14). If
we are ignorant of God, we are ignorant of everything else. We cannot have true
knowledge of anything if we do not know the one who created everything. The apostle
Paul said it like this:

“They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of
the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts” (Ephesians 4:18).

We may have expertise in some things, but we are ignorant of God. We may rise to great
accomplishments in some ways, but we are ignorant of the things of God. What can we
possibly know about God if God himself does not counsel us? What unmitigated gall to
assume that any of us can even begin to understand anything at all about his dealings with
sinful men! We are completely out of our element when it comes to the salvation of our
souls. We need to secure God’s expert counsel without delay.

In the second place, those who are guilty need a counselor. As the children’s catechism
says, “Why do I need Christ as a priest? Because I am guilty.” Every sinner has
committed crimes against the God who made us. We are under a sentence of death in the
high court of heaven. Isaiah’s message to his people is equally urgent for all men today.
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face
from you, so that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). We are guilty of the worst treason
against a holy God. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his
own way” (53:6). As sheep that have gone astray we are lost, hopelessly lost, unless the
Son of man should come to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). We are all children of
wrath. We are all deservedly under condemnation. Fundamentally, we have only one
problem: How can I, a guilty sinner, be right with a holy God? We need a counselor who
understands the problem. We need a counselor who has a plan for our salvation.

In the third place, those who are weak and helpless need a counselor. “Why do I need
Christ as a king? Because I am weak and helpless,” says the catechism. All of us have
become weak and helpless because of sin, and without a counselor to make us strong we
have no hope. Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Weakness is all
we have without God. We are weak and helpless in body and soul. We are weak and
helpless when it comes to knowing how to live and die. We live out our days constantly
dealing with weakness. When we come to die, we die in weakness. Jesus likened sinners
to sick people who need a doctor (Luke 5:31). In our relentless pursuit of sin and the
world we think we are strong and in control. The reality is that we are inwardly corrupt
and terminally sick (Romans 3:9-18). “All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Sin controls us, dominates us,
and enslaves us. It leaves us with nothing but an existence “without hope and without
God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). Isaiah saw that when the child was born whose name
would be called Wonderful Counselor, he would come with strength and salvation for the
weak and helpless, transforming them into something like mighty oak trees (Isaiah
35:3,4). “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display
of his splendor” (61:3).

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow
tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will
renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow
weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31).

Why is Jesus a Wonderful Counselor?

“Wonderful” means “miraculous.” It is a word that always refers to God’s work, never to
man’s work. It is that which is extraordinary, above and beyond the realm of human
ability, defying human understanding. When God sent Moses to lead his people out of
Egypt, he did not send him in his own strength. He assured Moses,

“I know the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I
will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform
among them” (Exodus 3:20).

When Joshua was preparing to lead Israel into the promised land, he spoke in a similar
way. “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you”
(Joshua 3:5). Subsequent events would compel them to acknowledge that Joshua spoke
the truth. The Jordan River stopped its flow at flood stage. The walls of Jericho fell down.
The sun stood still. The children of Israel took possession of their inheritance. Well did
the psalmist sing, “I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your
wonders” (Psalm 9:1).

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to
declare” (Psalm 40:5).

Everything God does is wonderful. His works and wonders are not two separate things,
but one and the same thing. “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember
your wonders of long ago” (Psalm 77:11).

“Great God of wonders! All thy ways

Are matchless, God-like, and divine.”
(Samuel Davies)

Even the heavens, which are full of wonders themselves, join in praise of the wonders of
the Lord (Psalm 89:5).

The child to be born, the son to be given, will be called Wonderful Counselor, or
“Wonder Counselor.” What else can you call him, when you see that he exists infinitely,
eternally, and unchangeably with the Father as God the Son? He is of the same substance
with the Father, co-equal with the Father in every attribute. He spoke and universes
appeared out of nothing. Everything was made by him. The heavens declare his glory and
the firmament proclaims the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1). All the intricacies of
creation are the product of his wisdom and power. All the kingdoms and nations of the
world are like drops of water and specks of dust to him (Isaiah 40:15). History is the
outworking of his sovereign plan. Indeed, history is His Story, because he is the center
and meaning of it all.

Think of the incarnation of the Son of God, and you will say that he is still more
wonderful. The Creator of everything becomes an infant in his mother’s womb. The
infinite becomes an infant. The God of eternity becomes a babe in time. He who does the
miraculous becomes the miracle. Heaven looks on in wonder and amazement as God
becomes man. He whose name is Wonderful comes to do the unthinkable and the
impossible. Isaiah saw him as the sinless servant of the Lord, who would suffer and die in
the place of sinners (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) He humbled himself and became obedient unto
death, in order that the disobedient might become right with God. “By his knowledge my
righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). Every
sinner who has ever been saved is a tribute to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Wonder
Counselor. He understood our problem and accomplished a plan to deal with it once and
for all.
“He saw me plunged in deep distress, and flew to my relief;
For me he bore the shameful cross and carried all my grief.”
(Samuel Stennett)

The work of regeneration is a wonder. The work of conversion is a wonder. The work of
justification is a wonder. The work of atonement is a wonder. The work of redemption is
a wonder. The gospel plan of salvation is a wonder through and through. It has all been
accomplished by the one who says, “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22).

“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white
clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your
eyes, so you can see” (Revelation 3:18).

Isaiah saw that life and blessing could be had from this Wonder Counselor “without
money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1). Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor who saw the
problem of our sin and undertook to accomplish the wonderful plan of salvation.

IV. Mighty God

His name shall also be called “Mighty God.” In this title, as in the first, this individual is
presented to us as both God and man in one person. As the child born, he possesses all the
attributes of our humanity. As the son given, he possesses all the attributes of deity. This
astonishing fact is what qualifies him to shoulder the responsibilities of government. Here
he is the Mighty God, a title that demands the attention and commands the allegiance of
all people everywhere. If he is the Mighty God, who would dare to challenge his power
and authority? Yet this is precisely the occasion of his coming. All people everywhere
have united in an insurrection against him. The Mighty God has raised up children, and
they have rebelled against him (Isaiah 1:2). In the person of this child, Isaiah saw that
God would come to remedy the situation. He is God with us, Immanuel, Christ the Lord.
His coming does not bring about a change in God, but in us. Sin, inwardly and
powerfully enslaving us, has separated us from our God (Isaiah 59:2). The Savior comes
to break the power of sin and rescue us from it.

Isaiah saw a mysterious power at work, greater even than the king of Babylon. He
perceived that Satan was somehow behind every attempt to destroy the purpose of God –
Satan who wanted to make himself like the Most High (Isaiah 14:12-15). But the prophet
also saw that Immanuel is the Mighty God. He is not just barely equal to the task, but
more than able to accomplish it. A “mighty one” is a warrior, a champion, a man of
bravery and valor. Israel had many of them, like Saul and Jonathan (II Samuel 1:19), and
Saul’s father, Kish (I Samuel 9:1). David was recognized as such a man (I Samuel 16:18).
There were mighty men close to David who were famous for their exploits in battle (II
Samuel 23:8). Jereboam, who rebelled against Solomon and took ten tribes in the divided
kingdom, was a mighty warrior (I Kings 11:28). Other kingdoms had their men of
renown, such as Goliath the champion of the Philistines (I Samuel 17:51). The situation
of the human race brought on by sin required a mighty champion of an altogether
different caliber. Isaiah knew that the situation in Israel was at its worst. They were ripe
for the judgment of God, and none of Israel’s heroes had proven himself able to save
from such a dire threat. But now he sees a child, a son, a capable governor. He is not the
mighty one, but the Mighty God. When he comes, he proves himself mighty over all that
opposes God.

He is mighty over the world.

For one thing, he is mighty over the sin, guilt, condemnation, and death of the world.
This is the condition of the world because of its opposition to God. In fact, “the whole
world” is guilty before God (Romans 3:19). “Sin entered the world” through the first
man. Death came through sin and passed to all men. You cannot talk about sin without
realizing that it is “in the world.” Sin permeates the world at every level. (Romans
5:12,13). The result is “condemnation for all men,” and death, because “sin reigned in
death” (Romans 5:18-21). The condition of the world is hopeless unless God himself
intervenes. Sin enslaves people and holds them in bondage. We do not control sin; sin
controls us (Romans 6:17). But Jesus is the Mighty God. He is “the Lamb of God, who
takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). People who believe in him are saved, while
those who do not believe remain under condemnation (John 3:16-18).

For another thing, he is mighty over the corruption and pollution of the world. In II Peter
1:4 it is “the corruption in the world” that sinners escape when they are born again. The
same thing is referred to again in II Peter 2:20 as that which we escape “by knowing our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans
and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”
(James 1:27).

The world has a corrupting influence because it is composed of people with sin
embedded in their nature. This was the Lord’s indictment against Israel (Isaiah 1:2-4). Sin
is so deceitful that it can convince a person to rebel against God and worship idols
(Jeremiah 2:11). Such is the corrupting power of sin that it will even make people “call
evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). This is why too close contact with the world is
both dangerous and destructive to the Christian. In fact it is like spiritual adultery for
those who belong to Jesus Christ.

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward
God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James

Jesus is the Mighty God who is able to reverse the curse. He is mighty over this
corruption. His blood can purify us from every sin (I John 1:7). This is the unadulterated
message of the gospel, the gospel God preached long ago through the prophet.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as
crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
Well did Robert Lowry say,

“What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Added to all this, he is mighty over the wisdom of the world. The world prides itself in its
many forms of “wisdom.” The world is self-assured and self-indulgent. It doesn’t know
God or need God. It wants to be autonomous. It thinks it can solve its own problems.
Given enough time and resources, the world thinks it can do anything. The whole idea of
biblical Christianity is irrelevant. Human sin and depravity, the gospel, and the cross are
an offense to the wisdom of the world. Yet in all its supposed wisdom, the verdict is that
the world in its wisdom does not and cannot know God (I Corinthians 1:18-31). When the
apostle Paul preached “Jesus Christ and him crucified” to the Corinthians, it was “so that
your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (I Corinthians 2:1-5).
Paul preached a Christ who is mighty over the wisdom of the world.

Finally, he is mighty over the kingdom and power of the world. Listen to the ringing
acclamations in the Book of Revelation:

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and
he will reign for ever and ever” (11:15).

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the
authority of his Christ” (12:10).
Jesus is the Mighty God. All authority in heaven and on earth belongs to him (Matthew
28:18). Daniel spoke prophetically about him as mighty over the kingdom and power of
the world. He saw that “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be
destroyed” but would crush all worldly kingdoms (Daniel 2:44). Jesus was the “one like a
son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.”

“He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of
every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not
pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13,14).

He is mighty over Satan.

Jesus is mighty over the person of Satan. Before he became the devil, or Satan, this
powerful angel, together with all the angels, was created by God to occupy an exalted and
honored position. He was made to be a glorious servant of God. Angels are messengers of
God, sent to do his bidding. We can only imagine the splendor and magnificence of such
supernatural creatures. Yet Satan was only a creature, not the Creator. The Bible is
unequivocal about the fact that God is the Creator of all things, men and angels included.
God will never share his glory with anyone. “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not
give my glory to another or my praise to idols” (Isaiah 42:8). But this is the very thing to
which Satan aspired. He wanted to be like God. When he failed in his own attempt, he
tried to persuade man that he could become like God (Genesis 3:5).

All through the Bible Satan is the very embodiment of evil. He represents everything that
opposes God’s saving purpose. Whatever evil there is in the world, Satan presides over it
and administers it to advance his sinister purpose. His name means “adversary,” or one
who opposes. Satan is a distinct and individual person. He is not an abstract idea or an
impersonal force. In the book of Job, God speaks to him and he speaks to God. Because
he is an angelic creature, he does not have a body like human beings. But he has
intelligence, memory, knowledge, and abilities that far exceed these same characteristics
in man. He is capable emotions such as lust, pride, and anger. He is also the devil, which
means “accuser or slanderer.” As Abaddon or Appolyon he is the “destroyer” (Revelation
9:11). As Beelzebub or Beelzebul he is the leader of all the evil spirits. He is “the ruler of
the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient”
(Ephesians 2:2). He is “the prince of this world,” the recognized leader of a world that is
against God and his Christ (John 14:30). He is “the god of this age” who “has blinded the
minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of
Christ” (II Corinthians 4:4). In all these ways Satan is arrayed against the Lord Jesus
Christ. But to say that Jesus is the Mighty God is all that needs to be said.

Jesus is mighty over the work of Satan. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to
destroy the devil’s work” (I John 3:8). Even though Satan has great power, his power is
limited. Even though he can appear and disappear, he can only be in one place at a time.
Even though he has great knowledge, he does not know everything. He is not eternal, but
a mere creature of time. He is not unchangeable, but changeable. Whatever power he has
is borrowed from the God who made him. Jesus is the Mighty God who will defeat him.
He proved himself mighty over Satan in the temptation in the desert. He is the Mighty
God who rebuffs Satan by his powerful word (Matthew 4:1-11). He identified himself as
the one stronger than the strong man, who is able to subdue the strong man and take away
his possessions (Matthew 12:29). The prophet Zechariah saw Satan rebuked in an
amazing transaction that was “symbolic of things to come” (Zechariah 3). And no
wonder, because God’s ancient promise was that he would send someone to crush Satan
(Genesis 3:15). Jesus came “so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the
power of death – that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). The apostle Paul had every right to
assure the Christians in Rome, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet”
(Romans 16:20). And nothing more dramatically portrays the victory of the Mighty God
over Satan and his works than John’s vision in Revelation, when a loud voice in heaven
proclaimed, “he knows his time is short” (Revelation 12:12).

V. Everlasting Father

We have good reason to wonder why the child to be born and the son to be given should
be called, “Everlasting Father.” If he is the only begotten Son of God, how can he in any
sense be a Father? Nevertheless, this was one of the descriptive titles given prophetically
to the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah was not mistaken in his views of this remarkable person
who would complete the purpose of God. We shall presently see why he was right in
calling him “Everlasting Father,” or Father of Eternity.
He rules over eternity.

In the first place, “everlasting” describes what he is. Isaiah’s message was to a people
who had seen many fathers come and go. The apostle Paul noted this as one of the great
privileges of the nation when he said, “whose are the fathers” (Romans 9:5). Many of
them were highly esteemed. But every single one of them died. Their father Abraham was
assured by God that he would be the father of many nations (Genesis 17:4). But he lived
175 years, and then died. Isaac lived 185 years, and Jacob 147 years, and they died.
Noah, the man of faith in his generation, died after 950 years. All the fathers Israel had
ever known, died. When they died, they “slept with their fathers,” because they were not
“fathers of eternity.” And in their lifetime they offered at best only a passing glimpse of
faithful fatherhood. Israel was reminded throughout her history that God’s judgment
would come because of “both your sins and the sins of your fathers” (Isaiah 65:7). But
Isaiah holds before them the prospect of one who is entitled to be called, Everlasting

In the second place, everlasting describes what he owns. He is the Father of eternity.
“Everlasting” does not only describe his person; it is also about what belongs to him.
Eternity is his possession. He rules over it as his rightful domain. He is the Father of
eternity, like “the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity” (Isaiah 57:15). Even though
this child is born in time, he is not subject to time or restricted to time. He rules over
eternity. When he enters our world and comes into our time, the times do not control him
but he controls the times. He does everything at the appointed time because he rules
above and beyond time.
In the third place, everlasting describes what he does. The Father of Eternity deals in
eternal things. What he does is not temporary, but everlasting. His works and
accomplishments endure forever. In fact, if he rules over eternity, what he bestows on
others has eternal consequences. For example, the Everlasting Father begets everlasting
life. Whoever believes in him has everlasting life (John 3:15,16,36). Jesus has living
water to give, which, when people drink, it “wells up” within them unto eternal life (John
4:10,14). He declared that whoever hears his word and believes the one who sent him
“has crossed over from death to life.” When the dead hear the voice of the Son of God,
they live (John 5:24-26). He likened himself to food “that endures to eternal life” and
claimed to be “the bread of life” (John 6:27,35). He said “the one who feeds on me will
live because of me” (John 6:57). Jesus is the good shepherd who laid down his life for his
sheep. He gives them eternal life, “and they shall never perish” (John 10:11,28). He
assured Martha with the same message: “whoever lives and believes in me will never
die” (John 11:25). He gives eternal life to all those whom the Father has given to him
(John 17:2). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ
Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). All who were “ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts
13:48). The apostle John even wrote that Jesus Christ “is the true God and eternal life” (I
John 5:11,12,20).

He reveals the Father.

He reveals the Father in his person. We are reminded that this person, whose name shall
be called “Everlasting Father,” is the same as the child to be born and the son to be given.
He is the Wonder Counselor and the Mighty God. This has taught us that as a child he
came into the world as a man, but as the son he was given by God. He is Immanuel. He is
the God-man. He is God with us.

“Our God contracted to a span,

Incomprehensibly made man”
(Charles Wesley).

If he is the Son of God, he is everything that God is. He was not only with God in the
beginning, he was God (John 1:1,2). And the result of his becoming Immanuel, God with
us, is that we may know God as a Father (John 1:14,18). Jesus makes God known to us,
and thus reveals the Father. He can make the Father known because “only he has seen the
Father” (John 6:46). Thus he could say, “I know him because I am from him and he sent
me” (John 7:9).

He reveals the Father in his work. “Whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John
5:19). “The very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing,
testifies that the Father has sent me” (John 5:36-40). Furthermore he declared, “I and the
Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus meant to be understood as saying that his purpose and
work were the same as the Father’s purpose and work. When the unbelieving Jews heard
this, they understood that he was claiming to be God and attempted to stone him for
blasphemy. With reference to his miraculous works he was bold to say that just as
believing in him was to believe in the one who sent him, so seeing him was to see the one
who sent him (John 12:44,45). Jesus said to his disciples,

“If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know
him and have seen him…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…It is the Father,
living in me, who is doing his work” (John 14:1-11).

He glorified the Father on earth by completing the work the Father gave him to do (John

He reveals the Father in his words. “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of
God” (John 3:34). Jesus said, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent
me” (John 7:16). The message Jesus preached was the message the Father sent him to
preach (John 12:49,50). The words Jesus spoke were not just his own, but the words of
the Father, too (John 14:10). He said plainly, “These words you hear are not my own;
they belong to the Father who sent me” (John 14:24). Isaiah was right when he spoke of
him as the Everlasting Father. As God the Son, he was sent to reveal God the Father. This
means that it is impossible to know God without knowing Jesus Christ.

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ,
whom you have sent” (John 17:3).

All this is consistent with the many other references to the full deity of the Lord Jesus
Christ. In the incarnation, he who was “in very nature God” took upon himself “the very
nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” He achieved victory over sin and
death by his own death on the cross, for which God highly exalted him. All that he
suffered, and all that he accomplished, was “to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians

In short, Jesus reveals the Father because “he is the image of the invisible God”
(Colossians 1:15). This means that he is the exact representation and the complete
manifestation of God. “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him”
(Colossians 1:19). Jesus makes the Father known because he embodies all that the Father
is. According to Hebrews 1:3,

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being,
sustaining all things by his powerful word.”

If you want to know the character of God the Father, look at God the Son.

He receives us as his children.

We discovered at the beginning of these studies that God intended that Isaiah and his
children should stand out with symbolic importance against the background of Israel’s
unbelief. They represented the small remnant that trusted in the promise of God (Isaiah
8:17). King Ahaz and the majority would not join them, but relied on alliances and
treaties with the kingdoms of this world instead. The word of the Lord through Isaiah was

“Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel
from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion” (Isaiah 8:18).

Long before Isaiah’s day, Jacob had spoken in a similar way (Genesis 33:5), as did
Joseph (Genesis 48:9). They remembered that the promised salvation would come
through the seed of the woman, a human child (Genesis 3:15). God’s people knew that
the fulfillment of the promise depended on children, and that children are from the Lord
(Psalm 127:3). Just as the Lord had given children to Isaiah, he could be trusted to fulfill
his promise about the child who would be called, Immanuel, God with us. This was the
word of the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion. The symbolism of Zion was well
known. Zion was the centerpiece of God’s saving purpose. It called to mind the temple,
the king, the kingdom, and the promise that God would bring salvation out of Zion to the
ends of the earth. In the New Testament, these words of Isaiah are put into the mouth of
the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:13). Jesus can also say, “Here am I, and the children
God has given me.” He is the Everlasting Father. In his incarnation he became God with
us, so that he could bring “many sons to glory.” He shared in our humanity so that he
could suffer and die as a man. All who are saved by him are his brothers, but also his

Just as Isaiah stood as the head of a believing remnant and said, “I will put my trust in
him” (Isaiah 8:17), so Jesus stands as the head of a believing remnant in the world today
who say the same thing. According to Isaiah 53:10 the suffering servant of the Lord “will
see his offspring and prolong his days.” Isaiah saw that when God’s salvation came, a
multitude of children would be born in Zion, and Zion will ask, “Who bore me these?”
(Isaiah 49:20,21). This day of salvation has come with the Lord Jesus Christ, the
Everlasting Father, who announces, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”
Those who receive him become children of God because they are born of God (John
1:12,13). But not only do they receive him. The greater wonder is that he receives them.
God the Father has given to Jesus a multitude of children, all of them will come to him,
and not one of them will be cast out (John 6:37). They stand apart from the unbelief of
the world because they have been given to Jesus by the Father and he in turn gives them
eternal life (John 17:2,6,9).

“I tell you the truth, unless you change [are converted] and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God
belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of
God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14,15).

Can you say with William Cushing,

“He has redeemed me and I am his child?”

Have you received Jesus Christ as Isaiah’s amazing text presents him? If you do, you will
have not only his name upon you, but his nature will be within you, as the child has the
nature of the father. You will love him as a child ought to love his father. You will trust
and obey him. You will look to him for guidance and protection. You will listen to him as
he speaks in his word. You will love those who are his children, and delight in their
fellowship. You will love the things he loves. You will grow up into him who is the head,
striving to become more and more like your Everlasting Father.

VI. Prince of Peace

His name will be called “Prince of Peace.” Here again we find ourselves confronted with
astonishing things. We have seen already that the government rests on the shoulders of
this amazing person. We will presently see that his government is a government of peace.
And no wonder, because he himself is the Prince of Peace!

He is the Prince of Peace because he is our peace.

Why do we need Jesus as the Prince of Peace? In the first place, we need him because we
are enemies of God. Before Jesus came, no one had ever been able to establish a lasting
peace between God and his people. The fault was never on God’s side, but always on
man’s side. Since the days of Moses, peace was the exception rather than the rule. Joshua
and the judges led Israel through times of little peace and much turmoil. Samuel and all
the prophets down to Isaiah’s generation saw much the same thing. Isaiah himself stated
God’s case against Israel in the first chapter of his prophecy, declaring that the Lord
considered his own people his enemies (Isaiah 1:24). The song of the vineyard in chapter
5 recites woe upon woe because there was no peace between the vineyard and its owner.
Isaiah was sent to declare the Lord’s anger against Israel because of her “pride and
arrogance of heart” (Isaiah 9:9). The absence of peace is heard in the somber refrain, “Yet
for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised” (Isaiah 9:12,17,21;
Is there a need for a Prince of Peace? There is, without a doubt. The condition of ancient
Israel was fundamentally the same as the condition of the whole world. Isaiah declared,

“But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and
mud. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked’” (Isaiah 57:20,21).

There is no way of explaining the coming of this Prince of Peace without taking into
account the problem of man’s alienation from God. For the Bible to tell us that Christ is
our Peace makes no sense apart from our need of him because of sin. Sin has made us
enemies of God (Romans 5:10). God never regards people as taking a neutral position
with him, because “the sinful mind is hostile to God” (Romans 8:7). Paul was brutally
honest when he wrote, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your
minds” (Colossians 1:21). In fact, the lines are drawn so clearly in the mind of God that
“friendship with world is hatred toward God” (James 4:4). We need the Prince of Peace
because we are enemies of God.

In the second place, we need him because we are under condemnation. There are no
conditions of peace as long as we remain hostile to God. However we may manifest this
hostility, it all leaves us under the just condemnation of God. The only alternative to the
Prince of Peace is condemnation. As Jesus put it,

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands
condemned already because he has not believed in the name [his name shall be called,
Prince of Peace] of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18).

In another place Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him
who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death
to life” (John 5:24).

When the apostle Paul made the stupendous statement that “there is now no
condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), it was because he knew
that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. We need the Prince of Peace because we are under the
condemnation of a holy God.

In the third place, we need him because we are exposed to the wrath of God. Wrath is the
expression of God’s necessary revulsion for sin. He is the God of holiness, justice,
goodness, and truth. When confronted with sin and evil his wrath reveals that he alone is
God. If sinners wish to be at peace with him, they must sue for peace on his terms. The
only alternative is the full weight and terror of his wrath.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see
life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36).

This is the same wrath of God that “is being revealed from heaven against all the
godlessness and wickedness of men” (Romans 1:18) and that most certainly “comes on
those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6). This is the wrath from which
men must be saved if they are to be saved at all. And it is the glory of the gospel that it
announces salvation from the wrath of a holy God. “Since we have now been justified by
his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans
5:9). We need the Prince of Peace because we are in danger of the wrath of God.

If Jesus himself is the Prince of Peace, we must know him in order to have peace.
Nothing is more important than to know him in this capacity. Unless we know the Lord
Jesus Christ, we cannot know real peace. Unless we have Christ, we cannot have real
peace. “For he himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). If Melchizedek was a type of him,
he is the “king of peace” (Hebrews 7:2). It was the “God of peace” who raised him from
the dead (Hebrews 13:20) and whose faithful presence is promised to those who are at
peace with him (Romans 15:33; Philippians 4:9). We must know Jesus Christ as the one
God sent into the world in order to establish the only terms on which sinners can have
peace with God.

He is the Prince of Peace because he makes peace.

The whole purpose of his coming into the world was to secure peace between sinners and
a holy God. Peace between God and man was lost when Adam and Eve declared war on
their Maker. Peace between man and man was forfeited at the same time, as hatred and
violence broke out in the first family. But Christ has come to accomplish the impossible
by restoring peace with God and among men. He can accomplish our peace because he is
our peace.

He makes peace between man and man. No division, hatred, prejudice, or barrier
between people today is greater than that which kept Jew and Gentile apart. The great
divide was the Law of Moses. The apostle said that Christ

“has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law
with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new
man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to
God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility” (Ephesians 2:15,16).

Sin is the great destroyer of peace among men. The Bible describes our condition as one
of “being hated and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). The Lord Jesus Christ is the Prince
of Peace who makes peace among men.

He makes peace between man and God. We have already seen that Jesus is our peace.
Because he is our peace, he has been able to do what no one was ever able to do. He
makes peace because he is our peace, just as he makes a way to the Father because he is
the way to the Father; he reveals the truth because he is the truth; and he gives life
because he is the life (John 14:6). The gospel always presents both the person and the
work of Jesus Christ as the one and only hope of sinners. Jesus has secured peace with
God because of who he is and because of what he has done.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through
our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

In other words, Jesus has accomplished a complete atonement for sinners by his
sacrificial death. If we trust in his finished work, exclusively and entirely, we have peace
with God through him. Jesus died as a real substitute for sinners. He subjected himself to
the condemnation and wrath of a holy God. He satisfied what God’s justice required to
punish us for our rebellion by taking that punishment upon himself. Isaiah saw that “the
punishment that brought us peace was upon him” (Isaiah 53:5). This is what the Bible
means when it says,

“God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement [propitiation] through faith in his blood.
He did this to demonstrate his justice…” (Romans 3:25).
He is the Prince of Peace because he preaches peace.

Jesus as the Prince of Peace preaches what he practices. The testimony of Scripture is that
he is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), he makes peace (Ephesians 2:15), and that he “came
and preached peace” (Ephesians 2:17). The prophets understood that when God’s
Messiah came into the world, he would bring good news, the proclamation of peace and
salvation, and the announcement that “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7).

“He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the
name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to
the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace” (Micah 5:4,5).

“He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the
River to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10).

This explains why the angels proclaimed peace in connection with his advent: “Glory to
God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14). It
further explains why the gospel is “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). In the gospel
God announces the only terms on which a sinner may have peace and reconciliation with
him. In the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, God is demanding unconditional
surrender. He commands all people everywhere to repent and submit to Jesus Christ as a
Savior, Lord, and King. To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation means to
believe that he is the Prince of Peace.

VII. His Kingdom Come

We discover here that this amazing account of the child to be born and the son to be given
is really about the kingdom of God.

“Of the increase 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” (Isaiah 9:7).

It is the same kingdom that we think of when we pray, “Thy kingdom come.” But what
we learn from this Scripture is that this is the kingdom of the child that is born and of the
son that is given. All that we have heard about him, and these titles that he bears, prove
that he is superbly qualified to govern the kingdom of God. It is his kingdom, this
government of justice and righteousness, this government that will be on his shoulders. It
is a kingdom that comes when he comes and goes where he goes. There is no more
important fact about this kingdom than this, that it is associated with the birth of the child
and the giving of the son. So we know, and can be quite sure of it, that when Jesus came
to be a Savior for sinners, he also came to be a King. When he entered our world, he
brought with him his government and peace. He established his government here and he
continues to uphold it to this day and hour. This is urgent in its importance to each and
every one of us. It is a message about a kingdom that exists in the world today, this world
in which we now live. This makes us responsible for it – responsible to know about it, to
know its King, to honor him as he deserves to be honored, and above all, to be sure we
have agreed to his terms for peace with God. Let us consider three characteristics of this

His kingdom is universal, not local.

This kingdom and this government will increase and grow. But it does not grow only to a
point and then fade away. The kingdoms of this world rise and fall, increase and decline.
They expand their borders and sphere of influence but are soon driven back by nations
greater than themselves. It is the nature of earthly kingdoms to have borders or limits
beyond which they hold no sway and have no authority. But this kingdom’s increase will
have no end. It will increase without limit or hindrance. It will never come up against a
greater power that will stop its expansion. So while it is true that Jesus reigns on David’s
throne, it is also certain that “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the
waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

Through the eyes of Isaiah the prophet we can see in a variety of ways that it was God’s
purpose to extend the kingdom of the Messiah to the uttermost parts of the earth, and to
establish his kingdom forever. Isaiah knew that the Lord would “enlarge the nation” and
so gain greater glory for himself (26:12-15). He spoke of seeing “the king in his beauty”
and a “land that stretches afar” (33:17). He was confident that God would send a Messiah
who would “not falter or be discouraged,” but would complete his mission and be “a light
for the Gentiles” (42:1-7). In fact he would bring “salvation to the ends of the earth”
(49:5-7). This unprecedented coming of the kingdom of God would begin in Zion, the
city of the great king, but “all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God”

We also notice that the thing that accompanies the expansion of this government is
“peace.” While the kingdoms of men increase their influence through war and conquest,
and often leave misery and ruin in their wake, this kingdom brings an increase of peace.
Men seek in vain for peace through human government. They seek peace through war,
but another war eventually comes. They seek peace through possessions, pleasures, and
power. But peace can be possible only when man is at peace with God. In the gospel, God
announces his terms for peace. Wherever the government of God is established and
upheld, there will be peace between God and man. God’s peace, accomplished when men
are reconciled to God through the mediation of Jesus Christ, is the only sure basis for
lasting peace among men.

His kingdom is everlasting, not temporary.

Our text uses words like, “there will be no end” and “forever” to describe the endurance
of this kingdom. It comes, it continues to come, and it will come. There is nothing
temporary about it. It is not subject to the changing ideas and desires of men. It is not
voted in and then voted out. It is never in danger of being overthrown, toppled, or
replaced. Rather, Jesus “must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (I
Corinthians 15:25). How radically different is the kingdom of Christ from the kingdoms
of this world! The great Soviet Empire collapsed after only 75 years. Before that, the
Russian Empire survived 500 years, but it came to an end. The mighty British Empire
was at one time the largest in the world. Indeed, it was said that the sun never set on the
British Empire. Earthly empires, whether ancient or modern, will all pass away in due
course. The prophet Daniel saw this vividly in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about the great
statue. The statue represented the mightiest world powers of ancient times, yet they were
all demolished by the kingdom of God, “a kingdom that will never be destroyed” (Daniel
2:44). Daniel’s prophetic ministry stressed repeatedly that God’s kingdom is “an
everlasting kingdom” (Daniel 4:3,34; 7:13,14,27). He saw earthly empires as frightful
monsters that try to usurp the place of the kingdom of God (Daniel 7). But what is left of
ancient world kingdoms? Tourists and archeologists move among their ruins. Some try to
reconstruct their glory days and celebrate their cultural achievements. But little remains
of them but a fading memory.

It is important to note here that the king in this everlasting kingdom “will reign on
David’s throne.” This means that he will have all the necessary credentials to rule as the
king of God’s choice. He had to be a descendant of David, but that did not limit his
kingship to a certain people, time, and place. Rather, it meant that this king would come
as a legitimate heir to David’s throne and extend his kingdom over the whole world (II
Samuel 7:12,13). Isaiah said as much when he announced that a “shoot will come up
from the stump of Jesse (David’s father),” that he will cover the earth with the
“knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea,” and that he will “stand as a banner
for the peoples” (Isaiah 11:1-11). In Psalm 2 God places the nations and peoples of earth
on notice because, he said, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” David wrote
of this King, “The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the
midst of your enemies” (Psalm 110:1,2). The New Testament confirms that these Psalms
are about Jesus Christ, David’s Son yet David’s Lord. In fact, the angel Gabriel made
certain to include this news in his announcement to Mary:

“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him
the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his
kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:31-33).

His kingdom is spiritual, not political.

To call something spiritual does not mean that it is unreal or imaginary. It means that its
primary concerns are God, his saving purpose in history, and man’s relationship with
God. The kingdom of Jesus resolves the most fundamental problem of human existence:
How can sinful man be right with a holy God? This is a spiritual problem. No earthly
kingdom, human organization, or worldly philosophy has ever been able to find a way to
overcome the barrier between God and man. But that is precisely what the kingdom of
Jesus is all about. That his kingdom is spiritual means that its purpose is to bring these
spiritual realities to fulfillment by bringing people into a right relationship with God.
People in this kingdom begin to live their lives according to God’s standards and as a
reflection of his image. Isaiah saw this already in his day and began to describe the
coming King as one in whom the Spirit of God would be fully in control (Isaiah 11:3-5).
In a similar vein he spoke about the amazing spiritual transformation that would come
over those to whom the gospel would be preached (Isaiah 61:1-3). Jesus announced that
“this scripture is fulfilled” in him and his ministry (Luke 4:16-21).

The kingdom of Jesus Christ has as its goal the restoration of a lost world. Sin has
separated us from our God, but in the kingdom of God the breach has been repaired and it
is possible for sinners to be reconciled to God. The kingdom of God is not a national,
political, or militaristic kingdom. It is a kingdom that can be entered only when a person
is born of God (John 1:12,13; 3:3). Jesus explained what life in this kingdom is like by
dealing with matters of the heart and its attitude toward God (Matthew 5-7). In the
parables he used familiar, earthly objects and events in order to shed light on unfamiliar,
spiritual realities. What is the kingdom of God like? How do you get into it? Why is
everyone not already in it? What is it like to live in the kingdom of God? These are
questions about spiritual realities, and Jesus answered them all and more besides. He said
to his disciples, “your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom,” a kingdom that
includes all the treasure the heart could desire (Luke 12:32-34). Everywhere in the New
Testament the apostles followed his lead when they spoke about the kingdom of God as
having to do with a redeemed sinner living in communion with God forever. It is a
kingdom in which every citizen belongs to Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:13,14). Because it
is a spiritual kingdom, it is “a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28). Once
granted entrance into it a man’s relationship with God is settled for eternity. But left
outside of it a man has no hope of any spiritual connection or contentment at all. He is
“without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness,
peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is
pleasing to God and approved by men” (Romans 14:17,18).

In its explanation of the Lord’s Prayer, the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What
do we pray for in the second petition?” The answer:

“In the second petition, which is, ‘Thy kingdom come,’ we pray that Satan’s kingdom may
be destroyed, and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others
brought into it, and kept in it, and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.”

This is the universal, everlasting, spiritual kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In this kingdom sinful people find peace and reconciliation with God. This kingdom leads
to a new heaven and earth in which people will live with God forever.

VIII. The Zeal of the Lord Almighty

“The zeal of the Lord almighty will accomplish this.”

If you are Christian, it is entirely due to the zeal of the Lord almighty. If you ever hope to
become a Christian, it will depend on the zeal of the Lord almighty to make you one. If
you are born from above and possess a renewed heart; if you now have a right standing
with God and the forgiveness of your sins; if you are endowed with a new nature in
which you are growing in holiness and conformity to the image of Christ – all of this is
owing to the zeal of the Lord almighty. The zeal of the Lord of hosts has accomplished all
this. Nothing less than this will do for poor, bankrupt, hell-bound sinners. Your doomed
condition could never be reversed by any power of any kind, unless the Lord God himself
was committed to your recovery. And because he has so committed himself, no power of
any kind will be able to stand in his way. It is important to remember that this is the
message of the gospel, and that it is a message for you. What is your answer to it? What
is your response to this Child, this Son, the mighty titles he bears, and the everlasting
kingdom he brings?

What is this zeal?

First of all, zeal is at least partly emotional. Sometimes with us it is all emotion and
nothing else. It is difficult to think of being zealous for anything and not feeling it. Zeal is
a strong emotion. It is enthusiasm and excitement. Zeal is not moderate but extreme. Zeal
pulls out all the stops. Sometimes it has a negative meaning. Zeal for what belongs to
someone else is called “envy.” This kind of zeal usually involves bad feeling, bad blood,
and bad results. The Philistines, for example, envied Isaac because of his flocks, herds,
and servants, and in their zeal they destroyed the wells Isaac’s father had dug (Genesis
26:14). In a similar way Rachel, who had no children, envied her sister Leah, who had
several (Genesis 30:1). And it was the same kind of envious zeal that drove Joseph’s
brothers to such lengths of cruel treatment that landed him in the slave market in Egypt
(Genesis 37:11).

Sometimes, and usually this is the case, “zeal” has a positive meaning. In this sense it
was applied to a husbands’ zeal for his wife. It is jealousy in the proper sense. A husband
is jealous of the affections and loyalty of his wife. The Lord is a jealous God because he
regards Israel as his wife. He is offended and angry when she commits adultery and thus
proves unfaithful to him. When the Moabites enticed Israel into sexual immorality and
idolatry, the zeal of the Lord was aroused (Numbers 25:10-13). Toward the end of his life
Moses cited the Lord’s frequent complaint in his overview of their history, how that they
“made him jealous with their foreign gods” (Deuteronomy 32:16,21). The great prophet
Elijah claimed that he had “been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty” in a climate of
widespread unbelief (I Kings 19:10,14). In Psalm 79:5 the jealousy of the Lord is seen as
the cause of the exile. “How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? How long will
your jealousy burn like fire?” But the same jealousy was the cause of their return from
exile. God’s message to a later prophet was, “I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion,
but I am very angry with the nations” (Zechariah 1:14; 8:2).

The great driving force behind his zeal, his jealousy for those who belong to him, is his
abiding love for them. Zeal in this sense is love stirred into action when it is challenged
by an opponent or a competitor. God’s people have always been anxious for him to
display his zeal in their behalf. It is a recurring theme in Isaiah. They wanted the world
to see the zeal of the Lord for his people (26:11). They looked for the zeal of the Lord to
save and preserve a remnant (37:32). In his zeal the Lord will triumph over his enemies
(42:13). He wraps himself in zeal as a garment (59:17). His people longed for him to
display his zeal as in days of old (63:15). His love brought them back from captivity and
accomplished their salvation. The Lord has his people whom he loves, and he will not sit
idly by when other gods rival him for their affection.

Who is the Lord Almighty?

“The LORD” is his personal, covenant name. It is the name by which he binds himself in
covenant love to his people. This name means that everything he does is purposeful and
deliberate. He has a purpose that was settled before he even created anything. His actions
are directed toward the complete fulfillment of his purpose. In other words, the Lord does
not do what he does simply because he can do it. Nor is it merely that he has the right to
do what he wants to do. He does not act on the basis of arbitrary authority. All that he
does is intended to secure the great end that he has determined from before the creation of
the world. Thus while the Bible begins with the famous words, “In the beginning God,” it
soon specifies that “the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” (Genesis 2:4). It was
the Lord God that formed the man from the dust of the ground, planted the garden, and
took the man and put him in the garden. It was the Lord God who said, “It is not good for
the man to be alone.” It was the Lord God who made the woman and brought her to the
man. It was the Lord God who was heard walking in the garden, and from whom they hid
themselves. It was the Lord God who called to the man, “Where are you?” It was the
Lord God who committed himself to the first promise of salvation from sin and death
(Genesis 3:15). It was the Lord still who commanded Noah to build an ark and then shut
Noah and his family into it. It was the Lord who called Abram and revealed his purpose
in such amazing ways to Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. And when he sent Moses into Egypt to
lead his people out of slavery, and Moses wanted to know what to say if they asked him
by whose authority he was acting, God said to tell them,

“The Lord, the God of your fathers, - the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God
of Jacob – has sent me to you. This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be
remembered from generation to generation” (Exodus 3:15).

But he is also the “Almighty.” This is a title that refers to the “hosts” or armies that are
under the Lord’s command. Sometimes it refers to the armies of heaven – angelic
spiritual powers that do his will. Sometimes the heavenly bodies – the stars and planets –
are called “the host of heaven.” The armies of Israel are also the Lord’s hosts, and if they
are victorious it is because of the Lord. He is even the Lord of all the armies of the earth,
especially when he uses them to punish his own people Israel (Isaiah 10:5-34). The Lord
almighty is the Lord of all the earth and heaven. This was how Isaiah had seen his glory
(Isaiah 6:3,5). He has unlimited power to do what he wants to do. He can use everyone
and everything to accomplish his sovereign will. When Isaiah came to know God as the
Lord almighty, he could do nothing else but faithfully serve him (Isaiah 8:13,18). He and
other prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord almighty did so because they knew that
he was acting according to his covenant purpose. The Lord almighty had sworn to do
something, and he had come to see that it was done. The zeal in question, then, is the zeal
of the Lord almighty.

What does he accomplish?

In a word, he will accomplish everything. All that is related to the coming of the Savior
and the success of his kingdom is accomplished by the zeal of the Lord of hosts. This is
an assertion of the Lord’s purpose to stay the course and fulfill his word of promise.
Nothing will stand in his way. No one will defeat his purpose. The Lord Almighty has
promised that the seed of the woman will crush Satan’s attempt to hijack the human race.
He declared to Abraham that a descendant of his would bring blessing to all nations. He
promised David that he would build him a house. He called Israel to be his chosen nation
through which the Savior would come. But if it depended on them to bring salvation to
the ends of earth, his purpose would have been an abysmal failure. But no, the zeal of the
Lord almighty will accomplish this! In spite of his people’s failure and faithlessness, and
in spite of the fact that he had to hand them over to the Babylonians to chastise them for
seventy years, the zeal of the Lord almighty is unabated. Even when they had no king for
centuries and their very existence seemed to hang in the balance, the zeal of the Lord
almighty was such that, “when the time had fully come, God sent his Son” (Galatians
4:4). The fact that such a remarkable statement as John 3:16 is in the Bible is in itself a
testament to the zeal of the Lord almighty. That any sinner is ever saved is due to this
zeal. That the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes can be
explained only because of this zeal. The zeal of the Lord almighty is what gets things
done as far as the kingdom of God is concerned. People who are dead in sin are born
again because of this zeal. Those who dwell in darkness are brought into light by this
zeal. Aliens and enemies of God are reconciled to him because of this zeal.

Could it be that the zeal of the Lord almighty is fixed upon you just now? If so, be
assured that it is driven by everlasting love that will not be refused. The zeal of the Lord
almighty is what saves sinners. Just think of it! If you will not be saved by this zeal, you
will not be saved at all! How is a man born again, converted, brought to repentance and
faith, redeemed, if not by this zeal? Consider also that it is as the Lord almighty that he
comes to subdue you unto himself. He comes as mighty to save and strong to deliver. If
you are an unbeliever, he brings the gift of faith. If you are dead, he brings life; if you are
blind, he gives sight; if you are deaf, he brings hearing; if you are dumb he gives speech.
It you have a heart of stone he brings a heart of flesh. If you are a rebel he comes to
humble you and offer you terms of peace. If your sins are like scarlet they shall be as
white as snow. If you are the wandering sheep he is the Shepherd for the sheep. If you are
the sin sick soul he is the physician who has the cure. Will you submit to him, trust in
him, and receive him? If such zeal as this cannot win your heart I wonder if you have a
heart to be won. There is nothing standing in the way of your giving your heart to him
except your unwillingness to do so. Will you submit to his terms of unconditional
surrender and yield everything to the zeal of the Lord almighty?

Christmas, 1992 and 2004