If there is one word I would use to describe Christmas, it is hope. Hope motivates us to press on by filling the gap between where we are and where we desire to be.
In discussing hope, Dale Archer M.D noted that, “If I could find a way to package and dispense hope, I would have a pill more powerful than any antidepressant on the market. Hope, is often the only thing between man and the abyss. As long as a patient, individual or victim has hope, they can recover from anything and everything.” [i]
As we follow the path of Christmas from the promise to its fulfillment, we see God at work, even when it appears, the promise will never become a reality.
In Isaiah 9:1-7, God gives the prophet a message regarding the promised Messiah nearly 600 years before Jesus’ birth and during a very dark period for God’s people.
The tribe of Israel and the nation of Syria have teamed up to crush Judah. Then to make matters worse, the Assyrians were encouraged to attack as the people of Judah lived in great fear and distress.
Overwhelming moments like this can deflate hope, so we must calibrate our thoughts on God and His promises. As Matthew Barnett, Pastor of the Dream Center LA, said, “Christians need to be hope dealers.”
We don’t need well-wishers, good thought givers, or positivity pushers but spreaders of genuine hope. Hope is only as effective as its source.
God shares four names with Isaiah, revealing the Messiah’s character and nature. These names also provide us with hope as they define the ability and capability of God.
#1 Wonderful Counselor.
The name Wonderful comes from the Hebrew “Pele” and means miraculous. Paired with Wonderful is the word Counselor, which is precisely translated and means someone who advises. Both the miraculous and wise counsel defined Jesus’ time on earth.
- Matthew 15:31 says the crowds marveled at His many miraculous works.
- Matthew 7:8 says how the crowds were amazed at His teaching.
When life looks hopeless, we are never helpless because our Wonderful Counselor is with us! Therefore, ask freely and pray boldly, and do not doubt.
#2 Mighty God.
This translates from the Hebrew name El Gibbor and means powerful, strong, warrior. It describes the limitlessness of His miraculous power.
There is no enemy, no king or kingdom, no demon that can match His might. God is mighty, and as a warrior, He fights for you.
As the One who conquered death and the grave, Jesus broke the power of sin controlling our destiny and gave us new and eternal life.
#3 Everlasting Father.
As everlasting, His nature and reign are perpetual. This reminds us that He is with us always, and His nature never changes.
The title Father in the Old Testament was not used to describe God out of respect for His divinity, not lowering God to a human or common level.
Yet the Hebrew word for Father gives a slightly different image than it does in English. The Hebrew word Father means originator or source. As the possessor and author of redemption, there’s nothing more you need to do.
He is Everlasting and an ever-present help in our time of need.
#4 Prince of Peace
Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace. Shalom goes beyond freedom from quarrels but means wholeness, health, security, well-being, and salvation.
The manifestation of peace in all these applications is not the result of human endeavor but a divine blessing. Our greatest need in this life is not money, healing, or fame but forgiveness, resolving our sin debt.
As the Prince of Peace, Jesus is our complete shalom. Jesus silences the invisible but tangible war between God and us perpetrated by our sin.
By making peace between God and us, He effectively destroyed sin’s power in our life and made Heaven our eternal home!
Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. It’s a verdict. God has pronounced you forgiven. It’s a done deal.
Isaiah wraps up this section with an exclamation declaring that His authority and power will only increase. Time will not diminish the efficacy of His power. His supreme authority has no end. No matter what, never give up or give in. Hold on to hope and trust God!