His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor

His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor – a sermon on Isaiah 9:1-7 by Rev. Colin Pretorius.

I don’t know if any of you follow soccer at all – or as some prefer to call it, football. In Australia we have the Socceroos and the Matildas, and even if they’re not half bad, they just don’t come close to teams such as Italy or Argentina or Brazil. It seems that especially Brazil has always had this enormously talented team with players that could do almost anything with that round ball. Those of you who are a bit older may remember one such great player called Edson Arantes do Nascimento – well, perhaps you might not remember that name but you’d probably remember his nickname,  Pele. He was an exceptionally skilful footballer – some might even say a wonderful one.  Now perhaps you’re wondering why I’m talking about soccer or a soccer player called Pele. Interestingly – well, for me in any case – this word Pele also appears in our text. Not in the English but in the original Hebrew of our text. It means “wonderful,” but it goes very much deeper than what we understand “wonderful” to mean today. But we’ll return to that in a few moments.

Some 700 years before the time of Jesus, Isaiah prophesied about what was to happen to the people of God. The Assyrians would invade, the land would be conquered. The people would be left in poverty and the land in decay. But in all of that, Isaiah challenged his people to see God’s hand in the events of their time.  And as we get to chapter 9, we see that the gloom of what is happening and what will happen to the people of God wasn’t going to be the final chapter in their history. God is using that experience as a way in which His goodness will be shown through the salvation of His people. A great light is on the way to flood the darkness!

Now there are some who do not see this passage as a promise or as a prophetic statement. It is true that the first part of the passage gives thanks to the Lord for what He has already done. But there’s no doubt in my mind that verses 6 and 7 point to Jesus, to the Saviour that is to come. God’s answer to the oppression of His people wasn’t to be found in warriors, but in the Messiah that was to come as a child. And brothers and sisters, the hope of God’s people today is still only in the Child that has come, for as Peter said when he and John were brought before the high priest:

there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

 And it is about this Saviour that our passage today speaks. This part of God’s infallible Word tells us about the coming Messiah – the One who was coming to bring people out of darkness into light. His kingdom would be everlasting. Verses 6-7 tell us more about this Messiah – He’s the one whose rule would be everlasting and whose peace would have no end. He is the Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.

Over the past few months and years this Covid pandemic has brought some anxiety and uncertainty into our lives. But even in times like these we can turn – and must turn to our Saviour Jesus. We must turn to Him because of who He is. And this morning we’re going to look at who Jesus is, by looking at just one of these names of which the prophet Isaiah speaks: Jesus, the Wonderful Counsellor. We’ll look first at what these words mean, before we look at why Jesus is so much more than qualified to be called Wonderful Counsellor.