Many times when I have been listening to Handel’s Messiah, I have wondered about the words of the chorus, For Unto Us A Child Is Born, which quotes Isaiah 9:6: “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.” Odd, I have thought, that Jesus, the Son, should be called “the everlasting Father.” We are not modalists, after all. The Father and the Son are one, but they are not one and the same. But Isaiah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, calls him “the everlasting Father,” and so he must be. Here is why:
In the face of . . . unbelief, only the sovereign grace of God can overcome the resistance of the readers and bring them to faith in Christ. This begins with the doctrine of election. In a world of sinners devolving into deeper stages of unbelief, God has a chosen people. It is upon these that God sets His saving grace. They were chosen for eternal life before time began and given to Christ to be His inheritance. It was the God-assigned mission of the Son to redeem these elect in order to present them to the Father:And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” —Hebrews 2:13
This verse quotes Isaiah 8:17–18 and applies it to the Lord Jesus Christ. As the Son of God approached the cross, He put His trust in His Father as He carried out His will. Illuminating Christ’s thoughts, Philip Hughes writes, “‘These children whom God has given Me’ constitute the elect people of God. These are given to the Son by the Father; hence the certainty with which Christ affirmed: ‘All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me’ (Jn. 6:37; cf. Jn. 6:39; 10:29; 17:2, 6, 9, 24; 18:9).” Pink adds, “Those whom God hath given to Christ were referred to by Him, again and again, during the days of His public ministry. ‘All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me’ (John 6:37). ‘I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me. . . . I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me’ (John 17:6, 9). They were given to Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). These ‘children’ are God’s elect, sovereignly singled out by Him, and from the beginning chosen unto salvation (2 Thess. 2:13). God’s elect having been given to Christ ‘before the foundation of the world,’ and therefore from all eternity, throws light upon a title of the Saviour’s found in Isa. 9:6: ‘The everlasting Father.’ This has puzzled many. It need not. Christ is the ‘everlasting Father’ because from everlasting He has had ‘children!’”
—Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 482–483.