How the Son Is the Everlasting Father & Why It Matters
High in the White Mountains of eastern California lives the oldest tree in the world. The U.S. Forest Service has kept its location a secret, in order to protect the 4,854-year-old bristlecone pine from vandalism. The nearly five-millennia-old tree is appropriately named, Methuselah, and dates back to the days when the real Methuselah walked the earth.
Can you imagine the progression of this tree’s lifespan parallel to the biblical record? Maybe its first shoots poked through the frozen ground shortly after Noah and his family exited the ark. Methuselah’s trunk might’ve begun to take on its wind-swept twisted appearance around the time Israel made her dramatic exodus. Its gnarled branches might’ve first begun to twist toward the sky right around the time Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
As remarkable as Methuselah’s lifespan is, it is only a sigh compared to the eternality of God. We marvel at ancient things and yet when the topic of eternity comes up, we often shy away from it. Try as we might to understand a God who has no beginning and no end, thinking about it too long feels like trying to see the end of our reflection in a funhouse mirror. The never-ending-ness of it stretches the limits of our already finite minds.
Is the Son also the Everlasting Father?
However, these truths shouldn’t frustrate us, but stir up more wonder, awe, and worship in our hearts. We’re introduced to the eternality of God in the first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1.
“In the beginning, God…”.
Before anything existed or was created, God was there. Isaiah refers to the Messiah’s eternality and held the tension of the eternal nature of the child by also calling him the Everlasting Father.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
On the surface don’t these statements seem contradictory? How could a child be born in time, but exist outside of it? Or how could a newborn son also be the Everlasting Father? No wonder scholars scratched their heads at Isaiah’s prophecy for centuries. No mortal could be all these things simultaneously unless God in his infinite wisdom made it so.
The God who is both/and
But take heart, there is no contradiction in naming the Son, the Everlasting Father. He is both/and. The attribute of his everlasting fatherhood doesn’t diminish or contradict his sonship but rather perfectly complements it.
The original Hebrew of “Everlasting Father” is translated as Abi’ad (ab = ‘father’ and ad = ‘eternal’) which literally means “Father of Eternity.” Since he is before, above, and beyond time, he is also the possessor of eternity. And because he owns eternity, only he has the right to bestow eternal life on his children (Isa 57:15, Psa 45:6, Psa 90:2).
But Jesus is not only the possessor of eternity, he is also a father. Not in the same sense that God the Father is our Father (since they are two distinct and separate persons). Jesus is one with the Father in nature and essence, and therefore, the only one who can reveal the Father’s love for us. He is the Father’s love with skin on.
Undoubtedly, this stretches our imaginations like the funhouse mirrors.Only in the infinite mind of God, could be both a child born in time and the one who stood outside of it. Click To Tweet
Only in the infinite mind of God, Jesus could be both a child born in time and the one who stood outside of it.
The baby born to Mary is from everlasting, and as the son given, he is fatherly in his love for us. Praise God that Jesus is our Everlasting Father! Such knowledge is too wonderful, it is high we cannot obtain it.
Lofty truths at ground level
We may avoid thinking about these things because they are lofty, and if we’re being honest, we don’t think they’re relevant to our suffering. We may ask, how does the everlasting fatherhood of God help me wait patiently, cope with a difficult marriage, or pray for a wayward child?
But by believing these paradoxical truths, you will see how the eternal fatherhood of Jesus Christ is immensely practical for your pressing needs and present sufferings. Jesus said that believing in him leads to everlasting life (John 6:47). We daily need these lofty truths to meet us at the ground level of our lives.
Are you lacking direction, feeling aimless, or wondering what to do next?
Our God stands outside of time, knows all things, and will be your guide forever (Psalm 48:14).
Are you not sure his will is for your life?
Rest in the truth that God is never weary or tired, and his understanding is inscrutable (Isaiah 40:28). When you don’t know what to do, meditate on his attribute of eternality.
Have you experienced too much change lately?
Take comfort in Jesus Christ who is eternal and is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8). When everything else changes, he remains the same.
Do your troubles seem too complicated to figure out?
Look to the mountains and creation and remember they exist because Jesus told them to. Worship him and lift your gaze. (Psalm 90:2).
Have people in your life let you down?
Your Everlasting Father loves you. He will be near to you and will never leave you or forsake you (Heb 13:5).
How could we have known that we needed a Messiah who stands outside of time, only to then be born and constrained by it, would make him all the more mighty in our eyes? Or that in order to be a saving Son, he would need to embody the compassionate, tender love of the Father toward his children? Isaiah could only foretell these seemingly paradoxical characteristics of the Messiah, but we know them to gloriously converge in the person of Jesus Christ.
Why we need an Everlasting Father
We will never fully understand all the complexities of Jesus Christ, but we need to hold onto these complementary truths and embrace their tension.
While it may be uncomfortable, it wouldn’t hurt us to regularly gaze through the funhouse mirrors and consider our Everlasting Father. If they and the Methuselah tree teach us anything, it’s that life is short, and eternity is long.
What really matters in light of eternity? Only to know the Everlasting Father and spend forever with him. I pray you know him.
May he be yours forever,