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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. Of the greatness 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. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
I can’t read this passage from Isaiah without hearing echoes of the glorious chorus from Handel’s Messiah: “For unto us a child is born…” I envision a booming choir and a sanctuary decked out for Christmas. What a wonderful memory!
Yet, it’s doubtful that Isaiah envisioned such a scene when he proclaimed the hopeful words of this passage. (Well, okay, it’s not just doubtful, but impossible.) The original context of this passage was quite different from our Christmas celebrations. Most of Isaiah 9 expands upon the theme of God’s judgment of Israel for her unfaithfulness. The first few verses of the chapter, however, offer a hopeful vision of a messianic future. In that day, a descendant of David will rule over Israel, bringing lasting peace and justice to earth.
This Davidic king is given names that associate him strongly with God. No wonder the early Christians saw a clear prophecy of Christ in this passage! The future ruler will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Though we could spend plenty of time unpacking the historical and theological meaning of each of these titles, I’d rather approach this passage today in a more personal way. I wonder how I need to know Christ today. I also wonder how you need to know him. Do you need him to be a wonderful and wise counselor, one who can guide you in your work, your family, and every other context of life? Or do you need Christ to be mighty, to be a source of strength and healing in your life? Perhaps you need him to be like a faithful father, whose love for you is forever firm? Or do you need Christ to grant you his peace to your troubled heart, or to your family, or to your workplace?
The good news is that Jesus Christ is what you and I need, and so much more.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Which of the titles for the “son” touches your heart today: Wonderful Counselor? Mighty God? Everlasting Father? Prince of Peace?
Why does this particular title resonate with you?
Gracious Lord Jesus, I praise you today as the Wonderful Counselor. Through your Word and Spirit, you guide my steps, helping me to live rightly. Be my Wonderful Counselor today!
I praise you because you are Mighty God, El Shaddai. You are Immanuel, God with us. Through you I can do all things. Be my Mighty God today!
I praise you because in you I experience the Everlasting Father. You reveal the very heart of God, the love of God that will never let me go. Be my Everlasting Father today, I pray!
I praise you because you are the Prince of Peace. Because of your sacrifice on the cross, I can experience peace with God and peace with others. Be my Prince of Peace today!
All praise be to you, Lord Jesus …Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Peace and Prosperity (Isaiah 9ff.)
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