The Wonder of His NameWonderful Counselor
Leslie Basham: Why is Jesus such a wonderful counselor? Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: He never has to ask anyone else, "What do you think we should we do?" Never! He always knows what to do.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, March 13.
Last week Nancy began a series called, “The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus.” Today she’ll explore the next name in the series. To see part of this teaching on video, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. We’re looking at Jesus as the Wonderful Counselor.
Nancy: We looked in the last session, in Isaiah chapter 7, at the prophecy that a virgin was to conceive and to bear a son, who would be called Immanuel, “God with us.”
Let me remind you of the context, because we’re going to continue in the next few days with some more names for the Messiah that are found in the book of Isaiah. The context in Isaiah 7 and continuing over the next few chapters, this was the beginning of dark days for Israel.
The Assyrian army was gathering on the northern border. Israel because of their sin and idolatry and the fact that they had rejected Jehovah, Israel was facing hardship, exile. They were going to be deported, sent out of the Promised Land. Circumstances were bleak, and the people felt hopeless and helpless.
As you come to Isaiah 8, you see this very desperate time in which Israel was living. For example, Isaiah 8:22 talks about distress and darkness . . . the gloom of anguish, thrust into thick darkness. As you read that passage, you see that the people were angry at their leaders, angry at God, wondering, Has Jehovah forgotten His people?
(Why were they wondering that? The people had forgotten Jehovah, right?) They were saying, "Has Jehovah forgotten us?" They were wondering, Is there any hope? And regardless of the reasons, or the circumstances, or what led up to it, maybe you find yourself today in a dark place, wondering if God is really there, if He really cares.
Then we get to Isaiah 9, with that dark backdrop, which tells us more about the Son who was promised back in chapter 7—Immanuel, “God with us.” Isaiah wants us to know more about this promised Son, this Messiah that would bring hope out of despair and light out of darkness.
Remember that these prophecies were given seven hundred years before Jesus was born, but the promise was that this coming Messiah would correspond exactly to the needs of the people. Whatever they needed, this Messiah would meet those needs.
So we come to that very familiar passage in Isaiah chapter 9:6: “For to us a child is born . . .” We read about a child in Isaiah 7—a child would be born to a virgin—this is that same child.
"For to us a child is born,"—speaking of the humanity of Jesus
"to us a son is given;"—that speaks of the deity of Jesus, the fact that He would be God
"and the government shall be upon his shoulder,"—this Messiah would be a king, this child, this Son, born of a virgin, would be man, would be God, would be a king
"and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
We have here four titles of the coming Messiah, and we’re looking at three of those in this series on The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-changing Names of Jesus. We want to focus today on that title, that name, Wonderful Counselor. Some of our older translations actually make this two names.
They separate Wonderful and Counselor with a comma. You may have grown up hearing it that way, as I did. But most of our modern translations combine the words into one title: Wonderful Counselor, which I think, in the context, probably makes more sense. We want to look for just a moment at each of those words individually.
First, the word Wonderful. We usually use this word as an adjective; a word that describes a noun: “It’s a wonderful day. I had a wonderful time.” As it’s used here, this word, Wonderful, is a noun. That is His name: Wonderful Counselor. This word, Wonderful, in the Scripture, is used only of God, never of man.
In the Old Testament, you’ll see this word often pointing to God’s miracles and the extraordinary aspects of how He dealt with His people. For example, we read in Exodus chapter 15: “Who is like you O Lord? Awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders.” That’s this word wonders . . . extraordinary things that God does. This word, wonder or wonderful, is a miracle; it’s an amazing deed or thing. It is something out of the ordinary that you can’t explain. It’s extra-ordinary and inspires amazement.
Sometimes this word is translated “marvelous.” It’s a wonderful thing, supernatural, beyond our human capacity to grasp. The fact that this Messiah would be “Wonderful Counselor” means that He is not commonplace. There’s something unusual about Him. He is wonderful, awesome, a wonder, an extraordinary person—one—that God has given to us.
As I think about that name, I want to ask, “Is He wonderful to us?” Is He wonderful to you? Or have you done what so many of us do, and that is, lose the wonder of who He is and what He has done? We hear the name so often—we sing it, we say it, we read it —and maybe that name becomes commonplace to us.
My prayer through this series, during these weeks leading up to Passion Week and Easter, is that God will restore in our hearts the wonder of His name. His name is Wonderful. He’s a Wonderful Counselor. That means He’s a “wonder of a counselor,” amazing, supernatural!
It reminds me of what Paul says in Romans 11:
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’” (vv. 33–34)
Isaiah chapter 11 is another prophecy about the Messiah, and it says,
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD” (vv. 1–2).
He is a Wonderful Counselor because He has the Spirit of God’s counsel upon Him. He is God. Christ, the Wonderful Counselor.
You remember how Jesus demonstrated unusual wisdom, even as a child. Do you remember in the temple at age twelve? Luke 2 tells us that after three days his parents found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking questions.
That maybe wouldn’t be so amazing, but verse 47 says, “All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” He wasn’t just asking questions, he was answering the questions of these very intellectually brilliant religious leaders. He is a Wonderful Counselor . . . a wonder of a counselor. There is no one else like Him.
As I’ve been meditating on this name, I’ve asked myself, “What makes Him such a wonder of a counselor?” There are a lot of counselors, and some good counselors, but the text in Isaiah tells us that He surpasses all of them. He is the Wonderful Counselor. Why?
One reason is that He knows people. Jesus has insight into the human heart. He knows all about us, how we’re wired, how we’re motivated. Psalm 139 tells us that He knows our innermost thoughts. He knows our words before we even speak them. He knows our longings. Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves.
John chapter 2 tells us that “Jesus knew what was in the heart of man.” Throughout the gospels, we see that people marveled at Jesus’ ability to know what they were thinking, to know what was in their hearts. He’s a Wonderful Counselor because He knows people.
Secondly, He’s a Wonderful Counselor because He’s able to understand our needs. He understands our needs because He has walked in our shoes. He didn’t just stay as this God up in heaven, He put on human flesh. He came down and walked around, and He lived our life and died our death.
Hebrews tells us that He is able to be a merciful and faithful High Priest. He is compassionate, and He is sympathetic. He was tempted just as we are, only without sin. So He’s able to understand our need.
He’s able, thirdly, to diagnose our problem. That makes Him a wonder of a counselor. He’s able to diagnose, not just the surface symptoms that anybody can see, but He’s able to penetrate and help us understand the root, heart issues that need to be dealt with. It takes a great counselor to do that, and Jesus can do it perfectly! He’s able to diagnose our problem.
He’s a Wonderful Counselor, fourthly, because He succeeded where we failed. Jesus, as He lived life on this earth, knew what was to be wronged, to be sinned against, to be tired, to be lonely, disappointed, betrayed, but He never once sinned in His response. He was never bitter, never unforgiving, never sinfully angry, never selfish.
When I get tired, I tend to get really impatient. Jesus got tired, but He never got impatient. He succeeded where we have failed. That makes Him a counselor who can help us with our need.
And, number five, He’s a Wonderful Counselor because He knows how to help us. He knows the right prescription, the right solution, for our problems. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve had women pour out their hearts to me and share burdens. This happened to me the other day. A woman just started sharing with me things that were happening in her life and looked at me with these pleading eyes, like “Help me, please!”
I was thinking, I have no idea what to tell you. I’ve never been there. I can’t imagine what it’s like, and I don’t have hours to hear more of the background of this. I wasn’t even fully understanding what her situation was, but I could tell that she was desperately in need. I didn’t know how to help her.
Even when I think I know how to help people, there’s a good chance I really don’t, but Jesus knows the solution. He always gives wise and good and right counsel that is tailored to our specific situation and need and moment. He’s not going to give you, in your circumstance in this moment, the exact same counsel He’s going to give you [directing words at a different lady] in your circumstance.
His counsel will always be consistent with His Word—that’s where you get His counsel. He knows exactly what you need. He knows how to give tailor-made grace and counsel to each situation. He has all wisdom. He is God; He knows everything. He knows whether we need encouragement or rebuke or reproof or practical instruction. This all makes Him a wonder of a counselor.
He never has an unanswered question. He never needs anyone to give Him input or to help Him know how to counsel. He never has to ask anyone else, “What do you think we should do?” Never! He always knows what to do. This Wonderful Counselor knows everything. There is no limit to His knowledge, His understanding. His counsel is always right! He is omniscient, an all wise wonder of a counselor.
And He is a wonder of a counselor because He will always tell us truth. He doesn’t just tell us what we want to hear, but He knows what we need to hear, and He’ll tell us what we need to hear, even if we don’t want to hear it. He’ll tell us the truth about our real condition, if we’ll listen to Him. He’ll tell us the truth about the issues in our lives.
He’ll tell us where we’ve sinned; He’ll tell us that we need to repent; He’ll tell us how to be delivered; He’ll tell us how we can be made whole. I’ll tell you, there are a lot of counselors today—and I don’t mean just people counselors; I mean books and programs and things you can listen to—that will give you gobbledy-gook or garbage or worse.
Sometimes the counsel of this world will actually make you worse, instead of better. But Jesus’ counsel will always make you better because it will be the truth. It will be the medicine that you need.
He’s a wonder of a counselor because He offers Himself as the solution for our needs. He’s not just like a professor standing up in the front of the classroom or an armchair quarterback. He doesn’t just tell us what to do. He’s willing to walk and live with us, by His Holy Spirit in us, that enables us to live the life that He counsels us to live. He gives us the grace by His presence within us, and He offers Himself as the solution for our needs.
He’s a wonder of a counselor because He has a proven track record. His counsel works. We’ve seen that over and over again, how’s He is proven to be an able counselor. Think of the woman at the well who had that string of broken relationships. Jesus knew exactly what counsel she needed, and it changed her life.
Think of the thief on the cross, or the demonized man who lived in the tombs and had to be chained up to keep him from hurting himself or others. Think of the woman who was brought to Jesus having been caught in the act of adultery. Think of Nicodemus, the religious leader, who came to Jesus at night for counsel. Think of the rich young ruler, wanting to know how to have eternal life.
These are all kinds of people, all kinds of walks of life, all kinds of needs and circumstances. Jesus gave each of those exactly the counsel they needed. I’ve seen Jesus give wonderful counsel to so many people.
I’ve seen Him heal hopelessly broken marriages. I’ve seen His counsel deliver people from sinful addictions that they never thought they’d be free from: eating disorders, self-righteousness, fears. I’ve seen Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor, resolve conflicts between people who thought they could never be in the same room and talk to each other again.
And, listen, in my own life, I’ve watched Jesus—again and again and again—give me exactly the counsel from His Word that I needed, that would change my life and would set me free. So He is a wonder of a counselor.
What’s the take-away, the take-home from that? For each of these names, we want to know now only what it means, but what difference it makes for me. Let me give you a few take-aways about Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor.
First of all, we need to acknowledge that we need a wonderful counselor—we need wisdom and guidance. If you think you already have it altogether and your life is going along just swimmingly fine—thank you—then you’ll never go to the Wonderful Counselor. Proverbs says it this way: “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” We’ve got to acknowledge that we need a Wonderful Counselor.
Secondly, turn to Him for counsel. Where do you turn for counsel when you’re really desperate? Where do you go, who do you listen to? Turn to the Wonderful Counselor, turn to His Word, turn to prayer, turn to His Spirit. Ask Him, “What shall I do? How do I deal with this?”
He has come to this earth and to live in us to be our Wonderful Counselor. He’s come to direct you, to advise you, according to His perfect and sovereign will—the eternal plan and counsel of His will. His counsel is wonderful. You will never, ever get better advice anywhere else. Turn to Him.
Do you want to know God’s will for your life? Some of you are students, and you’re trying to get direction for what you should do for your future. Ask the Wonderful Counselor. Do you want to know how to respond to your husband, how to raise your children, how to deal with that difficult co-worker? Ask the Wonderful Counselor.
Do you need wisdom for your future? Do you need wisdom for your family? Do you have a broken relationship? Are you struggling with a temptation or a sinful addiction? What do you do? Ask the Wonderful Counselor! Turn to Him for counsel. Isn’t it great to know He’s a counselor we always have with us, by His Holy Spirit who lives in us?
We don’t have to call Him up to get an appointment. You don’t have to wait four weeks on the waiting list until an opening comes up, to get into this counselor. You don’t have to take a checkbook with you or pay one-hundred-fifty dollars an hour for this wonderful counsel. Twenty-four/seven, and all you’ve got to pay is a humble heart, a listening ear, a willingness to say, “Yes, Lord,” to His counsel. He’s available.
Elisha Hoffman was a pastor who lived in the late 1800s. One day he visited with a woman in his church who had experienced a lot of hardships and sorrows and was deeply discouraged. As they visited, she shared the things that were on her heart, and then she said, “Brother Hoffman, what shall I do?”
The pastor quoted to her some Scripture, and then he said to her, “You can’t do better than to take all of your sorrows to Jesus. You must tell Jesus.” Elisha Hoffman said later as he reflected on that conversation, “For a moment this woman seemed lost in meditation, and then her eyes lighted as she said, ‘Yes, I must tell Jesus!’ As I left her home I had a vision of that joy-illuminated face, and I heard all along my pathway the echo, ‘I must tell Jesus. I must tell Jesus!’”
After he arrived home, Elisha Hoffman wrote these words, which I have sung many times over the years, and many times these words have pointed my own heart to the Wonderful Counselor:
I must tell Jesus all of my trials;
I cannot bear these burdens alone.
In my distress He kindly will help me;
He ever loves and cares for His own.
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus—
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.
Aren’t we so quick to tell everybody else our problems? Pick up the phone, call somebody, email somebody, text somebody and say, “Help! I need help!” I sent an email out last night to some friends saying, “Help, I need prayer!” I’m thankful that we can go to God’s people and to wise counselors and say, “Can you point me to help?”
But listen, the best help and counsel you’re going to get from any of them are as they point you to the Wonderful Counselor. Turn to Him for counsel
But not only turn to Him for counsel, trust His counsel. Don’t just turn to Him for counsel, but when He gives you counsel, trust His counsel. His counsel is a wonder. Depend on Him; rely on Him. He will never mislead you. “Trust in the LORD,” Proverbs says, “with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (3:5–6).
I’ll just tell you that His counsel is generally counter-intuitive to our natural wisdom and thinking. So, when your emotions tell you, as mine were telling me this morning, “Be angry about this—be upset about this, keep mulling it over in your mind and keep thinking about this,” the Wonderful Counselor says, “Let it go, let it go.” Whose counsel are you going to take? Your own? Mind your own heart? Or that of the Wonderful Counselor? Trust the Wonderful Counselor.
Do you try to advise Him, or do let Him advise you? Do you try to tell Him how to run the universe, telling Him what you need—or what you think you need—or do you humbly look to Him to guide your life? Do you ask Him to approve your plans and your direction, or do you seek Him for His?
You can trust the Wonderful Counselor. Take His counsel. (Turn to Him for counsel, trust His counsel, and then take His counsel.) In other words, do what He tells you to do. I think of the opposite of that, in Proverbs chapter 1, where Scripture says, “You have ignored all my counsel; you would have none of my reproof” (v. 25).
May that never be said of us—that Jesus gave us His counsel, He gave us Himself, He gave us His Word—but we ignored it. Take His counsel. No counselor can help you if you don’t know that you have a need, or you won’t admit you do; if you’re not willing to ask for help; if you’re not willing to listen to and take the counsel; if you won’t do what the counselor says; if you think you know better; if you ignore what He says and try to treat yourself, then no counselor can help you.
The Wonderful Counselor will not help you unless you take His counsel, trust His counsel—turn to Him for counsel.
Finally, as you are blessed by shaping your life, by His grace, around His wonderful counsel, then point others to Him for counsel. He is the Wonderful Counselor. As you walk with the Lord and your life is blessed, people will come to you and they’ll say, “Would you pray with me about this?” or “Would you help me with this?” or “What should I do about this?”
We all have people coming to us saying, “What should I do? What should I do? I don’t know what to do!” Listen, remember, you are not the Wonderful Counselor. You are not the Savior. Your counsel is limited; your wisdom is finite, so don’t try and advise others out of your own wisdom—instead, point them to Him.
Say, “I don’t know what to do, but I know someone who does. Let's ask Him.” And then pray with them. Say, “Let me take you to the throne of grace, where you can find mercy and grace to help you in your time of need. Let’s get into God’s Word together. Let’s see what it has to say about this. Let’s ask the Wonderful Counselor,” and He will, indeed, give wonderful counsel.
Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back to pray. She’s been explaining why Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor. That message is part of the series, “The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus.” This series will continue running throughout the Lenten season.
The audio series is designed to help you get to know Jesus better during this season leading up to Easter. And not just knowing about Him—we want you to know Him personally and be in awe of who He is.
Nancy’s new book, also called The Wonder of His Name, will also help you know Jesus through thirty-two of His life-changing names. You’ll read a devotional for each of these names and enjoy the beautiful artwork of Timothy Botts.
As you mediate on who Jesus is, you’ll be in awe of Him, fall more deeply in love with Him, and trust Him even more.
We’ll send the book, The Wonder of His Name, when you support Revive Our Hearts through a gift of any amount.
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