For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful…
The word "Everlasting Father," or "Father of Eternity," is applied to Messiah as the Revealer of God to men. That the passage can only refer to Messiah is agreed by all devout students. God designed to reveal himself at last and fully to his creatures through a man's earthly life. God can only reveal himself to a creature in the lines of that nature which he has given to the creature. When God was dealing with man, he set forth the manhood of his Messiah most prominently; but when man comes to know his gift, he finds he has received his God, and learned the name by which he may be called. Arguing may not always convince of the Deity of Christ. It is rather like trying to prove to a man that it is the spring-time of the year. Spring is in the atmosphere - in the balmy breathing of the air, in the quickening power of the sunshine, in the lengthening days, and in the bursting life of leaf and flower everywhere around us. So the very atmosphere of Christ is the atmosphere of God. Everywhere, and in everything, we feel that he is God. Our text is striking in the contrasts it presents - contrasts which were realized in the human life of the Messiah. Everywhere in his story we find the blended God and man. He was the outcast babe for whom there was no room in the inn, and yet angels heralded his birth, and Magi offered to him the worship due to a king. He was a simple child of twelve years old, and yet the temple doctors were astonished at his understanding and answers. He submits to John's baptism of water, and yet the Holy Ghost descends upon him, and the voice of "most exceeding peace" gives testimony to him as the Divine Son. He weeps the tears of human friendship at the grave of Lazarus, and yet he speaks the words which call the dead to life. He dies in agony and shame, as only a man could die; he rises in triumph and glory, as only a God could rise. So in this prophecy of Isaiah. The "coming One" is a child, but the "key of government is upon his shoulder." He is a child, and yet he is "Wonder-Counselor, God-Mighty-One, Prince of Peace." He is the Son, and yet it can be said of him that he is the" Everlasting Father." This last assertion seems to be the most astonishing of them all. "The Son is the Father." Christ sustained this view: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." Every man's work is to find the Father in Christ. No man has truly seen Christ who has not found in him the Father, and learned from him the fatherhood of God.
I. MAY WE THINK OF GOD AS FATHER? To show himself to man, God must come into man's sphere, not as a cherub or as an angel, but as a man. "Verily, he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham." He must also show himself in some particular form of man. Men are kings, or prophets, or judges, or husbands, or fathers, or sons, or brothers, and God must make choice of the form that may most worthily represent him. Some say we must think of God chiefly as a King. But few of us are stirred at heart by the relations of a king. He is a person to be feared, obeyed, and served. If he is to be loved it is only with a patriotic, it is not with a personal, affection. In the pages of history we can scarcely find a king whose character and career help us to a worthy idea of God. Think of the kings of Eastern nations. Think of so-called Christian kings. There rise before the mind scenes of barbarity, Blood-guiltiness, tyranny, debauchery, and cruelty which make us ashamed to set the thought of God and of earthly kings together. On the other hand, there never has been age or nation in which the dearest thoughts and tenderest associations and most reverent feelings did not gather round the word "father." Everywhere, even in benighted heathendom, fathers have been men's ideals of the pure, the revered, and the good. God comes nearest to men if he can be shown to them as the "Everlasting Father." Love is the supreme glory of fatherhood; but it is only primus inter pares, the equals of "authority," "justice," "holiness." It would not be fair to say of any good earthly father, "He is all love, all indulgence; there is in him no justice, no reverence, no government." We never want to bolster up the authority of our earthly father by deluding ourselves into the notion that he is a king; and we can yield our fullest allegiance to God as our "Everlasting Father." We need not force ourselves to conceive of him as that mysterious thing, a moral Governor, for which we can find no human model. What is God to you when you can fully receive the revelation that he is the Father? Is there any less reverence for him? Is your sense of justice, righteousness, law, or authority weakened when you call him "Father?" Let Christ teach us the true God and the eternal life. He shows us a weeping prodigal child pressing his face into a father's bosom, heart beating to heart, the one in all the anguish of penitence, the other in all the anguish of pitying, fatherly love. The father's arms are round the restored boy; and who shall say that all highest law is not vindicated when that father wipes away the tears, and calls for music and dancing, the best robe, and the fatted calf? Who ever saw weeping rebels on kings' bosoms? Who ever saw kings shedding tears over returning subjects? We must go deeper, far deeper, into the very heart of the truth about God when we say, "He is our Father."
II. MESSIAH SHOWS GOD TO US AS "EVERLASTING FATHER." The Epistle to the Hebrews opens with a very striking statement: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by Son." God had spoken by creation of a Creator, by prophets of a God, by ambassadors of a King, and now by Son of a Father. Messiah is represented as Son, and Son of God, to enable us to conceive of God as Father. The very person of our Lord Jesus Christ is itself a revelation of the Father. The gospels show us that his supreme effort was to make men know and think well of the Father. He was a Jew, and yet his originality is nowhere felt more than in the word which he uses for God. We find very seldom, almost never, any of the recognized Hebrew terms - El, Elohim, Shaddai, or Jah; Jehovah or God; his word is always "Father." On every page we find the term recurring. Illustrate from the sermon on mount; address on sending the disciples forth for their trial-mission, etc. Conclude by commending this view of God as the first and foundation-truth of the Messianic revelation. We need not be anxious to set it under limitations and restrictions. Christ never fenced it off. He never limited its applications. He never hesitated to preach it everywhere. He expected to waken a new spirit in men, the child-spirit, by telling them of their Father in heaven. If we simply follow Christ, we shall show men the Father-God everywhere in Messiah's life and teaching, seen even in Messiah's death and atonement and sacrifice. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.