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Messiah Foretold

No Old Testament prophet had more to say about the promised Messiah of Israel than the prophet Isaiah. In a period spanning at least 64 years, Isaiah (whose name means “the salvation of Jehovah”) was God’s spokesman to Israel during the reigns of four kings—Uzziah (or Azariah), Jothan, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.

Isaiah predicted a coming messianic age marked by world peace. He foresaw a government in the last days that would turn the eyes of the international community on Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1-4). He also described the coming of a Servant-Ruler who would bring a mysterious blend of power and suffering (Isaiah 53; 61:1-3). But the character of this coming Servant is most clearly stated in Isaiah 9:6, where the prophet declared: “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, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

While it was clear that Isaiah was predicting a coming world leader and the inevitability of a messianic age, what could not have been seen until after Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is that Isaiah was actually predicting the arrival of the Son of God.

The Birth of Messiah

“Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” Because of such prophecies, generations of Jewish women dreamed of being the mother who would give birth to the promised and long-awaited Messiah.

Ever since the Bethlehem arrival of Jesus, it has been clear that this prophecy anticipated far more than the birth of an eventual world leader. We can now see in the phrase “unto us a Son is given,” the entrance of God’s own Son into the human race that He had created.

The Kingdom of Messiah

“And the government shall be upon His shoulder.” Isaiah saw the day when a son of Israel would bear upon his shoulder the weight of world leadership. In chapter 2, Isaiah predicted that in the last days the house of the Lord would be established in Jerusalem. He said the Lord Himself would “judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4). Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, says that on that day an angel of God will declare, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ [or Messiah]; and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

The Character of Messiah

“… and His name shall be called ….” Remember, Hebrew names are significant. In this final portion of the verse, the prophet used a marvelously descriptive set of names to unfold to us the very essence of the person of the Messiah. Each name gives a different window through which to view the Son of God who was to become the Son of man for us. These names shape our understanding of who God’s Messiah is. They can help us develop a personal relationship with Him, and show us in moments of fear where to find Him.

What Do You Call Him?

Jesus asked His disciples two questions: “Whom do men say that I am?” and “But whom say ye that I am?” (Mark 8:27-29). The first question is significant because it allows us to get a read on the minds of people around us. The second question, however, is eternal because it is only by acknowledging Jesus Christ and responding to His gift of forgiveness by faith that a person can live forever.

Isaiah made it very clear that when the promised Messiah would come, He would fulfill the matchless titles he had prophesied: “Wonderful,” “Counsellor,” “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” and “Prince of Peace.” Jesus came into the world and proved beyond a doubt the He was the Messiah by fulfilling all those requirements. He was God in human flesh, come to display deity and redeem humanity. And on the strength of His ability to fulfill all these things, He made this claim: “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).

This is the claim of the Bible, and the heartbeat of the Christian faith: Jesus Christ is God and He came into the world to save sinners. What is your response to that claim and to the evidence that He is the only deliverer for sin-laden, lost people who are the object of God’s love? Will you receive His gift of forgiveness and be saved?

If you are already saved, having been rescued from your sin and its just punishment, will you live under His perfect will and wisdom so that He may guide you into a life that pleases Him? May it ever be so, for He brings peace wherever He reigns!

—Condensed from The Amazing Prophecy of Names by Bill Crowder.