For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;

And the government will rest on His shoulders;

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (NASB)

Most of us are familiar with this grand prophetic utterance from the prophet Isaiah.  It is one of the great themes of the famous cantata by G.F. Handel called “The Messiah.”  The music is very exciting, remaining a favorite section of that great work.

What I want to consider with you is the sheer scope of that short verse.  The subject of this part of Isaiah’s prophecy is a “child” to be born.  Arguably, the term “son” is exactly equivalent and is used for poetic emphasis.  Hence the child/son is the one to whom the remainder of the passage refers. The rest of the verse contains two kinds of information.  First, the verse refers to His primary labor – He is to carry “the government” on His shoulders.  Second, in performing that labor, several ascriptions are attached to Him.  These ascriptions seem to refer to the quality of His labor in bearing the government.

Jesus’ declaration to His disciples, just before instructing them concerning their own work, was that “all authority” had been given to Him, both “in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18, NASB).  That was certainly compatible with the second line of the prophecy.  If all authority was given to Him, then the government was entirely on His shoulders.

Now, we know that insofar as the flesh is concerned, Jesus’ birth was very humble.  He was not born in a hospital.  It appears His birth was not assisted by midwives.  He wasn’t even born in the home of His (assumed) father or His mother.  He was born in a borrowed hay-bin.  While His birth was accompanied by an announcement from heaven, even that announcement was made to shepherds and not to kings or rulers.  It was a humble birth, likely to have gone by as an unknown event were it not for the announcement made to the shepherds or the stimulation of the “magi” to pursue a previously unknown celestial event.  This One, who was in time to bear all government on His own shoulders, had about as plain a beginning (in this human life) as anyone could.

The third line of the poetic prophecy presents four ascriptions concerning this child/son.  He was to be called:

Wonderful Counsellor

Mighty God

Eternal Father

Prince of Peace

This “child” whose birth was not noted by the inhabitants of the earth was to be called “mighty God” in the later reckoning.  I said His birth was not noted by the inhabitants of the earth.  To be sure, the announcement was made from heaven to the shepherds.  It was also attested to the magi by signs in the visible heaven.  Otherwise, it was not noted at the time.

The heavens knew who He was and really couldn’t refrain from bearing witness to the fact that this child, this son of humble human origin was, in time, to bear all authority and to be known by declarations that placed Him in the Godhead.

The Son of God, God the Son, was very humble in His human advent.  The fact that He was the Son of God became known to those who would permit themselves to know such things.  This marvelous prophetic utterance by Isaiah begins by acknowledging His humanity and goes on to glorify His divinity as the “mighty God.”

He was and is all these things.  First, He is the only begotten Son of God.  As the Son of God, He took on life in the flesh so that men might also be found to be sons of God.  The authority given to Him in heaven and earth was the mark of His deity.  His birth in the manger was the mark of His humanity.  The humanity that He bore perfectly resulted in the authority that permitted Him to make men into sons of God.

Praise God!