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Summary: The Titles given Messiah through Isaiah reveal His deity and His character.

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“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 Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” [1]

“His Name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” With this glorious prophecy of the Messiah, Isaiah speaks of Him Who brings hope and joy for all who know Him as Master of life. I contend that Isaiah has revealed so much more than a mere name for the Messiah—we are given the very nature of God with us.

Fathers provided the name during the Jewish naming rite. However, Messiah appears to receive these names from the people that knew Him, thought this is by no means certain. We do know that the Name given Messiah was Immanuel [see ISAIAH 7:14]. It was in fulfillment of the Immanuel prophecy that He was called Jesus.

After Joseph had considered quietly divorcing Mary, the angel of the Lord appeared to him and instructed him, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” [MATTHEW 1:21]. The divine text continues with this explanation. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us)” [MATTHEW 1:22, 23].

The titles Isaiah provides carry the thought that the child is worthy to bear them as Names because they are accurate descriptions of His being and character. The names announced are actually titles. It is uncertain whether He shall receive these Names from the Father who appoints Him to the reign over all the earth, or whether those who receive His reign will call Him by these Names. However, that particular issue is immaterial since the truth conveyed through these Names nevertheless remains.

Rabbim of ancient days were not at all reticent in ascribing these titles to Messiah. “The ancient (first century B.C.) Aramaic Targum Jonathan paraphrased this passage:

And there was called His name from of old,

Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, He who

Lives for ever, the Messiah in whose days

Peace shall increase.” [2]

Reacting to the growth of the Christian Faith, more recent Jewish commentators and translators of the Bible recognise that if these Names are accurately translated, it is a tacit confession that this is not solely a Messianic passage, but that Isaiah has included a Christological passage that has now been fulfilled. Since the birth of the Son of God, Jewish commentators have attempted to avoid the implications of Isaiah’s prophecy.

The medieval Jewish commentator Kimchi rendered the passage, “The God who is called and who is Wonder, Counsellor, the mighty God, the eternal Father, calls his name the Prince of Peace.” [3] David Luzzatto attempted to avoid the meaning of Isaiah’s prophecy by taking the titles together and treating them as one word which would translate into the following name, “A wonderful thing is counselling he who is the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” [4] Even if we were to credit this suggestion, such a sesquipedalian name would be impossible to pronounce in one breath. The extent of embarrassment for Jewish commentators becomes apparent with more recent efforts to explain Isaiah. Slotki refused to translate the Hebrew, instead transliterating Isaiah’s words to read, Pele-joetz-el-gibbor-Abi-ad-sar-shalom. [5]

What Isaiah seems to have intended readers to understand is that the child who was to be born, who is also the son who was to be given, bears these regal names because He is worthy to do so. I am quite confident that the One whose birth is commemorated during this Holy Season is the child that was to be ever after known as “Immanuel,” and He is for us the “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.” Focus, with me, on the Name of Jesus as we remember His birth at this time.

WHAT THE NAMES REVEAL ABOUT JESUS — Obviously, the names that are applied to the coming Messiah are important. They speak of His character, of His fitness to assume the reign of all creation, of His very essence. In older versions of the Bible, the Names that God gave to the child that was to be born were presented as five in number—“Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.” More recently, translations have understood that four names were presented in Isaiah’s prophecy. In this contemporary view, translators consider that whereas older versions presented five names, the first two should read as one title, “Wonderful Counsellor.”

The underlying reason for this change lies in the Hebrew language in which the text is written. The accenting of the Masoretic text supports division into four names. Also, if we allow that Isaiah intended to present four names, a remarkable symmetry becomes apparent. Finally, if four names are presented, one of the two words always describes the earthly side and the other the “metaphysical side of the government. In the first two names, the divine aspect of the child is presented first, whereas in the last two names, it is the second word that points to the Son’s deity. This point becomes apparent if we emphasise the divine aspect of the One to be born, so that we read (in Hebrew): PELE yo’etz, ‘EL gibbor, ‘avi ‘AD, sar SHALOM. [6]

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