Advent Devotional Day 16: Isaiah 9.6
His Name Shall Be Called: Part 4- Prince of Peace
For to us a Child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His Name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9.6)
These are wonderful Names. These are Names that describe the King of kings and the Lord of lords. They depict the woman’s serpent-crushing Seed in all of His beauty and glory. They expound different aspects of His Person and His reign as the One who bears supernatural wisdom by which He reigns, the One who is the great Warrior-God treading down His foes and delivering His people, the One who both reigns eternally as David’s Son and transcends time altogether. The last Name is a kind of culmination to these Divine titles of the Lord Jesus Christ. This Name describes the effect that His reign will bring over His kingdom of New Creation. It is the practical, functional outworking of all of the Names given to Him previously in this marvelous verse. The Divine wisdom, holiness, justice, faithfulness, and eternality of life that this coming King reigns with produces a glorious kingdom that bears the marks of who He is!
Isaiah 9.7 says “of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” This is, in the very next verse, an exposition of the effects that the Name “Prince of Peace” produces. His Kingdom is One where He sits on David’s throne, wields total sovereign power, and administers justice and righteousness in it eternally. He does this with the ‘zeal of the Lord of hosts.” He does this with the immense passion that the Lord God has for the glory of His Name among the nations.
The “peace” that He brings as “Prince of Peace” is multifaceted and beautiful. It contains a multitude of elements such as reconciliation with God, restoration of the sin-cursed cosmos, and judgement on God’s enemies. (the seed of the serpent) The peace of this reign is brought about by various themes that have already been studied in this devotional series. First, we turn to the peace that God establishes with those who belong to this coming King. This peace was first shadowed in the garden, where the Lord Himself offered an animal in bloody sacrifice to cover the shame and guilt of Adam and Eve. (Genesis 3.21) It was a picture of the curse of disobedience: “in the day that you eat of it (the wrong tree) you shall surely die,” (Gen 2.17) and it was a picture of substitution in which another bears the curse for the sins of the offending party. This is peace made by God Himself with those who have raised their hand against the King of glory in cosmic treason. This is condescending, immensely loving and merciful peace offered by God Himself. This thread of peace and reconciliation through blood offering runs all throughout the Old Testament and is fulfilled in the incarnation as the coming King of Isaiah 9.6 Himself, the Child to be born to Israel, was “pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities.” (Isaiah 53.5) The Prince of Peace is named so in one sense because He became the blood-sacrifice offered to God for our peace. Peace with God is the result of the Prince of Peace being slain on a bloody cross for the iniquities of all His people. (Romans 5.6-11) This glorious sacrifice that the Lord Jesus offered on our behalf picks up on one of the themes mentioned already: the theme of salvation through judgement. In Christ’s death we ourselves are taken to the cross through union of election in Him. When Christ was forsaken He was forsaken bearing our iniquities because we ourselves were reckoned as there with Him, in Him. (Romans 6) In His death He acts as the One who both dies for our sins and judges our sins in His own body. He treads our sins underneath His feet in His death, takes them into the grave, and as He rises He brings us with Him in that action as well, and in His vindication (proclamation of innocence) our justification before God is secured. This is salvation through judgement as the Prince of Peace makes war on our sins, obliterating their power to condemn us. In His action He brings the blessing of peace with God to those who were once far off. (Ephesians 2.14-18) This is the glorious Gospel of our salvation through the coming King. The story doesn’t stop there though.
There is also the element that is front and center in this chapter of Isaiah: the peace that this King brings to His people by judging their enemies. Not only is judgement rendered against the sins of His people through the offering of His own body, but this coming King will also now crush any who seek to stand against and harm His people. (seed of the woman/seed of the serpent) In chapter 8 of Isaiah Assyria is pictured as the ultimate enemy of God’s people, the pinnacle of the seed of the serpent, making war against the seed of the woman. This conflict with Assyria looks forward in time to the coming King who will establish peace among the nations by crushing those who wage war against God’s people. He wields a power and might (the government shall be upon His shoulder) that His enemies cannot resist. He is the One who dashes God’s enemies in pieces like a potter’s vessel. (Psalm 2) He grants relief to His people when He appears to judge those who persecute them. (2 Thessalonians 1.7) With these actions He establishes an eternal government of peace where His people will flourish unencumbered by those who hate them. (Isaiah 9.7)
The last element of this peace is peace that He brings to the cosmos as the One who bears the curse and rises again as the Head of the New Creation. This happens because through the work of this coming King, the Lord of hosts swallows up death forever. (Isaiah 25.6-8) Isaiah 2 speaks of the mountain of the Lord as the pinnacle of the New Creation that the Lord God reigns from. Isaiah 11 describes this new creation as one in which even the fiercest of predators have been transformed into docile creatures that graze alongside their prey. The picture is clear: God will bring an end to the tyranny of death and bring His people eternal life and peace in His presence. The coming mountain of the Lord is the place that God will swallow up death forever because the child born to Israel swallowed death on a hill outside Jerusalem. In His death He drank the curse on creation as its New Captain, the Last Adam, and in His resurrection He brings that creation with Him in His wake unto everlasting life and glory.
Peace is something that we long for in this sin-cursed world. We long for an end to war, an end to oppression and violence, and end to sin and death. We long for peace with the Holy God who created us. The King promised in this text, the child given to Israel, born of a virgin, has secured this threefold peace through His glorious Gospel-work. That is what we celebrate during Advent season.