Note: excerpted from Messianic Christology, by Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Founder/Director of Ariel Ministries
6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
Note that the Hebrew verse numbering differs from the English numbering for this passage.
The two verses discussed here deal specifically with Messiah's origin, both human and divine.
Isaiah 9:6a emphasizes the humanity of Messiah (his Messiahship is shown in verse 7). Isaiah sees a son, given by God and being born into the human world; specifically, the Jewish world. The phrase unto us a son is given" in the Hebrew Scriptures emphasizes a unique gift of God. This is the same son as in Psalm 2.
In 9:6b, this son is given four names, each one having two parts. Each of these names is applicable to God; three of them exclusively so:
1. Wonderful Counselor (Pele-Yoeitz)
In some translations a comma is placed between these two words making them two separate names. The word "wonderful" is in the construct state and should be taken together with "counselor." There are some words in Hebrew that are used only of God and never of men. One example is barah meaning "to create." Another word like this is pele, rendered here in English as "wonderful." In English, "wonderful" may be freely used of many things, but in Hebrew it is reserved exclusively for that which is divine.
2. Mighty God (El-Gibbor)
Obviously never used of a mere man.
3. Eternal Father (Avi-Ad)
Literally: Father of Eternity. The son who is to be born will be the Father of Eternity, meaning that he is the source of eternal life. Clearly this is to be no mere man.
4. Prince of Peace (SarShalom)
This is the only one of the four names that can be used of man and God.
These four names are all used elsewhere in the Book of Isaiah and in each case they are used of God, never of man.
1. Wonderful Counselor
This can be found in Isaiah 25:1: " . . . I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things, [even] counsels of old . . ." and in Isaiah 28:29, "This also cometh forth from Jehovah of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel . . ."
2. Mighty God
This is found in the very next chapter in Isaiah 10:21, " . . . to the mighty God." There are many liberal theologians who object to the concept of Messiah as a God-Man. When they translate verses such as Isaiah 9:6 they are forced to interfere with the text in order to justify their own presuppositions. In the New English Bible, for example, an entire phrase — completely absent in the Hebrew text—is inserted to make Isaiah 9:6 read, "in battle he will be Godlike." This is an impossible translation. In the Hebrew there are only two words, El Gibbor, which mean "God Almighty." Furthermore, when exactly the same words appear in Isaiah 10:21, the NEB then translates them correctly as " . . . the mighty God." Clearly there is no integrity in such inconsistent translation.
3. Eternal Father
This can be compared with Isaiah 63:16b, " . . . thou, O Jehovah, art our Father; our Redeemer from everlasting is thy name." The same words used in Isaiah 9:6 as a proper name are seen within this sentence where they are clearly used of God.
4. Prince of Peace
Isaiah 26:3 says, "The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace . . ." The object and subject of the sentence is God himself. Again in Isaiah 26:12, the work of peace is attributed to God: "Lord, Thou wilt establish peace for us . . ." As stated above, the fourth name, "the Prince of Peace," is sometimes used of men in the Hebrew text. If we limit our attention to the book of Isaiah, however, then the work of peace is the work of God only.
The Rule of the King—9:7
Isaiah 9:6 presents us with a Being who is both God and man. Isaiah 9:7 shows us that this person is the Messiah of Israel: He is to sit upon the throne of David. Verse 7 is a reaffirmation of the Davidic Covenant, which is found in 1 Chronicls 17:10-14.
Isaiah 9:7 further confirms that David's house, kingdom and throne will be maintained eternally by the everlasting Son.
The Davidic Covenant
(1 Chronicles 17:10-14)
"Moreover, I tell you that the Lord will build a house for you. When your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants after you, who shall be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he shall be My son, and I will not take My lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever."
The Davidic Covenant is found in two segments of Scripture, 2 Samuel 7:11-16 and 1 Chronicles 17:10-14. There are significant differences. In 2 Samuel the son is immediate; in 1 Chronicls he is distant. In 2 Samuel the son is a sinner; in 1 Chronicles there is no mention of sin. In 2 Samuel the reference is to Solomon; in 1 Chronicls the reference is to an eternal son. The three promises of 2 Samuel are repeated, but a fourth is also added: "I will settle him in my house forever." David's line will eventually culminate in the birth of an eternal Person—the Messiah—whose eternality will guarantee David's dynasty, kingdom and throne forever.
We are told from which family within the tribe of Judah the Messiah will come—the family of David. This automatically requires that Messiah come prior to 70 A.D. since, in that year, all of Israel's genealogical records were destroyed along with the Temple by the Romans. Within a few decades of 70 A.D., it was impossible to prove who was a son of David and who was not.
There is one further limitation placed upon the descent of Messiah. We are told that He will come from one of David's sons, but in Jeremiah 22:24–30 we are told of one family, cursed by the prophet, which was excluded. This is the family of Coniah, also known as Jeconiah or Jehoiachin. Because of the kind of man that he was, God pronounced a curse on him. The curse, given in Jeremiah 22:30, is that no descendant of Jeconiah will ever have the right to sit on the Throne of David. Messiah therefore had to be born a son of David but apart from Jeconiah.
We are told in Matthew's Gospel that Joseph, husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a son of David via Solomon and Jeconiah. He and his children were therefore under God's curse and would never fall heir to the Throne of David. Does that exclude Jesus from being the Messiah? No, because the New Testament Scriptures record that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born to a virgin, his mother Mary. Furthermore, Luke's Gospel clearly gives Jesus' lineage as being via Mary back to Nathan and David and, therefore, proves the legitimacy of Jesus' claim to be Messiah.