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Wonderful Counselor (Part 2 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
December 14, 2021 3:00 am

Wonderful Counselor (Part 2 of 3)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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December 14, 2021 3:00 am

Have you ever experienced total darkness, where you can’t see your hand in front of your face, even with eyes wide open? Without light, we can’t see! Learn why our hearts and minds need light just like our eyes. That’s on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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Have you ever found yourself in a room of your face, no matter how wide you open your eyes? Without light, we can't see. Well, today on Truth for Life, we learn why our hearts and minds need light, just as our eyes do. Alistair Begg is teaching today from Isaiah 8, 19 through Isaiah 9, verse 7. In the past, he—that is, God—humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. In the past, he has done this.

And then you will notice, in the future, he's going to do something else. In the past, he has humbled his people by the invading armies, and in the future he's going to help his people. And because you've already thought of this but are not sure where to find it, let me tell you that what you're thinking of is Matthew chapter 4 and verse 12, which reads as follows, When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee.

Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun. Well, what was Jesus doing in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali? Well, he was actually taking care of Isaiah chapter 9, verse 1b. And in fact, that's exactly what Matthew tells us. So when you read Isaiah chapter 9, verse 1, and say, What in the world does that mean? The answer is provided for us in Matthew chapter 4, and we need be in any doubt at all. It's fantastic.

It's helpful. But those of you who are thinking have already detected the fact that Isaiah writes about this using tenses that are in the past, that the appearance of this light has already come. But we just read Matthew 4, and we've discovered from Matthew that the appearing of this light, in all of its fullness, is in the arrival of Jesus. But we're 800 years before Jesus, so why is Isaiah writing about it as if it had already happened?

Answer? Because it was so vivid, so clear, and so certain in his mind that he could use the prophetic perfect in order to make clear exactly what was going to take place. The people walking in darkness have, past tense, seen a great light. On those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.

Now, how has this come about? How is darkness replaced by light? How is war replaced by peace? How is distress replaced by joy? Those are relevant questions, I think you would agree. You could get a conversation going on most of those questions in any decent spot where people are hanging around for any length of time at all. How do you think you can take your depression and replace it with joy? I don't know.

Do you think it is possible to have peace in our world? Well, we could discuss that. And so on. Well, notice the answer. The you of verse 3, you have enlarged the nation, is referring to God. This is what God has done.

And this is very, very important. It lies at the heart of this prophecy. Who is it that has caused all this to take place? Answer, God, who is the source of light, and in whose light alone men and women may see light.

God, who is the source of light, and in whose light alone men and women may see light. I have to prevent myself from going off on evangelistic forays, but I will allow myself this brief step to the left. There is no intellectual road to God. That is not to say that our minds are irrelevant.

They are clearly irrelevant. I just suggested to you the importance of thinking. But I have known a number of people, and I meet them with frequency, who have all kinds of questions and discussions and arguments about the Bible and about Jesus and about the doctrine of the Trinity and about a million things. But the light has never dawned in their hearts. There is no way for this light to dawn upon a human heart and mind, except that God does it. Except that God does it. That's why two people can listen to the same sermon.

Somebody can walk out with his friend and say, You know, it was a remarkable insight that we gained there. I had never understood that concerning Jesus. And the other person says, You know, frankly, I haven't got a clue what that chap is on about.

It was absolutely double Dutch to me. Same sermon, same IQ. What's the difference? Well, you see, it's something God does. What has he done? Well, we're told what he's done.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. And in verses 2 and 3, we have a description of the good things that are received. And then in verses 4 and 5, we have a description of the bad things that are removed. Those are your points for the morning, if you like. I feel like the Puritan this morning who preached a sermon in the morning that had twenty points, and he was embarrassed by it, and he came back in the evening and said, My sermon this morning had so many points that my sermon this evening will be pointless.

And for those of you who are looking for three words, all beginning with the same letter, you're horribly disappointed this morning, which is why I said you ought to be thinking. But in verses 2 and 3, notice the good things that are received. What are the good things that are received? You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy. I simply wrote down four words in my notes, Bigger numbers, deeper joy. Bigger numbers, deeper joy.

What is this? Well, here is an opportunity for us to remind ourselves of the wonderful discovery we made some time ago, that the storyline of the Bible is anchored between two fixed points. If we keep these in mind, then we will be fine. One, in the first book of the Bible, where God makes a promise to Abraham, whom he has called as a pig and out of the land of Chaldea, and he says to him, Abraham, through your seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed. And from that point on, as you read your Bible, you need to keep in mind that what God is doing is keeping his promise to Abraham. By the time you get to the last book of the Bible, in Revelation 7, you have this wonderful picture of the completed promise of God to Abraham, and verses that we quote with frequency. Verse 9 of Revelation 7, as John describes, a multitude that no one could count from every nation, tribe, people, and language. So what is the story of the Bible?

It is the story of a God of grace who comes to men and women and woos them and wins them and includes them in this forever family that he's putting together that is made up of differing personalities and succeeding generations and different nations and peoples. Now, you see, once we understand that, we understand why it is that the forty-fifth Psalm ends with a statement, The nations will praise you forever and ever. What are you talking about?

The nations will praise you forever and ever. Didn't you see CNN? Haven't you read the newspaper? Don't you take the Wall Street?

Haven't you seen the New York Times? What are you talking about? The nations will praise you forever and ever. Half of the nations of the world aren't remotely interested in this Jesus, would love to squash this Christmas, and so on.

What are you saying? Oh, well, you see, you must read all of those things in light of these great anchor points. I mean, don't tell your history professor or your humanities professor that your view of the civil war is directly related to the promise of God to Abraham and the fulfillment in Revelation 7. They'll think you've taken leave of your mind.

Or try and explain the history of the rise and fall of nations in relationship to how it is described for us in terms of God's ordering of the people and the planets in Acts chapter 17. Again, our friends and our neighbors will say, You're a strange and unruly customer. But the fact of the matter is, that's why the psalmist in Psalm 100 starts out, Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth! What? Don't you come out here and shout to the earth?

If you want to go in your building there and do what you do in that building, whatever it is, and sing those songs or proclaim those things, you can stay in there and do it. But don't come out here and say that. Oh, but we have to. Why? Because, you see, this is the promise of God. He is the one who has enlarged the nation and increased their joy. Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Why? Because the darkness of calamity and of ignorance and of fear and of death and of sin is overcome by light—a light that is engendered not from within, as a result of man discovering himself by an inward investigation, but a light that is produced from beyond ourselves.

Because the human heart is dark by its very nature, and only God can dispel the darkness. And the scene there in verse 3 is a wonderful scene. You've enlarged the nation, increased their joy, and they rejoice before you like people at a harvest time, going, Have some more of this watermelon.

It is really fantastic. Wouldn't you like some of this corn? Let me heat it up for you. Have some more potatoes.

Here's a turnip and so on. The wonderful experience of the tattyhauken, as they call it in Scotland, as the carts come down through the streets of the villages with all of these people hanging off the site and potato dust going everywhere. The harvest has come, and we rejoice in it.

People are going, Isn't this terrific? Or the victory in battle and the plunder that we can now share. It's basically the picture of the victorious team's locker room after the World Series. That's the picture.

Exuberant joy. Those are the good things that are received. Verses 4 and 5 tell us about the bad things that are removed.

You're now looking at your watch going, There is no possibility of wonderful counsel or any time this morning. You're absolutely right. I've also deduced that myself. Verses 4 and 5 describe the bad things that are removed. Here is a description of liberation and peace. Again, you will notice it comes from beyond the people themselves.

They do not bring about this. Only God brings about this victory. That's the significance, surely, of the way in which verse 4 begins.

For as in the day of Midian's defeat. What's that about? This isn't Isaiah filling in his essay, you know. Well, I've got to put something in here. I didn't know how to start the first line.

No, this is purposeful. He's under the direction of God. Remind them about Midian's defeat. Who were the Midianites? Well, the Midianites were the ones who were opposing the people of God when Gideon was raised up as a judge. Gideon, little fearful Gideon. Gideon with the thirty-two thousand troops, whom God decided should be reduced by the number of thirty-one thousand seven hundred, so that with three hundred he would defeat Midian.

Why? What's that about? So that the Midianites would be absolutely amazed, so that Gideon would be absolutely clear, and so that God's people would be in absolutely no doubt that they weren't particularly special. God said, Let me show you how I'm going to do this. For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them and the bar across their shoulders. The picture of the people of God oppressed and burdened.

A picture reproduced throughout the series of history. God lifts the oppressive yoke. You remember I told you what I wrote down in just four words to try and help me remember the good things that are received. You say, No, tell me them again.

I already forgot them. Well, I wrote down bigger numbers, deeper joy. And unto the bad things removed, I wrote down, Burdens lifted, bonfire lit. Burdens lifted, bonfire lit. Jesus, your name is power. And Jesus, your name is light. Jesus, you're the one who can overturn the captives. And every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. Well, I can imagine Bob Dillon reading this and going, I like this one.

And if you lived through the sixties, as I did, you know that you like this one too. Is the answer really blowing in the wind? How many times must the cannonball fly before they're forever banned? How long will humanity do this to itself? Is peace a notion that we ought to pursue?

Is the liberation of oppression a reality that can be enjoyed? Isaiah 9 says yes. But the answer is this answer. Because Jesus is Israel's strength and consolation. Jesus is Israel's strength and consolation. Jesus is the only consolation for Jew and for Arab. Jesus is the only Savior. Jesus is the only King. Jesus is the only Lord.

Jesus is the only one who may lift our burdens and light this bonfire as he will. And again, if you lived in the sixties and went to folk clubs, if they had them here, you sang all these songs. Maybe it was easier for us because we didn't have the Vietnam War going on, and we didn't identify ourselves by the length of our hair, but we sang these songs.

That's why I know them all. Last night, I dreamt the strangest dream I ever dreamed before. I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war. I dreamed I saw a mighty room, and the room was filled with men, and the paper they were signing said, We'll never fight again. And when the papers all were signed and a million copies made, they all joined hands and bowed their heads, and grateful prayers were prayed. And the people in the streets below were dancing round and round, and guns and swords and uniforms were scattered on the ground. Now, we didn't know how that was going to work out or ever could work out.

But let me tell you this. Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. In that day, all the weapons of mass destruction, ours included, will be consumed in a bonfire lit by God's grace. The accoutrements of war will be disposed of. They will be unnecessary. They will be completely obsolete.

Why? Because God has purpose that it will be so. He is working his purpose out, says the hymnwriter, as year succeeds to year.

He's working his purpose out, and the time is drawing near, and nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that will surely be, when the earth will be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea. That's why in the heart of man, understandably, all of these songs and poems arise. And we ain't gonna study war no more.

We ain't gonna study war no more. Thank God Almighty, peace at last! That's why the heart of man cries out in that way. But the answer to that fundamental crisis—the darkness and the oppression and the despair and the ignorance and the death—is all found in Jesus. Not in Jesus an example, but in Jesus a Savior who reconciles man who is at war with God and God who is at war with man and who reconciles man who is at war with his fellow man in his time.

And how does he do this? With a baby. That's where—now we're in verse 6, we're getting close. Verse 6 all of a sudden slips in silently, doesn't it? It's as if, after all of the cacophony and description of drama and harvests and plunder and boots and bonfires and… For unto us a child is born.

A child is born? Don't you think we need a warrior? I mean, the warrior of warriors? Don't we need a colossus that will stride human history, that will straddle the affairs of time? Don't we need the great bully of all bullies so that we can beat all the bullies that have ever lived—whether it is Alexander the Great or Hitler or whoever it is—can beat them all into submission?

No, we don't need that. Well, God, what are you going to do? I'm gonna send a baby. What? You can't send a child to do a man's work.

Watch me. Would you like to speak to Herod, please? Well, Herod's a king. He's very busy. Yeah, but we are wise men.

We've come a long way. Herod, please. Okay, I'll give you five minutes. Well, we would just like to know where the King of the Jews has been born. The King of the what? The King of the Jews.

We saw his star in the East, and we've come to worship him. And Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Troubled? Troubled by the birth of a baby? Oh, you see, this baby is prophet who speaks from God. This is priest who bears our place in his sacrifice. And this baby is king. In one sense, this child is trouble.

This child that laid to rest on Mary's lap is sleeping. Because this child is the child with the four names, the first of which is wonderful counselor, which is the title for this morning's study. A study which has just ended. Only our triune God can supply the light that chases away darkness. You're listening to Truth for Life. That's Alistair Begg with part two of a message titled Wonderful Counselor.

Keep listening. Alistair will be back in just a minute to close with prayer. We have been talking this month about a book called Spurgeon on the Power of Scripture.

Tomorrow is the last day we'll be offering that book. In it, Charles Spurgeon unpacks why we can trust the certainty of God's Word, whether we're listening in the pew or preaching it from the pulpit. In the final chapter of this book, you learn how to read the Bible in order to truly understand and profit from it.

We discover how meditation and prayer and the Holy Spirit work together to make all of that happen. Request your copy. Again, the book is titled Spurgeon on the Power of Scripture. It's yours when you give a donation.

Simply visit our website at truthforlife.org slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. Speaking of this book, Charles Spurgeon's message to his listeners was that the Scripture is God's Word. It's how God reveals himself. It's how we come to know and trust Jesus.

That's the reason we teach directly from the Scriptures every day here on Truth for Life so that God's Word can do God's work through God's Spirit in the lives of all who listen. All of this is made possible because of your prayers and your financial partnership. Our daily program and our free online teaching library are 100% funded by your giving. In these final days of this year, your giving is particularly important. We are praying that we will end 2021 well and fully funded and enter 2022 ready to serve you for another year of ministry.

Please reach out today with your support. You can donate online at truthforlife.org slash donate or give our team a call at 888-588-7884. You can also mail your donation to Truth for Life. The address is Truth for Life P.O.

Box 398000 Cleveland, Ohio 44139. Now here's Alistair to close with prayer. Oh God our Father, it is amazing to think that your answer to all of this tyranny and oppression and darkness and distress and war and sin is to be found in a child in Jesus. That the deliverance which brings joy to the people of God isn't some vague notion, but something brought about by a birth in history on earth at a definite time and at a definite place. Bring us then, we pray, oh God, out of the darkness and distress and warfare of our own rebellious hearts. Oh may your truth dawn today and may we discover that you are a beautiful Savior. For it is in your name we pray. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine. The last few days we've been learning about our wonderful counselor, but what does that title actually mean and why does it matter? Join us tomorrow to hear the answers. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-09 08:29:34 / 2023-07-09 08:38:11 / 9

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