Isaiah 9:6, “Unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
This Advent season, I am pondering the descriptions of the Holy Child found in Isaiah 9:6, one for every day of the week as I draw nearer to Christmas. Today my heart is meditating on “Wonderful”.
His name shall be called Wonderful.
I cannot help but imagine what Isaiah was seeing when he prophesied this beloved promise. I imagine the vision unfolding before his eyes, the nature and the heartbeat of God forming in a little baby, with all of His holiness, grace, justice, and mercy mingling with the Child’s DNA. It’s no wonder that out of all he saw in his vision of the coming Son, he started with this description – wonderful.
In Judges 13 we find the pre-incarnate Christ visiting a barren woman, coming to give her and her husband, Manoah, the promise of a son. The Angel of the Lord communicates His promise and then turns to leave. However, Manoah stops Him and asks, “What is Your name that when Your words come to pass we may honor You (vs 17).” Then the pre-incarnate One replies, “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful? (vs 18).” Long before Isaiah prophesied all His name would be, the Lord himself had proclaimed who He was: Wonderful.
As I read Judges 13:18, I can’t help but read the Lord’s reply – “seeing it is wonderful”- in varying shades:
First off, the Lord might have said this because He could discern how this couple had already found Him to be wonderful in all of his dealings. They hadn’t asked Him to come. He appeared to them of His own will and desire. They couldn’t conjure Him. They didn’t plan it. He had simply come because He longed to do so. And in His coming, He proclaimed to them a promised son, one who was called to be dedicated to God from his birth. Once again, this was His desire to give them this child. They couldn’t force Him to make a vow to them for an heir - this was His promise to give.
Then, after making this promise, he heard their prayers for His return (8-9) and He responds to their longing. He appears again to them – the one they describe as “a Man of God with a countenance like the Angel of God and very awesome.” THIS One comes to them again and they beg Him to delay long enough so that they may offer a sacrifice to Him. For all He had done, worship was stirring in their hearts. Oh, how they desired to give him an offering! But there was one problem – they didn’t even know His name. And yet, the Lord says to them, that even apart from knowing His name, they had called them in their hearts, “Wonderful.” Because of all He had done, they knew His name was Wonderful.
Another way of reading this text is like so: seeing it – seeing My Name – is a wonderful thing. It’s as if the Lord says, “Why do you ask my name? Because if you see it, if you hear it, if you learn my name – you will be filled with wonder.” To be filled with wonder – wonder-full – can be a life-altering thing. It’s almost as if the Lord was cautioning them saying, “If you really want my name and nature reavealed to you, prepare your heart to be gloriously awestruck. It’ll leave you breathless. It will leave you changed.” The word “wonderful” here in Hebrew is “pili” and it can be translated as “remarkable, incomprehensible,” and even “secret.” Secret may seem an odd description until you realize that something that is incomprehensible is naturally a secret to us, or another way of saying it is, it is a mystery to us. A Mystery. A wonder. We can’t wrap our heads around it. We can’t figure it out. It’s too big, too grand for our little minds to grasp. This is why the only other time this particular word is used in scripture is in Psalm 139 when David pens,
“ O Lord, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. 5 You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.”
When we take the time to actually ponder this wonderful God of ours, we find our one response is to be stunned at His greatness – to be stunned in wonder. Words fail. Offerings fail. All we can give Him is our awe-struck wonder.
I love how Isaiah and Judges record that His very name is Wonderful. The name of Yahweh. The name of Yeshua, Jesus, our Lord, is wonderful because His name represents His nature and His nature determines His ways: because He is Healer by nature, He reaches out and heals all our diseases. Because He is Mercy by nature, He stoops down low and rescues the downtrodden. Because He is Freedom by nature, He breaks into our prison and sets us free. His name is Wonderful because He is wonderful. All that He does. All that He is, is a wonder.
This Christmas season, I am asking the Holy One to fill my heart with fresh wonder for who He is and all He does. Christmas is the story of God drawing near – Immanuel, God with us. GOD WITH US. Why would he want to be with us? Why would he put on flesh and dwell here among us? Well, just like He did for the couple in Judges 13, Christ appeared to us because He desired to. He left heaven and came to earth of His own will and desire. We couldn’t conjure Him. We couldn’t plan it or earn it. He simply came because He longed to do so. And in His coming, God proclaimed to us the Promised Son of Isaiah 9:6; the one who was dedicated to God from His birth. Once again, this was His desire to give us this Child. “Unto US a child is given.” This was a gift for humanity. For us! We couldn’t fix ourselves. We couldn’t draw near to Him. We couldn’t even force Him to respond- this was simply His Promise and Gift to give. And oh, how wonderful it was.
As you ponder His first coming this season, I pray that your heart is like that of Manoah who, after tasting of His first coming, cries out for Him to return. Now that we’ve seen how Wonderful you are, Lord Jesus, our hearts cry out, “We must have more!” Even, so – Lord Jesus – the One whose name is Wonderful – even so, Lord, come.