Herman Hoeksema was the first editor of the Standard Bearer. * Standard Bearer, December 15, 1939.
For 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.
Wonderful, that the church of the old dispensation, while the mystery was still hid, could thus sing and shout for joy at the prospect of His coming, the coming of the Prince of Peace!
And wonderful is He, as in the light of prophecy He is here beheld, in His power and dominion, in His marvelous virtues and qualifications for the exercise of that dominion in the realm of perfect peace, and in His origin, as of us yet not of us, as born from our loins, yet given by the God of our salvation.
A child is born … the mighty God!
A son is given unto us … the everlasting Father!
Christ, the Immanuel, the Prince of Peace!
For always the church has understood this prophecy, and has repeated it in song and sermon a thousand times, as referring to our Lord Jesus Christ. And correctly so. That it is of Him that the church of the old dispensation is here enjoined to sing for joy is evident from the words themselves. What other child was ever born to man, to the church, what other son was ever given unto her, to whom even the boldest imagination could apply the names that are here mentioned of this Son? Who was there among the sons of men, whose very name could be called Wonderful or Counselor? Or, if human imagination might conjure up such a being, how could he ever presume to be the mighty God, the everlasting Father Himself? And where among men is he that is entitled to the name Prince of Peace?
Nor is this application of the text to the Lord of glory a mere conjecture.
For this Prince of Peace is the explanation, the cause, of the joy of victory of which the preceding verses speak. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. They were harassed by the world powers of darkness, but now they see the light of joy and victory; they rejoice as in the harvest, and their joy is as the joy of those that divide the spoil. The enemy is overcome, and they are delivered from oppression. For unto them a child is born, unto them a son is given, and the government is upon his shoulder.
The Prince of Peace!
In order that it might become manifest that He was the One of whom this joyous prophecy spoke, the Lord, after John was cast into prison, departed into Galilee, and dwelt in Capernaum, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, “The people which sat in darkness saw a great light! And to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up!”
He preached, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
The Prince of Peace!
Dimly He was seen in the pale light of prophecy, and the church of the old dispensation rejoiced in hope! But He was manifested in the fullness of time, and the light shone upon us, we beheld His glory as of the only begotten God! The light was manifested in our darkness, the darkness of sin and corruption, the darkness of the shadow of death!
And the darkness was dissipated!
The powers of oppression are overcome!
For unto us a child is born! A son is given!
The Prince of Peace!
Magic name in a world of woe and turmoil!
Wonderful name, indeed, in a world torn by war, bleeding from a thousand wounds: The Prince of Peace!
Small wonder that even they who know Him not and understand nothing of the peace He came to bring are spellbound by the charm and magic of that name, and every Christmas season speak of Him and sing the praises of what they conceive to be the Prince of Peace! They catch the exquisitely soothing music of the name and they taste the heavenly gift wrapped up in that name, and the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, a world of righteousness and peace.
Seeing they see; hearing they hear.
Yet they do not perceive; still they fail to understand.
They use the name; they reject Him! Their rock is not our Rock; their Prince of Peace is not the Christ of the Scriptures.
He, the Prince of Peace, is characterized by peace in all His appearance, mission, work, and dominion. To establish peace He came into the world. To rule in peace forever He labors and toils and battles and suffers and goes down into the nethermost parts of the earth. For, peace He came to establish, peace indeed. Not the superficial peace that is created by conferences or courts of men, by treaties that are signed, by pacts that are sealed and that are broken by them that make them; but true, real, essential peace He came to create. Quite impossible it is, indeed, to bring peace in the relationships between men and nations, where there is no peace in the heart; and quite hopeless is the expectation of peace in men’s hearts, as long as there is no peace with God!
The futility of the attempt to establish peace where there is no peace the world has demonstrated in late years more clearly than ever before. For peace they longed, and war was dreaded. Of peace they spoke in speech and song and discussion around conference tables. Peace palaces were built. Peace conferences were held. Disarmament agreements were attempted. Peace treaties were signed. A league of nations was established. Yet, there was never a time in which the world was so full of greed, hatred, distrust, and war, as our own. They speak of peace, peace, where there is no peace!
Peace is a profound spiritual reality!
It is a matter of the heart. It presupposes and is rooted in love, the love of one another! The love of one another is rooted in the love of God! The love of God is love of God! And herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us!
Therefore, love is also righteousness, holiness, truth.
Without these there is no love — no love of God to us, no love of us to God, no love of one another. And without this love there is no peace — no peace with God, no peace in God toward us, no peace of us toward God, no peace between man and man, between group and group, between nation and nation. It is, and it must needs be, war!
There is no shortcut to peace!
The sole road hither is that of righteousness, truth, holiness, love, life.
That road He traveled, the Prince of Peace, the Captain of our salvation!
Peace He made, first of all, with God. Everlasting peace, on the basis of an everlasting righteousness. For, voluntarily, in the obedience of love, He placed Himself under the vials of God’s wrath in the hour of judgment; obediently He descended into the deepest woe and agony of death and hell to satisfy the unchangeable justice of God, thus to open the way for peace on the basis of God’s own terms: His righteousness! That peace He gives unto us. For the Prince of Peace who died to make peace was raised in peace, was glorified and exalted at the right hand of God to reign in peace and to overcome all the evil forces of war, and was given the Spirit to realize that peace in the hearts of all His own. By that Spirit He leads us into His kingdom of peace with God, assures us of our reconciliation with God through His blood, removes the enmity against God that is in our hearts by nature, pours out in us the love of God, and causes us to sing with joy: “We, therefore, being justified by faith, have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
The Prince of Peace!
Through that peace with God we have peace with one another!
By nature we are war-makers. For we live in malice and envy and covetousness. We are filled with pride and hate one another. But when the Prince of Peace reigns in our hearts by His Spirit and grace, we become makers of peace, love one another, humble ourselves, forbear one another and forgive one another, even as God for Christ’s sake forgave us!
And through Him we have peace with all things!
For, having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, we even now are assured that all things are ours and we are His and He is God’s, and that He who reconciled us with Himself through the death of His Son will surely cause all things to work together for our good.
And we look forward to the final kingdom of peace!
Then, in the new heavens and the new earth, in which righteousness shall dwell, God’s tabernacle shall be spread over all!
The creature shall participate in the glorious liberty of the children of God!
And there shall be nothing that shall destroy in all God’s holy mountain!
Blessed Prince of Peace!
Might and power are, indeed, indispensable requisites for one who would change this war-torn world into a realm of everlasting peace!
And mighty He is!
The government is upon His shoulder! Authority and power have been conferred upon Him. By divine right He is and reigns as the Prince of Peace. By divine authority He comes into this world to claim it as His own possession. By divine appointment He battles His way into His dominion of peace, overcoming all the forces of evil, all the powers of opposition, all the principalities that make for war. And by divine ordination He reigns in His own eternal realm of peace!
The government is upon His shoulder!
Ordained He was as the Prince of Peace from before the foundation of the world. And exalted He was. Clothed with all authority and power in heaven and on earth, He now is at the right hand of God, still battling until all enemies of His peace-rule shall be subjected under His feet!
And He is strong to save!
Not only authority, the divine right to rule, has He, but also the power and strength to maintain and exercise that authority. Such was necessary. One who has authority must be strong. Strong in power and wisdom he must be. This Prince of Peace must have power to stand and overcome alone! Alone against all! The powers of hell and of the world, of the devil and wicked men, of sin and death He must overcome! He must establish His dominion of peace by removing and overcoming the kingdoms of this world! He must maintain, preserve, and perfect that kingdom, and reign forevermore over all things!
Powerful He is!
For He is called the Mighty God! He is named the Everlasting Father! His name is, therefore, Wonderful! And He is justly named the Counselor!
Mighty God is He, for this Prince of Peace is the eternal Son, co-equal with the Father and the Holy Ghost, infinite in might as they are infinite in might, eternal as they are eternal, filled with infinite wisdom as they have all wisdom and knowledge in themselves. And as such He is the Everlasting Father! Not, indeed, as if He were not distinct as Son from the Father, as the second from the first person in the holy Trinity, but as God, as being one in essence and nature with the Father and the Holy Ghost, He is the Everlasting Father Himself, whose image He is. In the Prince of Peace we see Jehovah, the God of our salvation, the Father in heaven, come unto us! His name is truly Wonderful, for He is nevertheless our Prince of Peace: God in the flesh, eternity in time, Creator in the creature, the Lord as servant, the Judge being judged, the Lord of life dying.
His name shall be called Wonderful!
Mighty He is to save and to establish and maintain forever the kingdom of peace that was appointed Him!
Filled He is with all wisdom! For His name is Counselor! God of God in human nature, He has direct, inner contact with all knowledge and wisdom of the Father! All the treasures of knowledge and wisdom are in Him! And He counsels us in the way of peace!
Glorious Prince of Peace!
Gospel of joy!
Glad tidings of good things!
Let us rejoice as in the time of harvest, and be joyful as those that divide the spoil!
For the people that sat in darkness have seen a great light, and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them the light shined!
For unto us a child is born! Unto us a son is given!
Born, yet given!
How could it be different? Is not His name Wonderful? He is, therefore, a child that is born of us. Born He is, not of the world, not of the seed of the serpent, but of us and unto us. For He is of the woman’s seed, in the line of Seth, according to the promise of Shem, of the seed of Abraham, out of the tribe of Judah, a branch of the royal tree of David, a root out of a dry ground, from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary. Man of man, flesh and blood of our flesh and blood, is He. Unto us a child is born!
Yet, though born of us, He is definitely given!
Unto us a son is given!
How could we, who are dead through trespasses and sins, enemies of God and of one another, who are forever making war, bring forth the Prince of Peace, who knew no sin, though He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, who was found without guile, though in all other respects He was like unto His brethren? And, what is more, how could we bring forth Him who is mighty to save and to establish the eternal kingdom of peace, and whose name is Wonderful, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace?
He is given! Given of God!
Given through the Wonder of wonders, the Incarnation!
God’s Son became our Child!
The Prince of Peace!
Glory to God!
Peace on earth!