Continued from Chapter 18j
Who is the child?
Isaiah presents many of his messages through the use of prophetic names (Isaiah 7:3, 14; 8:3). In one such passage he declares: For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name is called A wonderful counselor is the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the ruler of peace; that the government may be increased, and of peace there be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it through justice and through righteousness from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts does perform this. (Isaiah 9:5-6)
In this passage, the prophet presents his message by devising a prophetic name for Hezekiah. The name is in the form of a sentence which although given to Hezekiah declares the power and benevolence of God. Christians allege that this passage predicts the birth of Jesus and that the name lists his attributes. A perusal of Isaiah’s prophecy shows it to be a carefully crafted testimony to God’s great love for His people. Hezekiah is called, “a wonderful counselor” because this portion of the name is predictive of what God will do for the king and the people of the kingdom of Judah. The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying: “As I have thought, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand, that I will break Assyria in My land, and upon My mountains trample him under foot; then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulder.” This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? And His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back? (Isaiah 14:24-27) Be not afraid of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Asshur have blasphemed Me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, and he shall hear a rumor, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. (Isaiah 37:6-7)
Hezekiah is called “the mighty God” because this portion of the name is predictive of God’s protecting of Jerusalem through the wondrous elimination of the threat posed by Sennacherib’s army. Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come to this city, nor shoot an arrow there, neither shall he come before it with shield, nor cast a mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and he shall not come to this city, says the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it, for My own sake, and for My servant David’s sake. (Isaiah 37:33-35) Hezekiah is called “the everlasting Father” because this name is predictive of God’s adding years to his life. “Go, and say to Hezekiah: ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add to your days fifteen years’” (Isaiah 38:5).
Ruler of Peace
Hezekiah is called “the ruler of peace” because this name is predictive of God’s fatherly kindness toward him. Punishment for lack of faith in the Almighty will be postponed and peace will prevail during the last years of his rule. “Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah: ‘Good is the word of the Lord which you have spoken.’ He said moreover: ‘If but there shall be peace and security in my days’” (Isaiah 39:8). Fulfillment is found in Isaiah 9:6, when, following the Assyrian defeat, Hezekiah’s prominence increased and peace reigned for the rest of his life (2 Chronicles 32:23). Archaeological evidence shows that there was a sudden population increase in Judah following the fall of the northern kingdom. Apparently, many refugees fled south, thus bringing to fulfillment the statement “that the government may be increased.” This is followed by “and of peace there be no end” (‘ein ketz), a hyperbolic description of indefinite amount concerning the rest of Hezekiah’s reign (cf. Isaiah 2:7, Ecclesiastes 4:8, 16; 12:12).
‘Olam, rendered as “forever,” (can have the meaning of an indefinite length of time) may refer to the long term effects of Hezekiah’s reforms. In this passage it may also refer to the reaffirmation of God’s promises to David. On account of Hezekiah’s zeal in eradicating idolatry from the Temple, the house of David was once more confirmed as the only legitimate dynastic line that God would accept over his people “from henceforth and forever.” The notability of Hezekiah lies in his buttressing Israel’s spiritual future. He resanctified religious worship and re-established the pure monotheistic faith of Israel. He eliminated idolatrous practices through the cleansing of the palace and the Temple of images and pagan altars, and centralized the worship of God in Jerusalem. Despite the apostasy that occurred during the reign of Hezekiah’s son Manasseh his accomplishments would outlive him, leaving an everlasting, indelible impact on the history of his people. Thus, God, through Isaiah, bestows upon Hezekiah this name which honors the king by enunciating the wondrous acts God will do for him, and, through him, for the people of Israel.
Christians allege that the name “A wonderful counselor is the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the ruler of peace” refers to an incarnate divine Jesus. They contend that such a name can only be applied to God Himself. To make their claim about Jesus more plausible to the reader of this verse, Christian Bibles generally translate the verbs in verse 5 in the future tense, instead of the past, as in the Hebrew text. This gives the deceptive reading: “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.” Thus, rather than the prophecy referring to someone already born at the time the prophecy is enunciated it is made to refer to someone yet to be born. Some Christians admit that “wonderful counselor” and “ruler of peace” can be applied to a man, but allege that the phrases “mighty God” and “everlasting Father” cannot constitute part of a man’s name. Assuming this passage is messianic they also maintain this prophetic name illustrates that the Messiah has to be both God and man. Their reasoning is warped. Who says this passage is messianic? And what of names such as Elihu, “My God is He,” which refer to an ordinary human being (Job 32:1; 1 Samuel 1:1; 1 Chronicles 12:21, 26:7, 27:18)? They make the same error regarding the name Immanuel, “God is with us.” There are many biblical examples of humans being given names that have the purpose of declaring or reflecting a particular attribute of God (for example, Eliab, Eliada, Elzaphan, Eliakim, Elisha, Eleazar, Tavel, Gedaliah).
Despite all claims to the contrary made by Christians, Jesus did not in any way fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 9:5-6. A wonderful counselor does not instruct his followers that if they have faith and believe they can be agents of destruction (Matthew 21:19-21; Mark 11:14, 20-23). A mighty God is not subservient to anyone (Luke 2:51, Hebrews 5:8), for no one is greater than he is (Matthew 12:31-32; John 5:30, 14:28). Moreover, he does not ask or need to be saved by anyone (Matthew 26:39, Luke 22:42), for he cannot die by any means (Matthew 27:50, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46, John 19:30). He who is called the Son of God the Father (John 1:18, 3:16) cannot himself be called everlasting Father. One cannot be simultaneously the son and the Father; it is an obvious self-contradiction. He who advocates family strife (Matthew 10:34-35, Luke 12:49-53) and killing enemies (Luke 19:27) cannot be called a ruler of peace. There is nothing in this passage that can be associated with the life of Jesus. Jesus is simply not the “child born to us.”