Back in 1986, a Christian metal band called Stryper came out with a song called “More than a Man.” The song speaks of Jesus being someone special… someone more than the flesh and bones people saw. One verse goes like this: “More than a man, God almighty He created you He’s the One, the One who rules the land…” That is why Christmas is so important for Christians today. The Messiah was “more than a man.”
Advent is the time of year when Christians take the time to celebrate the Incarnation – when the Creator of the universe stepped into His Creation and visited. People gather to celebrate with family and friends and take the time to think about hope, peace, joy, and love. For Christians today, it is remembering the past, when Jesus came and what He did, but it is also a time of looking forward with anticipation of when the long-awaited Messiah returns to call us home.
The story of the Messiah is recorded in the book we call the Bible. There are not only recorded testimonies of what Jesus did in His time on earth, there are prophecies, centuries-old prophecies, which proclaim His arrival. Because the Bible is a book that is concerned with what the Lord has done in space and time, it makes sense that its prophecies of the future would have reference to specific historical periods. We find one of these chronologically specific prophecies in today’s passage, which is one of the best-known and most-beloved texts in the book of Isaiah.
Isaiah 9:6-7 says, “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. 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.”
In order to understand this passage, we need a little bit of context. We must first go back to the reign of King David, who was responsible for establishing the golden age of Israel under the old covenant. We read about that in 1 Chronicles 18:4. In the sovereign providence of God, David, who started out as a humble shepherd, was able to unite the confederacy of Israel’s tribes and turn the nation into a major power in the ancient world. This was no easy feat due to the constant threats the Israelites faced in the Promised Land.
The Promised Land was a strategically important area in the ancient world, for it connected Asia, Europe, and Africa, and whoever controlled Israel’s God-given territory could exercise great economic and military power. David’s wisdom and skill in accomplishing this, as well as his godliness and ability to unify the people of God and usher in an era of peace and prosperity, was so great that the prophets foresaw the coming reign of the Messiah as a new Davidic era. Jeremiah 33:14-18 says, “The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. “‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’ For this is what the Lord says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel, nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.’”
Because of the sins of David’s line, the golden age of David and his son Solomon could not last. Idolatry was pervasive, the kingdom was split in two and mighty empires such as Assyria, Babylon, and Persia conquered the people and ruled over them. But God promised that Israel’s suffering under these pagans would not be the last word for His people. Today’s passage reveals that at a specified time – after the Assyrian capture of Israel and invasion of Jerusalem – God would put a new leader on the throne, a son of David who would be even greater than his forefather.
Isaiah foresaw that this coming king would be an “Everlasting Father,” a title that conveys the king’s willingness to put the needs of his children first, just as a good father does. Also, this king would be a “Wonderful Counselor.” No longer would the king need trusted advisors, for by His wisdom He would always make the right decisions. Though Isaiah 9:6-7 has more to say about this figure, perhaps the most notable aspect of the prophecy is that this king would be “Mighty God.” The Lord would enter history and reign in human flesh.
When Jesus arrived, it ushered in a new era, a time of reconciliation and change. Today, we look at His life, how He lived, what He did, and what He taught, as examples of what it means to love one another. But there is much that we can learn about the person and work of Christ by studying the many different titles given to Him in Scripture.
This task requires us to study the Old Testament background of the New Testament titles given to Jesus. As we go into this season of Advent, I would encourage you to take the time and study what the Bible says about this long spoken of Messiah. Passages such as Isaiah 9:6-7 provide this background information, and there are many others to consider. If you want to know Jesus better, spend time in the Old Testament looking at what it has to say about His names and titles.
Jesus was more than a Babe in a manger. He was more than a man… He is God incarnate!