A Glorious Son is Given

Dr. Brian Allison

Let us consider Isaiah 9:6, "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." (Note: the verb in the original text are not future tenses, but rather are past tenses. The language suggests that this event has already happened. The theological point is that in the mind of God, this event was fixed, it was certain. God had ordained from eternity past the coming of One who would assume humanity, and bring deliverance). The book of Isaiah is the Old Testament book par excellence for the teaching of the coming Messiah. The chapter from which this particular verse is quoted concerns the teaching of the Messiah. In Isaiah 9, the prophet predicts a deliverer for the people of God.

A Son is promised

God promised a Saviour yet to be born – "For a child will be born to us." There is a previous reference in the book of Isaiah to this child who would be born. We read in Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel [i.e., God with us]." So, the promised Child would apparently be the revelation of God Himself. Further, this promised child would not come from human seed. His birth would be a miraculous event – a supernatural birth; the implication being: a divine intervention. Further, the promised child would be of male gender – a Son. Thus, Isaiah 9:6 confirms, "A son will be given to us." The emphasis is on the word 'given.' This promised One would come as a gift, an expression of the grace of God. Thus, we read in 2 Corinthians 9:15, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift."

The Son shall reign

God promised a Saviour who would also reign – "And the government will rest on His shoulders." This One who was destined to be born would also be a King; He would have a universal kingdom. This fact was anticipated by Isaiah's vision in the temple: "In the year of King Uzziah's death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple...Then I said, 'Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts" (Is. 6:1,5). We are reminded in John 12 that Isaiah spoke these words when he saw Christ's glory.

The Son is called Wonderful Counselor

This promised Son would have several names or, better, a fourfold name – "And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." In the Scriptures, a person's name often revealed or described something concerning him or her. These names give insight into the Son who would be born. The Son would not actually bear these names when He finally appeared; He would not be personally called by these names; but these names would describe and reveal the Son's nature and character. Similarly, we read, for instance, in Isaiah 7 that the Son would be called Immanuel. He would not actually bear the name Immanuel, but that name would reveal something about the Son – He would be 'God with us.' Accordingly, John 1:14 reads, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." So, what would this Son be like? First, He would be the Wonderful Counselor. This name pointed to His divine character and activity. The original Hebrew more literally reads, "Wonder of a Counselor." 'Wonder' is the nominative, the subject case. This term carries the idea of the miraculous; that which evokes great amazement at an extraordinary happening. This Son would be a "Wonder of a Counselor." He would guide, instruct, and teach in an extraordinary way. He would be filled with incomparable wisdom, inexhaustible knowledge, and profound understanding. Thus, Isaiah 11:1,2 reads, "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD." It was through the Son of God, the wisdom of God, that the creation came into being (cf. Pr. 8 and Col. 1). It was through the Son of God, the wisdom of God, that redemption was realized (see 1 Cor. 1). Furthermore, the Son of God, Jesus Christ Himself, is the living wisdom of His people. Thus, we read, "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form...in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3,9)."

The Son is called Mighty God

We are given further insight into this Son who would be born – "And His name will be called... Mighty God." This name pointed to His divine nature and glory. As already mentioned, this promised Son would be deity itself; but further, He would be all powerful deity. His strength would be unlimited; He would brook no challenge nor obstacles. Isaiah 49:5 reads (again a Messianic reference), "And now says the LORD, who formed Me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, in order that Israel may be gathered to Him (For I am honoured in the sight of the LORD, and My God is My strength)." The strength of the Son is the strength of God Himself. The incarnate Son is the almighty God. The original Hebrew could be translated: "God the hero" – God, the Lord of Hosts, is the One who fights valiantly for His people. Jesus Christ is the strength of His people. His "power is perfected in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9a).

The Son is called Eternal Father

We are given further insight into this Son who would be born – "And His name will be called...Eternal Father." This name may strike you as somewhat puzzling because the promised One is a Son, but this name pointed to His divine role and relationship to His people. Another translation of the original text is: "Father of eternity" or "Father of the future ages to come." Being a Father in relationship to His people, this Son would care, protect, and provide for His people or, better, the spiritual children of God. Isaiah 22:21b-23 is a reference to Eliakim, but it could easily be attributed to the greater Eliakim, Jesus Christ: God says, "I will entrust him with your authority, and he will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, when he opens no one will shut, when he shuts no one will open. And I will drive him like a peg in a firm place, and he will become a throne of glory to his father's house" (cf. Rev. 3:7ff.).

The Son is called Prince of Peace

We are given even further insight into this Son who would be born – And His name will be called... Prince of Peace." This name pointed to His divine status or position. This name is particularly associated with His universal reign (to which we have already made reference). The Hebrew original could also be translated: "the Ruler or the Leader of Peace." This One would assume the office of a ruler. Again, He would reign; He would be Lord. The character of His rule would be one of peace, that is, a rule without strife, without war, without conflict; calm would universally prevail. The Scriptures read, "And let the peace of Christ rule in your heart" (Col. 3:15a). Lay your heart bear before Him, and "be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Php. 4:6,7). His name shall be called 'Prince of Peace.' So, this is the Child who was to be born; this is the Son who was to be given. This is the promised One who was to reign supreme. Indeed, He has been born; He has been given. He is alive. He now reigns as the sovereign Lord.