This sermon is number 3 in a series of 4
The Wonder Of His Name - Part 3
"Mighty God, Everlasting Father"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2011 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Thank you Paul, good evening all. It's good to be back with you in the Iron Hall tonight - and, as Paul has announced, we're turning in our Bibles to Isaiah chapter 9, and we'll read this verse together, verse 6. I dare say that if you didn't know it off by heart before the series started, you will know it by now - but that's a good thing, isn't it? Isaiah 9 verse 6. As Paul has said, I have entitled this series 'The Wonder Of His Name', and what we have just been doing is breaking up this little verse into the various names that are prophesied concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Already we have looked at 'A Child Born And A Son Given', and the government would be upon His shoulders - two weeks ago we studied that. Last week, if you were here, we looked at the designations of our Lord as 'Wonderful and Counsellor', and really I think those two things are meant to be put together: He is the Wonderful Counsellor. Tonight we're looking at the Lord as the 'Mighty God and Everlasting Father'. God willing, next week we will look at Him as the 'Prince Of Peace'.
So let's read it together, verse 6 of Isaiah 9: "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace".
Let us pray together, I've invited you each week to pray with me, and to invite the Lord to come and minister to you. I want you to do that for me, I want you to ask the Lord to speak to your heart tonight. I hope that you've come anticipating, expecting to hear from God - but it's important that we come in that attitude of humility and dependence upon God, and ask Him to speak to our hearts. So let us all pray together: Father, we thank You for Your holy word. We thank You for how this book reveals to us Your heart. Lord, we know that the plotline and the point of this whole Scripture is to set forth Your Son, the Lord Jesus, for our need as Saviour. Lord, we want to meditate upon Him. There are so many things we could talk about tonight going on in our world, things that are happening in our land, in our own individual lives, in our families - but, Lord, we want to just for a moment press the 'Pause' button on those things that so often take up our concentration and the focus of our emotions, and we want, Lord, tonight, to just be still and to behold Jesus. Lord, we believe that is Your desire, for You rent the heavens and said: 'This is my Beloved Son, in Whom is all My delight, hear Him'. Lord, we would behold the Lamb of God tonight. We ask for the Holy Spirit to come and reveal to us this truth, that He is the Mighty God; to reveal to us this truth, that He is the Everlasting Father - and, Lord, that we'll not walk out of this place tonight with heads that are bigger, filled with a wee bit more knowledge, but with hearts that are bursting with a greater capacity and appreciation of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We thank You for what You have been doing these weeks, for people whose eyes have been opened to the wonder of the Lord Jesus. We pray it would please You even tonight to open our eyes further, and open our hearts wider to receive more of the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray, Amen.
I'm sure most of you have heard of Martin Luther, the reformer. In one of the great biographies about him, Jean Henri Merle d'Aubigne writes that Luther was seeking to know God more. He records that, and I'm quoting him now, the biographer: 'He would have wished to penetrate into the secret counsels of God, to have wished to unveil His mysteries, to see the invisible, and to comprehend the incomprehensible'. Jean Staupitz was Luther's confessor, he was the man who encouraged Luther to study Paul's Epistle to the Romans and to the Galatians, which of course birthed, as it were, the whole Reformation in Europe. But it was Staupitz who told Luther not to presume to fathom the hidden God, but to confine himself to what God had manifested to us in Jesus Christ. He said to Luther: 'In Him', in Christ, 'God has said 'You will find what I am and what I require. Nowhere else - neither in heaven, nor in the earth - will you discover it''. How true that is. Roy Hession, who relates that story in his little book 'We Would See Jesus', comments thus: 'How good of God to simplify our quest like this. We need not be philosophers or theologians, nor scholars. We need not, nay, we should not pry any farther. All we need to know of the Father has been revealed in the Lord Jesus with such simplicity that a child can understand - perhaps with such simplicity that, unless we become as little children, we will not understand; for so often it is our intellect that gets in the way'. This is what he goes on to say, now listen, this is so important: 'To see Jesus is to apprehend Him as the supply of our present needs, and believingly lay hold on Him as such. The Lord Jesus is always seen through the eye of need. He is presented to us in the scriptures not for our academic contemplation and delight, but for our desperate need as sinners and weaklings'.
That's what we've seen these weeks, isn't it? On week one we saw that there is great revelation in the names of God right throughout Scripture. You remember we looked at the name 'I AM', the name 'Jehovah', the compound names of Jehovah, nine of them - and then, of course, the tenth one in the New Testament, 'Jesus', 'Je-sus', a contraction of 'Jehovah saves', that's what it means. We saw that there is a principle in a revelation of God's names: one, that He reveals something about Himself, His character and nature; but two, that in revealing Himself, He reveals something that He provides for us. Every name that He bears is a blessing that He shares - and if His name often revealed told us the story that where there is need there is God, when Jesus came God was declaring that where there was sin there was Jesus. How He is infinitely able to meet our needs is revealed in these names. A child must be born, He must take upon Himself human flesh, not only to bleed and to die as the sin-bearer, but to take our place in humanity and understand what it is to be one of mankind, apart from sin of course. Therefore to be our Great High Priest, touched with the feelings of our infirmities, because He was tested like we are because He was a man. But a man was not good enough to die for our sins, a child must be born and a Son must be given. We saw that He had to be God of God to make a sufficient and satisfactory atonement for our sins that would be eternal.
Last week we looked at how He is Wonderful, and that is a designation of God Himself, and we can't even touch on the wonder of our Lord Jesus! But He's also the Wonderful Counsellor, and we saw how He counselled in the Godhead in the past to bring our salvation to bear - how He counsels with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to bring our lives to fruition in the purpose and goal that He desires of us in His will; and how He counsels us every day, not just through the word of God and our conscience and circumstances, but by the still small voice: 'My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me'.
Tonight we're going to see how He meets our need in these two designations: 'The Mighty God, and The Everlasting Father'. Seven hundred years before Jesus is born Isaiah prophesies that He would be described as 'The Mighty God' - that means 'the God of all creation', 'the God of glory', 'the God who reigns on the throne, sovereign in heaven', 'the One who alone is worthy of our worship and adoration'. This is what this name means, 'Mighty God', that He is deity! Now, of course, a couple of chapters back, chapter 7 and verse 14, this also witnesses to the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ: 'Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel', of course which means 'God With Us'. Of course, in the nativity story, Matthew chapter 1 and verse 23, we see this brought to fulfilment: the Lord Jesus called 'Immanuel'.
But there could not be a more explicit declaration of deity in our Lord Jesus Christ than this name 'Mighty God'. Yet there are so many groups, so many sects, schisms, who do not believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is God Almighty. The Jehovah's Witnesses, for instance, make the distinction between 'Mighty God' and 'Almighty God'. They say that 'Mighty God' isn't quite there the way 'Almighty God' is - but biblically there is no such distinction. In fact, both titles, 'Mighty God' and 'Almighty God', are used of both Jesus and of Jehovah, Yahweh. In fact, in Revelation chapter 1 verse 8 in the New Testament, 'Almighty' is used of our Lord Jesus. We read: ''I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End', says the Lord, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty''. Indeed, Isaiah himself, if you turn to the next chapter, chapter 10 and verse 21, uses this term 'Mighty God' of Jehovah - it's being used of the Divine. Verse 21 of chapter 10: 'The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, To the Mighty God', there it is! So this is a divine title, it is a statement of absolute deity: Jesus Christ is God! The Mighty God!
Now of course Jesus claimed to be God Himself. Turn with me for a moment to John chapter 10, John 10 verses 30 and 31 - you might want to take notes if you have a pen and paper, or get the recording afterwards, because I'll be going through quite a few texts of Scripture here, and if you're going to try to remember them - well, you might be better noting them down. Jesus says: 'I and My Father are one'. That does not mean 'one person', it does mean 'one in purpose', and it does allude to their oneness and unity in the Godhead. But look at verse 31, the Jews perfectly understood what the Saviour was alluding to: 'Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him'. They saw Him in this statement as attributing divinity to Himself. Near the end of His ministry, if you turn to chapter 12 of John verse 44, Jesus says, crying out: 'He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me' - there it is! It's tantamount to the Lord Jesus saying: 'Look! Look at Me, and you're looking at God!'.
Of course, to Philip's request, chapter 14, turn to it, Philip in verse 8 asks the Lord Jesus - and you can almost sense, maybe I'm wrong here, but you can sense a tone of frustration here with Philip - he's saying: 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us'. 'Lord, just show us God, and we will be satisfied!'. Jesus said to him: 'Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?'. That does not mean Jesus was the Father, what it means is: Jesus came to reveal the Father in His divine person. Jesus, it is clear, claimed to be God Himself. Anyone who denies that is not being honest or reputable with the Holy Scriptures.
Not only did Jesus Himself claim to be God, but those who knew the Lord Jesus claimed Him to be God - they attested to the fact that He was divine. You only have to go right back to the very beginning of John's Gospel, chapter 1 verse 1: 'In the beginning was the Word', a designation of Jesus Christ, 'and the Word was with God', so He's a distinct person, but 'the Word was God', He is divine in being and essence and substance. It's very clear. When we go to the end of John's Gospel, chapter 20, another attestation to His deity comes from Doubting Thomas, as we have come to know him. You know that the Lord Jesus says to Thomas: ''Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing'. And Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!''.
John attests to it, so does Thomas, and he was a doubter. Of course, the great apostle Paul, who was Saul of Tarsus, after his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus - he called Him 'Lord' there - but right throughout his whole writings in the New Testament he continually attests to the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let me quote you a couple without looking it up, Romans chapter 9 and verse 5, Paul says: 'According to the flesh, Christ came', there is His humanity, 'who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen', there is His deity. In the flesh He is Christ who came, Messiah, but He is God over all, eternally blessed forever. Again in Titus 2 Paul witnesses to the Lord's deity, he says: 'Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ' - Titus 2:13. The apostle John is no exception. In 1 John chapter 5 verse 20, we read there: 'And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life'.
The Lord Jesus Himself claimed to be God. Those who knew Him, and were with Him, and experienced His divine, mighty power as 'Mighty God', attest to the fact that He is God of very God. Then God Himself calls Jesus God. If you turn to Hebrews 1 - and, incidentally, if you're ever on the doorstep, and in the frame of mind to talk to the Jehovah's Witnesses, or the Mormons, or anyone else who is denying the deity of our Lord Jesus, a good way of remembering texts that are helpful is: first chapters. John chapter 1, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God'; Revelation chapter 1 we've already quoted, where Jesus calls Himself 'the Almighty'; and here is Hebrews chapter 1, where there are many indications of the Lord Jesus as divine. Here we see in verse 8 of chapter 1, God Himself calls the Lord Jesus, His Son, God: 'But to the Son He', that is, God, 'says: 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever''. Now listen: the Jehovah's Witnesses will tell you that it's the New World Translation of the Bible that you need. Some will blind you with linguistics and tell you that you need to be a Greek expert to delve into these deep matters - I'll tell you: you don't! The Bible very clearly, both Old and New Testament, declares that Jesus is God.
He also receives worship as God, look at verse 6 of Hebrews 1 - the Father requests worship of Him: 'But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: 'Let all the angels of God worship Him''. Now you know your Commandments, I'm sure, that you're to worship none but the living and the true God. So how could the Father be asking people to worship His Son if He is not divine? John Calvin says: 'And indeed, if Christ had not been God, it would have been unlawful to glory in Him - for it is written, 'Cursed be he that trusteth in man'' - but, you see, He's not mere man, He's the God-Man.
We can add to the fact that Jesus claimed to be God, and those who knew Him attested Him to be God, God Himself calls Him God, and He receives worship as God - we can add to those that He claimed to do things that only God could do. There's a couple of examples of this that I will allude to, we don't need to read them for the sake of time tonight. In Luke chapter 7 we have a woman who anoints the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ, she called 'a sinner woman', which is a sort of a nod and a wink to the lifestyle that she led - but the Lord Jesus has mercy and grace upon this woman, because of the devotion that was in her heart. He recognised what the Pharisees around could not see - they thought Jesus was blind to it: 'If He knew who this woman was, He wouldn't let her touch Him'. But, you see, Jesus not only knew who she was, He knew what was in her heart. Jesus said to her: 'Your sins are forgiven', and you can almost hear in the space in the verse the inhale, the gasp. The Pharisees and the Scribes, those who sat at the table with Him, began to say to themselves: 'Who is this who even forgives sins?'. Now these guys were not wrong, they were right. They knew that the only one who could forgive sins was God - but what they had fallen at, and what was their offence, was that He Himself was taking upon Him the authority to wipe this woman's sins away. He was claiming to do what God alone can do.
He did the same in Mark chapter 1, you remember the paralysed man whose four friends had broke the roof through, and let him down into the midst of that crowded little house to meet Jesus? You remember the Lord Jesus forgave him of his sins, and the Pharisees and the Scribes they cried, again this gasp: 'Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?'. Men might not understand what Jesus was claiming to do, but the Jews of His day understood completely: that He was claiming to be divine.
Now the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ is foundational and fundamental to the Christian faith, it is not an optional extra. It is not enough to believe in God and to think of Jesus as 'only a good man'. Further, those who actually deny the deity of our Lord Jesus effectively accuse us of idolatry, because that means we are worshipping a mere man who is not God - and that is the most serious sin against God, to worship another! The truth of the matter is that those who believe that Jesus is not God are guilty of the unpardonable sin - do you know what the unpardonable sin is? We'll not go into the depths of this tonight, but essentially the unpardonable sin was to reject the Holy Spirit's witness of God's Son. That's what the Scribes and the Pharisees did! We read in John 3:36: 'He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him'. You see, this is a spiritual matter of life and death: what you think about Jesus.
C.H. Spurgeon, the great preacher, said: 'If Christ were not the Son of God, His death, so far from being a satisfaction for sin' - listen to this - 'was a death most richly and righteously deserved'! He goes on to say: 'The Sanhedrin before which Jesus was tried was the recognised legislator of the country. He was brought before that Sanhedrin charged with blasphemy, and it was upon that charge that they condemned Him to die - because He made Himself the Son of God. If He wasn't the Son of God, He died justly under that sentence' - but He was, for even before He was born, Isaiah says: 'He will be called the Mighty God'.
Now I've been labouring this point, that in every name of God there is both a revelation of His character and there is a revelation to you of His provision. So what is the provision of God in this wonderful name 'Mighty God'? Warren Weirsbe says: 'The history of mankind has been the story of the discovery of power and the application of power. First it was manpower, then horsepower, then steam power and electric power, and now atomic power. Each step on the power path has enriched mankind both materially and financially, but it's doubtful that we are richer spiritually'. This is what he goes on to say: 'We are able to harness today the powers of the universe, but we can't control ourselves or keep selfish people from destroying the world and its people. The basic power needed today is spiritual power, and the source of that power is Jesus Christ'. As Almighty God, Jesus takes for us the demands of life. He is able, for He is Almighty.
Can I ask you tonight, very personally: what are the burdens that you have come into this meeting under? There were a couple of people carrying big Christmas parcels on the way in tonight, and I said jovially to one of them: 'You're under many burdens there!' - but sometimes we come in with heavier burdens, but they're invisible. You're not displaying them, other people are not seeing them, but you feel the weight of them upon your shoulders. You smile, and you say 'How are you doing?', and the other person says 'I'm doing fine!', and they say to you, 'And how are you doing?', and you say 'Well, I'm doing fine!' - and you've told a couple of lies before you've even enter the sanctuary. You know what I'm talking about tonight: the demands of life can weigh so heavy upon us, and there is power in our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, for the demands of life.
Let me show you His power here to demonstrate it for you. Take His power as the Creator of the universe, turn with me to Colossians chapter 1, Paul's letter to the Colossians. Again, this is another chapter 1 that sets forth the deity of our Lord Jesus - so, what's that now? John 1, Revelation 1, Hebrews 1, Colossians 1 - verse 15, we're thinking about His power as the Creator of the universe: 'He', Jesus, 'is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist' - that makes me want to shout, 'Hallelujah!'. That's your Saviour! That is my Lord! The amazing thing about the incarnation that we celebrate at Christmas time is that the Creator became, in effect, a creature - of course, He existed in His divinity before His birth into Bethlehem, but at Bethlehem He took upon Himself creature-hood!
I believe the greatest act of power that our Lord Jesus displayed was not the creation of the world - now think about that! The great astrophysicists, Hawkins and his like, are still trying to plumb the depths of it all, and yet we read in a word Jesus set the stars in place, He set the planets in orbit. Physicists are starting really to believe that there is no end to the universe, and yet they cannot believe in an eternal God. But, my friends, the greatest demonstration of divine power in our Lord Jesus was Calvary, His death, when He took upon Himself the sins of the world, and made an eternal, everlasting, never ceasing, never to be replaced, sacrifice for sins forever. I heard recently someone say, a messianic Jew, that when He cried out 'It is finished!', and He died, and He give up the ghost, that the veil of the Temple was rent in twain - in fact, I think it was brother Arthur told me this a couple of weeks ago - it was rent from the top to the bottom. We know the significance of that, that we can now enter in by the blood of Jesus, in behind the veil and speak face-to-face with our God - but Arthur was telling me that this Jewess said: 'When there is mourning, often the garment is ripped, and it was as if God the Father was ripping the garment of the veil in mourning for His Son'. But three days later, the greatest miracle in the history of humankind: up from the grave He arose into the power of an endless life, and He lives never to die again. He gives unto those who believe in Him life eternal, resurrection life - you don't have to wait until you die or until Jesus comes to get it, you get it now.
Now listen: the power of Jesus in His resurrection is seen not only in the fact that God the Father raised Him from the dead, Ephesians chapter 1, but here in Colossians chapter 1 we see His power. In John chapter 10 we read: 'No one', Jesus said, 'takes My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father'. So not only did the Father raise Him from the dead, but He raised Himself from the dead - now that's power!
His mighty power, believer - wait for this now - His mighty power, the power that created the cosmos, the power that bore the sins of the world in His own body on the tree, the power that raised Himself from the grave; that power is available to you! Now, you're looking at me as if I've said something wrong! Do you believe that? Look at Colossians, Paul prayed in verse 9 that we would know this power, now read these words very carefully with me: 'For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask God that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy'.
Warren Weirsbe says of verse 11: 'If God fills us with all might, then that makes us almighty!'. The almighty power of God is available to us through Jesus Christ. Now, we all know we're not almighty in and of ourselves, but what he is getting at is that, by the power of the Holy Spirit - who has been given to us because of the shed blood of Jesus, the power of His resurrection, His High Priestly ministry and glorification - the Spirit has come, Christ is in you, the hope of glory, and we can know the almighty power of God. The question is: do we? Believer, are you tapped into that power? I think if we were tapped into that power there would be big changes, big changes in our personal lives, big changes in our homes, our domestic situations, big changes in the workplace, big changes in our churches, big changes in our communities, in our land! We're talking here not in theory, we're talking about being in touch with the very divine power that raised Christ from the dead! What do we know of that?
This power is not given to us for display. I think that's why some Christians might want it in certain circles. They want to be seen themselves as powerful, and kind of offering the power of God to other people - but that is not the context of why Paul talks about us being filled with this Almighty power. If you look at it, he's talking about this power being used to develop our Christian character and our Christian conduct to the glory of God. This power is not given to us to say, 'Look at me!', it's to say 'Look to God!'.
Look at verses 10 and 11, verse 10 makes this clear - why is this prayer made that we might know the power of God? 'That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God' - this is the life of holiness. Verse 11, the beginning, that you might be: 'strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power' - why? - 'for all patience and longsuffering with joy'. This spiritual power is given to us to produce character. The purpose that God's power is given to us is that we might be godly.
A lot of people, as I've said, are interested in power - but there are very few people these days interested in holiness, but that's what the power is for. Often we have to suffer, there can be pain and there can be a cost involved in experiencing this power in our lives. You remember Paul had a thorn in the flesh - we don't know what it is, and we're wasting our time speculating about it - but it was something that he came three times to God and asked Him to remove, and God said no! I hear some people say: 'God never says no to your prayers' - God said 'No' to Paul's prayer to take that thorn away. He said: 'My grace is sufficient for you', listen, 'for my strength is made perfect in your weakness'. We'll all run for a shot of the power of God, won't we? Oh, God's power! But when it's wrapped in suffering and pain and cost, that's a different thing. Paul could say: 'I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong'. I don't know what you're going through tonight, but I'll tell you this: in your brokenness you can know the Almighty power of God just for your need.
We've got to move on. He's not only 'Mighty God', but He's 'Everlasting Father'. Now the idea in the Hebrew language here - which the Old Testament, of course, was written in - is that Jesus is the Source and the Author of all eternity. Now we've already seen that He is the Creator of the universe, but often people take this designation of Christ and say: 'Well, this means that He's God the Father' - it does not mean anything of the sort. Jesus is not the same Person as the Father in the triune Godhead. In the Hebrew that's not what is meant here. The concept in Hebrew is that 'Father' means 'originator of', or 'author of', or 'the beginning of'. What it's saying here is that He is the Father of eternity, that He is the Author and Originator of the ages. You remember the Lord Jesus in the Gospels called Satan 'the father of lies', it's the same sense, that he is the originator and the author of lies. Well, in the same sense, when it says Jesus is the 'Father of Eternity', that means He is the Originator of the eternal ages. Jesus is the Author of all things eternal.
Now, there are many applications of this truth. We've already thought about Him as Creator, we could think of Him tonight as the Author and Finisher of our faith, our eternal salvation and redemption. He also now lives to give eternal purpose to our lives, and quality to our lives. John 10 and verse 10 says: 'The thief', alluding, I believe, to the devil and angels of light representing him, 'The thief comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy. I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly' - that you might have it to the full. The literal sense is 'that you might have life overflowing'. Now, I only need to look at some Christian's faces to know that they don't have life overflowing. I'm not saying that life has to be a bed of roses, that's not the same thing - but even when life is filled with trial and tribulation, that deep down there is this inexpressible joy and security, this anchor in Christ Jesus, this fountain overflowing unto eternal life. You see, 'eternal life' is not just the quantity of life, that you're going to live forever and ever. Eternal life, particularly in John's Gospel and John's epistles, speaks of the quality of life - it's God's life.
As I said, there are many applications of this, but I want to leave you with one. Primarily I want you to see the Lord Jesus as the Father of eternity, the Originator of eternal things, in the realm of how He is sovereign over time. You see, time is encapsulated in eternity, it's not the same thing, but in God we live and move and have our being. This takes care of the dimensions of life: He is in control of time. Let me show you this, first of all He is in control of His own time. Of course this is in submission to the Father, we find this in the Gospels, and I'll not turn you to it because we haven't got time! But in chapter 2 and verse 4 Jesus said to Mary that His time had not yet come. In chapter 7 verse 4 He repeats that statement to others, His time, His hour, had not yet come. In chapter 7, twice He says: 'My hour has not yet come'. In chapter 8 He says it again, and then in chapter 17 - as He's now getting ready to go to the cross - in that great what is called 'High Priestly prayer', in verse 1 He says that His hour 'now had come'. He was in control, in submission to the Father, of His own time. In fact, in Hebrews 1 that we've already read, in verse 2 the literal translation of one of the phrases there is that Christ, not only did He create the worlds, but He framed the ages - He framed the times!
Now, do you know what this means? Even the ages of history are under His control. Can I tell you tonight: your life is no different! I love that little statement in Psalm 31 verse 15: 'My times are in Your hands'. Do you believe that? Matthew Henry said of that little verse, 'My times are in Your hands', listen: 'Our times (all events that concern us, and the timing of them) are at God's disposal. They are not in our own hands, for the way of man is not in himself; nor are they in our friend's hands, thank God for that; nor are they in our enemy's hands, but in God's. They could not be in better hands'. Spurgeon said: 'We are not waifs and strays upon the ocean of fate, but are steered by infinite wisdom towards our desired haven'. Listen to this: 'Providence is a soft pillow for anxious heads'.
Now don't misunderstand me tonight, I'm not talking about blind fatalism - 'Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be' - I don't believe in that. This doesn't mean that everything that is ever done is in God's will, or that there are never any detours in our lives, but what it does mean is this: God rules, and God overrules! We all make mistakes, we all take wrong paths, sometimes thinking God led us down them; but if we truly put our lives - remember how Isaiah put it, 'If the government of our lives is upon His shoulder' - He will be the Father of eternal things to us, and He will overrule even our own mistakes.
Maybe you're here tonight, and you have put the government of your life upon His shoulder, but He hasn't come through for you. He's delaying. Well, I want to tell you tonight that God's delays are not His denials. There is a wonderful story in John chapter 11, the Lord Jesus Christ had no place to call His own home when He began His ministry - but there was one place, if there was any, that He considered home, and that was a little house in Bethany. Some of His closest friends were Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus. While Jesus was on ministry the sisters sent the message to Him that the one whom He loved was sick near to death. They feared that Jesus would delay in getting to heal him and raise him to full health, but the very confusing story is that apparently they were right to fear Christ's delay, because He deliberately delayed! John 11 tells us He waited two days until Lazarus was dead, and He did not arrive at that little home in Bethany until Lazarus was already four days in the grave, which meant that decomposition had set in. For the Jewish belief, the spirit had long gone, departed from the body, and it was impossible for recovery - this was the end of no return.
It's very hard to understand why Jesus' delay should be deliberate, isn't it? Of course, we have the inside track: Jesus said this would be for the glory of God, but none of them could have known what the Lord Jesus had in store for Lazarus. Don't think for one moment that Jesus was not touched, or was not moved by the condition of His friend. We read that He came to that grave, and He stood with the sisters, and Jesus wept! So, just because Jesus is delaying in your situation, does not mean that He doesn't care! As far as they were concerned, the situation was beyond hope - but, you see, Jesus is the Father of eternal things, and He brings another dimension to every situation. He is the Eternal - and I love this verse in John 11 and verse 9, just listen: 'The disciples said to Him, 'Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?'. Jesus answered, 'Are there not twelve hours in the day?''. That can mean a lot of things, but do you ever notice in the Gospels that our Lord Jesus Christ was never in a hurry? 'Are there not twelve hours in the day? Men, I am the Author of eternal things'.
Maybe you feel the clock is ticking on your situation? Well, listen, if you would put the government of your life on His shoulder, the Lord Jesus, the Wonderful Lord Jesus brings another dimension. Here He brought another dimension to life and death itself, and He does with our problems - that's why we cannot get our eyes fixed on the things that are of time and sense. Listen to what Paul says: 'Our light affliction, which is but for a moment', that's a phrase of time, 'is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen', the things of time, 'but at the things which are not seen', eternal things. 'For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal'.
Oh it's wonderful, He is Wonderful, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father! Now, I know perhaps you can't make sense of your world at this moment - but I want to tell you tonight: if you have put the government of your life on His shoulder, He is in control.
There's a lovely story I want to end with, I told it years ago here, but it's worth repeating. It's about a wise old Chinese man, who lived on the troubled Mongolian border. One day his favourite horse, a beautiful white mare, jumped the fence and was seized on the other side by the enemy forces. His friends came to console him, and they said: 'Oh, we're so sorry about your horse', they said, 'that's bad news!'. The wee Chinese man said: 'How do you know it's bad news?', he said, 'It might be good news!'. A week later the Chinaman looked out of his window to see his mare returning at breakneck speed, and alongside her was a beautiful stallion. He opened his gates and put both horses into his enclosure. His friends then came to admire his new addition, and they said: 'What a beautiful horse, that's good news!'. He said: 'How you know it's good news? It might be bad news!'. The next day the man's only son decided to try riding the stallion - you've guessed it, it threw him off and landed him painfully, breaking his leg. The friends made another visit, and all of them were sympathetically saying: 'We're so sorry about this, it's such bad news'. You know what the wee Chinaman said: 'How do you know it's bad news? It might be good news!'. Within a month a terrible war broke out between China and Mongolia, and the Chinese recruiters came through the area pressing all young men into the Army. Every single one of them perished, except for the Chinaman's son, who couldn't go off to war because of his broken leg. 'You see', exclaimed the Chinaman, 'the things you considered good were actually bad, and the things that seemed to be bad news were actually for our good'.
I don't claim to understand the good or the bad, but what I do know is: Jesus is Wonderful, He is the Mighty God, and the Author of eternal things. As Hudson Taylor, that great pioneer missionary to China, once put it: 'Ill that God blesses is our good, and unblessed good is ill; and all is right that seems most wrong if it be His sweet will'. Amen. Do come back next week, and we're going to spend the whole night on the name of our Lord as 'Prince Of Peace'.
Father, that word 'great' can only be used of You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We thank You for the greatness of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who has opened our eyes through the Scriptures to see the wonder of Your Beloved Son, whom we can call 'mine', the Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. We worship Him. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at the Iron Hall Evangelical Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the third recording in his 'The Wonder Of His Name' series, entitled "Mighty God, Everlasting Father" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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