“The everlasting Father” in Isaiah 9:6 portrays the distinguishing divine nature of Jesus Christ the Messiah who would be the real comfort and tranquillity of the people of Israel. Jesus Christ is called “The everlasting Father” despite the fact that it has just been said about Him in the same verse: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given”. How could Jesus Christ the Son of God be referred to as “The everlasting Father”? As far as the Godhead is concerned, Jesus Christ is not the Father but the Son. It is important that we note that Isaiah 9:6 is not about the position of Jesus Christ in the Trinity but His relationship with His people who have come to trust Him.
The historical context of this passage in Isaiah was set in the time when Ahaz was the king of Judah. He was not a good king, unlike his father Jotham and grandfather Uzziah (Isaiah 1:1). He had no fear for God. During his reign, when Israel was facing serious threats from the Assyrian Empire (Isaiah 8:1-22), the people were full of sadness and filled with fear. Furthermore, because of the irreparable damage caused by King Ahaz, the future of Judah seemed doomed and uncertain. It was at that very moment of great national despair, that the prophet Isaiah prophesied the coming Messiah’s birth, which rekindled hope for the people.
So when Isaiah the prophet called Jesus “The everlasting Father”, it gave God’s people a great hope and help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1-2). The portrayal of Jesus Christ as the everlasting Father could refer to: first, He being the Eternal King will come to lead and care for His people; second, He being the father of eternity knows all things from eternity past to eternity future; and third, He being the father of the great work of redemption saves sinners.
Christ the King, as a Father who Loves and Cares
In His relationship with His people, Christ is like a father who is tender and caring towards His children. He not only provides them with eternal life but also constantly nurtures them. Isaiah speaks of Christ as a father of His people in Isaiah 53:10 when he said, “He shall see his seed.” They need not ever fear that they will be without His care. His people will never be anywhere without His presence, provision and protection. He is an everlasting father to His people.
This truth about Christ the Messiah would have been a very consoling message to His people who had suffered under the ungodly and cruel kingship of Ahaz. Earthly kings may fail in their responsibilities to their people, but Christ, the King shall always be a faithful father unto His people. He will never fail to redeem them and tend to them in accordance to all His covenantal promises.
According to the Old Testament Scriptures, one who provided tender care for those who were poor and needy was referred to as “father”. Job spoke of himself, “I was a father to the poor” (Job 29:16). God is called “the father of the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5). Hence, it is not farfetched at all to say that Christ, being God, cares for all His people and is unto them “The everlasting Father”.
Christ, the Father of Eternity
Another important fact about the Lord Jesus Christ is that He is the Father of eternity. It reflects the very nature of God, that He is immortal, invisible, eternal, God Almighty, the Creator of all things and source of all life. He has all the attributes of God the Father, “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). He has the very nature of God (Philippians 2:6). As He has said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30) and “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). This reveals the eternality of the Lord Jesus Christ. The angel of the Lord declared to Mary concerning the Holy Child she was about to conceive, “And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33).
Jesus Christ knows all things from eternity past to eternity future, for He is the Creator of the universe. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17). He was with God the Father from eternity (Genesis 1:1, 26; John 1:1-3) and yet the same God humbled Himself, leaving heaven’s glory to take the form of man and to live among sinful men like us, that we might be called His people (Philippians 2:5-9). It was because of His love for His people that He came to be their eternal Saviour (John 3:16).
In Revelation 1:8, He is also called Alpha and Omega (cf. Revelation 4:8; Isaiah 41:4), revealing His nature as the unchanging God for ever and ever. Although people and everything keep on changing, the everlasting Father, not being confined by time and space, is unchangeable. He is in control of everything in the world, for He “laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands” (Hebrews 1:10).
Jesus Christ was sent to be our everlasting Father to care for us, despite our spiritual destitution and unworthiness. He who is the eternal God, who is always with the Father, who is from everlasting to everlasting, and the author of everlasting life, came to be with men to bring eternal life. The Lord Jesus Christ is not a dead but an eternally living Saviour (Revelation 1:18). Being the possessor of eternity, Jesus Christ is totally trustworthy, though the whole world may be against us. The everlasting father is the same yesterday and today and for ever (Hebrews 13:8).
Christ, the Father of the Great Work of Redemption
Jesus Christ came in fulfilment of what God the Father had promised when our first father Adam failed to obey perfectly the given commandments. Adam was the physical father of the human race. Jesus Christ as the second Adam was a representative of the human race in His obedience to the law in order to merit eternal life for sinners. This was declared by Paul in his writing, “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under law, to redeem them that were under the law…” (Galatians 4:4-5). This is the great work of redemption that Christ had done on the cross in order to obtain the righteousness of God in Him, that His righteousness might be imputed to those who believe in Him. Paul further explained, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4; cf. 10:3-4). Jesus had perfectly obeyed God, which the first Adam failed to do.
God did not choose an angel to execute what He required of man but appointed His own Son to be the Redeemer of the world by becoming man (Philippians 2:5-9) and living among men (John 1:11, 14). His coming was so determined that the eternal love of God for the human race might be manifested. Christ’s work of redemption has merited the eternal salvation of those who gladly receive and believe in Him. He is our everlasting Redeemer who had willingly and sacrificially offered Himself to be crucified on the cross, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). What a Redeemer we have! He took the curse on Himself in order to save sinful and wretched men like us.
Now we have the hope and anticipation of the return of the great Saviour – “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). What a wonderful and blessed joy we will have when we see the return of “The everlasting Father” of the great work of our redemption. Amen.