One Baby With Many Names

Isaiah 9:6-7

December 19, 2015 | Brian Bill

Anyone 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. Bowser Veterinarian
  • Roy Grout Bricklayer
  • Dan Druff Barber
  • Dr. Pullen Dentist
  • Otto Nogo Mechanic
  • Dr. Smiley Orthodontist
  • Sonia Shears Hairdresser
  • Dr. Whitehead Dermatologist
  • Dr. Smellsey Podiatrist

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.  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!).

In Old Testament times, a name stood for a person’s “reputation, their fame and their glory.” Parents often gave children names that described their hopes and future expectations regarding that child.  The word translated “name” literally means “A mark or a brand.”  A study of Bible names often reveals much about the personality of the people.  For instance, David means “Beloved.” Abraham means “Father of a multitude.” Jacob means “Deceiver.” Isaac implies “laughter.”  Moses means “drawn out.”  And Jesus means, “Jehovah saves.” All of these people proved true to their names!

Today we’re going to zero in on a four-fold name, 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. 

From Gloom to Gladness

Last week we heard the pinpoint prophecy from Micah 5:2 that Jesus would be born in a predetermined place, fulfill a promised plan, and be a profound person.  

Isaiah was a contemporary of Micah and shines more light on the kind of person Jesus would be.  His primary purpose was to remind his readers of the special relationship they had with God as His covenant community.  The nation had experienced prosperity but now Assyria was poised to pounce on them.  In the midst of this impending threat, Isaiah gives a number of glorious promises.  We’re going to look at one today in chapter 9 and then on Christmas Eve at 4 and 6 p.m., we’ll ponder the promise found in Isaiah 7:14 as we discover the necessity of the Virgin Birth.

Speaking of Christmas Eve, I heard a stat from Lifeway that 57% of those who don’t go to church would come on Christmas Eve if they were invited.

Grab your Bibles and turn to Isaiah 9.  Let’s set the context.  This original birth announcement was made in the midst of grief and gloom.  Look at verse 1: “But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish.  In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.”  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.  Because these tribes were the furthest north, they were attacked first.  Isaiah tells of a time in the future where gloom will be replaced with gladness in Galilee

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. 

Verse 2 describes how the birth of Christ will bring brightness to a world of darkness: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.”  

When we come to the New Testament, it’s clear that Matthew had this prophecy of Isaiah in mind when he wrote these words in Matthew 4:15: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.”  And then in the next two verses he applies this passage to Jesus Christ: “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.  From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” 

In Isaiah 9:4, we read that the enemies of Israel had burdened the people with “the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder.”  When the light of life comes, the heavy yoke will be shattered.  Instead of wiping us out, Jesus says in Matthew 11:30, My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” In the place of burdens, God wants to give us blessings.

I talked to a friend recently who told me that her shoulders are heavy because of all the burdens she is carrying.  I smiled and reminded her that Jesus came to bear our burdens and He’s holding the entire world up right now.

Drop down to Isaiah 9:6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

A Child and a Son

Verse 6 sets forth the indescribable uniqueness of Jesus.  Notice that both His humanity and deity is evident.  

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

“To us a son is given.”  Jesus is God’s son given as a gift (his humility as deity)

he one nestled on Mary’s shoulders, bears everything on His shoulders.  He is redeemer and ruler of all.  

 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 shall be upon his shoulder.”  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 tend to focus only on the infant Jesus.  The phrase, “and his name shall be called” means He will justly bear this name…”  Technically, all four of these descriptions make up His name.  Do you see that it’s in the singular?  It doesn’t say “names,” but rather “name.”  That’s similar to the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5, not the “fruits” of the Spirit.  We can’t just pick and choose like a buffet because it’s the whole meal deal.

Let’s look at his four-fold name right now.  I should warn you ahead of time that you may break out into worship.

1. He is Profound – “Wonderful Counselor.”

This title literally means “a wonder of a counselor.”  This makes me think of Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank because he’s called, “Mr. Wonderful.”  He got this name because of all the deals and investments he makes.  While he may do a good job at that, we need to reclaim certain words and use them only in relation to the worth and work of God.  

I think of the word awesome.  We overuse it to describe food or a car or the weather or an actor or an athlete.  Really?  Only God should fill us with a sense of awe.  If you want to learn more, read Isaiah 6.  The word wonderful means, “full of wonder, glorious, exceptional, astonishing, extraordinary.”  I listened to a Charles Spurgeon sermon this week on just this one word.  In Judges 13:18, the Angel of the Lord says, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?”  Isaiah 29:14: “…Behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder.”  Psalm 77:14: “You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.”

The adjective “wonderful” is coupled with the word “Counselor.”   “Counselor” refers to an “advisor” or “consultant.”  Life is filled with decisions, details, and disasters.  That’s why we need a wonderful counselor.  David wrote these words in Psalm 16:7: “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel.”  Another example is found in Isaiah 11:1, which describes a shoot that will come out of the stump of Jesse.  In the very next verse, the Messiah is referred to as having the “Spirit of counsel and might.”  

What are some elements that make someone a good counselor?   When we’re in need, we want a counselor that is available, one who gives undivided attention, is able to provide comfort while remaining confidential, and can tell us the truth about ourselves while giving us what we need to make changes.  In short, we want someone who has empathy, expertise and experience.  I contacted Jamie McWade this week to get her input because she’s a counselor.  She added: a good listener, unconditional love, and practical.  That certainly describes Jamie!

Isaiah 28:29 states: “…he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.”  You are never alone when you are alone with Jesus.

Q:   Do you need wonder in your life?  Jesus is heaven’s remedy for dullness.  Is Jesus your Wonderful Counselor?

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.”  I’ve not seen the new Star Wars movie yet but apparently there’s some debate about who the real hero is.  Some are saying that its Luke or Anakin SkywalkerHans Solo perhaps?   Maybe R2-D2One EBC member suggests its “Rey.”  One reviewer believes it’s C-3PO.  Another EBC member urged me to not give too much away so he was a bit guarded in his nomination for the hero.

Well, here’s a spoiler alert.  In Isaiah 9, the adjective “mighty” literally means, the “God-hero.”  Jesus is the hero of the Scripture story!  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.  

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.”  Jesus didn’t beat around the bush about His identity in John 10:30 when He said: “I and the Father are one.” 

Jesus can manage anything because He is mighty.  He healed the lame, the blind and the sick.  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.  Remember the words spoken by the angel to Mary in Luke 1:37: “For nothing is impossible with God.” 

How many of you like watching NBC’s hit show The Voice?  I cheered Jordan Smith on a couple weeks ago when he sang, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” following the terrorism attack in California.  And this past Monday, even though his coach Adam Levine wanted him to sing a different song, Jordan persisted with his choice and sang, “Mary, Did You Know?”  Apparently Adam Levine had never heard of the song before.  It was quite a moment on national TV when Jordan sang about Jesus: 

Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?

This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?

Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?

And then he belted out this last lyric: The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am!

Jordan Smith is a 22-year-old born again Christian who leads worship in his church.  I love that he chose Christ-centered songs for the competition.   Gwen Stefani, one of the other coaches, made this statement after he won the competition on Tuesday night: All I can think of is God when he sings.”

Q: Are you trusting in your own strength or are you ready to make Him your Mighty God?  Ray Pritchard writes: As the Wonderful Counselor, He makes the plans; as the Mighty God, He makes the plans work.”

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.  I saw Him as big and mighty and mad at me.  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.  

Isaiah 57:15: “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.’” 

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 very 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 compassionPsalm 103:13: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.”  And if you’re a mother with young children, listen to how tender the Savior is toward you in Isaiah 40:11: “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” 

Q: Have you put your faith in the 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 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 among those with whom he is pleased.” 

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.”  

Are you aware that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has run on national primetime TV every year for the last 50 years?  Even though a school district in Kentucky is censoring all religious references from its production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” it has remained unchanged when shown on TV.  Jason Soroski wrote a post this week called, “The Moment You Never Noticed in a Charlie Brown Christmas.”  

“In a world where the latest greatest technology is outdated in a matter of months, and social media trends come and go in a matter of days, 50 years of anything becomes quite meaningful.  Charlie Brown is best known for his uniquely striped shirt, and Linus is most associated with his ever-present security blanket.  Throughout the story of Peanuts, Lucy, Snoopy, Sally and others all work to no avail to separate Linus from his blanket.  And even though his security blanket remains a major source of ridicule for the otherwise mature and thoughtful Linus, he simply refuses to give it up.  

“Until this moment.  When he simply drops it.  In that climactic scene when Linus shares ‘what Christmas is all about,’ he drops his security blanket, and I am now convinced that this is intentional.  Most telling is the specific moment he drops it: when he utters the words, fear not.

“Looking at it now, it is pretty clear what Charles Schultz was saying, and it’s so simple it’s brilliant.  The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears.  The birth of Jesus frees us from the habits we are unable (or unwilling) to break ourselves.  The birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to Him instead.

“The world of 2015 can be a scary place, and most of us find ourselves grasping to something temporal for security, whatever that thing may be.  Essentially, 2015 is a world in which it is very difficult for us to ‘fear not.’  But in the midst of fear and insecurity, this simple cartoon image from 1965 continues to live on as an inspiration for us to seek true peace and true security in the one place it has always been and can always still be found.”

The New Testament describes at least three spheres of peace:  

  • Peace with God – that’s the vertical dimension
  • Peace of God – this takes place internally
  • Peace with others – happens 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.  Are your relationships with others severed?  Do the hard work of being a peacemaker.  

Q: Do you know Him as your Prince of Peace?

The Second Advent

He is profound, powerful, personal, and peaceful.

Jesus was named 700 years before He was born.  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.  

Jesus came in the cradle in order to go to the cross.  When He comes again He’ll be wearing a crown.  Look at Isaiah 9:7: “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.” 

Luke picks up on this prophecy 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.  And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

I love the last phrase of Isaiah 9:7: “The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do 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).  We see this in Isaiah 37:32: “For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” 

The phrase “Lord of Hosts” 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 activate His plan 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 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 from the bondage of sin and is offering you His profound counsel, His powerful character, His personal comfort, and His peaceful countenance. 

Have you experienced these expressions of Immanuel?  Do you know Him personally?

The most important part of Isaiah 9:6 are the first three words, “For to us.”  We actually see them repeated: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.”  The gift of Christ is a personal gift from God to us.  A gift requires a response.  If I put a gift under your tree, you may acknowledge it, may admire it, may even thank me for it, but it isn’t yours until you open it and take it for yourself.

Jesus is calling you by name.  Will you call out to the only Name given under heaven by which you can be saved?  Do you know Him?  

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?