Advent Devotional Day 13: Isaiah 9.6
His Name Shall Be Called: Part 1- Wonderful Counselor
For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His Name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9.6)
This verse is a favorite of Christians all around the world at Christmas time. This verse speaks of the ultimate hope of Israel and all the world. Through the darkness of God’s judgement prophesied in the previous portions of the book of Isaiah, there was a light coming that would dawn on those sitting in darkness. His coming to His people would be compared to light shining in the dark, (v. 2) and the joy that comes at harvest when the fruit of the ground is brought in. (v. 3) His coming would signal peace for His people that brings an end to the oppression and violence of the enemies of God. (v. 4) His reign would bring such universal peace that those who once warred against each other are said to burn their garments that they wear into battle. (v. 5) “In His Name, all oppression shall cease.” (O Holy Night)
How will God bring about the light, deliverance and peace promised in this marvelous text of Scripture? He will bring it about by introducing a Child into the fold of Israel. The child is born to us, meaning that covenant-people of God who were laboring under His judgement. Deliverance was coming to them, and it was coming to this unsuspecting nation in the form of the weakest, most helpless creature. However, the One coming will be the One to dawn on those sitting in darkness, He will “multiply the nation and increase its joy,” He will break the yoke of Israel’s burden, He will bring her warfare to a complete end. He will be a Mighty Conqueror and a King of all of the nations. (Isaiah 2) This text stands in line with previous texts of hope in Isaiah’s prophecy. Isaiah 2 speaks of the Mountain of God that He will reign from as the nations flow up to hear His Law and obey His voice. Isaiah 7.14 speaks of a child that will be born as a sign of both God’s judgement and His deliverance. As this text relates to previous texts of hope throughout the Old Testament, this shines light on the prophecy of the Seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head. (Genesis 3.15) This is the King from Judah’s line that the nations would bow to. (Genesis 49.10) He is the Greater Son of David who is the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant, (2 Sam. 7) the only Begotten Son of God who has the nations as His inheritance, (Psalm 2) and the Solomonic King who’s reign brings everlasting peace and bounty to God’s creation as all the nations of the earth come to marvel at Him. (Psalm 72) This Child is the Desire of nations. The hope of Israel.
In this verse there are four names given to this Child to be born. In this, and the three following installments of this series, we will meditate on the names given to Him and see how they each display His distinct glory. The focus of this devotional is His Name Wonderful Counselor. Ahaz was a foolish King. Ahaz was approached by God Himself through the prophet Isaiah and told specifically to ask for a miraculous sign of God’s presence and faithfulness to His people. Ahaz had such little faith in the Living God that he would not even ask for such a sign, feigning piety as his reason for refusing to ask. (Isaiah 7.13) Since God Himself offered to show Ahaz a sign of His faithfulness, Ahaz’s refusal was the height of foolishness and impiety.
Wonderful is a term in Hebrew which designates the miraculous nature of something. Some have even suggested that this Name given to the coming King be translated “miraculous.” While I won’t go so far as to say this would be a correct translation of the term, it is worth noting that no matter how the word is translated, the Word is describing a King who’s very nature is miraculous. When coupled with the term Counselor, we get the full picture of this King that the Name is describing. Unlike Ahaz, who rejected even a miraculous sign to be given to him in his foolishness, the very nature of the coming King would be miraculously wise. Counselors approach those whom they instruct to speak words of life and wisdom to them. Isaiah is describing One coming who is the pinnacle of wisdom, because He Himself is Divine Wisdom in His Person. In John 1, John’s prologue to His Gospel, he describes Jesus using the Name “Word” or “Logos.” His rationale for doing so is the fact that words have a specific function, if I speak a Word to you, I am revealing some particular aspect of my mind. Jesus is the Word of God in the highest and most perfect sense. As the Eternal Logos, or Word, the Person of the Son is the perfect revelation and representation of the entirety of the Father’s Nature. He is “the radiance of His glory.” (Hebrews 1) He is “the only begotten Son from the Father.” (John 1.14) If Jesus (existing eternally in the bosom of the Father) is the perfect comprehension of the Father’s very Divine Nature, then of course this logically means that He is also the “Wisdom” of God, because He comprehends the Father’s Nature perfectly. This text in Isaiah is speaking of One who IS Divine Wisdom in His Person becoming a child. Incarnate, Jesus displays the miraculous wisdom of God in His life as He perfectly obeys the Father on our behalf.
This is the reason that Divine Davidic King that was coming was to be named “Wonderful Counselor.” He is a King who reigns in perfect wisdom, miraculous wisdom, because He is the Wisdom of God. He is the child born in Bethlehem, born of a virgin. His birth is the One we celebrate during this season. Let us fall on our knees before Him and plead with Him to instruct us in His Wisdom as our King.