Written by Richard Tiu
In proclaiming the coming birth of the Messiah, Isaiah the prophet announced several distinctive names whereby He will be known, the first two of which are “Wonderful” and “Counsellor”. Should these two words (without the comma in between) be taken as one name (with the former descriptive of the latter), thereby giving rise to “Wonderful Counsellor”? Or should we regard these as two separate names (retaining the comma) as in the KJV rendering? Even Bible commentators are divided over this matter.
The Puritan preacher Matthew Henry, as with many other commentators, takes the KJV rendering of two separate names, and rightly so, for Christ indeed is wonderful as He is, apart from any characteristic or office that may be attributed to Him. Yet as Matthew Henry also highlighted: “Some join these (names) together: He is the wonderful counsellor, a wonder or miracle of a counsellor; in this, as in other things, he has the pre-eminence; none teaches like him.”
In carrying the name “Wonderful” upon His person, would this not then be descriptive of His function? For indeed, who can be a Counsellor as wondrous as Christ? One can take a hint from the same prophet who announced these names. “This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working” (Isaiah 28:29).
And so unto us a Son is given, who will be the Counsellor so wondrous because of a host of reasons:
- His counsel is eminent: “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13-14).
- His counsel is powerful: “Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect” (Psalm 33:8-10).
- His counsel is wise: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And 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 of the fear of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:1-2).
- His counsel is infallible: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10).
- His counsel is eternal: “The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:11).
- His counsel is immutable: “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath” (Hebrews 6:17).
- His counsel is holy: “But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings” (Jeremiah 23:22).
- His counsel is truth: “O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth” (Isaiah 25:1).
- His counsel is great: “Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 32:19).
- His counsel is complete: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The counsel of the great and wonderful Counsellor is all these and more! Christ is the sum total of all knowledge, all wisdom, all guidance, all direction, all truth, all discernment and insight. He knows everything about all things and He is never wrong. All knowledge of the past, present and future belongs to Him. He even knows what is inside our hearts and minds. Indeed, the Lord, our Wonderful Counsellor, is beyond compare!
On that very first Christmas night, Christ was born in Bethlehem in a manger as God’s gift to us. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…” This brings us right to the heart of the Gospel in John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” We only need to believe everything about Jesus and receive Him into our lives as our Lord and personal Saviour.
As we believe in His every word which is recorded for us in the Scriptures, we will have the whole counsel of God to guide us till we see Christ in glory. “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:24). Then let us echo that sweet melody of the psalmist, “I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons” (Psalm 16:7). Indeed, as the hymn writer William H. Clark puts it:
His name shall be the Counsellor,
the mighty Prince of peace,
of all earth’s kingdoms conqueror,
whose reign shall never cease.
Truly, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”