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Wonderful Counselor

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
December 20, 2022 9:00 am

Wonderful Counselor

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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December 20, 2022 9:00 am

Today, Pastor J.D. is unpacking the promise of Isaiah 9 and showing us how we should approach the Wonderful Counselor, who brings light to our darkness and gives us the gift of himself.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. The root of all of our problems is separation from God, and all of our earthly problems ultimately stem back to that one. Now when I say that, I don't mean that whatever problem you're going through now is the punishment that God is giving you for some specific sin that you committed. I'm simply saying that if God were to take away all our problems without fixing the real problem, our separation from God, then ultimately we just create a bunch of new problems. Welcome to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of pastor and theologian J.D.

Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. You know, the Old Testament promise of a Savior who wouldn't arrive for 700 years might not have been a great comfort to the army that received the prophecy in Isaiah, but God knew what they needed was a Messiah who would save them. And it's what our world today still needs. Today, Pastor J.D. unpacks the promise of Isaiah 9 from our new teaching series called Hope Has a Name. And he'll be showing us how we should approach this wonderful counselor who brings light to our darkness and gives us the gift of himself. We are headed to the Old Testament for this most important Christmas teaching.

So grab your Bible and let's join Pastor J.D. So let me begin this Christmas message series with a little Christmas survey at all campuses. You can just respond to the survey by raising your hand.

How many of you at all of our campuses, how many of you are 100% completely finished already with your Christmas shopping? Why don't you put your hand up real high. Okay. How many of you hate the people with their hands up right now?

You can put your hands up. Okay. Yes, I'm in that group. How many of you, here's another one, how many of you have ever regifted a gift at Christmas time? Let's all be honest here with each other. Okay. How many of you it was within the same season? You just came in one right out the other. Anybody?

Okay. How many of you, the person that you regifted it to is sitting in this room, the room that you're in with there. I had a friend here on our staff who told me that he did this one year and he did it with a book. Somebody gave it to him and he gave it to somebody else. And the person he gave it to called him back a couple of days later and said, hey, this book was personalized to you.

That was in the front cover. How many of you are nervous about seeing family over the holidays? Raise your hand.

You can just put that up and testify. How many of you get reminded every time you get around your family that your family really could be a good candidate for the Jerry Springer show? By the way, have you ever considered maybe they're nervous about seeing you? You ever thought about that?

Like maybe you're the one that they're like, oh no, I don't have to spend time with them. How many of you will spend more online this year than you will in a physical store for Christmas? Put your hand up. All right.

How about this variation? How many of you on Black Friday went on to buy something for somebody else and ended up buying a bunch of stuff for yourself? Put your hands up.

Yes, I am definitely in that group. Last one here. How many of you have a gift? How many of you have a gift that you are really, really excited about giving to somebody this Christmas? Put your hand up.

All right. Well, Christmas is a time where we think about gifts, and the series that we're going to get into is called Hope Has a Name, and it is about God's great gift to us. It comes from one of the most famous prophecies given about Jesus in the Bible. Isaiah chapter 9 is where it's found. If you have a Bible and you want to open it to Isaiah 9, that's where we're going to be for the next few weeks. Isaiah 9 is a prophecy written about Jesus more than seven centuries before Jesus was born. Here is the prophecy. It actually begins back in chapter 7. You stay in chapter 9, but let me read you a verse or two from chapter 7.

That'll catch you up. Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign, says Isaiah. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and you will call his name Immanuel, which means God with us.

Chapter 9. The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light because of the birth of this child. You have multiplied our nation in giving us this child. You have increased its joy for the yoke of his burden, the rod of his oppressor.

You have broken because here's how it was broken. Unto us a child is born. Unto us a son was given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and you will call his name Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, of the increase of his government, and of his peace there will be no end, and on the throne of David and over his kingdom to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forever more. The first thing that I want you to realize about this prophecy is it was not first given at Christmas time.

There was no Christmas to speak of. This was not a prophecy that came with the song Jingle Bells. This was a prophecy that was given into a very real, dire, and troublesome situation. The year was 730 BC, and King Ahaz, who was king over the southern kingdom of Israel, was very worried because Assyria was threatening to invade him, and he didn't know what to do. He didn't know what alliances to form or what political strategies to pursue, so God sends the prophet Isaiah to him and says, Ahaz, do not worry.

Don't worry about making alliances with other nations because God himself will protect you. Well, evidently Isaiah could see that Ahaz is still worried. He's still got that look of worry on his face, and Isaiah says to prove that God will protect you, I'm going to give you a sign. Now, you would think that Ahaz would be excited about getting a sign, right? I mean, if you came to me and you were worried about your future and I said, hey, God's going to take care of it all. Let me give you a sign to prove it.

I'm going to levitate, and I levitated six feet above your head. That would be very encouraging to you that, you know, God was giving you a sign that he was going to take care of you, and cool for me. So you'd think he'd be excited about a sign, but instead Ahaz says, I don't want a sign. I don't want a sign because evidently he understood that if God gave him a sign, then he would be obligated to obey whatever God said, and he wasn't a man who loved to walk with God, and so he's like, I don't want to be obligated. And so Isaiah says, oh, that's how you want to play it.

You don't want a sign because then you'll be obligated to obey? Well, okay, here's your sign. All right, Isaiah 7 14. Behold, the virgin will conceive and she will bear a son and you will call his name Immanuel. Now here's where it gets a little tricky.

All right, hang with me. I need you to put your big boy prophecy pants on because this is going to be a little difficult to understand. When you read Isaiah 7, 8, and 9, what you'll see is that there was a temporary or a partial fulfillment of this prophecy in Isaiah's day. There was a son that was born, that was a sign, and he's referred to in chapter 8. But as you're reading, you very quickly begin to understand that the child that is being talked about is more than this child. It's a future child as well because the names that are attached to this child are names that are totally inappropriate for just a merely human child.

Names like mighty God or everlasting father that you would never just say about another human being. There was a temporary fulfillment in Isaiah's day, but ultimately, you see, this prophecy would be fulfilled seven centuries later by Jesus. Jesus was the son born of a virgin who would be the wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father and prince of peace. By the way, a lot of biblical prophecy works that way.

There's an immediate fulfillment in the prophet's day and ultimate fulfillment in the future. I've heard it described like this before. If you are looking at a mountain range from a distance, some of the mountains may look like they are right there together. They may even look like they're one mountain. But if you were to go to them or look down on them from above, you would see that there's actually a large gap of space between them.

From a distance, they look like one, but when you get close to them, you see that there's actually a space between them. Well, a lot of prophecy works that way as well. There's a temporary fulfillment. It looks like one, but when you get over to it, you realize there's a temporary fulfillment and an ultimate fulfillment. Does that make sense?

Because that's what's going on here. Temporary fulfillment in Isaiah's day, ultimate fulfillment that takes place seven centuries later in the birth of Jesus. Now, what you're asking at that point is, same question I have, how does a prophecy about the birth of a Messiah that's not going to come for 700 years ultimately answer the problem that Ahaz and Israel has in Isaiah chapter nine? Namely, that there is an army outside of Jerusalem that wants to destroy it. I mean, into a very real, dire, felt need situation.

You don't get more felt need than an army that wants to come in and pulverize your city. Into that situation, God gives a promise about a Messiah that's not going to be here for 700 years. And some people read stuff like this and they say, see, this is the problem with the Bible.

The Bible doesn't address real people in real situations. It's all sentimentality and pie in the sky. I found that people feel like this, especially at Christmas time.

They're like, you know, I like all the quaint stories about Jesus and the manger and the shepherds and the sheep and peace on earth and goodwill toward man and blah, blah, blah. But I'm in a real situation and I'm in a real problem. I don't have a job. My marriage is falling apart.

I cannot get rid of this chronic pain. And while these quaint little stories about Jesus and the manger are heartwarming, they don't do anything practically for me. I like the hallmark movie version of life, but it's just not realistic. Is that you, by the way, is that you this morning? Do you feel that way? Would it help you to turn to your neighbor right now and just say, I hate Christmas?

And then, oh, don't, don't do that. But some of you feel that way, right? You feel like, I just feel like it's just quaint. And I don't know how it actually deals with the problems that I am dealing with right now.

Right? Well, that was the same question that they would have been asking in Ahaziah's day. We got a real army sitting out there that really wants to destroy us. What's the promise of a future Messiah do for us? Well, the birth of Jesus is going to address their problem in two ways.

These are really important. First, in sending Jesus, God was dealing with our problem at its roots. You see, our problem and their problem was much deeper than merely an enemy army that was arrayed against them. Our problem is deeper than health issues or relational conflicts or economic needs. The root of all of our problems is separation from God. And all of our earthly problems ultimately stem back to that one. Now, when I say that, I don't mean that whatever problem you're going through now is the punishment that God has given you for some specific sin that you committed. I'm simply saying that if God were to take away all our problems without fixing the real problem, our separation from God, then ultimately we just create a bunch of new problems.

In one of his writings, J.R.R. Tolkien, who is the author of the Lord of the Rings, said that evil is a shape shifter. It's like a shadow.

He said, after you repel it, it's just going to change shape and grow again and come at you in a different way. For example, think about all the technological advances that we've had in the last few years. Think about how much different your phone is now than it was 10 years ago. 10 years ago when I was in high school, we just had flip phones.

And, you know, that's how you dealt with things, right? Now you've got phones that can just look at your face and turn on because it recognizes the shape of your face. I would never want to go back to what we had 10 years ago. And in many ways, technology, smartphones have transformed our lives and made them better. In some ways, we're more secure now than we were then because I can literally go onto my bank account at any point and monitor what's going on. You can monitor your house and your security system.

You can lock doors, turn lights on and off so you're more secure. But on the other hand, we're now vulnerable to cyber attacks and identity theft. In many ways, I'm more connected now to my friends and my family than I've ever been, right?

But in other ways, I'm more disconnected from my family and friends than I've ever been because I'm sitting there with my family, looking on Instagram, being envious of somebody else's family about the family time they're having while I ignore my own. In fact, if I were to ask you, have phones been a net positive or net negative on those things, you probably wouldn't know what to say. Now, why is it that despite all of the technologically advanced movements that we've made, why is it despite all the improvements, have we still not ultimately achieved much better? It's because the source of darkness lies within our hearts, not in our lack of technology. Better technology cannot change the human heart.

All better technology does is create new shapes for the shadow of darkness. You are listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer. To learn more about this ministry, including how to partner with us financially, visit jdgreer.com. Did you know that Summit Life has radio stations in Bermuda, Turks and Caicos, Canada, Guam, and 42 U.S. states? We love hearing from people all over the world, and we recently heard this from one of you. I have been inspired by the Summit Life teachings. Pastor J.D. brings the Bible to life in our imaginations and translates the many great Bible stories and God's message into our 21st century world. Being a German and married to a believing American, I've been inspired to bring the good message of God's grace back to Germany. If you too have been inspired and challenged by this program, please consider helping someone else hear these messages by giving a year-end gift to the ministry right now.

Call us at 866-335-5220 or visit jdgreer.com. Martin Luther said that the problem with the human heart is that it is curved in on itself. Rather being open in love toward God and others, it is radically self-absorbed, sometimes so self-absorbed it doesn't even know how self-absorbed it is, and from that self-absorption comes the entire spectrum of evil, whether we're talking about the horrific crimes we see on the news or we're talking about our problems with our smartphones or the reasons for your broken marriage. Therefore you see sin, if it was going to be dealt with, problems had to be dealt with at the roots, and so God, in the midst of his offer to help Ahaz, promised a Messiah that would save us from our sins, not just deliver us from our enemies and who would transform our hearts, not just get rid of those who were irritating us. We cry out to be delivered from bad health. God wants to deliver us from the curse of death that causes bad health. We cry out to be delivered from injustice and broken relationships. God wants to deliver us from the sin and selfishness that breaks those relationships.

We cry out for victory in battle. God promised a Messiah who would take away the hatred that drives us into battle. Now you say, well, that's all well and good, but I wish he'd gone ahead and just first time he came, destroyed all evil as well.

When people say that to me, I'll always want to say, really? You wish that the first time Jesus had come, he had destroyed all evil? Would any of you be sitting here at this point? Do you know your parents?

Do you know your parents' parents? If God had destroyed evil, do you really feel like you would be here? Or, you know, we say if God decided that he was going to wipe out all evil at 11 p.m. tonight, who is there listening to me that apart from Christ would be here at 1101? Anybody? And we talk about, you know, I want to go to heaven where there's no more tears and no more crying.

Here's the problem. I think about how many people I have made cry in the last five years. If heaven is going to be a place of no more tears and crying, it's also going to be a place of no J.D. Greer, at least J.D.

Greer in the shade that he's in now. So in order for God to take me to heaven, he had to take the capacity to make other people cry out of me. So I am glad that the first time Jesus came, he did not come to destroy all evil.

He came to redeem me from evil and not just take me to heaven, but make me fit for heaven. Therefore, ultimate salvation could not come from a warrior who would ride in on a horse and defeat our problems. Ultimate salvation would come from a baby who would be born in a manger, who would live like us, live the life we were supposed to live, die the death we were condemned to die, and thereby release us from the curse of sin and break its power over our lives. That is the first way that this promise of the Messiah addresses their problem.

But there is a second way. The second way that this promise spoke to their situation, get this, is in the four relational names that this Messiah would then make God to us. Four relational names that would change how we relate to God. There are four of them, and we're going to go through them over the next few weeks.

We're only going to focus on one today, and it's the very first one in the list. His name will be called Wonderful Counselor. Now, in Hebrew, that's two words.

In some of your English translations, there's a comma there, but scholars say it really shouldn't be there because it's one name, Wonderful Counselor. In Hebrew, it is the name Pele Yawetz. Pele Yawetz. Pele means wonderful. It really means too wonderful for words. Isaiah is telling us that when this Messiah comes, He will be beyond our words to describe Him. He is wonderful.

He is glorious, magnificent, awesome, awesomer than all the words we use to say awesome. He is Pele Yawetz. Yawetz translates as counselor, and it means one who advises us or instructs us or guides us through problems, but, and here is the key, He does so from a position of authority. Think King Solomon. The word counselor is used of him in the Old Testament. People brought their problems to Solomon, and Solomon had the wisdom to understand the solution and the power to enact the solution. Don't think of counselor as the kind of person you call up late at night and pour out your heart to, and they're like, oh yeah, I bet that hurt. Oh, that stinks.

Oh, I hate her too. Not that kind of counselor. We're talking about somebody to whom you can bring your worst problems, and they can show you a way out.

One day, Isaiah says, a son will be born, a child will be given to you, and his name will be Pele Yawetz. He will be the wonderful counselor. The writer of Hebrews picks up on this idea and explains to us why it is that Jesus can be the wonderful counselor. Here's how he explains it. He's thinking about this concept, by the way.

Here's what he says. We don't have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. A high priest was a counselor, somebody that represented you to God, somebody that would help guide you. We don't have one who's able to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted like we are, yet without sin. Let us then come with confidence to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. In other words, the writer of Hebrews is saying, Jesus was not just a sovereign king who would rule over us.

He is a brother who would live among us and walk through everything that we have walked through, and there is nothing that we can ever experience that he has not also experienced, which means that he can be a reliable guide to us in even the worst kinds of pain and the worst kinds of situations. You know, when you walk through the Christmas story over the next few weeks, one of the things that I hope that you will notice and not sentimentalize, it's really difficult to break free of this in our culture, but you should not sentimentalize how poor Jesus was when he was born. He was born into the worst kind of poverty. The Jews as a people were very poor and oppressed, but Mary and Joseph, Jesus's parents, seemed to be poor even for Jews.

Here's a few indicators of that. Jesus was born in a stable, which means that his, you know, stepdaddy Joseph was so poor that he couldn't even afford a hotel room on the night that his wife was going to give birth, and I know we've got our cute little manger scenes, and it looks so quaint and precious with the animals, but I can assure you there was nothing sentimental about that first night. No woman wants to give birth to her first baby in the cold amidst the wonderful smell of cows and animals. It did not smell like cinnamon and nutmeg at that manger.

If you want it to be authentic, take some of your dog's poo-poo and rub it in the manger scene, and that'll make it a little bit more authentic. Here's a second clue. Eight days after Jesus was born, they offered a sacrifice, which was required at the birth of a firstborn son. The requirement was a lamb. Mary and Joseph offered a pigeon and a dove, which was a provision in the law for the poorest of the poor.

Get this. Jesus was so poor that his family could not fulfill the law requirements that he himself had given to Israel before. I mean, he was the poorest of the poor, and he was laying down at his birth a pattern he would repeat for the rest of his life. He was born in a manger. He would die on a cross.

At his birth, the innkeeper said, no room. At his death, the crowd said, crucify him. At his birth, he'd be wrapped in rags.

At his death, he'll be stripped naked in shame. At his birth, he was ignored by the world. At his death, he'd be rejected by his father.

Why? Why all this poverty and condemnation and rejection? It's because he was bearing the rejection and the poverty that you and I deserved, so that when I come to him with my problems, I can do so with confidence, knowing that God will not judge me or condemn me because Jesus was judged and condemned in my place. Isaiah said, surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Yet we esteemed him smitten by God and afflicted, but in actuality, he was wounded for our transgressions.

He was bruised for my iniquities. The price for my peace was put upon him, so by his stripes, I can be healed. And when I come to him, I don't get the poverty and judgment that my sin deserves.

I get the riches of blessing and the blessings of fellowship and sonship that his grace has given to me because my condemnation was given to him. James, the writer of the book of James, shows us what that looks like practically when you're asking for something like wisdom. You need wisdom to know how to get out of a problem. This is so awesome.

Look at this. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach and it will be given to him. My favorite words in this verse is the words without reproach.

Without reproach means without rebuking, without judgment. Let me tell you why I love those words, because usually when I ask God for wisdom, I think I know it's because I'm usually in a place where I've gotten myself to a place where I need wisdom out of my own stupidity and sinfulness, right? And so I just know that when I'm asking God for wisdom, I can just feel it's like God in heaven kind of shaking his head going, really? Now you want my wisdom?

Now you want my help? Really? It's like I could feel him getting the angels together going, y'all look, it's Greer again. And look at the royal mess he's made of his life this time. Look at what what's going on in his marriage that he caused. Look at what's going on. Look how he's hurt these people. And now he has the audacity to come and ask us for help. Without reproach means God never does that.

You want to know why? Because the reproach for my sin that I deserve got put on Jesus. And so when I come to Jesus, I don't get the reproach I deserve. I get the wisdom that Jesus earned for me. That wisdom that I'm asking for is not wisdom that I deserve. It's a wisdom that Jesus Christ purchased and he gave to me so I can come and get his wisdom because he took upon himself my foolishness. You've picked a great day to join us here on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. This is the first message in a new Christmas teaching series called Hope Has a Name. J.D., we've heard so many great stories this year of God transforming lives through this ministry. Yeah, Molly, it really is incredible to see and read stories about how God is using our listeners. I love hearing stories of where God is working in their lives, but maybe just as much as when they're telling me a story about how God has not just worked in them, but through them to impact somebody else. Theo, who told us that he passes the link of this broadcast on to everybody that he knows from Christian friends to, he says, some atheist co-workers of his or Matthew, who forwards our daily email devotions to people that he's praying for that he knows are hurting. And so thank you. And if this moves you and you want to be a part of it, of what God is doing through Summit Life around the world, just go to J.D.

Greer dot com and it'll show you how you can get involved. Your gift today means so much. And to show our thanks, we've put together a resource that we think you'll really enjoy. It's the annual Summit Life 2023 Planner.

J.D. often talks about having wisdom and how we manage the resources that God has given us, including that resource of time. And this planner will help you do that during the coming year.

It's a great reminder to keep you in God's word and focused on God's agenda. Ask for a copy of the Summit Life 2023 Planner when you make an important year end donation today. Call 866-335-5220.

Or if it's easier, you can give and request the planner online at J.D. Greer dot com. I'm Molly Vidovich and I'm so glad to have you with us today. Be sure to join us on Wednesday as we continue this study in Isaiah 9 here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-22 09:14:32 / 2022-12-22 09:25:52 / 11

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