He Will Be Called Wonderful Counselor

9: 6

    DIG: What expectations would you have if you first heard Isaiah pronounce it? What type of ruler would you expect to arise? How would his future rule and counsel compare with past alliances and plans (see 8:7-10)? Look up the New Covenant Scriptures that confirm the messianic prophecy written of here by Isaiah (Matthew 1:1, 3:13-17; 4:12-17; Luke 1:34-35, 76-79; John 3:16; 14:9-10; Hebrews 1:1-3). What does this do to your faith?

    REFLECT: Of the titles given in 9:6, which fit Jesus, as you know Him personally? What is the purpose of His reign in your life or in the world? When has He been a wonderful Counselor to you? Sometimes our imperfect earthly fathers have not been all that we had hoped or protected us in a way that we needed to be protected. Has there been a time when He has been an Everlasting Father to you in your time of need?

    This is the third in the series of verses opening with ki, or for clauses. There is joy because God has delivered from oppression, and He does that because He has brought an end to war. But how will He do that? This verse gives us the answer - the birth of a child.

    As for the human origin: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders (9:6a). A child is born refers to a natural birth. The implication is that this child, a son, was to be born into the nation of Israel (to us) as one of the Covenant people. In Isaiah’s day the leaders of Judah were incapable of governing the nation, but the Messiah will govern with wisdom and righteousness. His people will be delivered when His shoulders accept the burden of rule.

    As seen below, medieval Jewish commentators, resisting the common claims of messianic believers, argued that all this was simply in recognition of the birth of the crown prince Hezekiah and, therefore, was only a simple royal birth hymn. However, this view flies in the face of the chronology of Hezekiah’s birth. Even more seriously, it is evident from the language here that no merely human king could possibly accomplish everything that is being spoken of. This is clearly the Messiah.33

    The rabbis teach that the kingdom of Ephraim, destroyed by the Assyrians in the reign of Ahaz, passed over to Hezekiah when Assyria was showing signs of weakness. He was thus the first ruler, since the days of the division of the kingdom in the reign of Rehoboam, to combine the entire nation both in the north and the south as in the days of David and Solomon.

    God’s truth, however, is not merely in the sphere of ideas; ultimately, it is meant to take on human form (Malachi 2:17 to 3:1; Colossians 1:15, 19-20, 27). This person will also be a child, and we cannot help but notice that the childish aspect of the deliverer is important to Isaiah, for it appears again in 11:6, 8 and implied in 7:3, 14; 8:1-4, 8, 18. There are two important emphases upon this child. First, it emphasizes that the divine ruler will not merely be God, but although having divine attributes, will have the most human of all arrivals upon the earth, namely, birth from a woman. He will be both human and divine. But secondly, there is a paradox. How will God deliver the world from egotism, war, cruelty and intimidation? By being more egotistical, more warlike, crueler and more intimidating? Without doubt, ADONAI is powerful enough to demolish His enemies in an instant, yet again and again, when Isaiah comes to the heart of deliverance, a childlike face peers out at us. The LORD is strong enough to defeat His enemies by becoming vulnerable, transparent and humble. It is the only hope the human race has for turning hostility into friendship. Isn’t that true in your own life?

    Even though the son is of natural birth, He is at the same time of divine origin. Uniquely the gift of God, He is the Son of Psalm 2:1-12. In fact, the expectation of the entire nation was that the One who would be born to rule over them in justice and righteousness would possess divine attributes. It seemed to have a remarkable similarity with the Immanuel prophecy (7:14-8:22). Somehow a virgin-born son would demonstrate that God is with us. And He will be called, literally means one will call his name. The name of a person sums up character, it defines the person. The perfection of this King is seen in His qualification for ruling.

    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace (9:6b). In English the term wonderful counselor by itself does not point to divinity. But the Hebrew language has certain words that are used exclusively for God. For example, the word create is a word used exclusively for the LORD. No man is ever called wonderful (Judges 13:18; Isaiah 25:1, 28-29). At any rate, these are the names Isaiah uses:

    Wonderful Counselor (28:29): literally, wonder of a counselor, and the people will gladly listen to Him as the authoritative One. In the Messianic Kingdom many people will be anxious to hear the Messiah teach God’s ways (2:3) as He rules and reigns from the Temple in Jerusalem (Ezekiel Chapters 40-48). The vast majority of the eighty times that wonderful is translated from the Hebrew word pala, its noun pele or its adjective pilei, it refers to God and His mighty works. It is the nearest word a Hebrew has to the idea of supernatural. This Counselor will bring supernatural wisdom that fulfill Isaiah’s earlier promise that He would restore Israel’s judges as in days of old, their counselors as at the beginning (1:26a). His supernatural wisdom would stand in stark contrast to Ahaz, whose decisions ruined his people; but would also transcend Solomon’s earthly wisdom (First Kings 4:29-34). So this Counselor is a wonder, because His counsel goes beyond mere human wisdom.

    Mighty God (10:21): His relationship to His subjects, Isaiah understood that the Messiah was to be God. Some have suggested that el gibbor, or mighty God simply means “a godlike person” or a hero. But when you look at the entire book that Isaiah wrote, he obviously meant more than that. He had already spoken of the Messiah doing what no other person in the history of the world had been able to do (for example 9:5-7). Isaiah understood that the Messiah was to be God in every sense of the word. In fact, every time el gibbor appears elsewhere in the Bible there is no doubt that it refers to God (Deuteronomy 10:17; Jeremiah 32:18; Isaiah 10:21). This King will have God's true might about Him, a power so great that He will take whatever Satan can dish out (53:2-10, 59:15-20, 63:1-9).

    Everlasting Father (63:16): Many people are puzzled by this title, because the Messiah, God’s Son, is distinguished in the Trinity from God the Father. How can the Son be the Father? Several things must be noted in this regard. First, the Messiah, being the second Person of the Trinity, is in His essence, God. Therefore He has all the attributes of God including eternality. Since God is One (even though He exists in three Persons), the Messiah is God. Second, the title Avi’ad, or Everlasting Father is an idiom used to describe the Messiah’s relationship to time, not His relationship to the other members of the Trinity. He is said to be everlasting, just as God (the Father) is called Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9). The Messiah will be a fatherly ruler. Third, perhaps Isaiah had in mind the promise to David (Second Samuel 7:16) about the foreverness of the kingdom, which ADONAI promised would come through David’s line. The Messiah, a descendant of David, will fulfill this promise for which the nation had been waiting.34

    Prince of Peace (26:3 and 12): It is appropriate that this title, Sar Shaolm, should come as the climax of His attributes. The verb peace, salem, means to be whole, or complete. Prince corresponds to our idea of being an administrator. This Prince, then, complete in Himself, at one with God and His people, administers the benefits of peace, or wholeness, through His compassionate rule. This will be the fulfillment of the Messianic Kingdom: He will rule from sea to sea and from the River, to the ends of the earth. The desert tribes will bow before Him and His enemies will lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to Him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present Him gifts. All kings will bow down to Him and all nations will serve Him (Psalm 72:8-11). Somehow through Him will come the reconciliation between God and man that will make possible the reconciliation between man and man (Isaiah 53:5, 57:19, 66:12; Luke 2:14; John 16:33; Romans 5:1; Hebrews 12:14). It is ADONAI who plans the future (9:1), shatters the foe (9:5) and keeps His promises (9:7).

    If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, the LORD would have sent us a computer analyst. If our greatest need had been money, ADONAI would have sent us an economist. But since our greatest need was forgiveness, God sent us a Savior (from When God Whispers Your Name, Nashville: W Publishing Group, 1994).


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