|Topical Bible Study||January 1957|
God and Creation—Article XII
The Mighty Potentate
“Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end.” —Isaiah 9:6,7
THE Apostle John wrote, “The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” (I John 4:14) Much is involved in saving the world from the thralldom of sin and death. The Logos, the beloved Son of the Creator, first was “made flesh,” being born into the human family and maturing to manhood’s estate. So the prophecy reads, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” The purpose of Jesus’ birth as a human was completed at Calvary, when he cried out, “It is finished.” There he gave his flesh, his humanity, in death that the world might have life.
But this was far from being the completion of the entire divine purpose as centered in Jesus. God sent his Son to be the Savior of the world, therefore further features of the plan of salvation must be accomplished by him. It was for this purpose that he was raised from the dead, and as he testified, “all power” was given unto him. (Matt. 28:18) Through this “all power” Jesus is to become the Head, the chief ruler of a world-wide “government,” the perfect functioning of which is his responsibility—“The government shall be upon his shoulder.”
This aspect of the divine plan of salvation was not due to be accomplished at the first coming of Jesus. Paul wrote of a future day, urging Timothy to faithfulness, “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto: whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting.”—I Tim. 6:14-16
In this text Paul speaks of the “appearing” of Jesus, and then informs us that he dwells in “the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen nor can see.” Manifestly, then, we are not to suppose that Jesus will ever appear in a manner which will make it possible for him to be seen by human eyes. It is the events associated with his return that reveal the fact of his presence. Important among these events is the establishment of his kingdom, the “government” which rests upon his “shoulder,” that government which will increase until it embraces the whole world.
In this divinely established control over the affairs of men, Jesus will be “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords.” Revelation 17:14 informs us that Jesus, the “Lamb,” is the “Lord of lords, the King of kings. “All the satanic forces of evil will be overcome by this great Potentate. Paul informs us that he will reign until all enemies are put under him, and that finally even the great enemy Death will be destroyed.
But think not that Jesus will be merely an all-powerful ruler who will brook no opposition to the laws of his government. He does possess “all power,” and will employ it to assure obedience to the righteous laws of his kingdom. But he will be much more to mankind than a Ruler. The many titles the Bible assigns to this great Potentate indicate the various ways in which he will serve the people in that great kingdom project of blessing “all the families of the earth.” A number of these meaningful titles are mentioned in our text, and the Bible speaks of others.
After telling us that the government will be upon the “shoulder” of this great Potentate, Isaiah says, “His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor.” (RSV) In the Hebrew text, the word translated “Counsellor” means to advise. Who could be better fitted to give advice to the people than Jesus! In chapter 11 Isaiah writes again concerning Jesus, saying, “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; … and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.”—vss. 2,3
The brightest minds of the world marvel at the wisdom displayed by the man Jesus, and the splendor of his ethical and moral teachings. What profound “advice” is given in his Sermon on the Mount! What keenness of perception is manifested in his encounters with his enemies, and in answering the questions of his friends! The chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to bring Jesus to them, but they returned without him, explaining, “Never man spake like this man.”—John 7:46
All these qualities of wisdom, of perception, of kindness and understanding, were possessed by the man Jesus. How much they have all been enhanced in the highly exalted Jesus to whom has been given “all power,” that great Potentate the “King of kings and Lord of lords”! Truly a Wonderful Counsellor he will be to all mankind who, under his beneficent rulership, learn to put their trust in him.
The Mighty God
Isaiah informs us that this Wonderful Counsellor will also be “The Mighty God.” The Hebrew word here translated “God” is ’el, meaning, according to Prof. Strong, “strength,” and applied in the Bible to any deity, even to human princes and rulers. The name Jehovah, on the other hand, is applied exclusively to the Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth.
That Jesus is a “Mighty God” is apparent from all the scriptural testimony concerning him since he was raised from the dead and highly exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high. During his pre-human existence as the Logos, or representative of Jehovah, he was a mighty god, and now he is exalted far above the nature and position he enjoyed with his Father before the world was. How appropriate, then, that one of his titles should now be “The Mighty God.”
Jesus said that it is the Heavenly Father’s desire that “all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” (John 5:23) In Hebrews 1: 6 we learn that all the angels have been commanded to worship the Son. In the 8th and 9th verses of this same chapter, prophecies are quoted from the Old Testament concerning the highly exalted Jesus, which read, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God [Jehovah], hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”
Throughout the thousand years of his reign Jesus will be recognized as “The Mighty God,” and will be served and worshiped as such. Many of the Old Testament promises of kingdom blessings, while they indicate Jehovah to be their Author, are actually to be fulfilled by the exalted Jesus, who is now “The Mighty God,” for he is the “Holy Arm” of Jehovah which will be made “bare” during the kingdom period, when “all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”
By the mouth of all his holy prophets God made promises, many promises, of blessings which would be dispensed to the nations through the Messiah, the great Savior and King he would send. When this kingdom is fully established, and its rich blessings of peace, security, health, and life are flowing out to the people, wiping away their tears, and filling their lives with joy, they will recognize them as the fulfillment of Jehovah’s promises, and will say “This is our God; … this is the Lord [Jehovah]; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
The fact that the people will accept these kingdom blessings as reaching them from Jehovah, does not mean that “The Mighty God,” Jesus, will not be the One who is then reigning over the nations. It simply means that Jehovah’s promises are then being implemented by the messianic kingdom arrangements, in which Jesus the “King of kings” will be the supreme ruler and “The Mighty God.” This arrangement will continue throughout the thousand years of his kingdom. Then the last enemy, even death, shall have been destroyed. Then, as Paul explains, all enemies shall have been put under the feet of “The Mighty God,” Jesus. Paul explains further: “When he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subject unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may he all in all.” (I Cor. 15:25-28) How plain it is from this revealing statement by the Apostle Paul that Jesus and the Father are not one and the same person! How clear it is also that while unlimited authority and “all power” is given to Jesus, “The Mighty God,” to be exercised during the period of his reign yet when the purpose of that reign shall have been accomplished, this beloved and highly exalted Son of the Creator shall be subject to him “which did put all things under him.”
“The Everlasting Father”
Another title given to Jesus is, “The Everlasting Father.” (Isa. 9:6) The literal meaning of the word “father” is, “One who has begotten a child.” Implied, therefore, is the thought of life-giver. Jesus will be the life-giver to the world during the thousand years of his reign. “The hour is coming,” Jesus said, “when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. (John 5:25) Jesus will give life by restoring the dead to life.
In the next verse (26) the meaningful word “For” is used—“For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” Originally, Jehovah alone possessed immortality. Jesus was given immortality when he was raised from the dead. This, of course, implies life within one’s self. But it seems that here the additional thought of being able to impart life to others is also implied. Jehovah has always been, not only immortal, but a source of life—“In him we live, and move, and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) And now that Jesus is exalted to the divine plane of life, even to immortality, he also is a source of life; and throughout the Millennium mankind will “live and move and have their being” in him, “The Everlasting Father.” “Marvel not at this,” Jesus said, “for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.” (John 5:28,29) Compare Jesus’ illustration of this future work of giving life as recorded of Lazarus in John 11:43,44.
Jesus will also be “The Everlasting Father” in the sense of “one who has begotten a child,” at least, in a figurative manner. We are assured of this in Isaiah 53:8-10. Here we are informed that while Jesus was “cut off out of the land of the living,” with none to “declare his generation,” yet he shall “see his seed,” that is, his offspring, and that offspring will be all the world of mankind, awakened from the sleep of death.
The willing and obedient will be restored to perfection, and enabled to live everlastingly. Thus Jesus will not only be a life-giver, or father, to the world, but to all who pass the tests of that time, he will give life that will be everlasting; so he will be “The Everlasting Father.”
And what an encouraging fact this is! Life is precious to all normal persons. During the present century the average length of human life has nearly doubled, and medical science is encouraging people to believe that it will continue to increase. This is accepted as good news. Now people are looking forward to living for a hundred years or more. But God’s provision is far better; for, through Christ, “The Everlasting Father,” it will soon be possible to keep right on living forever. It was to make this possible that Jesus gave his flesh, his humanity, for the life of the world; and now, highly exalted to the divine nature, this mighty Potentate, as The Everlasting Father, will soon be making the blessings of eternal life available to those for whom he died.
“The Prince of Peace”
The title, “The Prince of Peace,” is perhaps the best known of all the titles which the Bible assigns to Jesus. (Isa. 9:6) While not used by the angel who announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds on the Judean hills, the chorus of the heavenly host praising God and saying “peace on earth,” has been a continuous reminder of it. Customarily we think of peace in contrast with war, and we know that as a result of the rulership of Christ, war will be abolished—“They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Micah 4:3) But, as “The Prince of Peace,” Jesus will do much more for mankind than to abolish war and instruct people in the arts and advantages of peace.
Jesus’ further function as “The Prince of Peace” is revealed in that song of the angels on the night he was born in Bethlehem—“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14) This text has been mistranslated and misinterpreted to mean peace on earth “among” men of good will, but this is not the thought at all. The message of the angels was that the birth of Jesus was an expression of God’s good will “toward” all men, an expression of good will that eventually would lead to universal “peace on earth.”
When our first parents transgressed God’s law and were sentenced to death, divine favor was withdrawn from them. Sin and selfishness began to rule in the hearts of men, which led to bitterness and hatred toward one another—in families, in communities, within nations, and among nations. This has resulted in bloodshed, murder, and on the national level, war. Basic to this prevalence of strife among men has been their alienation from God. They have been in rebellion against him and his laws of righteousness and love. When God sent his Son to be the Savior of the world, it was an expression of his good will, an evidence that he was taking the first step toward re-establishing peaceful relationship between himself and his erstwhile human children.
In Romans 5:1 Paul uses the expression “peace with God” to describe the blessed relationship that exists between God and those who now, by faith, accept Christ and became his disciples. Very few during the present age have risen above their superstitions and their fears, and by faith entered into this blessed relationship of “peace with God.” Contradictions and confusion concerning God and his wonderful plan of salvation have hindered the vast majority from finding God, even though many have sought after him.
This does not mean that God’s plan of salvation through Christ has failed. It simply means that the time in that plan for the enlightenment of the people has not yet come. It will be during the thousand years of Christ’s reign that this will be accomplished. It will be then that “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa. 11:9) It will be then that the “veil” of superstitions pertaining to God will be removed, permitting the people to understand his loving plan for their eternal happiness.—Isa.25:6-8
If we think of the title, “The Prince of Peace,” as signifying a peacemaker it helps us to visualize the more complete role Jesus plays in the Father’s loving plan of reconciliation and salvation. The title mediator suggests the same function, and in I Timothy 2:3-6 we read concerning Jesus, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” A mediator between God and men is a peacemaker, and it is as such that Jesus serves as “The Prince of Peace.”
But let us not suppose that the necessity for this arises from God’s vindictiveness toward his erring human creatures; for this loving plan for being reconciled to man is of his authorship. That is why Paul refers to him as “God our Savior.” This in no way suggests that God and Jesus are the same. Jesus is the Savior of the world in that he carries out the Father’s plan for the redemption and recovery of the lost race from sin and death. This is why the angel announced, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10) But God is the “Savior” in the sense that he is the Author of the plan of salvation, that plan in which all will be given an opportunity to return to harmony with him and live.
Paul outlines that plan briefly, saying, “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all.” We are not to understand from this that Jesus is still a man. He became flesh, and was given the title, “Son of Man,” which he continues to hold because of the vital relationship his being made flesh bears toward the plan of salvation, the plan which called for the sacrifice of his life as a substitute for the forfeited life of Adam. Paul speaks of Jesus as the “man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all.”
It was Jesus as a perfect man who could give himself a “ransom,” a substitute, a corresponding price. And while he gave his flesh in sacrifice, it is intensely meaningful when referring to this aspect of the divine plan to associate it with his life on earth as a perfect man—the “man Christ Jesus.” Jesus’ sacrificial work as a man laid the foundation for his mediatorship between his Heavenly Father and the fallen human race, and it will be during his millennial kingdom that he will serve as Mediator, or Peacemaker. It will be then that he will be the great Prince of Peace.
Nor does the fact that more than 1900 years have passed since Jesus gave himself a ransom for all imply that there has been any failure or miscarriage of the divine plan for establishing peace between God and men. Paul says that Jesus gave himself a ransom for all to be testified “in due time.” There is a “due time” for every feature of the divine plan. There was a “due time” for Jesus to die for the sins of the world, and, as Paul assures us, a “due time” for this great fact to be “testified,” or made known to all.
God does not save men in their ignorance. When, through Adam, the human race was condemned to death, God “gave them up,” writes Paul. (Rom. 1:24-26) They “changed the truth of God into a lie,” he declares, and darkness pertaining to the will and plan of God settled down upon mankind. The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people.” (Isa. 60:2) Throughout all the centuries since man was driven out of Eden this condition has prevailed. Practically all of the human race have gone down into the sleep of death knowing nothing of the “only name” given under heaven among men, whereby they must be saved.—Acts 4:12
But they are not lost—not lost, that is, forever. Paul writes that it is God’s will that “all men shall be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth. (I Tim. 2:4) The word “saved” as used in this text, denotes simply a rescue from the sleep of death, and an awakening to consciousness. It does not mean the eternal salvation which is obtainable only upon the basis of knowledge, belief, and obedience.
And Paul explains that this awakening from the sleep of death is to make possible the receiving of a knowledge of the truth. “The dead know not anything.” (Eccles. 9:5) Therefore, no one in death could receive a knowledge of the truth. They must first be saved, or awakened from death. And what is the great truth of which all mankind will receive a knowledge when called forth from death by the power of “The Everlasting Father”? Paul explains that it is the fact that “there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all.”—I Tim. 2:5,6
Not until, in “due time,” this truth is made known to the people will they have an opportunity to accept God’s grace through Jesus, be reconciled to their Maker, and receive the opportunity of living forever. Thus we see that the work of “The Prince of Peace” in re-establishing peace between God and men began by the sacrifice of his humanity as a “ransom for all.” In “due time,” that is during the thousand years of his kingdom, it will continue. It will be then that all in death will hear his voice awakening them to life, that they may have testified to them the loving provision which has been made whereby they might obtain eternal life. What a Savior indeed is “The Prince of Peace”!
Referring to the awakening of the dead by the Mighty Potentate to whom has been given “all power in heaven and in earth,” the Prophet Isaiah wrote, “The ransomed of the Lord shall return, … with songs of everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isa. 35:10) The thought of a whole race returning from death singing songs of praise to God, and with hearts filled with joy, should not be difficult to believe for we know that He who has promised it is abundantly able to perform all his good pleasure. Sorrow and sighing shall “flee away.” Though weeping has continued throughout the long nighttime of the reign of sin and death, we are given the assurance that “joy cometh in the morning.”—Psalm 30:5
Truly, the glorified Jesus is a great Potentate, one who will rule with understanding; one who will be as a “mighty God” to his subjects; a Potentate who will give life everlasting to those who obey his laws; and, in addition, will re-establish their oneness and harmony with the great Jehovah God, the Creator of heaven and earth. Nor will all these glorious attributes be manifested on merely a local basis. “Of the increase of his government and peace, there shall be no end,” wrote Isaiah, meaning that his sphere of influence will continue to expand until it embraces all nations, and every continent and isle of the sea.
Isaiah concludes this prophecy with the assurance, “The zeal of the Lord [Jehovah] of hosts will perform this.” (Isa. 9:7) When Paul wrote concerning the period of the kingdom of Christ, explaining that during that time “all things were put under him,” he asserted that the Heavenly Father, Jehovah, was excepted. Jehovah has never abrogated, nor will he ever abrogate his position of supreme headship in the universe. He has asked us to worship his Son, and he has entrusted to his Son the great work, through his death and through the rulership of his kingdom, of rescuing the world of mankind from the thralldom of sin and death.
Jesus is the exalted Vicegerent of Jehovah in the accomplishment of this plan of salvation. In the prophecy of Jesus’ conception and birth recorded in Isaiah 7:14, he is given the name “Immanuel,” meaning “God with us.” From the standpoint of Jesus’ zeal for his Father’s plan, and his accomplishment of every aspect of it, how appropriate is this name! In him, and through him, the “zeal of the Lord of hosts” performs all the good pleasure of Jehovah toward his human creatures so that ultimately all the earth will be filled with his glory, and all nations shall rejoice in his salvation.