Summary: What is a "counselor"? And what difference is Jesus as our "wonderful counselor" from the many good "counselors" listen to every day?
OPEN: The year was 1809.
The world was in an upheaval. Napoleon was sweeping through Austria and soldiers from many countries were dying on the battlefield. The fate of entire kingdoms and nations hung in the balance and the world seemed on the very edge of collapse
It was 1809...
And in that same year several significant people were born.
In Britain, there was William Gladstone - destined to become one of England’s finest statesmen. And Alfred Lord Tennyson, one of the great authors of his day, was born to an obscure preacher and wife.
In the US - Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Not far away in Boston, Edgar Allen Poe began his eventful, albeit tragic, life.
It was also in that same year the wife of a physician named Darwin gave birth to their child and named him Charles Robert.
And that same year produced the cries of a newborn infant in a rugged cabin in Kentucky. The baby’s name? Abraham Lincoln.
If there had been a news broadcast at that back in 1809 these words would have been heard: “The destiny of the world is being shaped on an Austrian battlefield today.”
But history was actually being shaped in the cradles of England and America.
APPLY: Every age has its dangers.
Eventually every nation faces difficulties.
Even today in the US - one of the greatest nations that has ever existed on the face of the earth - even in the US, we’re concerned with financial troubles, international terrorism, and political uncertainty.
Every nation, sooner or later, will face threats and perils that will make them believe that the destiny of the world is being shaped by that day’s events. And they will see their future as bleak, dark, and hopeless.
And yet, in every age, the birth of a child can make a significant impact on their destiny.
Back in the days of Isaiah, the world looked dark, and bleak, and hopeless. The nation of Israel had turned their back on God and God, in His turn, had turned His back on them. To punish them, God was bringing a nation from the north (named Assyria) and that nation was going to sweep down upon them like a flood tide and they wash over them in vengeance.
Isaiah said that God told Him (and any other person who’ll listen)
“The LORD spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said:… The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.” Isaiah 8:11, 13 -14
It was going to be a time of darkness. A time of hopelessness.
But… just a few verses later, God said there will be a time of hope and light - hope and light brought by the birth of a child.
Look at Isaiah 9:2
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
Yes, Israel, you have walked in darkness.
Yes, Israel you have been living in the land of the shadow of death.
But there will be hope.
And then in verse 6 He tells them why.
“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.”
Through the month of December we’re going to be dealing with the names of this Child that was to born; this Son that was to be given.
"Mighty God", "Everlasting Father", "Prince of Peace"…
And today – "Wonderful Counselor".
A counselor is someone you listen to.
Someone who gives you guidance or advice on things you think are important, that person is your “counselor”.
And people will listen to the advice of all kinds of counselors.
Some listen to talk show hosts: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck. Some listen to famous people like Oprah Winfrey, Dan Rather, Ellen DeGeneres. Folks will listen to political pundits, religious leaders, comedians, actors, singers, and the list goes on and on.
If those people (whom they listen to) say it - it’s got to be true. These counselors are so influential that people will form their opinions based upon what their "counselors" say.
Whoever you listen to is your counselor.
Sometimes those counselors will give you good advice… and other times they won’t.