Advent – Wonderful Counselor
Isaiah 9: 2-7
Shine your light upon us, O God, as we seek to be enlightened. By your Spirit, open our eyes, our minds, and our hearts as we prepare for the coming of your Son. Amen
The prophet Isaiah gives the people of Israel some great news in the midst of their continual political, economic, and cultural devastation. Someone better is coming. Throughout the historical record of the kings of Israel, there are very few who brought peace, security, and holiness to this chosen people of God. Most kings were just like their pagan counterparts, and it led to Israel’s demise. But… a new king was announced, one that would be wise and faithful.
When the people of Israel heard the name “Wonderful Counselor” you can imagine their collective sigh of relief mixed with a gasp of hope. A counselor is one who plans and leads thoughtfully with wisdom. Imagine a great strategist who knows just when to go forward and when to hold back. One who is wise and measured in their leadership. One who knows his people and how to bring them into peace, prosperity, and fulfillment. This is the king that Israel has been longing to see on the throne.
However, this king will not only be wise and tactical, but this king will also be wonderful. Not wonderful as in “very good”, but wonderful as in full of signs and wonders. This will be a miracle working king who can do what seems impossible. You can imagine the hope and anticipation that would build for such a leader.
It is no wonder then, that when Jesus arrives on the scene as a baby born to an unwed teenage girl, in a feeding trough for barn animals, and is raised the son of a carpenter that the nation of Israel clearly would have missed his arrival. And as he begins his earthly ministry Jesus confounds the rulers of the time, as Walter Brueggemann writes, “[Jesus] teaching evidenced a kind of wisdom that was unusual. He is wise beyond explanation! For that reason, he constitutes an immense threat to conventional learning and conventional power. He is wonderful in his teaching because he opens up new possibilities that were thought to be impossible.”
“Jesus’ arrival constitutes a new vocation. It is not only an acknowledgment of his new rule in the world but a recruitment for action congruent with the new regime. The “increase of his government” will not be by supernatural imposition or by royal fiat. Instead, it will come about through the daily intentional engagement of his subjects, who are so astonished by his wonder that they no longer subscribe to the old order of power and truth that turns out to be, in the long run, only debilitating fraudulence. It requires uncommon wisdom to interrupt the foolish practice of business as usual.” – Walter Brueggemann, Names of the Messiah
Isaiah predicted a new regime of peace and well-being that would displace the older order of violence and extortion. Describe what you imagine that world would look like today.
Jesus opens the world to the impossible, and this offends the leaders of the day. Why are they offended?
How did Jesus lead a new way that threatened the established order? How should the Church threaten the established order today?
As a disciple of Christ, how do you carry on this task?
Wonderful Counselor, thank you for fulfilling Isaiah’s vision and showing us that a different life-giving order is possible. Make me an instrument and active part of your alternative realm on earth. Amen.
Westside Church Advent Guide: https://westsidechurch.org/advent/
“Names of the Messiah”, Walter Brueggemann