6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV, emphasis mine)
Isaiah continues with the third of four attributes of Messiah – “Everlasting Father”.
In our English translation, “everlasting” feels more like an adjective, a modifier describing the fatherly characteristics of Messiah. According to Hebrew scholars, these two words are both nouns and are in reverse order in Hebrew. The experts tell us that the literal translation of this passage is something closer to “Father of Eternity”.
When we stop to consider this phrase, it immediately feels like an oxymoron. The word “everlasting” refers to both eternity past as well as eternity future. How can someone or something be the beginning or start of something that has always existed?
The Apostle Paul gives us a little insight into Messiah’s role in eternity:
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
(Colossians 1:15-20 NIV)
Paul reminds us that Messiah is the head over all created things from eternity past, including us. Paul also tells us that Messiah is also the firstborn from the dead, making the way possible for us to have life in eternity future.
Isaiah is not saying that Messiah is also God the Father. The term “father” is not biological in its context. Instead, the term “father” here is referring to one who cares for and protects others under his care. Jesus spoke best about this protective and provisional role in John chapter 10. Jesus summed up His role as our “father figure” as protector and provider in verse 11:
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(John 10:11 NIV, Jesus speaking)
As you worship today, may you be reminded of Messiah’s care and provision for us, from eternity past before creation, in our current life, and through eternity future when we join Him in our final home and resting place in heaven.
A promise kept, and yet to come.