The Character of the Messianic King
“His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
We live in an age when people are not evaluated by their character, but by their popularity and accomplishments, whether it be movie stars, online influences, or sports figures. If they embody success and popularity, we elevate them and idolize them. This is also true with regard to the people we place in public office. However, Proverbs 29:2 states, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan.” The foundation for success is found in character.
Israel had experienced the effects of leaders who fail with regard to their character. Their kings had promoted their idolatry and evil rather than righteousness and they led the nation into judgment. As a result, the people “walked in darkness and lived in a dark land” (vs 2). They were looking for a deliverer. In 9:6-7 we find the prophetic announcement of the coming of a deliverer, one who would lead the nation in righteousness and bring freedom from their oppressors.
But this King would be unlike their previous kings who faltered in their leadership. This king would lead the nation in righteousness and justice. Along with the title of the King, he would also be called “Wonderful Counselor.” This king will be unique, one who exhibits the miraculous works of God as he provides counsel and advice to his people. His work and planning will be extraordinary and unparalleled. In 10:21, Isaiah uses the same name, Mighty God, to refer to God, thus affirming that this king will be God himself. He will be the “Prince of Peace.” He will not only bring peace to the land but genuine peace and prosperity to all his people. He will care and provide for them. In his leadership, he will promote righteousness and insure absolute justice for all his people.
These words were not just hopeful wishes, but prophetically describing the reign of Christ. While we most often connect these words to the story of Christmas, they go far beyond just the arrival of Christ in the manger as he came to fulfill the promises of the coming of the Messianic King. The final fulfillment of these verses will be accomplished when Christ returns to establish his kingdom.
Today, we look for leaders to bring peace and justice to the world. But our trust in them is misguided. Ultimately, they will fail for there is only one who can truly bring eternal and lasting peace both to the world, but also to our individual lives. Only Christ can restore a broken world marred by political turmoil. Only Christ can bring inward peace to our shattered lives. Only he can “break the yoke of our burden” (vs 4). Only Christ can bring light to those who walk in darkness. This is why we must be continually looking to him rather than our political leaders or any other “influencer”. This is why we should be focused on Christ rather than a political party. Instead of being devoted to a political party looking to people to bring answers to our divided world, we should be looking to Christ. We should be zealous about proclaiming Christ, for he is the only one who will establish justice and righteousness forever. As followers of Christ, our goal is to make disciples of Christ, to point people to him. It is this message that the world is desperately seeking to hear, especially during this holiday season.