written by: Michael Catt
Chapter 4: The Head of the Family: The Eternal Father
The name before us is a reference to God the Son as Creator of heaven and earth. In Hebrews, chapter one, beginning in verse ten, we read, “And, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands; They will perish, but Thou remainest; and they all will become old as a garment, And as a mantle Thou wilt roll them up; as a garment they will also be changed. But Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end. “In these verses, God the Father is speaking to God the Son, Jesus Christ.
If Jesus was present in the beginning as Creator, one must conclude that He existed before the beginning, and therefore would be without beginning. “In the beginning was the Word,” (John 1:1). It seems strange to us that the Son of God would be identified as the Eternal Father by Isaiah.
To understand this name, we need to reflect on the Hebrew concept of “father.” There are very few references to God as Father in the Old Testament. The emphasis on the Fatherhood of God begins in the New Testament with God the Son.
If you were to take a concordance and search the word “father,” you would find it used some 678 times. The term, according to an Old Testament Jew, would mean “originator of” or “author of.” In many of the passages, the term is redemptive in character.
For instance, “He will cry to me, ‘Thou art my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.'” (Psalm 89:26). “For Thou art our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not recognize us. Thou, O LORD, art our Father, our Redeemer from of old is Thy name.” (Isaiah 63:16). “Sing to God, sing praises to His name; lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts, whose name is the LORD, and exult before Him. A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation.” (Psalm 68:4,5).
God does not change, but our image of Him does as we move through the Scriptures. In the Old Testament, we see God’s majesty, power, might, and awesomeness. When you read the Old Testament, you can’t help but ‘fear the Lord.’ When you read the account of Jehovah at Sinai, He is the God who speaks with sounds of thunder, earthquake, fire, and lightning. Cecil B. DeMille couldn’t do justice to that scene, even with today’s special effects!
Only when you turn to the New Testament does the picture of God as a Father who loves His children begin to unfold. In the gospels Jesus reveals the heart of God. He gives us a personal glimpse of a God who longs to be intimate with his children.
As you read this verse in Isaiah nine, I implore you to catch the significance of one man, scanning the horizon of the future, looking beyond himself and anything he has ever known, and making this pronouncement, “Eternal Father.” This is an incredible revelation. The God who is so holy that He would kill a man who entered the Holy of Holies with sin in his life now says to sinners, ‘Come on in. Let’s fellowship together. I want to spend time with you. I care about your every concern.’ This is no small concept to grasp. The only way Isaiah could have come up with this name is through divine revelation.
Before we go any farther, I want us to examine these words in detail. The Hebrew word for father is “ab,” and the word everlasting is “ad.” Literally translated the words are “Father of Eternity.” The term expresses singularity. There can be only one Eternal Father.
The word “ab” is a primitive word and means father in a literal or figurative sense. It is used in the Old Testament as both the father of an individual and of God as the Father of His people. Figuratively, it is used of a producer, a generator, or a protector. It is a term of respect and honor.
Basically, it relates to the familial relationship. The first use of the word is in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife.” In Deuteronomy 32:6, God is called the “father of Israel.” He is the One who begat and protected them, the One they should revere and obey.
Isaiah uses the term as one of the Messiah’s enthronement names. It is incredible if you look at the word in the time in which it was used; that the Son of God would be given this title. The Son of God is the Eternal Father. He is the creator, originator, producer of this world. Warren Wiersbe writes, “God created us for eternity, and Jesus Christ came to earth to reveal eternity.”
Jesus declared a oneness with the Father. The mystery of the Trinity is here. When people saw and heard Jesus, they were seeing and hearing the Father also. When the Spirit of God speaks to us today, we are hearing the voice of Jesus.
The Ancient of days came at a point in time. The creator came as a baby. The creator, originator and protector came to redeem fallen man and restore him to a right relationship. In order to reveal His heart, God had to come to earth and make Himself known to man. He came not as an angel, but as the seed of Abraham.
Christ was born of a virgin; He was God with skin on. His life is studied to this day because of the magnificent complexity of it. Children love Him because He is accessible. Scholars stand in awe of Him because He is incredible. He was born, He lived, and He died. Yet, He is the author of the eternal ages. A child once asked, “What is eternity?” The answer came, “It is the lifetime of the Almighty.”
Jesus Christ is the Father of the children whom God has given Him (Hebrews 2:13). There was a great gulf fixed between God and man. Jesus Christ came to close the gap and fill the gulf. He is the Eternal Father who loves, protects, and provides for His children. The more we know about the heart of God, the more we understand the name “Eternal Father.”
Father is the name Jesus most often used to describe Jehovah God. With dozens of Hebrew names to choose from, He chose father. He could have said, “Pray like this; ‘Elohim’…or ‘Adonai’…or ‘Shaddai’…or ‘Jehovah’.” Instead, He taught us to pray like this; “Our Father, who art in heaven.” He said, “Your Father knows the things you need.” “Pray to the Father, and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.” “Your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
On every page, Jesus paints a picture of the Eternal Father. You see Him waiting for the prodigal to come home. You sense Him wanting to hear our concerns and needs in prayer. He calls us His children. We’ve been adopted into His family. We are no longer slaves but sons. No one can read the New Testament and fail to see the Father’s care, concern, provision, and forgiveness. He even promises us an eternal home.
Take the time to read the following verses. Let the Holy Spirit affirm to your heart how much God loves you. Let these words from the sacred text remind you of the blessings that are in store for the children of the Eternal Father. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'” (Matthew 25:34). “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32). “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1,2). “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:15). Your Father has made some promises to you. Someday all that is of God in heaven and on earth will be my inheritance. It’s written in the will. My Father told me I could count on it.
If you are a child of the King, then you have an Eternal Father. He is not a distant deity. He is in you. He hears you. He knows your every need. He is personally interested in what is going on in your life.
A few years ago, the Boston Globe interviewed Dennis Wise. Wise is an Elvis fanatic. Read these words from the interview:
“I loved Elvis. I followed him his whole career. I have every album he has recorded, and seen every movie he’s made. I once even bought some boots when I was in junior high school that looked just like his. The kids called them ‘fruit boots.’ But I didn’t care they looked like Elvis.
Later, I even got a face lift, and a hair contour like his. I have won Elvis look a like contests, and wanted him to notice, so I would storm the stage during and after concerts he would do. I don’t even think he ever saw me. I have ticket stubs from concerts, Elvis clippings from programs all over the world, and even some Elvis pillows from Japan.
Yeah, Presley was, and is my idol. My only regret was… that I never really saw him… I mean really saw him. Sure I went to concerts, but there was no contact. I once even climbed the walls around Graceland, the Presley mansion, to catch a glimpse of him. I think it might have been him that was walking through the house as I was looking through my binoculars. But … I never really saw him. It’s funny… all the effort I put into following him and I never could seem to get close.”
Jesus came so you could have an intimate relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All the barriers are down. The ticket has been paid for. You have a backstage pass and the opportunity for a one on one conversation…anytime you like. “His name shall be called…Eternal Father.” Other people may let you down; He never will. He always delivers on His promises. He cares about the smallest details of your life. He is always patient, kind, forgiving, and gentle. He wants nothing but the best for you. He cares, and you can count on it forever and ever. Amen.
©2004 Michael C. Catt. All rights reserved.
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.