This is post #14 in the Christmas devotional “Christmas Joy.”
Mel Lawrenz is Minister at Large for Elmbrook Church and directs The Brook Network.
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. -Isaiah 9:6
“What is the baby’s name?” The people in Bethlehem who had heard of a baby born in a stable must have stopped by to talk to Mary or Joseph. Mary and Joseph voiced the name they themselves had not chosen: Jesus. But hundreds of years earlier, other names had already been announced for the Anointed One. Among them, Isaiah spoke of one who would be called Wonderful Counselor.
What was a “counselor” in biblical times? It was one of the roles of a king or other highly placed official, the task of being wise and judicious in the most difficult questions, the most complicated negotiations, and the most intractable problems. The counsel of the king was supreme. But it was not infallible. We know there is good counsel and there is poor counsel.
The one born of a virgin would be called Wonderful Counselor. Now that is something different. The Hebrew word for “wonderful” means something out of the ordinary, clearly different, beyond human explanation. It is the knowledge described in Psalm 139:1-6: O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
When we contemplate the nativity of Jesus, we cannot help but be full of wonder. This is how God came to us, and it is wonderful because Jesus gives us an unclouded vision of what our lives are supposed to be—good counsel. He instructed us with words of wisdom. He exemplified, for us, what it looks like to lead a life devoted to the Father. Yet, how often do we really heed this treasured council? How might we live more consciously in light of the example he set forth?
Prayer for Today:
Lord I need your counsel in every area of my life. As I think about my family, friends, work, and decisions—I know I need to be smart beyond what is humanly possible to be smart. So please help me listen to you this Christmas as the only one who is the Wonderful Counselor.