The tinsel has faded, the presents unwrapped, the goodies consumed. Some gifts are returned, some are set on a shelf, some are put to immediate use…but one gift impacts us forever.
Christmas is over, but Jesus remains.
He remains forever at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven (Hebrews 8:1, 12:2).
He remains forever in our hearts through the work of the Holy Spirit, the counselor sent by the Father in Jesus’ name to teach us all things (John 14:26).
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
What comes to mind when you hear the word “counselor?” Perhaps you think of someone who listens, gives advice, guides, and imparts wisdom; someone who helps you resolve problems; or someone with whom you can share your deepest fears and encourages you with hope.
Jesus is all of these things and more.
But there’s something else about the Hebrew word ya’ats in Isaiah 9:6 that we may not think of when considering the word Counselor that gives us hope beyond Christmas.
Counsel used as a verb also means to plan or to purpose; for example:
- Isaiah 14:24 – just as I have planned so it will stand…
- Isaiah 14:27 – for the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it?
In the context of Isaiah 9:6, Counselor as a noun becomes the plan or the purpose.
Jesus is the plan and purpose of God
You see, before he created human beings, God knew we would sin and fall short of His glory. Why create something he knew would fail? To glorify himself. What greater display of his glorious love, grace, and mercy than to redeem his rebellious creation by becoming one of them – God in the flesh, his son Jesus Christ, satisfying God’s justice by receiving the penalty of sin upon himself on our behalf, and providing a way for his creation to be restored to eternal relationship with him?
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
(1 John 3:16, NIV)
[God] has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.
(2 Timothy 1:9, NIV)
…according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Ephesians 3:11, NIV)
But it doesn’t stop there.
One of the Greek equivalents to the Hebrew verb counsel is “to know intimately, to understand, or to perceive.” Certainly a counselor is wise, knowledgeable, and perceptive. Jesus knows us intimately, ordaining all of our days before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). He knows the good, the bad, and the ugly…and he loves us anyway.
But it doesn’t stop there either.
Intimate relationship is to be our response to the Counselor, to the plan and the purpose of God. Twenty one times in the book of First John believers are admonished:
- to know God the Father
- to know His Son Jesus Christ
- to know that He loves us
- to know that we abide in Him and He in us
This is why the Counselor prophesied by Isaiah is the Hope of the World. He created us to know and be known by him.
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
(Ephesians 3:12, NIV)
It is Jesus who gives us freedom over the power of sin. It is Jesus who enables us to approach God with confidence.
- When we ask for wisdom, counsel, and guidance, we are asking for more of Jesus.
- When we ask God to reveal his plan for our lives, we are asking for the person and presence of Jesus to be revealed in our lives.
- When we ask God to accomplish his purpose in us, we are asking to become more like Jesus, to glorify him, and to radiate his character to others.
Christmas is over, but Jesus remains…
because he is the plan and purpose of God.
And that, my friends, can encourage us when we have no earthly reason to hope. Because hope lives beyond Christmas. Hope lives beyond the manger. Hope lives beyond death. Hope lives as the resurrected Savior, eternally seated at the right hand of God, and eternally within us – Christ in us, the hope of glory. Amen.