6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
– Isaiah 9:6-7 NASB
Seven hundred years before Christ, Isaiah wrote that a child would be born who would be named Mighty God. The deity of Christ is a common theme for Christians, but not so much for the Jews who were well-versed in the Messianic prophecies and who should have known about this verse. Look at their reaction when Jesus hinted at this particular name of His:
56 “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” 59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. – John 8:56-59 NASB
So, when He implied that He was in fact “I Am”, the almighty God in the flesh, they picked up stones to kill Him. Of course they were no match for Him because He is, after all, Almighty God. Notice that in typical fashion, he didn’t pull out His right-handed powers and zap them with lightning bolts. He simply hid himself and left.
But how could they have believed this? The first three commandments of the big ten say that we should have no image of God, and have no other gods besides God. This prophetic verse in Isaiah makes no sense whatsoever. It looks like in the Talmudic tradition they retranslate and reposition some commas to deflate the scandal of saying that some little child could be Almighty God. However, apparently in the original Hebrew, if you read it normally it is quite clear. It is an interesting scholarly question but I think we know how it all worked out.
When we think that God is Almighty, we think of it in terms of human concepts of strength. He is a conqueror! He can crush our foes! He can create universes! He can speak zebras and elephants and whales into existence! We don’t think that His might includes weak things like becoming a helpless baby. That is impossible, right? But this is Almighty God. Of course He can do this.
The culmination of His power
In the flow of Isaiah, here is the culmination of His show of strength among the nations, the paragon of His might:
25 “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake,
And I will not remember your sins. – Isaiah 43:25 NASB
Apparently, to God, the entire universe is a simple and easy backdrop, a seven-day hack, to a much more difficult problem: how can forgiveness work? If He is to show His strength, from His perspective it is all about overcoming sin. We think this is a crazy question – anyone can forgive! But God sees down into the roots of things. He is Almighty in seeing what we are, and He is Almighty is solving our truest problem down to the roots of it. He is not looking for the paltry fake forgiveness we pretend at. He is looking to wipe our sins from all possible remembrance. And He is showing His incredible genius and power by doing this through the weakness of a little baby who would grow up in relative obscurity and die.
23 The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. – Hebrews 7:23-27 NASB
Jesus is a Left Handed Power Badass
Robert Capon calls God’s use of weak things to show His power “left-handed” power.
Left-handed power is precisely paradoxical power: power that looks for all the world like weakness, intervention that seems indistinguishable from nonintervention.
We humans continue to believe the insanity that our straight-line forceful efforts achieve our ends in the face of the overwhelming evidence that it does not work. Jesus’ victory over judgment and sin is a virtuosic show of left-handed power. He conquered all judgment and all guilt and all sin by simply surrendering and obeying the Father’s wish that He would go to the cross. So, His name, Almighty God, is engraved in the scars on His hands. He is forever worthy because He suffered (Revelation 5:9). Jesus is a Left-handed power badass!