“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” – Isaiah 9:6-7
If you’ve ever heard Handel’s Messiah, you may already be familiar with this part of the book of Isaiah. This choir girl can’t even read it without hearing a full orchestra in her head. But whether you are singing along right now, (or not), chances are the words are at least somewhat familiar. This passage of Scripture was written over 700 years before the birth of Christ, and yet it gives four names for the One that would be coming: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
For the Israelites awaiting a Messiah, these names gave them a glimpse of their Savior, long before Jesus was born. They revealed parts of God’s character and foretold of a time that was to come, the promise of a world made right.
For us though, it can sometimes be challenging to connect deeply to something that was written so very long ago. How can these ancient words have bearing on our lives today?
Between now and Christmas, we will be taking a look at each of the names given to describe Jesus in this verse, and how that can help us to experience hope, joy, peace and love this holiday season.
The first name used to describe the long-awaited Jesus, is Wonderful Counselor. There are plenty of Bible verses telling us to seek wisdom and to cherish wise counsel. God even promises to give us wisdom when we ask! (James 1:5) Wisdom is important, but to counsel is so much more. A good counselor takes wisdom and applies it. They encourage you to do, say and think things that will lead to the best life for you.
In Christ we have even better than a good counselor, we have a Wonderful Counselor. One that inspires awe and, well…wonder! He knows us better than we know ourselves, because He created our inmost being (Psalm 139:13). Jesus the Wonderful Counselor also has God’s eternal perspective that sees the whole big picture at once. Who better to guide us and teach us when our own human perspective is so limited?
When my husband I and I were first married, I got really sick and wound up in the emergency room. It was pretty scary and honestly, we hadn’t navigated anything like this before. We felt so helpless in these uncharted waters–newly married and having to make some big medical decisions with little life experience to guide us. Thankfully, everything turned out ok. But oh how I longed for our parents to live closer, for someone older and wiser to step in and show us how to walk through this and somehow end up better for it.
What I realized in that moment and what I cherish now, is that we were not alone.
Not for one moment.
Psalm 32:7-8 reads, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
In the New Living Translation, verse 8 reads, “The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”
There wasn’t a single moment that our Wonderful Counselor was not watching over us with loving care. As we prayed, He helped us make wise choices and I saw His hand of provision and guidance at every turn.
I still see Him working in our lives, teaching us which way to go, always guiding us under His loving watch and care.
In Jesus, we truly find a Wonderful Counselor. And He is not a distant God who cannot relate. He was both fully God and fully human.
There is no other religion or tradition where the Creator and Ruler of All Things, humbles himself and becomes one of us.
There is no other God who can say from experience, “I understand.” and mean it.
What’s more, who else can say that they planned ahead millennia for what you are facing right now? Dear friends, I’m here to tell you that Jesus did. Thousands of years before you were born, God had a plan. He sent a Wonderful Counselor who sees you and watches over you with a loving eye. Someone to guide you and teach you which way to go. In sending Jesus, He made a way for you to never be alone. Not for one moment.
The season of Advent is about anticipation. We remember the story of the Savior’s birth long ago and we eagerly await the day when He returns. And in the meantime, we can know that He will guide us and watch over us in love.