Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Names of God: Everlasting Father

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” {Is. 9:6 NASB}.
When Isaiah the prophet spoke these wonderful words thousands of years ago, he could not have fully imaged the scope of what he was conveying to God’s people. He understood the redemptive and Messianic implications, but as with all prophecy, prophets saw only in part

“‘Everlasting Father’— How can this be the name of the child?
This child wants nothing for himself; he is no wunderkind in the human sense,
But an obedient child of his heavenly Father.
Born in time, he brings eternity with him to earth.
As the Son of God
He brings us all the love of the Father in heaven.
Go there, seek and find at the manger the eternal Father,
Who here has become your dear Father too.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Mystery of Holy Night

Indeed, it is unfathomable to our finite minds how a child can possibly be the Everlasting Father. But this is the wonder of the Incarnation; the miraculous clothed in human flesh. 

The word in the Hebrew is Strong’s ’Avi‘ad {5703}. It combines two words; the word for eternal or everlasting ‘ad with that for Father ’avi. Later in the verse ‘ad is joined with ‘olam to mean forever. The connotation in the beautiful Hebrew language is that Jesus is the author of all eternity; the very Creator Himself:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” {Jn. 1:1-5 NASB}.

Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” {1 Cor. 8:6 NASB}.

The Messiah is the Everlasting Father, yet He is not The Father; He is not the Father, the Father is not Jesus, neither persons are interchangeable with the Holy Spirit. Jesus declared that He and the Father are one, yet they remain separate; they each are a distinct person of the Godhead. The Son and the Spirit were active in the Creation, but there is only One Father. Knowing this to be true, how then can the Messiah be the Everlasting Father?
Christ repeatedly referred to God as “Father” and prayed to Him; He was sent by the Father. Some things can be said of Christ that cannot be said of the Father, e.g., the Father did not clothe Himself with human flesh. The Messiah suffered and died for the redemption of humankind—the Father did not. The Father sent Him, anointed Him, gave Him authority, and filled Him with the Holy Spirit: 

You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” {Acts 10:38 NASB}.

Christ is a Father in respect to the men and women God gave Him; His children in the New Covenant whom He adopted and who carry His Name—you and me. He prayed to the Father on our behalf as those who will belong to Him through the disciple's faithful testimony about Christ {Jn. 17:20 NASB}. {Please read the entire High Priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17. It is some of the most beautiful prose every spoken and penned. Link marked}.

Christ is a Father to us who carry His name. There are many who are now without their earthly fathers. Some have passed away; others neglected or abandoned their children. However, Christ promises that He will never die, and that we shall never be left alone and fatherless. He will supply our every need and He clothes us with His everlasting raiment of salvation; He has given us all authority to be seated with Him.

The Everlasting Father or “Father of eternity”[1] is the author of eternal life and is the everlasting I AM, who was before all things, and enjoyed glory with Father before the world began. Lockyer recites a fascinating background to the idea of Father. When a Roman citizen had performed a deed of infinite value, soldiers would raise him on their shields and garlands of flowers were thrown at his feet and was hailed Pater Patriae— Father of his country.[2] This evokes Palm Sunday imagery in my mind—as Jesus was hailed and worshiped on that day and declared to be King.

Such an honorable title given to men can illustrate the idea associated with the words rendered Everlasting Father. Christ was certainly, the Father of His Country, for while on earth He declared that He came from heaven where he had been through the eternal past. For Him, whose Fatherland was the universe, and whose age is eternity, the glory is that He is the Christ of all ages.[3]

He will never leave or forsake us; that is His promise. Isaiah’s words foretell His First Advent, yet we watchfully anticipate His Second. The Septuagint and Vulgate both translate Everlasting Father as “Father of the age to come.”[4]

Christ is full of grace and truth {Jn. 1:14} and He is the Father or the author of the dispensation of Grace in which we now live…Glory to God, and He is the Father of the world to come in which we shall rule and reign with Him forever {Rev. 20: 4-6 NASB}.

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. But one has testified somewhere, saying,
‘What is man, that You remember him? Or the Son of Man, that you are
concerned about him? You have made him for a little while lower than
the angels; You have crowned Him with glory and honor, and
appointed him over the works of Your hands; You have put all things
under his feet.’

For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him  {Heb. 2: 1-8 NASB}.

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[1] Herbert Lockyer, All The Names And Divine Titles {Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975}, 148-149.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.

Friday, January 3, 2020

The Names of God: Mighty God/El Gibbor

Another holiday season has come and gone. The Christmas-to-NewYear week escaped me; 
I blinked and it was over. As I was resting from the season, I realized I had not finished my posts on the Names of God in Isaiah 9:6.


I struggled with continuing to post the rest of the Names because Christmas is over. However, I had a thought; Christmas, too often, becomes just a day on the calendar to celebrate. The Spirit of Christmas should be kept all year. Christ came as a baby in a manger, but He also grew, ministered to this dark world for thirty-three years, died and rose again. He fulfilled every prophecy ever spoken concerning Him and is the essence of every Name given Him in Scripture.

Isaiah speaks concerning the promised Messiah,

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}.

I wrote about the Wonderful Counselor a bit ago, so let’s look at His magnificent Name, Mighty God.

Mighty God or God-the-Mighty-One is His Name. Throughout Scripture and in ancient Hebrew thought, much meaning rests in a name. A name does not only serve to identify or distinguish a person, but it expresses the very nature of the one on which the name is bestowed.

Christ Jesus is Mighty God; He is not a hero or some illusive great ruler. He reigns in heaven and is Lord over all creation. He is fully God and fully man—distinguished from the Father, begotten of the Father, {unique and one of a kind} and worthy of our worship. Jesus Christ is the Messiah, “Mighty God” or “el gibbor.” He alone is the True, Living God. 

Jesus, in His first advent, came in meekness, but in His second advent will return in glory and majesty, as Mighty God, the divine Warrior who conquers every foe who dares to come against us for His Name’s sake.

Scripture mentions Mighty God and Almighty God, however, no distinction can be made. Both titles are used for Jesus and Yahweh. In Revelation 1:8 Jesus tells the Revelator that He is the Almighty.

Scripture again affirms the two natures of Christ; He is to come and was from the beginning. The Hebrew prophet uses the exact phrase when referring to Yahweh: He declares in Isaiah 10:21, “A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God” {NASB}. Isaiah is making clear the absolute deity of Jesus; the One born for our salvation would be mighty with the very might of God. He is mighty to save and strong to deliver a world full of His broken, sinful, loved creation. Remember to lift your eyes and watch for His return.

Titus also declares Him to be mighty, “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” {Titus 2:13 NASB}. He is mighty and full of glory. He came from God as John in his Gospel confirms; He came from God and was God {Jn. 1:1}. John tells us again in the tenth chapter and Paul affirms in his letter to the Philippians, that Jesus did not consider it robbery to make the claim that He is equal with God the Father {Jn. 10:30, Phil. 2:6}.

Though Mighty God clearly applies to God, the Israelites weren’t expecting God to be born and live among them; they could not grasp the incarnation. Israel was looking for an immediate antidote to their physical and political malady. It would be centuries before the time was right for the Messiah to come, but He did come and He will reign for eternity.

John’s Gospel is an amazing book. He reveals to us the prophecies in the Old Covenant fulfilled in the New Covenant. It is in the pages of his gospel that we read the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. The babe who was born in a meek and humble manger bore the qualities foretold concerning His coming; He would not be merely human, but the incarnation of the living God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” {Jn. 1:14}.
Luke’s Gospel also avows that Jesus is God; the angel Gabriel directly alludes to this famous prophecy when he visits Mary:

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 Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end” {Lk. 1:32–33}.

Revisiting the writings of Moses we see that He refers to God as mighty and a Great God {Deut. 10:17}. Nehemiah declares that God is the Great, mighty, and terrible God {Neh. 9:32}. The weeping prophet refers to Him as the Great, the Mighty God {Jer. 32:19}.

Jesus Christ is the One True King. For a king to reign forever, he must live forever, Christ is that Mighty King, the only One who lives and will reign forever.

“Mighty God is the name of this child. The child in the manger is none other than God himself. Nothing greater could be said: God became a child. He lies in the manger, poor like us, wretched and helpless like us, a human of flesh and blood like us, our brother. And yet He is God, yet He is strength. Where is the divinity, where is the strength of this child? In the divine love, in which he became just like us. His poverty in the manger is his strength. In the strength of love he overcomes the chasm between God and humanity.” {Bonhoeffer, The Mystery of Holy Night}

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