The first of thee Christmas devotionals looking at hope, peace and purpose from Christianity Explored Ministries.
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor." Isaiah 9:6
Amid the excitement and preparations of Advent, do you ever feel that Christmas is like a short burst of light in an otherwise dark season? A welcome but all-too-brief celebration that soon gives way to the misery of gloomy, overcast January? While December often feels busy and purposeful, the new year can come as a bit of an anti-climax, as we head back to the grind of normal life. If that’s you, it’s good to remember that although the glow of the Christmas festivities doesn’t last, the truth at the heart of the Christmas story is a hope that burns bright every day of the year.
Jesus the Wonderful Counselor
The context of Isaiah 9 is as cold and comfortless as the darkest January day. And while that may make for tough reading, actually it’s a great backdrop for seeing the light and warmth of the good news of Christmas as clearly as possible.
It’s not just the weather that can make midwinter bleak. We live in a world stricken by tragedy and pain. We see this in our own communities, and some of us will be experiencing this in our own lives. Thankfully, when God speaks into our world He is well aware of this, and addresses us in that context. Isaiah 9 doesn’t describe people living in a fairyland, it is honest about hardship and adversity. The suffering of the original readers of Isaiah was rooted in their rejection of God, but amazingly the God they had rejected was doing something about their predicament. Isaiah has already made a stunning prophecy in chapter seven:
"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14
Now, in chapter nine, Isaiah unpacks more of the significance of this promised Son.
"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." Isaiah 9:6
There is to be a baby boy, who will grow up to take the weight of government capably upon His shoulders, and the feedback from those who engage with Him and listen to Him and take to heart what He says, is that He is a Wonderful Counselor.
This hope isn’t reserved only for Christmas. The Lord Jesus loves us so much that he was willing to be born into the world and save us by dying on a cross, and this is news that can bring great joy and true everlasting hope every day in every circumstance. Even when we are struggling, even when it is hard to find joy, God has promised that Jesus will be our Wonderful Counsellor.
Father, thank you for sending Jesus down to earth. Please help us to remain thankful for the amazing news that Jesus is our Wonderful Counsellor, and the hope this gives us every day. Amen