One Baby With Many Names

Isaiah 9:6-7

December 19, 2004 | Brian Bill

Do you know what an aptronym is?  It’s a compound word consisting of the adjective “apt” meaning aptitude and the Greek word for “name.”  An aptronym is when someone’s name and occupation line up perfectly, when what they’re called describes what they do.  Here are some examples:

  • Dr. BowserVeterinarian
  • Roy GroutBricklayer
  • Dr. WhackChiropractor
  • Dan Druff – Barber
  • Dr. Pullen – Dentist
  • Otto NogoMechanic
  • Dr. SmileyOrthodontist
  • Sonia Shears – Hairdresser
  • Dr. Whitehead – Dermatologist
  • Dr. Smellsey – Podiatrist

Have you ever stopped to realize how important names are to God?  Right from the very beginning of the Bible we read: “God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night’…God called the expanse ‘sky’…God called the dry ground ‘land.’”(Genesis 1:5, 8, 10).  He also gave names to different people, with the meaning of the name often characterizing their character.  Isaac implies “laughter.”  The definition of Jacob is “deceiver.”  Moses means “drawn out.”  And Jesus means, “Jehovah saves.”

Many parents spend significant time trying to decide what to name their children.  Why is that?  Because we know that a name is more than just what someone goes by.  Some of us are very strategic and specific when it comes to the giving of names.  I have some relatives who obviously spent some time determining what to call their kids.  This did not happen by accident.  Here are the names of everyone in their family, starting with the parents (and I’m not making this up): Bob Bill, Bonnie Bill, Bernie Bill, Brenda Bill, Bruce Bill, and Blain Bill…and their bunny named Bertha (OK, I made that last one up!).

This morning we’re going to zero in on four names, given to Jesus, 700 years before He was even born!  There are over 100 names in the Bible associated with Jesus and numerous others that are given to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.  It has been said that “Every name He bears is a blessing He shares.”  Our next sermon series will be called, “What God Goes By” as we study ten of God’s names in great detail.  Why does God have so many names?  Missionary E.A. Ruskin was once asked this very question by the people of Congo (now Zaire).  This is how he answered their inquiry: “The beauty and the fullness and the magnificence of His matchless person cannot be expressed by just one name” (From a sermon by Hans Nicoley).  Each name unlocks an aspect of His attributes and a portion of His personality.

Please turn in your Bibles to Isaiah 9:6-7 so that we can focus on four names of the Nativity, complete with four astonishing adjectives to help us get a better picture of the matchless Messiah born in a manger 2,000 years ago: “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 increase 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.”  Several times this week I listened to Handel’s Messiah and was moved to tears by the beauty and majesty of the song, “For unto Us a Child Is Born” that is based on this passage.  I encourage you to get a hold of this and allow these words to penetrate your soul this Christmas season.

From Gloom to Gladness

Let’s quickly set the context.  This original birth announcement was made in the midst of grief and gloom.  Look at verse 1: “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.  In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan.” Zebulun and Naphtali are tribes from the north of Israel, making up the land of Galilee.  For many years the people knew only grief because of the onslaught of enemies unleashed by the Almighty as a result of their sins.  Isaiah tells of a time in the future where gloom will be replaced with gladness in Galilee.  We learned two weeks ago that the Genealogy of Jesus proves He is the Messiah; this verse teaches that Geography is also important because Jesus will bring joy to Galilee when He takes up residence there.

Don’t miss this about Christmas.  Christmas was, and is, birthed in the middle of great grief.  While the angels were proclaiming “peace on earth,” Herod was preparing to annihilate infants; while Mary was worshipping, other mothers were weeping for their children (see Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:18).  Friends, Christmas joy is best understood when the junk of life is all around us; gladness comes when we’re grieving.  Is that where you’re at today?  That’s OK if you are.  

Jesus is God spelling Himself out in language that man can understand

Verse 2 describes how the birth of Christ will bring brightness to a dark world: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”  In referring to Himself in John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus is God spelling Himself out in language that man can understand.  In Isaiah 9:4, we read that the enemies of Israel had burdened the people with “bars across their shoulders.”  When the light of life comes, the heavy yoke will be shattered.  Instead of wiping us out, Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” In the place of burdens, God wants to give us blessings.

A Child and a Son

Verse 6 sets forth the indescribable uniqueness of Jesus.  Notice that both His humanity and deity is described.  We see attributes of God and characteristics of man.

“For to us a child is born.”  This describes his birth as a baby.

“To us a son is given.”  Jesus is God’s son given as a gift.

The child was birthed in Bethlehem and the gift of the eternal Son is given to us.  As Ravi Zacharias has said, “The Son wasn’t born, the Son eternally existed; the child was born, the Son was given.”  On top of that, the “government will be upon His shoulders.”  This means that all the expectations of the throne of King David are fulfilled in Christ (see 2 Samuel 7:13-16).  The baby bundled in the straw holds the universe together.  The one nestled on Mary’s shoulders, bears everything on His shoulders.  He is redeemer and ruler of all.  Part of the reason we have been inoculated by the incarnation and even bored with the baby is because we focus only on the infant Jesus.  He is far more than that as we will see in his four-fold titles.  The phrase, “and He will be called” means “He will justly bear this name…”  Let’s look at those names right now.

1. He is Profound – “Wonderful Counselor.” 

This title literally means “a wonder of a counselor.”  The adjective “wonderful” refers to actions that are beyond the bounds of human power and can also be translated as “astonishing” or “amazing” or “extraordinary.”  Judges 13:18 translates it as “incomprehensible” or “beyond understanding.”  Psalm 118:23 captures the meaning: “The LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” Coupled with the word counselor, we see that Jesus gives profound counsel to people.  “Counselor” in the Bible refers to an “advisor” or one who is the ideal ruler.  Life is filled with decisions, details, and disasters.  That’s why we need a wonderful counselor. 

Jesus has counsel for every crisis, and for every problem He has a plan.  He has a solution for selfishness, answers for anxiety, and a message for every man.  Do you need any profound advice right now?  Are you in a predicament that you feel you can’t get out of?  Take it the Lord in prayer and search the Scriptures for the answers you are looking for.  Sometimes it’s helpful to go to a friend, but don’t forget that the Lord can give you what you need.  When He does, you will echo the words of Psalm 16:7: “I will praise the LORD, who counsels me…” and break out into worship as Isaiah 28:29 states: “All this also comes from the LORD Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.” You are never alone when you are alone with Jesus.

2. He is Powerful – “Mighty God.” 

This adjective means “strong one” or the “powerful, valiant warrior.”  This title is also used to describe a “hero,” literally the “God-hero.”  David asks the question in Psalm 24:8: “Who is this King of glory?  The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.”  He is profound in His counsel and He has the power to accomplish what He wills.  Ray Pritchard writes: “As the Wonderful Counselor, He makes the plans; as the Mighty God, He makes the plans work.”

This title tells us that Jesus is not only the Son of God; He is also God the Son.  The Baby born in the feeding trough is also the King of glory.  Or to say it another way: “The humble Carpenter of Nazareth is also the Mighty Architect of the Universe.”  Don’t forget that He is God and can therefore handle anything.  Jesus didn’t beat around the bush about His identity in John 10:30 when He said: “I and the Father are one.”  Hebrews 1:8 makes a strong statement about the deity of Christ: “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever…’”

John MacArthur writes: “Christ the King loves to step into a life of chaos and not only provide wonderful counsel, but also display His divine power by bringing order to the chaos.  In other words, He not only tells His subjects what to do as Wonderful Counselor but He can also energize them to do it—because He is the mighty God.”

Jesus can handle anything because He is all-powerful.  He healed the lame, the blind and the sick.  He performed mighty miracles.  He calmed the storm.  He brought Lazarus back from the grave.  And therefore He can do the impossible in your life right now.  He will give you victory over whatever you’re struggling with today.  Let Him fight your battles as you honor Him as your Holy Hero.  Worship Him as your warrior and praise Him for His power.  During this season, remember the words spoken by the angel to Mary in Luke 1:37: “For nothing is impossible with God.” 

3. He is Personal – “Everlasting Father.” 

When I was growing up, God always seemed so distant.  I had no trouble seeing Him as powerful; I just didn’t know that He was also personal.  I had a sense of awe of Him, but never knew that I could know Him personally.  In Jesus, He has come near.  In this third adjective, we see that Jesus is before, above and beyond time.  This literally means that He lives in the forever.  In John 8:58, Jesus made a stunning statement: “Before Abraham was born, I am!”  Jesus existed not only before Abraham, but by using the phrase “I am,” the name reserved for God, He declares His divinity.

Christ is holy and human, dwelling on high while lying in the hay

Isaiah 57:15: “For this is what the high and lofty One says–he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit.’” He lives forever and He loves like a Father.  Christ is holy and human, dwelling on high while lying in the hay.

Jesus is a child and a Son and He is also eternally like a father to us.  I’m fortunate to have a good father, but some of you struggle because you do not have a positive father image.  As you see the Savior in the stable, focus on the fact that He is the forever Father, who cares for you with compassion.  Psalm 103:13: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.” 

I came across something this week called, “My Child.”  It’s in the form of a letter written by God to us.  Here are a few excerpts:

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could (Matthew 7:1)…

For I am the perfect Father (Matthew 5:48)…

Every good gift you receive comes from my hand (James 1:17)…

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11)…

Because I love you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3)…

For you are my treasured possession (Exodus 19:5)…

And I want to show you great and marvelous things (Jeremiah 33:3)…

I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)…

When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you (Psalm 34:18)…

One day I will wipe every tear from your eye (Revelation 21:3-4)…

Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen (Luke 15:7)…

I have always been Father, and will always be Father (Ephesians 3:14-15)…

My question is…will you be my child? (John 1:12-13)…

I am waiting for you (Luke 15:11-32)…


Your Everlasting Father

4. He is Peaceful – “Prince of Peace.” 

This phrase can be translated, “The prince whose coming brings peace.”  A prince in Bible times was the “General of the Army,” and describes leadership and authority.  This title of prince of peace reverberated across the centuries and echoed through the hallways of heaven, finally culminating in an expression of angelic adoration in Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” 

In the Old Testament, the word shalom is a state of wholeness and harmony that is intended to resonate in all relationships.  When used as a greeting, shalom was a wish for outward freedom from disturbance as well as an inward sense of well-being.  To a people constantly harassed by enemies, peace was the premiere blessing.  In Numbers 6:24-26, God gave Moses these words to use when blessing His people: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”  

The New Testament describes at least three spheres, or planes, of peace:  

  • Peace with God – that’s the vertical dimension
  • Peace of God – this takes place internally
  • Peace with others – when we have peace with God and we experience the peace of God, we can then extend peace horizontally

Jesus has come to put us back together as Ephesians 2:14 states: “For he himself is our peace…” Are you out of sorts with God?  Receive the Prince of Peace into your life and be made right with Him immediately.  Are you all shaken up on the inside?  Give all your anxiety to the Almighty and His unexplained peace will give you calm in the midst of chaos.  Later, in this same book, Isaiah offers these words of peace: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (26:3).  Are your relationships with others severed?  Do the hard work of being a peacemaker.  

The Second Advent

Jesus was named 700 years before He was born.  These names give us hope this Christmas.  He is profound, powerful, personal, and peaceful.  The good news is that we can experience all of this right now.  The even better news is that there’s more to come!  We get a taste today but all of these titles will be fully realized when He returns to rule and reign over all the earth.  Look at Isaiah 9:7: “Of the increase 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.”  Luke picks up on this in 1:32-33 as he describes the future role of King Jesus: “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 the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” 

I love the last phrase of Isaiah 9:7: “The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”  The word “zeal” means “intense desire.”  Isaiah 59:17 says that God has “wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.”  God is greatly desirous of seeing His plan of redemption accomplished in your life.  He has always been zealous for a remnant to take Him at His word (see Isaiah 26:11).  Once we express our faith by accepting what He has done, His zeal is unleashed to accomplish salvation.  We see this in Isaiah 37:32: “For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.  The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” 

The phrase “Lord Almighty” means the “Lord of Armies.”  He has at least three kinds of armies at His disposal.  He uses national armies like the Babylonians to accomplish His purposes, He enlists the stars of creation to do His bidding, and He drafts the angelic hosts to do His work.  He unleashes all of His passionate zeal and all of His resources to bring to completion all of His purposes.  Here’s something really cool.  God used all three of these armies to put His plan into affect on that first Christmas.

  • He mobilized the Roman government to call for a census so that Jesus could be birthed in Bethlehem.
  • He caused the star in heaven to burn bright enough to get the attention of astrologists living hundreds of miles away in another country.
  • He unleashed an army of angels to announce the good news of the Savior’s birth to some anonymous shepherds.

Friend, do you realize that God is exceedingly zealous for you?  He loves you beyond what you can even fathom.  He has arranged all the details of His intricate plan to deliver you and me from the bondage of sin and He is offering us His profound counsel, His powerful character, His personal comfort, and His peaceful countenance. 

Have you experienced these expressions of Immanuel?  Do you know these names of the Nativity personally?  

1. Is He your Wonderful Counselor? 

He longs to give you his profound counsel.  Are you confused and uncertain?  Go to Him and recapture the wonder of Christ.  The next time you need advice on something, discipline yourself to seek Him and His Word first.  Some of us immediately talk to others and we forget that He is waiting to give us that which we are looking for.  All we have to do is ask.  Here’s a suggestion.  Try to not talk to anyone else about whatever is bothering you until you have spent several days consulting the Wonderful Counselor.  

2. Is He your Mighty God? 

He can’t wait to demonstrate His powerful character.  What heavy burden are you carrying right now?  Give it to Him and ask Him to show Himself powerful.  Instead of being fearful, put your faith in the One who can do both the improbable and the impossible.

3. Is He your Eternal Father? 

He wants to embrace you with His personal comfort. Do you feel orphaned and insecure?  As a Father, He understands.  Remind yourself that He loves you and is committed to be compassionate to you.  But none of this is simply automatic.  Jump back to verse 6: “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given.”  The most important part of this passage is the first three words: “For to us.”  This is a gift that must be received.  He will become your Father when you become His child through the new birth.  If you’ve never received the Son, do so today.

3. Is He your Prince of Peace? 

He is looking at you right now with a peaceful countenance.  Will you trust Him to calm the chaos that is jettisoning your joy?  Allow Him to settle the storm brewing in your soul.  Give Him your anxious thoughts right now and in their place, He will give you peace beyond what you can even explain (see Philippians 4:6-7).  Is there someone you’re out of whack with right now?  Be a peacemaker and meet face-to-face in order to resolve the conflict before Christmas comes.  I remember a song written almost 50 years ago that we used to sing in my grade school: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.  Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.  With God as our Father, brothers all are we.  Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony.  Let peace begin with me.  Let this be the moment now.”  No matter what has happened, will you let peace begin with you, right now?

I want to close this morning by reading a tribute called, Indescribable Christ.

“He’s enduringly strong, He’s entirely sincere, He’s eternally steadfast.  He’s immortally graceful.  He’s imperially powerful.  He’s impartially merciful.  He’s God’s Son.  He’s a sinner’s savior.  He’s the centerpiece of civilization.  He stands alone in Himself.  He’s unparalleled.  He’s unprecedented.  He’s supreme.  He’s preeminent.  Do you know Him?

“He’s the loftiest idea in literature.  He’s the highest idea in philosophy.  He’s the fundamental truth in theology.  He’s the miracle of the age.  He’s the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously.  He supplies strength for the weak.  He’s available for the tempted and the tried.  He sympathizes and He saves.  He guards and He guides.  He heals the sick, He cleans the lepers.  He forgives sinners, He discharges debtors, He delivers captives, He defends the feeble, He blesses the young, He serves the unfortunate, He regards the aged, He rewards the diligent, He beautifies the meek.  Do you know Him?

“Well, my king is the king of knowledge, He’s the well-spring of wisdom, He’s the doorway of deliverance, He’s the pathway of peace, He’s the roadway of righteousness, He’s the highway of holiness, He’s the gateway of glory, He’s the master of the mighty, He’s the captain of the conquerors, He’s the head of the heroes, He’s the leader of the legislators, He’s the overseer of the overcomers, He’s the governor of governors, He’s the prince of princes, He’s the king of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  Do you know Him?

“His life is matchless.  His goodness is limitless.  His mercy is everlasting.  His love never changes.  His word is enough.  His grace is sufficient.  His reign is righteous.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Well, I wish I could describe Him to you.  But He’s indescribable.  Yes, He’s incomprehensible. He’s invincible, He’s irresistible.  I’m trying to tell you, the Heavens cannot contain Him, let alone a man explain Him.  You can’t get Him out of your mind.  You can’t get Him off of your hands.  You can’t outlive Him, and you can’t live without Him.  Well, the Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him.  Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him.  Herod couldn’t kill Him.  Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him.  That’s my king!

“He always has been, and He always will be.  I’m talking about He [who] had no predecessor and He [who] has no successor.  There was nobody before Him and there will be nobody after Him.  You can’t impeach Him, and He’s not going to resign…Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, and ever, and ever, and ever.  How long is that?  And ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and when you get through with all of the forevers, then ‘Amen.’  Oh, I wish I could describe him to you!”

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?