Born For Us: Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6)

MOTIVATE

We have been in a series about the names of Christmas. Many people think it’s important to say the actual name “Christmas” and not just “Happy Holidays” or even “Xmas.” IMO, Christ is certainly the reason for the season, but there are at least four shortfalls to this sort of thinking.[1]

  1. Many other greetings have equal religious significance. The word “holiday” is short for holy day, which Christmas has associated multiple holy days:
    • 4th Sunday before December 25 marks the beginning of Advent season.
    • December 28 marks Holy Innocents Day, recognizing the first martyrs for Christ of the male babies massacred by King Herod. This day is also very appropriate to recognize in light of all the issues surrounding the pro-life movement.
    • December 31 marks Watch Night, where many Christians gather to thank God for His watch-care for the previous year and pray for protection and guidance in the upcoming year.
    • January 1 marks Feast of Circumcision of Christ. This day was the first time Christ’s blood was shed and has symbolic importance for how we approach God by faith. The holiday is also known by many women as “payback” against all the men (JK, ha!).
    • January 6, twelve days after Christmas, is the Feast of Epiphany, when the magi finally reached Bethlehem to present their gifts to the newly born king.

  2. Xmas also has a long and sacred history for Christianity. The letter X actually stands for the first letter of the Greek name for Christ, which is chi. When transliterated into our English alphabet, it is an X, which is shorthand or a symbol for the name of Christ. This was also true for the early church as a potential cover in persecution. A person would write one mark and leave the other person to cross the line to form the X, indicating their faith or support of Christianity.

  3. Christians are known as people in perpetual anger and attack mode against the culture. Too often we are not what we are against and not what we are for. A dark world needs light not heat. Christians can be light and bring joy to the world by showing the love of Christ for all sinners and strugglers in the world.

  4. Other places around the world call the date different names that do not have the name “Christ.”
    • Arabic: Eid Milad Majid (means Glorious Birth Feast)
    • French: Joyeux Noel
    • German: Frohe Weihnachten (means Merry Holy Night)
    • Hawaiian: Mele Kalikimaka
    • Spanish: Feliz Navidad
    • Philippine: Pasko

EXAMINE

Today we introduce the third name from Isaiah 9:6-7 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. 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. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

This third name: Everlasting Father (av ad) literally means Father of forever/eternity. There are a couple introductory aspects to clarify before understanding the message of this name.

First: relates to the Trinity.

  • Jesus is not the Father and the Father is not the Son.
  • Early Christian Church Councils & Creeds declared distinction between the Father and the Son. In fact, at the Council of Nicea they affirmed the full deity of Jesus Christ.
    • I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

  • There is also a legend about a Bishop named Nicholas (c.280-343 AD), who YES was generous, especially toward children. This Nicholas opposed Arianism (denying divinity of Christ) – and in fact so much, supposedly punched a heretic![2]
    • Quip by @ChrchCurmudgeon
      “Up at Nicea, bishops pause –
      Arius and Santa Claus!
      One claims a time when the Son was not;
      One says that’s a heretical thought.
      Ho! Ho! Ho! Who’s gonna go?
      Ho! Ho! Ho! Who’s gonna go?
      Off with a right hook, good St Nick;
      Down goes the dirty heretic.
    • So, don’t just tell your children that if they’re bad they’ll get a lump of coal in their stocking. Also warn them that if they don’t get their theology correct, Santa will punch them (ha!).
  • Before you check out on doctrine or dad jokes, allow me to say that the doctrine of the Trinity is not just an oddity or dull academic talk but delightful revelation. Trinity is not just a mystery but meaningful for daily life. [3] God is love because God is a Trinity – perfect community with uninterrupted love and unselfish power.
    • 1 John 4:8-9 “God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”
    • John 14:18, 26-27 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you… the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let your hearts not be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
  • Trinity is one God who eternally exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. Each person is fully God and uniquely distinct. These are not mere roles/modes of one God but distinct persons.
  • Isaiah’s title for the son as Everlasting Father is not so much about His exact personhood but His general personality. The Father and the Son share character qualities. As Psalm 103:13 “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.”

Second relates to father wounds.

  • Statistics tell us the importance of fatherhood is overwhelmingly important; the absence of fathers increase family poverty, poor physical health of child, lower education, likelihood for crime and generational dysfunction.[4] 
  • While many have good fathers, not everyone is warm to the idea of God as Father. Some dads were absent due to no fault of their own – military deployments or others even death. Other individuals have experienced indifferent or abusive fathers that repels them from faith rather than draws them in.
    • If you have a father wound:
      • know you are heard and seen.
      • God the Father is not called Father because he reflects earthly fathers. He is not some photo-edited or pumped-up version of your dad. To transfer the shortcomings or sins of earthly fathers onto God is to reverse the foundation. All human fathers are supposed to reflect God – but everyone falls short, and unfortunately, some way more than others.
      • God pursues you in ways you can understand and relate.
      • Ultimately, God is patient and will not force you to faith.

SO: How is Jesus the Father of Eternity.

Jesus will give fatherly guidance.

Isaiah describes a child – a son – given to shoulder the government and reign on the throne without end in justice and righteousness.

Interesting historical context: 

  • Isaiah 7-8 / 2 Kings 16:5-8

Ahaz is King in Judah yet is threatened by Syria (King Rezin) and Israel Northern Kingdom (King Pekah). They joined forces to attack and surround Judah, though not fully able to conquer it. So, Ahaz sends messengers to Assyria (King Tiglath-pileser) saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and rescue me from the hand of the King of Syria and the King of Israel who are attacking me. Ahaz also took the silver and gold in the house of the LORD and in the treasures of the king’s house and sent to the king of Assyria.” Ahaz – king of God’s people exchanged God’s security and fatherly shelter for an enemy nation’s promise of protection. While Ahaz gained short-term defense it would be Israel’s long-term doom. Indeed, Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom and it spiraled into God’s judgment (cf 2 Ki 17:6-23).

  • Ahaz’s son Hezekiah would follow in father’s footsteps by allowing Babylonian ambassadors into the nation’s treasure house. Isaiah foresaw this to be Judah’s downfall (2Kings 20:12-19; Isa 39).

Prophet Isaiah’s prayer, “Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and beautiful habitation. Where are your zeal and your might? The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion are held back from me. For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.” (Isa 63:15-16)

God’s fatherly guidance stems from creation to the cross.

  • He created us to guide our life and guard our heart.
    Isaiah 44:2-4 “Thus says the LORD who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not… For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing upon your descendants. They shall spring up from among the grass like willows by flowing streams.”
  • Isaiah 45:10-14 “Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’ Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: ‘Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?’ I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens and I commanded their host. I have stirred him up in righteousness, and I will make all his ways level; he shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for price or reward, says the LORD of hosts.”

In other words: God’s purpose for His children is to build His kingdom not our own.

  • The cross is God’s fatherly (and motherly) guidance.
    Isaiah 49:13-16 “Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth, break forth, O mountains into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted. But Zion said, ‘The LORD has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?’ Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands.”
    • My wife notices features or feelings of our children more than me. How much more does God who has us engraved on the palm of His hands?
    • Charles Spurgeon: “There is no unfathering Christ and there is no unchilding us.”[5]
  • Not to mention Isaiah 50:4-11; 53:1-12; etc.

God’s fatherly guidance comes to us with empathy and compassion for every circumstance we face. Ultimately, God’s guidance for us is in His word. The Scriptures are not just for information but transformation.

Illus: Have you ever approached a computer/laptop and started typing but after a sentence or two, realized that your hands were set off the supposed starting frame of the keyboard, so your strokes have created gibberish and incoherent words? Some say – I’m just a poker, so I have no idea what you’re referencing! But for those who do – then you understand we need to have the right frame of reference in order to make sense. The same is true for living according to God’s word and way.   

  • “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world” (2 Peter 1:3-4)
  • “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
  • Read Bible passages before your Group.
    • Sunday AM: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers
    • Small Group: (mine is 1 John)
    • Gentle Jesus in groups / I will start group Wednesdays with brown bag lunch Noon – 1pm.
    • Sermons in Acts starting late Jan… see website list.
    • Supremely your personal devotion time. If you need help, let us know for teaching and tools.

Jesus will give fatherly grace.

The LORD’s prophecy through Isaiah is an undeserved gift. Israel had repeatedly rejected God. In just the previous chapters, we see the people seeking false future tellers, necromancers, and idols. They have no fear of God, and thus God permits the consequences of their choices with distress and darkness, gloom and anguish. Yet, God patiently pursues them with fatherly grace.

When Isaiah says, “The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this” (Isa 9:7), he’s essentially saying their future hope will take a miracle and act of God!

The birth of Jesus is an indication of God’s patient pursuit and steadfast love for us.

  • His grace is untiring.
  • His faithfulness is unwavering.
  • His goodness is unending.
  • His generosity is unlimited.
  • Our confidence and hope is unshakable because of God’s fatherly grace.

Isaiah 40:1-2 “comfort, comfort my people says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.”

Comfort (nāham) is a word that means to breathe deeply; as if you came alongside someone to weep and console.

God’s comfort for our sin involves peace and pardon.

  • Peace: “her warfare has ended”. The phrase implies a discharge of soldiers once the victory was won.
    Remember, these are people who will be surrounded, defeated, and exiled by their enemies. Yet, God is reminding them that they may lose the battle, but He has already won the war.
  • Pardon: “her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double [ample] for all her sins.”  God promises the hand that punishes for sin will be the same hand that will pardon. Double payment means “folded in half”, as to imply God’s payment for sin is two-sided or mirrored in His justice and mercy.[6] God’s folding of justice and mercy contains hidden realities beyond our comprehension. Or in other words, God’s double payment is more characterized in the ample means of grace; Judah’s sin was great but God’s grace was greater cover every sin and remove every sentence of punishment.
    • Isaiah 53:4-6 “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
    • Micah 7:19-20 “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.”

The summary idea is that God’s people have been shocked with the overwhelming news of God’s judgment and their breath has been taken away. Yet, God is reassuring His people to take a deep breath and be comforted by the truth that no matter what they will not be forgotten, and they will be rescued. God’s comfort is not dismissing their sin but is His devotion to perform all that is necessary for taking the punishment of sin – even at cost to Himself. God’s pardon has amply paid for the sins of Judah so that there is no more to pay. He will pay doubly in the sending of His very own Son to take away their punishment and die in their place.

As we celebrate Christmas, we are reminded that God’s gift to us is comfort for our sin. Jesus’ life was more than the birth of a baby but the sacrificial death of a man. Christmas would eventually lead to Good Friday, and Good Friday would eventually lead to Resurrection Sunday. The mystery and majesty of God’s amazing plan for salvation is all wrapped up in Jesus.

  • Will you not just receive but open the gift of Jesus into your life?

APPLY/THINK

This last week, across the nation and indeed locally, there were supposed threats of violence against our schools. Officials received the rumors, processed with alert sensitivity, and chose to proceed with caution.

Some parents chose to keep their children home out of abundance of caution.

Other parents sent their children with a prayer, realizing any day could be an unpredictable happening.

  • Of course the schools gave undue concern with alert calls & emails about it being the midpoint of a grading period / a P.E. incident necessitated ambulance / and the daily news about bus transportation being limited.  

Friends: We never know when we will step into eternity. The Father sent His Son, so that we can become part of His forever family. What holds you back?


[1][1] https://growinggodlygenerations.com/2016/11/25/the-x-in-christmas-and-happy-holidays/

[2] For more information, see an introductory article: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/who-was-st-nicholas-2/

[3] While this message isn’t entirely about the Trinity, more insights can be discerned through: Michael Reeves, Delighting In The Trinity: An Introduction To The Christian Faith.

[4] https://www.fatherhood.org/father-absence-statistic

[5] https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/his-name-the-everlasting-father/#flipbook/

[6] J. Alec Motyer, Tyndale Commentary: Isaiah 40:2.

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