“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
~ Isaiah 9:6, NLT
Names are meaningful. Before a child is born, parents will often spend months debating before deciding on a name. Sometimes the child won’t be named for days, weeks, or even months after his or her birth. Parents simply want to ensure that they settle on an appropriate name for their child.
My wife and I named our eldest son “Nathaniel”, which means “gift of God”, because that is what he is. Plus, the Biblical Nathanael was described by Jesus as “a man of complete integrity”. We would love for that to be descriptive of our Nathaniel, too, so the name we chose for him reflects what we believe he is and who we want him to become.
Of course, some people aren’t known by their real names. Instead, they have nicknames. In football, there’s Refrigerator Perry and “Mean” Joe Green. In basketball, Wilt the Stilt, Magic Johnson and Dr. J. ruled the court. In baseball, we’ve watched Mr. October, Charlie Hustle, and the Yankee Clipper take to the field. Hockey has had no shortage of great nicknames, either, including Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, Boom Boom Geoffrion, and The Great One, not to mention Rocket Richard, the Pocket Rocket, and the Russian Rocket.
Nicknames are meant to be descriptive. Throughout history, you’ll find nicknames like the Great Emancipator, Ivan the Terrible, and Gregory the Great. Even Jesus had nicknames that were used to describe Him. Unlike anyone else in all of history, however, some of Jesus’ nicknames were used to describe Him hundreds of years before He was even born.
The prophet Isaiah foretold Jesus’ coming eight centuries before His birth. In so doing, he used four nicknames to describe the mission and identity of the coming Messiah:
1. Wonderful Counsellor
Everybody in this chaotic, uncertain world would do well to have a wonderful counsellor at his or her side. Each of us would benefit having someone who knows more and understands more than us about a whole range of subject matters. Someone who cares enough to come alongside us and to lovingly impart that wisdom and knowledge to us. Someone who could give us guidance and direction while preventing us from making unwise choices that could destroy our lives.
Jesus’ perspective is higher and His wisdom is deeper than ours. And His commitment to you and to me knows no bounds. What an incredible gift a have a wonderful counsellor.
I chose to place my hope and faith in this wonderful counsellor when I was seven years old. That was nearly forty years ago, and I can say with complete sincerity that I have no regrets for the times I have followed His counsel, even when I didn’t understand it. Instead, the biggest regrets I’ve had are the times when I chose to ignore His counsel and wisdom.
2. Mighty God
While Jesus is the wonderful counsellor, He is also the mighty, sovereign, all-powerful God. Throughout the Gospels, He demonstrated His power and authority in a multitude of ways, including calming a raging storm, healing the sick, and opening the eyes of the blind. He enabled the lame to walk, fed a crowd of thousands with a little boy’s bag lunch, and even restored life to the dead.
No one had ever seen His kind of power before, which culminated when He walked out of his own stone-cold tomb. Through these displays, He proved His identity as the Mighty God.
Jesus was the Mighty God before His birth, at His birth, and is still that Mighty God today. And He makes His power available to us. His power moves in response to our prayers of faith.
3. Everlasting Father
I was blessed with a father who loves me, though I know not everyone shares that same experience. His job as a truck driver often required him to be away from home for several days at a time, but I still have many fond memories with him during my childhood.
I remember the bedtime stories he would tell. I remember going on road trips with him. I remember thinking he was strong enough to do anything. If we were driving through a snowstorm and he was at the wheel, I didn’t worry because I knew we’d make it through. If something was broken, he could fix it. And my dad really could beat up your dad. At least, that’s that way I saw him.
It was a gift for me to have such a father. As he ages, however, he is becoming more frail. And the reality is, there will come a time when he’s not there anymore.
By contrast, Isaiah described Jesus as the Everlasting Father. You can have an intimate relationship with Him, just like a child with his or her father. Yet you will never need to worry about receiving a phone call to tell you that He’s gone; He’s everlasting.
With Him as your Everlasting Father, you can make it through any storm. If your life is broken, He can fix it. There’s nothing that’s beyond His ability. So you don’t have to live with worry. Instead, you can experience freedom from fear and insecurity.
4. Prince of Peace
One thing that’s really lacking in our world is peace. Wars are being fought all over this planet, as political and military conflicts tear nations apart. Homes are being torn apart by abuse, bigotry and racism abound, and gender and economic issues divide us from one another. At times, it seems we are capable of fighting over just about anything.
Treaties and court orders may have their place, but they don’t bring a genuine peace. Real peace can only be accomplished by the radical work of God in the human heart. No other power on Earth can establish a peace so deep and real that it could inspire individuals to extend that peace across racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic divides.
When Isaiah identified Jesus as the Prince of Peace, he was referring to a radical, inner peace. He’s talking about the kind of peace that can take root so deeply within that it can overcome any divide. Jesus came to bring real peace—peace with God, peace with others, and peace within ourselves.
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us… And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” This Christmas, allow the words of Isaiah to ring true in your life, as you recognize Jesus for who He is and receive what He came to offer.