We need a messiah who is the MIGHTY GOD because we CANNOT STAND against evil, ourselves. We must never ever underestimate the power of sin. As Christians, we’ve been set free from slavery to sin; if we hadn’t been, we never would have come to faith in Christ! But sin is still present with us, lurking in the throne room of our hearts awaiting an opportunity to seize control any moment.
Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to keep our passion for Christ burning brightly, why we are not more consumed by loyalty and faithfulness as we should be to the one who died for us? Author, Max Lucado, gives a thoughtful answer—we face an enemy of our soul called, the agent of familiarity. Lucado explains,
His commission from the dark throne room is clear, and fatal: “Take nothing from your victim; cause him only to take everything for granted…” His aim is deadly. His goal is nothing less than to take what is most precious to us and make it appear most common….He’s an expert at robbing the sparkle and replacing it with the drab. He invented the yawn and put the hum in humdrum. And his strategy is deceptive. He won’t steal your salvation. He’ll just make you forget what it was like to be lost. Worship will become common place and study optional. With the passing of time, he’ll infiltrate your heart with boredom and cover the cross with dust. Score one for the agent of familiarity (God Came Near.)
Has the poison of the ordinary dulled your excitement about walking with Jesus? If so, our hope is that understanding the titles of Messiah Jesus from Isaiah 9, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, will explode your view of just who this being is who called you by name to be his follower.
Why did the long-awaited Messiah of Israel have to be the MIGHTY GOD—and what does that title mean for our everyday walk with Jesus today?
The Isaiah 9:6 Text
The phrase, mighty god is constructed from the words EL for god and GIBBOR for mighty. Interestingly, the Hebrew word GIBBOR is often used to describe a powerful hero. This word use is not accidental. As OT scholars have pointed out the true hero of the OT is not Abraham, Moses, Joshua, or David, but GOD. The promised land was not Abraham’s land bequeathed to his descendants, but a land of milk and honey promised as God’s gift to God’s people. The “Ten Words” brought down from Sinai were not Moses’ laws but those of a God so holy that anyone who touched the mountain would die. The conquest of the promised land by Joshua was not accomplished by Joshua’s might, but because Yahweh fought for his people. The establishment of David’s throne in Jerusalem by defeating surrounding peoples like the Philistines was accomplished not by David’s military prowess but by God’s power—a truth David understood when he said to Goliath,
“You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand…that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand,” (1 Sam 17:45-47).
Behind the truth that it is Yahweh who saves, (which is what the name Joshua and Jesus mean) was the truth throughout Israel’s history that their political oppression was always the result of their disobedience to Yahweh. A careful look at what the OT prophets proclaimed reveals that the cause of Israel’s military oppression was their sin—their disobedience to their covenant obligations. For example, in the very first chapter of Isaiah, we read,
Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel?… Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners….If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken (vs 4,5,7, 20).
The oppressors that the Messiah needed to overthrow never were the Assyrians, Babylonians or Edomites. The oppressor always was SIN. It was the sin of the Israelites that led God to allow their political enemies to oppress them. That is why the great lesson of the OT is that God’s people cannot save themselves. “The Law never succeeded in producing righteousness,” writes Paul. “The weakness was always human sin,” (Rom 8:1-3). The promised Messiah would (eventually) overthrow the political oppression Israel experienced—but only because the Messiah would overthrow the real cause of Israel’s military occupation—their SIN. And God, himself, would be the only one powerful enough to break the human shackles of sin. The Messiah would be the MIGHTY GOD—God himself, and the only being powerful enough to overthrow evil. Isaiah goes on to tell us that this Messiah, alone, who is the MIGHTY GOD has the power to ABSORB EVIL and OVERTHROW EVIL. In chapter 53 of Isaiah, the Messiah ABSORBS EVIL: Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah goes on to tell us that God is displeased with human sin but sees no human who can solve the problem and overthrow evil. Only the MIGHTY GOD, himself, is powerful enough to defeat it. So, God will clothe himself in righteous and fight this spiritual battle.
Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation… He put on righteousness as a breastplate and a helmet of salvation on his head (59:15ff).
Sin is so powerful that only the MIGHTY GOD, Messiah Jesus, could overthrow it.
The Awful Power of Sin to Corrupt and Destroy
The message of the OT could be summed up: No human has the moral power to keep God’s Covenant Law—to be righteous. Thus, no man can experience the presence of God. Were sinful man to see the face of God he would instantly perish—the reason that God, in grace, expelled fallen Adam and Eve from the Garden. In Paul’s words to the Romans, By works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law… the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe, (3:20-22).
The awful power of sin to corrupt is revealed in the moral failure of OT fathers to fulfill their task as the heads of their families, following the covenant pattern of Abraham, about whom God said, “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him,” (Gen 18:19). Sin’s awful power had so corrupted the Israelites, that almost no fathers fulfilled this obligation, causing the OT to end with the prophecy in the very last verse, that finally one would come who would turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.