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 greatness 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. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) is famous for composing the music for “Messiah.” But when he wrote the “Hallelujah Chorus,” his health was poor and his right side was paralyzed. All his money was gone, he was heavily in debt, and threatened with imprisonment. With all the odds stacked against him, Handel was tempted to give up the fight. But his friend Charles Jennens had written a libretto about the life of Christ and His work of redemption, with the text taken completely from the Scriptures. Jennens asked Handel to compose the music and Handel completed the 260-page oratorio in just 24 days! It was his greatest work and has been a blessing to millions.1
Handel died on the day before Easter 1759, hoping to “meet his good God, his sweet Lord and Savior.” A close friend said that Handel lived and died as a Christ-follower. He trusted Christ alone for salvation and was ready to go home to be with Jesus.2 Isaiah prophesies four names for Christ around 700 BC and these verses are included in Handel’s “Messiah.” Today, I want to look at the single name “Everlasting Father.”
No Trinitarian Confusion
At first pass, Jesus’ third name “Everlasting Father” seems a little puzzling. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is one God, not three. The three persons of the Trinity are alike in divine nature and perfections. Each person is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truthfulness. But the three Persons fulfill different functions in redeeming us:
|God the Father AUTHORS our salvation||He is our Ruler and Sovereign|
|God the Son ACCOMPLISHES our salvation by His living, dying, rising, and ongoing ministry||He is our Redeemer and Savior|
|God the Holy Spirit APPLIES all the benefits of salvation to Jesus’ followers||He is our Revealer, Regenerator, Renewer, Sealer, and Sanctifier|
So Isaiah 9:6 is not confused about the Holy Trinity, but God is telling us that Jesus is father-like. He is God the Son and also father-like in His love, patience, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. Isaiah wrote of Christ again later and says that Abraham and Israel were long dead, but God is our living Father, our Redeemer, famous from eternity!3 Moses taught that the Lord is our Father and Creator who made and formed us.4 These statements apply to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit equally, so they apply to Christ, the God-Man.
When Isaiah 9:6 calls Jesus “Everlasting Father,” he means that God the Son is tender and merciful to us because He knows how weak we are. He remembers that we are only dust, weak and fragile, needing His care forever.5
God’s Teaching in the Book of Hebrews
Hebrews chapter 1 teaches that Christ is God’s final prophet who reveals God to us. He is the Creator Lord who came down from Heaven and added on humanity to His deity without subtracting anything. Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After Christ provided purification for our sins once for all time, He sat down on God’s throne in Heaven.6 That’s where Jesus is now and He will come again for us soon to complete His saving work.7
Hebrews chapter 2 teaches that Jesus is the Pioneer and Perfecter of our salvation who brings many sons and daughters to glory, through His atoning death on the cross. Christ makes His people holy and is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters and He says also, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”8 Believers are Jesus’ “children,” given to Him by God the Father.9 What could be more encouraging than that?
If we put these and other Scriptures together, we see that Jesus is our Creator, Savior, and Ransomer. He is our Elder Brother who is Father-like to us in His love. And He buys us back for God with His own blood and He will never let us perish. We are eternally secure in Christ.
Jesus Is Father-like in Valuing, Accepting, and Caring for Us
One TV talk show host said that the #1 fear among all people is rejection. And the #1 need among all people is acceptance. Maybe he’s right. People often value others based on shallow, superficial things, instead of their character. We are too easily swayed by physical appearances. We over-value academic and athletic abilities, possessions and positions, instead of moral virtues. Christians used to believe that “Character is King,” the most important thing. But nowadays it seems that we have forgotten that. 1 Samuel 16:7 says that people judge others by outward appearances, but the Lord looks at the heart. We shouldn’t be fickle and phony about approving people, but we are sometimes. The Lord never is.
Thanks be to God, beloved, Christ received us, simply because of His own free grace, not because of something about us or in us. He saves us because of His own goodness and mercy. Remember we don’t gain Jesus’ favor by something we do, and we don’t maintain His acceptance by something we do, so we can’t lose His adoption by something we do or fail to do.
Ephesians 2:8-10 says: God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. (NLT)
To be continued
Notes (various translations): 1 Heard from Pastor Peter Marshall, Sr. (1902–1949) who served as Chaplain of the United States Senate. 2 Christian History magazine. 3 Isaiah 63:16. 4 Deut 32:6. 5 Psalm 103:14. 6 Heb 1:1-3. 7 Acts 1:9-11. 8 Heb 2:10-13, quoting Psalm 22:22 and Isaiah 8:17-18. 9 John 17:6.