Have you ever thought about why there’s so much glitter at Christmas? Why the thousands of watts of lights?
Little children color rainbows with as many crayons as they have in their box to approximate the innumerable colors they see in the sky (of course there are far more than seven.) At Christmastime we who are children of God are trying to say, “Look how he shines!”
With similar joy, the prophet Isaiah painted a verbal picture of the coming Messiah:
Wonderful Counselor! Mighty God! Everlasting Father! Prince of Peace!(Isaiah 9:6).
Light and hope emanate from these grand titles. Isaiah didn’t know the Messiah’s personal name would be Jesus of Nazareth. But he did know the Savior would be a glorious expression of the compassionate and powerful God of Israel. This Messiah would be not only a messenger, not only a substitute for our sins, not only a perfect example for us, but the Prince of Heaven himself.
While we rightly stand in awe of this royal person, we must not stand too far off from his majesty. Maybe we remove our shoes like Moses. But take a closer look at these titles; each one comes with an invitation to draw near.
The word wonderful here does not mean simply, “really good,” as we often use it. A friend says they’re free for lunch and we say, “Wonderful!” This shining word means “something extraordinary or hard to understand.”
People who heard Jesus marveled at the authority with which he spoke. How did he have such wisdom? Even as a child, he asked questions that showed an uncanny depth of insight into the ways of God and his world.
Do you need wisdom for some perplexing or difficult situation? This Counselor is so skilled and dedicated in his role that those who go to him for counsel find themselves wondering and marveling. We often pay lip service to God’s wisdom. We briefly ask for help and then go about our worrying way. If God were a human in a chair (on a throne, perhaps?) how would you approach to ask for his advice?
God inspired Isaiah to title the Messiah, “Wonderful Counselor,” because he wants us to go to him for counsel. And we will wonder at all we see and hear.
With thunder and earthquake, with windstorm and tempest he comes (Isaiah 29:6). Sometimes God rages like a storm, and although he is a meek and gentle lamb, the Messiah is also the Lion of Judah. He comes with power and he is mighty to save.
The invitation enclosed in this title is a call to the weak and powerless, to those in need of rescue, to those helpless to act on their own behalf. For the unborn children, this royal child comes to bring mighty justice. For the orphaned little ones and the widowed wives, the Mighty God has come to be a helper. Even to those who have gotten themselves lost at sea, he is a rescuer (Psalm 107:28).
So let us not stand far off from this Lion; let us take protection under his strength. Those who join in what God is doing will find themselves in the shelter of the Most High.
Isn’t this interesting? Even though Jesus is the Son of God, Isaiah referred to him as “Everlasting Father.” Jesus declared, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). This Father is both ancient and forever, and through Jesus of Nazareth, God brought eternity near to us.
The title, “Everlasting Father,” is an invitation to rest in God’s eternal nature. Life in the present changes at a breakneck pace. Friends come into our lives and move away before we know it. Our cell phones are out of date before we’ve finished paying for them. Children grow so quickly we can’t keep our social media photos up to date.
But Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He doesn’t move out of state, become obsolete, or grow old. When the flurry of life is overwhelming, find rest in the security of our Everlasting Father.
Prince of Peace
While personal peace and relief from anxiety are always available in Christ, this title may be best understood to be a response to the turmoil of our world. Isaiah wrote, “Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. 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 . . . Prince of Peace” (9:5, 6).
Despite all our earthly governments do to bring peace, only the Messiah is able to carry the governance of all people on his shoulders. This title invites us to anchor our hope in the universal leadership of Jesus Christ.
Yes, we seek to elect just leaders. Yes, we give toward causes that help those in need. And when our grief is stirred by the news of more wars and bombings and violence, Isaiah invites us to turn our attention toward Jesus.
The Prince of the Kingdom of Peace leads us as individuals, he leads our churches, and he also assumes responsibility for the ultimate destiny of our world. He will bring resolution and justice to all that distorts God’s plan for humankind.
“Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). No matter how deeply our world is entrenched in conflict and corruption, we are invited to find hope in the government of the Prince of Peace.
Let the Little Children Come
Isaiah used his grandest vocabulary to describe the glory of the Christ child. We use the farthest reaches of our imaginations. We write glittering music and hang as many lights at home as our neighborhood will allow. We use our limited means to convey his glory, and with our handmade construction-paper crowns on his head, he says, “Let the little children come to me.”
Though he is very great indeed, his arms are open. His counsel is ready. His strong arm is fighting on behalf of what is right and good. His peace is for all the world. This Christmas, let’s say yes to his invitation and draw nearer than ever before.
Allie Boman served as a campus missionary for 15 years and now lives with her family in the Chicago area.