Advent Week 1: Wonderful Counselor


“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” — ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9‬:‭6‬



Anticipation births names. When we are excited or proud of something, we give it a name to define it, describe it. During pregnancy, expectant parents go back and forth over what names they will give their child. Finding the perfect name can be challenging. There is weight and meaning behind each name bestowed upon us. In Isaiah 9, there are four names given in anticipation of the coming Messiah: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. These names inspire hope and anticipation for generations. Much like this season of Advent, they were a proclamation of the person to come. In exploring each of these names, we are reminded of the complexity and character of Christ in the weeks prior to Christmas.

The first of these names found in Isaiah is Wonderful Counselor. To be a counselor is to walk alongside someone in a role of wisdom and guidance. Time and time again scripture references God walking with people. From Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, to the Israelites in the wilderness, to the disciples and crowds in the Gospels, there are countless examples of our Creator traveling through life by our side—active and present. But God is not merely an observer, silently watching as we stumble through the world. God directs us, nurtures us, and guides us. Earlier in this passage from Isaiah, 9:2, we are told, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” Guiding lights are part of the wonderful beauty and comfort of a Counselor Messiah.

One of the major signs of Christ’s birth was the star, a guide that drew people from far away directly to Jesus. In Matthew 2, the wise men have been following this star, knowing that it leads to the king of the Jews. They consult with King Herod, thinking he will be a source of knowledge, but instead find Herod has more questions than them. “After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” (Matthew 2:9-10). This guiding star leads them to the Messiah, and then, as they prepare to head home, they are divinely counseled through a dream to not return to Herod as protection. The majesty of the Wonderful Counselor is that God draws us into the beauty and splendor God intends—our ultimate source of wisdom, protection, and truth.

Much like the star in the Nativity story, Jesus also guides and counsels the greatest and the least. Through parables to the masses as well as poignant words directed to individuals, Jesus instructs and encourages not only those early believers but every generation since. John 1:4 describes Christ by saying “in him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Jesus in his ministry embodies the name of Wonderful Counselor by being a guiding light, someone who counsels officials and religious leaders just as easily as those on the outskirts of society. His wisdom isn’t relegated to gender, status, or age—children are just as welcomed and valued. As Jesus walks with people, he speaks into their lives and guides them gently through dusty crowded streets, across wastelands, over stormy seas, and prayerfully into gardens. In the presence of Jesus, wonderful counseling is freely given.

The guidance of Jesus did not stop when he ascended into heaven and left the disciples with the Great Commission. The words of Christ continue to establish a guide in our lives today. The name of Wonderful Counselor continues to ring out. Phrases we repeat, such as “love your neighbor as yourself” or “turn the other cheek,” are echoes of wisdom from parables and proverbs Jesus counseled others with. Much like the power of light in darkness, the guidance of the Wonderful Counselor persists just as Isaiah 9 prophesied.

As the Advent season begins, the days are growing shorter and more consumed with darkness. With the ever-growing presence of twinkling shining lights, may we be gently reminded of the beautiful light of Christ as our Wonderful Counselor.


Words: Sabrina Dawson
Images: Anton Shcherbakov, Filip Bunkens

Ornaments illuminated by Christmas lights in a snowy tree
Exterior of a building lined with Christmas lights. In the foreground, a tree adorned with ornaments,
Star-shaped lights hung in a tree

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” — ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9‬:‭6‬



Anticipation births names. When we are excited or proud of something, we give it a name to define it, describe it. During pregnancy, expectant parents go back and forth over what names they will give their child. Finding the perfect name can be challenging. There is weight and meaning behind each name bestowed upon us. In Isaiah 9, there are four names given in anticipation of the coming Messiah: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. These names inspire hope and anticipation for generations. Much like this season of Advent, they were a proclamation of the person to come. In exploring each of these names, we are reminded of the complexity and character of Christ in the weeks prior to Christmas.

The first of these names found in Isaiah is Wonderful Counselor. To be a counselor is to walk alongside someone in a role of wisdom and guidance. Time and time again scripture references God walking with people. From Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, to the Israelites in the wilderness, to the disciples and crowds in the Gospels, there are countless examples of our Creator traveling through life by our side—active and present. But God is not merely an observer, silently watching as we stumble through the world. God directs us, nurtures us, and guides us. Earlier in this passage from Isaiah, 9:2, we are told, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” Guiding lights are part of the wonderful beauty and comfort of a Counselor Messiah.

One of the major signs of Christ’s birth was the star, a guide that drew people from far away directly to Jesus. In Matthew 2, the wise men have been following this star, knowing that it leads to the king of the Jews. They consult with King Herod, thinking he will be a source of knowledge, but instead find Herod has more questions than them. “After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” (Matthew 2:9-10). This guiding star leads them to the Messiah, and then, as they prepare to head home, they are divinely counseled through a dream to not return to Herod as protection. The majesty of the Wonderful Counselor is that God draws us into the beauty and splendor God intends—our ultimate source of wisdom, protection, and truth.

Much like the star in the Nativity story, Jesus also guides and counsels the greatest and the least. Through parables to the masses as well as poignant words directed to individuals, Jesus instructs and encourages not only those early believers but every generation since. John 1:4 describes Christ by saying “in him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Jesus in his ministry embodies the name of Wonderful Counselor by being a guiding light, someone who counsels officials and religious leaders just as easily as those on the outskirts of society. His wisdom isn’t relegated to gender, status, or age—children are just as welcomed and valued. As Jesus walks with people, he speaks into their lives and guides them gently through dusty crowded streets, across wastelands, over stormy seas, and prayerfully into gardens. In the presence of Jesus, wonderful counseling is freely given.

The guidance of Jesus did not stop when he ascended into heaven and left the disciples with the Great Commission. The words of Christ continue to establish a guide in our lives today. The name of Wonderful Counselor continues to ring out. Phrases we repeat, such as “love your neighbor as yourself” or “turn the other cheek,” are echoes of wisdom from parables and proverbs Jesus counseled others with. Much like the power of light in darkness, the guidance of the Wonderful Counselor persists just as Isaiah 9 prophesied.

As the Advent season begins, the days are growing shorter and more consumed with darkness. With the ever-growing presence of twinkling shining lights, may we be gently reminded of the beautiful light of Christ as our Wonderful Counselor.


Words: Sabrina Dawson
Images: Anton Shcherbakov, Filip Bunkens

Star-shaped lights hung in a tree

Additional readings

Finding God in Mystery and Wonder

How mystery and wonder invites us to seek God in newer and deeper ways.

On Relinquishing Control, A Prayer for Anxiety

Reflective thoughts and study of Philippians 4:6-7 on how God is in control in the midst of anxiety.

Creativity as Devotional Practice

A reflection on how we can approach the creative process as a devotional practice.

Listening with Intention

Adapting our daily rhythms to hear where the Spirit is leading.


Additional readings

Finding God in Mystery and Wonder

How mystery and wonder invites us to seek God in newer and deeper ways.

On Relinquishing Control, A Prayer for Anxiety

Reflective thoughts and study of Philippians 4:6-7 on how God is in control in the midst of anxiety.

Creativity as Devotional Practice

A reflection on how we can approach the creative process as a devotional practice.

Listening with Intention

Adapting our daily rhythms to hear where the Spirit is leading.