Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Advent Seeking Christ: The Names of God

This Advent I have been going through the book of Luke (you may find the writings here) for reflection as we examine Christ’s coming, life, and ministry. I also though, cannot go through this season without reflecting on how Christ fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament {you may find here} and was not just simply a man who claimed to be the promised Messiah.
I want to reflect on the book of Isaiah which contains many prophetic utterances concerning the promised Redeemer. I also want to look at the Names which were given to Him foretelling His coming; the most wonderful event this world has ever witnessed.

This is the first post for Isaiah 9:6 and the Names bestowed on the promised Messiah. I encourage you to read the entire ninth chapter of Isaiah as we delve into the Names listed therein.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” {Isaiah 9:6 NASB}.

Isaiah chapter nine begins with the birth and reign of the Prince of Peace. It is a dark time; a time of gloom and despair. The land, Isaiah describes, is in deep affliction. It is a time of anguish, despair, and darkness, but God’s promise is that He will make it glorious again. For the unrighteous, it will remain dark, but for the righteous—the people of God— the despair will end for a Great Light is coming to dispel the darkness. It is into this brokenness that Isaiah delivers the promise of a child. God promises these people who have lost so much and were under the tyranny of enemy forces and governments, they will one day be comforted by the promise of a new government. A government with a leader who will lay down His life for them and care for them like no previous leader had to date. They who receive this Light will do so with joy. They will have great joy in being in God’s presence again. It is a holy joy just as Jesus experienced in Luke 10: 21.
This Light, this mighty yoke-breaker and deliverer—this child is Immanuel—God with us, the Son of God, and the Son of Man and He shall be called Wonderful Counselor. His people will know Him and worship Him by this name. This name is precious and holy. He is called wonderful because He is both fully God and fully man. 

The Targum {an ancient Aramaic paraphrase or interpretation of the Hebrew Bible}so poetically reads;

“And there was called His name from of old, Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, He who lives forever, the Messiah, in whose days peace shall increase upon us.”[1]

He is wonderful! He is the Counselor for He was intimately implicated in the counsels of God from the beginning—eternally and gives counsel to men. All the works of God are wonderful and miraculous. Jesus’ birth was wonderful in that He had a human mother but is the only begotten {unique and one of kind}of the heavenly Father.

The teaching of the Messiah was wonderful, His life and ministry captivated humanity. There has been no teacher or sage equal to Him. He was sinless which described His character which was and is and forever will be wonderful.

His death and life were truly wonderful, for He laid His life down and took it up again by His wonderful power {Jn. 10:17-19}. His first coming was wonderful and His second coming will be just as wonderful.

Isaiah 25:1 rightly brings fame to God’s name Counselor for His counsels are from old and He is faithful and true:

O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness” {NASB}.

Ephesians 1:11 encourages us that He works all things by the counsel of His own will and that His counsels are unchangeable {Heb. 6:17} and that His counsel is far above the counsels of men. We benefit from God’s counsel through His holy Scriptures for it is the infallible rule of life which guides us to live according to His will. We see His counsel by His providence and His divine hand that upholds and sustains everything {Col. 1:16-17}. Finally, we experience His counsel by the Holy Spirit who by following Him we are called sons of God{Rom. 8:14}.

This Holy Child that was promised so long ago is also evidence for the Trinity, as He is referred to as a Child and is from old while in the same verse is called the Eternal Father. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in a holy community of three.

How wonderful and holy the Messiah is and He deserves our praise. We should stand in awe of Him and His wonderful works and for His wise counsel which guides our lives and leads us by the Spirit. Praise and glory unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us; to Him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, and to sustain us body, soul, and spirit; to the Almighty God, our heavenly Father, the King eternal, immortal, invisible—the only wise God—be honor and glory forever and ever {Ps. 119:116; Rom. 16:27; Eph. 3:20, Jude 24}.

Wonderful Counselor is the name of this child. But because this child of God is God's own Wonderful Counselor, He Himself is a foundation of all wonders and all counsel. For those who recognize in Jesus the wonder of the Son of God His every word and deed becomes a wonder; they will find Him the last, deepest, most helpful counsel for all their trials and troubles. Go to the child in the manger, believe in Him the Son of God and you will find in Him wonder upon wonder, counsel upon counsel.”  ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer The Mystery of Holy Night

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[1] Text in J.F. Stenning The Targum Of Isaiah (Oxford, 1949), quoted in Edward J. Young, The Book Of Isaiah Commentary, Volume 1, (Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1965), 332.

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