The Book of Isaiah

Tuesday: Acting Wisely

Isaiah 9:6 In this week’s lessons, we look at the four names of Christ seen in Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the child to be born.
Theme
Acting Wisely

When you begin to ask even the simplest of questions about your own identity, you’ll soon find yourself plunged into a realm that goes far beyond anything you and I could answer by ourselves. Where are we going to find a counselor who can help us with those questions? Isaiah says that there was to be a child born who will give us counsel. Moreover, this Messiah is God come in human form.

It’s interesting that not long after the birth of Christ, men came from Persia, looking for Jesus. They are identified as Magi, or “the mighty ones,” that is, people of knowledge and influence. We don’t know much about them, but if they came from Persia, which is what is generally assumed, they probably were wise men in our sense of the term. That is, they were the people of the East who studied the literature of the day and who perhaps contemplated the heavens, because much of wisdom was supposed to come from it. They studied the stars, and used the constellations to search out answers for what they wanted to know.

From a human perspective these men really were wise. They were knowledgeable in various fields of study, including astronomy and what they believed the stars could tell them. Yet, as you begin to read the story of their coming to Christ in Matthew, what you find is that their supreme expression of wisdom was found not in what they knew, but in what they knew they didn’t know. And so they went on a quest to seek out information.

When they came to Jerusalem they asked, “Where is He who is born King of the Jews?” We might have thought that they would be the ones who knew where the King was. They didn’t know, but they were wise enough to ask questions.

They went to King Herod. Since the Magi were looking for a king, it made sense to go see royalty about it. Herod didn’t know, and so he turned to the religious leaders who knew the Scriptures. They gave the answer from the book of Micah, which said that He was to be born in Bethlehem, in Judea. However, the religious leaders weren’t interested; they expressed no interest in going to Bethlehem to check out why the Magi had come so far. They hadn’t the least interest in this inquiry about their Messiah. But the wise men learned, even from these unworthy sources.

So they were wise enough to know what they didn’t know. They were wise enough to ask questions. They were wise enough to learn from the unworthy. And when the star came, they were wise enough to follow divine guidance. For all their wisdom, they didn’t have the answer to life’s problems until they came and bowed down at the feet of Jesus Christ who is the Savior. They were wise men when they started out, but they were much wiser men when they went home.

I wonder if you and I are even a tenth that wise. Here is Jesus of Nazareth, in whom all of the mysteries are unfolded in the Bible, although we confess we do not understand them fully. Nevertheless, do we, as the wise men did, go to Jesus and bow down before Him to find these things out? Isaiah describes the Lord Jesus Christ as our Counselor, that is, the One who gives wisdom. Before His arrest, Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit in those terms. He told His disciples that He was going away, but would send the Spirit to be their Counselor.

He used an interesting word with that. He told them that He was going to send another Counselor, that is, One who is just like Jesus. In the Greek language, the word some translations render as “counselor” is parakletos. It means one who is called alongside another to help him. The apostle John was present when Jesus told His disciples this, and so when he came to write his first letter, he used the word of Jesus. He said we have a heavenly parakletos, a heavenly counselor, even Jesus Christ the righteous.

Study Questions
  1. What do we know about the Magi?
  2. How did they show their wisdom concerning Christ even in their uncertainty?
  3. Define the Greek word parakletos. How does it apply to the Holy Spirit?
Application

Prayer: Include in your prayers the request that God would give you increasing wisdom as you seek to live for the Lord in these godless days.

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Donald Barnhouse’s message, “When Love Came Down.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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