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He Will Be Called Wonderful Counselor

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This morning is the first Sunday in Advent, this year our candle lighting litany and my sermons are going to be built around five of the titles Isaiah prophesied will be applied to the coming Messiah. Each Sunday, during the weeks of Advent I will begin our Scripture lessons by reading from these prophesies.
Isaiah 9:6 ESV
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 7:14 ESV
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Then I am going to read and preach from a passage in Mark’ gospel that shows how Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecies. This morning’s text is taken from Mark 12:18-27.
Mark 12:18–27 ESV
And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.” Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”
From this text I am going to answer two questions and ask you one question:
Why is Jesus Called a “Counselor”?
Why is Jesus Called a “Wonderful Counselor”/
Is Jesus Your “Counselor”?
Let us begin with the first question:

Why is Jesus Called a “Counselor”?

Today, when most people hear the word “counselor” they immediately think of a psychologist. This is unfortunate and can lead to a gross misunderstanding of what is meant in Isaiah 9:6 by the word counselor. In the original Hebrew it referred to a person who was able to make wise plans and decisions and offer wise advice to others. Most often it was used in the context of governance. We can clearly see this in Isaiah 9:6, for it says, “the government shall be upon his shoulders.” A good king was a wise counselor and he surrounded himself with wise counselors. The gathering of the king and his counselors was called a council. We still use the word, council in this way.
The people of Isaiah’s day longed for good governance. The Northern Kingdom had fallen because of bad governance and the Southern Kingdom of Judah was not far behind. Rarely had Israel enjoyed good governance. We read in 1 Samuel that the people first cried out for a king because the judges were doing such a bad job in governing. Here are their words:
1 Samuel 8:4–5 ESV
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
Notice the note of hope in their request—things were going from bad to worse and their hope was that a political change would make things better. This next year will be an election year in the United States and all the candidates will be selling hope based on the promise of wise governance. You can hear this in the campaign slogans of our current and former Presidents. Twelve years ago President Obama ran on the promise of “Hope and Change” and four years ago President Trump ran on the promise of “Make America Great Again.”
Why is this important? Because there is only one Wonderful Counselor!
This leads us to the second question...

Why is Jesus Called a “Wonderful Counselor”?

Isaiah prophesied that the coming Messiah would not merely be a “good counselor” or a “wise counselor” but a wonderful counselor! The Hebrew word translated “wonderful” denotes something that is so unusual, so amazing that it suggests divine origins. In other words, the coming Messiah will have supernatural wisdom that far exceeds the very best wisdom other men can offer.
Mark 11 opens with the Triumphal Entry and the Cleansing of the Temple, because of these events, Jesus’ authority is being questioned. Mark 12 serves as the answer. In chapter 12, Jesus’ supernatural wisdom is demonstrated to us in a series of “tests” the Jewish religious leaders put Jesus through. First, they test Him with a question concerning paying taxes to Caesar, then a question about the resurrection, then a question about the greatest commandment and finally a question Jesus asks them, “whose Son is the Christ?”. In each of these encounters Jesus shows himself as a wise counselor. In verse 17 we read, “they marveled at him,” in verse 34, we read that His opponents were so impressed by His answers that “no one dared ask him any more questions” and finally, in verse 37, we read that the common people “heard him gladly.”
This is no small point; we live in a world were politicians and pundits are vying for our allegiance. I chose to read from Mark 12:18-27, because in this second encounter Jesus clearly shows us where bad counsel comes from. Jesus says to the Sadducees, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.”
The more a person departs from Scripture and the knowledge of God, the more foolish their wisdom becomes. Again, we very clearly live in a culture that has turned its back on both God and His Word. I want to go back to 1 Samuel and have you hear God’s response to Israel when they asked for a “king like the nations.”
1 Samuel 8:7 ESV
And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.
Here is the crux of the problem, the desire and hope for good governance is so strong that it can very easily cross over into idolatry. God is not questioning the need for human government (Paul in the book of Romans teaches us that God has established human government), however our ultimate hope and allegiance must be in God alone.
This brings us to the most important question:

Is Jesus Your “Counselor”?

Remember the root of bad counsel that Jesus gives us in our text?
Mark 12:24 ESV
Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?
Jesus is the only person who perfectly knows Scripture and the power of God. As I was preparing this sermon, it struck me that the apostle John opens his gospel by demonstrating this truth:
John 1:1 NIV11
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 NIV11
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:18 NIV11
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
No one is able to govern your life and give you wise counsel like Jesus!
Because of the power of the mass media, we live in a world of lies. The problem of bad counsel goes back all the way to the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve listened to the Serpent, but the mass media makes our time unique: Never have lies been so pervasive and powerfully communicated. We need to hear the voice of the Wonderful Counselor more than ever.
So, how do we hear His voice in an age when the voice of foolishness is so loud?
First, through Scripture. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is the author of Scripture. Jesus faulted His opponents for not knowing Scripture, let us not make the same mistake. Recently, John Piper wrote that the defining issue of every generation is the authority of Scripture. Are you willing to obey the voice of the Wonderful Counselor?
Second, we need to experience the power of God through the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples this:
Acts 1:8 ESV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
We experience the power of the Holy Spirit when we walk in obedience to the Word of God.
Galatians 5:25 ESV
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Christians walks to a different drummer and never has been truer than today. This can seem like a hard road. It is difficult to go against the culture, but this hard road is “Good News,” it is “Gospel,” because it is the only road that leads to life. Let us hear again the wise words of our Wonderful Counselor:
Matthew 7:13 ESV
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
On this first Sunday of Advent I ask you, “Is the Wonderful Counselor your counselor?” Let us pray.
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