Nowadays names usually have no special meaning. They are given because parents like them, because they are fashionable, or perhaps in honour of some respected relation, friend, or forbear. Names are simply labels by which we are called. In former times they were descriptive of qualities assumed, anticipated, or actual. If given at birth the hope was that they would be predictive and if granted in later years they were bestowed to mark characteristics that were present – either positive or negative. Names were of personal significance and an index to the nature and office of those who bore them. They pointed to capacities or the absence of them. They were summaries of disposition, deeds, and destiny and they were carefully awarded.
In Holy Scripture the Name or Names of God are equivalent with his being. They refer to his nature, his attributes, and his action. They are informational for our praise, obedience, and trust. They evoke our fear and love. They are keys to knowing him. They are worthy of his majesty and serve to make his mercy well known. Our faith is lodged in nothing abstract but in One abundantly and so clearly self-revealed.
Isaiah’s identification of the promised Christ is remarkably impressive and we have difficulty in comprehending the stature of the One who came among us with such modesty. As much as we recite Isaiah’s lengthy list our minds can scarcely receive its significance, for Jesus occupies such a lofty status and possesses unsurpassable distinctions, and if we were to weigh them seriously for a few moments we would be overwhelmed.
And he will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God, the Mighty One, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9: 6
Wonderful – Our Saviour the Lord Jesus is astounding in his supernatural abilities; his wisdom and his power. His speech, when well considered, leaves us breathless. Here is One unfolding the insights and intents of God because he has been schooled by the Father (Isa 50:4) and knows him and his mind exhaustively (John). His wisdom chooses, and his power secures, successful action.
Counsellor – His instruction and advice are bound to be dependable and effective. His counsel cannot be flawed and his competence cannot fail. He imparts true knowledge and guides us in its use. He is the Sage par excellence whom we consult continually. He disposes and directs our minds and tendencies as often as we refer to him and overrules when we omit to do so. His divine knowledge, past, present, and future from our perspective, is our only safe resort.
God – In Jesus we see features both human and divine. We delight in his deity and unreservedly worship him as God. But what a fact to predicate concerning Jesus. Truly the One who took our flesh and walked our Earth was an incomparable visitor beyond our powers of comprehension. Bernard of Clairvaux revels in the thought: How sweet it is to see as man the Creator of humanity. The thought is stupefying.
The Mighty One – What God will determine in sovereignty and design by wisdom he will achieve by power. Nothing will frustrate him, neither difficulty nor opposition. A Ruler divine and perfect in wisdom will achieve what he decides in righteousness and justice. His is a throne that cannot be overthrown. His is a strength that cannot be challenged. His is a purpose that nothing can change. To resist God is to court ruin. To trust God is to attain immeasurable blessing. What he conceives he completes and his chosen are the beneficiaries of inestimable favours forever.
Everlasting Father – This title speaks of the Saviour’s care through a love and provision that is as everlasting as himself. His compassion toward his people is as eternal as he is. It was planned, is present, and a sure prospect. What a marvel that God’s loving kindness has no beginning or end. Care, comfort, and correction will attend us until we enter the zone of his eternity and paradise will be the ultimate enjoyment of God’s paternal care and commitment. We will at last grasp the permanency of divine affection.
Prince of Peace – All the distinctions that Jesus bears denote the ideal conditions prevailing over redeemed mankind in his projected kingdom. At God’s side for ever we will perceive that he is, without reservation, on our side to bless and preserve. Our total welfare will be secured in every dimension of our life with God. There will be an imperturbable sense of the utmost indwelling felicity and surrounding happiness. The foretaste of heaven in the Lord’s supper will be fulfilled, for “then we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us”, having obtained “remission of our sins and all other benefits of his passion”. The saints’ peace with God and with each other will be perfect and perpetual. This reunion in relationships is the ultimate goal of kingship which Jesus will achieve gloriously and completely. Christ himself will have created this peace through his cross and by virtue of his crown.
It all leads us back to the fact that he is Wonderful and achieves this state of bliss through his divine virtues and potency.
The Lord Jesus is unequalled by anything or anyone in creation. He is unique in his person, power, and perfection(s). He is unique in his Saviourhood. With all the names that accrue to his singular splendour it is apparent that there is no other Name to trust for salvation than that of the God-man. Only he is extolled as the deliverer of mankind. Only he comes with the credentials and capacity to save.
Pagan peoples turn to fictitious or futile rivals. Misled Christians have resorted to saints, angels, and even our Lord’s mother for assistance that these cannot afford nor wish to. When we see and appreciate Isaiah’s portrayal of the Lord Jesus it would be unimaginable to rely on anyone else. It is folly to suggest any other relief or assistance from any other source. All other options and idols must be firmly refused. Christ is more than sufficient for eternal wellbeing. How can we possibly underrate and insult him?
Article XXV1 of the Belgic Confession puts the matter plainly to us: We believe that we have no access unto God but alone through the only Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous . . . . But this mediator, whom the Father has appointed between him and us, ought in no wise to affright us by his majesty, or cause us to seek another according to our fancy. For there is no creature, either in heaven or on earth, who loves us more than Jesus Christ; who, though existing in the form of God, yet emptied himself, being made in the likeness of men and of a servant for us, and in all things was made like unto his brethren. If, then we should seek for another Mediator who would be favourably inclined towards us, whom could we find who loved us more than he who laid down his life for us, even while we were his enemies?. . . . And who will be sooner heard than the own well beloved Son of God?