December 20 & 21, 2008
“Christmas B.C. :The Names”
Do you know what an Aptronym is? I don't remember covering this in English class
when I was in high school or even in college, but one of the benefits of weekly sermon
preparation is that you are always learning new things, and here's what I learned several
months ago about aptronyms! An aptronym is a compound word consisting of the
adjective 'apt', meaning 'aptitude', and 'nym', the Greek word for 'name.' When you put
those two meanings together, you have a term that designates a person whose name lines
up with their aptitude. Let me put it this way: an aptronym occurs when what a person is
NAMED describes what they DO. Here are some real life examples taken from Wikipedia:
? Britt Barefoot, punter for The University of Southern Mississippi college football
? Layne Beachley, Australian world champion surfer
? Samantha Bond, was the actress who played Miss Moneypenney in four of the
James Bond films.
? Margaret Court was a tennis player
? Cecil Fielder and his son Prince Fielder are both baseball players
? Bill Medley, singer and one half of the famous Righteous Brothers
? Margaret Spellings, Education Secretary under George W. Bush
? Larry Speakes, presidential spokesman under President Ronald Reagan
? Lake Speed, former NASCAR driver
? Willie Thrower, former NFL quarterback
I bring this up because today, as we continue our 'Christmas B.C.' sermon series, where
we are studying the Scriptures that predicted the Messiah's coming centuries before His
birth--today we come to a very familiar text in which God gave four names to the coming
Messiah--names that are what you might call 'Advent Aptronymns, ' because these names match up with what the Messiah came to do. These four prophetic names tell us both about His character and also about His mission.
And speaking of names--have you ever stopped to realize how important descriptive names are to God? I would go so far as to say that God invented the concept of an aptronym because the Bible tells us that, from the very beginning, our Creator gave appropriate names to both things and people. Genesis 1 says that,
'God called the light 'day,' and the darkness He called 'night '...God called the expanse 'sky'...God called the dry ground 'land.''(Genesis 1:5, 8, 10).
Of course those names seem fitting because that's what we've always called them but here are some of the many examples of how God gave descriptive names to people. Isaac means 'laughter' , which makes 'aptronymic' sense because Genesis 17 tells us that when God told Isaac's father, Abraham, who was then 99 years old, that he would have another son, the wrinkled patriarch literally fell on his face laughing. Here's another: the definition of Jacob is 'deceiver,' and that name fit that child perfectly! Remember how Jacob deceived his brother and later his father-in-law? One more: Moses' name means 'drawn out,' matching the fact that, as a baby floating in a basket, he was “drawn out” of the Nile
by the Pharaoh's daughter.
And Jesus--a perfectly suited name that means, 'Jehovah saves'--Jesus is the best, the most complete, example of God's use of aptronyms, because the Bible records the fact that Jesus was given not just one, but many names. In fact the Scriptures contain over 100
different descriptive names that were given to the Son of God. Why so many? Missionary E.A. Ruskin was once asked that question by the people of the Congo (now Zaire), and this is what he said: 'The beauty and the fullness and the magnificence of this matchless Person cannot be expressed by just one name.' And I agree with Ruskin. One name doesn't begin to completely describe Who Jesus IS and What He does in our lives. This morning we're going to zero in on FOUR of Jesus' names--names that were given him through the prophet Isaiah 700 years before He was born. Let’s take a look at our next
'Christmas B.C. text,' Isaiah 9:1-7, 1 There will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future He will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan--2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before You as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian's defeat, You have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. 5 Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
By looking back at chapter 7, we can see that in 741 B.C. the prophet Isaiah was sent to Jerusalem to speak to King Ahaz when his city was surrounded by the armies of their enemies. Isaiah told the king to ask God for a sign that would convince him and his people that the God of Israel still loved them and would protect them. But Ahaz refused the offer, hoping instead that Assyria would protect him. So the Lord gave His own sign, saying that a Deliverer would come out of the house of David. In the next chapter Isaiah predicted the downfall of the ten tribes by Assyria. Then here in Isaiah 9 the prophet foresaw the Assyrians invading Galilee, which they did twenty years later. This particular Messianic birth announcement was made in the midst of grief and gloom--hardship that came as a result of the people's sin.
I shared with you two weeks ago that sin always has painful consequences, and these sinful people were experiencing them. They were enduring hardship because of their disobedience. But, as a testament of God's amazing grace, Isaiah said that Jesus would come and DISPEL the gloom. People walking in DARKNESS would one day see a great LIGHT! If you've ever been in the midst of a time of grief then you know that in those bad times any good news sounds especially good. That's how this would have sounded to these people. Things were BAD--but God was and still is GOOD--and so this promise that the Light of the World was coming must have stirred their hopes! We must remember this principle in our own 'dark times.' We face hardship--life is tough for us as fallen people living in a fallen world--but as Christians we know how things will turn out in the end. Do you remember Paul's words from 2nd Corinthians 4:8? “We are hard pressed on every side,
but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down,
but not destroyed. We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
This good news given to people living in a tough time begins in verse 6 as Isaiah talks about the indescribable uniqueness of the promised Messiah. I say 'indescribable' because in these words God hinted at both Jesus' humanity and deity. You see, the coming Messiah would be the God-man, and no theologian I have ever studied has been able to fully explain or DESCRIBE this logically; but the Bible systematically and clearly teaches that Jesus was 100% man and at the same time 100% God. We see this vital doctrine here in Isaiah 9:6. Look at its words once again. The phrase, 'For unto us a child is BORN' says that the Messiah would begin His life like every other HUMAN, as a flesh and blood baby, referring to the child already spoken of in Isaiah 7:14 where he wrote, 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and she will call His name Immanuel.' The words, 'to us a son is GIVEN' points to Jesus' DIVINITY. This phrase tells us that Jesus is GOD'S Son, Who has been GIVEN to us. This reminds me of Galatians 4:4-5 where it says, 'When the fullness of time came, God sent forth--God GAVE--His only Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the law.' I think Ravi Zacharias summarizes this well. He says, 'The Son wasn't born, the Son eternally existed; the child was BORN, the Son was GIVEN.'
Let’s look at our four aptronyms and see what do these four names tell us about Jesus?
By the way, I think this is one of the easiest verses on which to build a sermon outline
Counselor in prayer! Search His Scriptures for the answers you are looking for! He
promises that when we seek we will find...when we knock doors will be opened.
(2) The second aptronym in our outline is the phrase, 'Mighty God.' This descriptive
NAME tells us that not only is Jesus profoundly wise in His counsel, He also has the
power to accomplish what He advises. Ray Pritchard puts it this way: 'As the Wonderful
Counselor, He makes the PLANS; as the Mighty God, He makes the plans WORK.' And
He is ABLE to make the plans work because, as I said a moment ago, not only is He the
SON of God; He is also GOD the Son. Or to put it another way: 'The humble
CARPENTER of Nazareth is also the mighty ARCHITECT of the Universe.'
What does all this mean to you and me? It means that since Jesus is mighty God--since
He is omnipotent--all powerful--He can do anything power can do because He has the
strength to do all He wills to do, and this means Jesus can handle anything! He can do the
impossible in your life right now. He will give you victory over whatever you're struggling
with today. So let Him! Let Him fight your battles. During this season, embrace the words
spoken by the angel to Mary in Luke 1:37: 'Nothing is impossible with God.'
(3) And the third point is in the next phrase--an aptronym that says the Messiah is
the 'Everlasting Father.' Inside, we all long for the compassion and love and care of a father. I think one of the things I will one day miss when my dad goes the way of all
humanity is not having someone ABOVE me...someone more powerful...more wise...who
loves me and cares for me; someone who makes it his responsibility to bear the burdens of
my life on his shoulders...someone to tell the world, 'When it comes to Jeff Stratton’s
needs and struggle, the buck stops here with me!' We are all that way. Think of it. The entire world changes when we know our earthly dads love us, and this is especially true when we know that the Dad who loves us most is our Heavenly Father. Isaiah prophesied to our dark, gloomy world, the glorious news that the Light of the World, the Messiah, would come; and He would be a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father.
(4) Then finally he said the child born that night would be our 'Prince of Peace.' This is another precious promise because, you see, when SIN entered the world, a CONFLICT began between God and man. Do you remember our study from last week? When Adam and Eve disobeyed, they were driven out of the Garden, separated from their Holy Creator by their sin. Since the fall of Adam and Eve all human beings have followed in their footsteps and rebelled against God. Instead of living our lives according to the will of our Creator, each of us chooses to live according to our own selfish will. Isaiah 53:6 described this struggle we all engage in with God when he said, 'We all, like sheep, have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way.'
As I said countless times from this pulpit in one way or another, when sin entered the world, peace left it, because all of us DO tend to go our way instead of God's. All of us tend to live in opposition to His will. Down through the generations all mankind has not only inherited Adam and Eve's sin nature, but also their yearning for the promised Redeemer to come, and in His coming, bring peace once again between God and man. Paul says this in Ephesians 2:14 says, 'For JESUS is our peace, He Who has destroyed the barrier...the dividing wall of hostility....for through HIM, we have access to the Father ...'
And because we have access to God through Jesus--the Great Peace Offering--when we realize that we have the gift of eternal life, then we can have peace in all aspects of life. Nothing can disturb this peace--not illness, not financial troubles, not even death!
Through Jesus, we can indeed have 'the peace of God, which passes all understanding' (Phil 4:7) because true peace comes, not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of God. This was the angels' song that night. Remember? They sang, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE to men on whom His favor rests.' (Luke 2:14)
Are you worried about something this morning? Does panic lurk in your thoughts? Give all your anxiety to the Almighty, and His unexplained peace will give you calm in the midst of chaos. Later, in this same book, Isaiah offers us this promise: 'You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.' (26:3). Our study of this text will not be complete without our looking at the last phrase of Isaiah 9:7: 'The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. The word 'zeal' here, in
Hebrew means 'intense desire.' If you're ZEALOUS about something, it occupies your thoughts constantly. You build your day around it. For example, I'm always ZEALOUS about getting my sermon done. I remember being ZEALOUS about getting ready for the arrival of our children. Can you think of your own examples...things you are ZEALOUS about? Well, verse 7 of Isaiah's prophecy tells us that God is ZEALOUS about giving you everything we've talked about this morning because He loves you more than you can possibly comprehend! Lucado says, 'If God had a wallet, your picture would be in it!' And
I like it that God's ZEALOUS love isn't some sort of 'blanket policy love.' No, it's a
personal love! Tozer writes, 'God does not love populations. He loves people. He loves not
masses, but men. He loves each of us with a mighty love that has no beginning and can
have no end.