And His Name Shall Be Called Counselor - Wellington First Assembly

Wellington First Assembly

326 W Botkin Lane, Wellington Kansas ........Family Faith Lessons - 9:30 AM........ Sunday Worship - 10:30 AM


Sunday, December 10, 2017

And His Name Shall Be Called Counselor

And He shall be called, Counselor.

The fiery embers streak across the the avenue. The din of collapsing structures, groaning under their architectural load, incite even more panic.  Screams of terror rip through the air.  Children crying, men shouting, women gathering a few bundled possessions, trying to stay together on crowded streets, rushing out to what is hoped to be a safe spot, only to have timbers falling, blocking their way, opportunists thieving while their attention is diverted.  Death and destruction surround them. 

Just another dystopian story on the big screen? No, this is not a scripted movie. This is the experience of war-ravaged refugees, repeated throughout time and place.  Ever present in our violent world.
  • ·       Where is peace? 
  • ·       Where is leadership? 
  • ·       Where is the King?
  • ·       Where is the Counselor?

And His name shall be called.


Don’t be fooled.  The ravages of war aren’t just manifested in the streets of cities far away.  They burn holes in hearts in our very communities.  Domestic violence.  Traumatized children, with little to eat.  Addictions that slowly sap the life out bit by bit.  The world is at war.  We might live in a place where hell on earth isn’t as visible, but it lives on, hidden in the homes of our friends and neighbors.  Their plaintive voices echo the refrain – Where is the peace, where is the counselor?

And His Name shall be called.

Last week, our advent theme introduced the concept of hope and expectation.  Today’s theme builds upon that and brings the promise of peace.  Not a false peace.  Not a rosy, it’s all fine, you will never suffer style of peace, but instead a perfect peace, born through the pangs of suffering, fired in the kiln of grief, strengthened through hardship, enduring through anguish.  Who leads us in this peace?  If we don’t know Him, we can find Him today.

And His Name shall be called, Counselor.

Please stand with me as you are able as we read from the text of the ancient prophet Micah 4:9-10 (ESV)
Now why do you cry aloud?  Is there no king in you?
Has your counselor perished, that pain seized you like a woman in labor?

10   Writhe and groan, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you shall go out from the city and dwell in the open country; you shall go to Babylon. There you shall be rescued; there the Lord will redeem you
from the hand of your enemies.

Our text today is taken from a time of turmoil.  A time of suffering and betrayal.  The nation of Israel was not in right standing with their Creator and benefactor.

Micah was a farmer outside Jerusalem during the same time Isaiah was also prophesying.  Micah was steeped in the knowledge of agriculture, and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he too prophesied.  The die was cast, the lot was up.  The conquest was nearly complete.  The Assyrian Empire took over Israel in 722 BC and Judah was invaded in 701 BC.  Refugees roamed the countryside. All the efforts of the leadership of Israel had failed. 
But even in this time of woe, Micah prophesies hope.  Micah identifies several areas that the people had gotten wrong.  Furthermore, he reminds the people, that even in their travails, God still loves them, cares for them, and has a plan of salvation for them.

This promise is not limited to his contemporaries 2700 years ago.  The promise is also for you and for me.  We too, cry out these same questions, and when we listen we can hear the answer.  Our counselor has not perished.  He is alive and well and ready to bring us peace.

And His Name Shall be Called, Counselor.

Anyone know of people who complain?  I don’t know how to do this, I can’t do that.  They come to you and ask a question for help.  And when you offer them a solution, they shake their head and say, nope, that won’t work, and then walk away?

There is a term for that.  The Help-Rejecting Complainer.  This person will always reject any constructive idea or response from someone.  In fact, they often pride themselves that they are too far gone and beyond the help from anybody.  It actually gets a little bit annoying after a while.
The problem is, when you think you are beyond help, you are probably well on your way to ruining your life.  It’s one thing to reject the help and advice of a well-meaning friend or colleague.  It’s another to reject Biblical counsel from your Creator.  The consequences are more drastic.


By the way, this doesn’t happen overnight.  When we examine the history of the people of Jerusalem, we see the progression took decades, even centuries.  God was full of mercy and grace, but his people kept snipping corners, taking shortcuts, and looking elsewhere for satisfaction.  Unrepentant sin piled on top of each other, to the point where the very decision-making process no longer included God’s wise counsel in any aspect.  Consistently delaying the advice of well-meaning prophets eventually left no window of escape.  Jerusalem was destroyed.  The temple was reduced to rubble.  The very center of community and religious life – the heart of its people and heritage – was ripped away.  What else is there to live for?

When we hear the Word of God and reject its message, we walk ourselves closer to the brink.  Psalm 32:8 reminds us that God will serve as our counselor.  He will instruct us and teach us in the way we should go.  He will counsel us with His loving eyes on us.

What should our response to his counsel be?  We should be ecstatic!  Joyful!  We find the appropriate response in Psalm 19:24. We are delighted in his statutes, because they are our counselors.  The written word of God guides us. The spoken word of God advices us.  The prophetic word of God directs us.  When this complete, verified prescribed course of action is set in front of us – we had better listen and act.

Lot wasted no time leaving Sodom and Gomorrah.  He could have argued with the messenger angels.  He could have rejected the wise counsel provided to him.  And if he had, he would have shared in their destruction.
Noah heard the derisive laughter, the sarcastic remarks, and the insults about his addled mind.  Yet if he had listened to that advice instead of following the counsel of God, he would have faced destruction.

How many of us have been given wise counsel, but have chosen to ignore it, thinking that in our own wisdom we can devise our own way.  In our hubris, we believe we know more than anyone else.  It doesn’t take too many times touching the hot stove to learn it can burn.  So why do we insist on playing with fire?  You will get burned!  There’s a reason that the counsel of God warns about unequal relationships, about sexual sins, about addictive behaviors, about abusive anger.  We might think we can control it, hide it, or manage it – but usually not long enough.  Rejecting God’s council will lead to destruction.

 Neglecting the Counsel of God leads to confusion.
Ever been confused? Not sure what was up, what was down, what was going on?

Let me share a true story of someone who was really confused.  A few weeks ago, a 45-year-old woman admitted herself to the hospital for kidney stone pain.  My wife knows all about that!  It hurts. But this lady didn’t pass a stone.  She gave birth to a baby boy, never knowing she was pregnant.  I honestly don’t know how you can confuse the two.  I can guarantee you, there was a lot of confusion in that ER room that day.  There would have been a lot of questions?  Didn’t you know?  How could you have been living the last 9 months and have no clue?

Micah is giving us a brief hint of those same feelings here.  He questions,” Didn’t you realize your king was gone?  Have you been neglecting your relationship that long, you didn’t even notice?  How could you not know?”
And in this confusion, not is there just the labor pain, but there is panic.  What do I do know?  Everything I planned for, I expected, I longed for is gone!  Panic, not Peace.

That’s what happens when you neglect advice.  Some think that neglecting is better than rejecting.  But let me tell you, they both lead to the same spot.  The moment of confusion feels like the world has collapsed.   How do we neglect advice?

Do you know the difference between preventative maintenance and deferred maintenance?

Money.  The Cost.  The Time Lost.

Any good mechanic or facilities manager will tell you that it is best to put things on a schedule of preventative maintenance.  Change the oil, check the tires, replace the filters.  By following the advice of the manufacturer, you can extend the life of the asset for minimal cost. A lot of us don’t operate that way though.  We wait until the blowout on the freeway, or the unit freezing up, or the tranny falling out.  We keep putting it off until tomorrow.  Until next time.  Because I will always have more time and money later to deal with it.  NOT!

This is the second problem of the people in Jerusalem.  While some people rejected God’s outright advice, that was probably the minority.  Other’s simply neglected it.

I don’t know many people who call themselves Christ followers who reject the word of God.  But I do encounter a lot that neglect it.  I hear their excuses all the time.  I’ll read the Bible another day. I don’t have time for church now, maybe next month.  I’m too busy right now, I’ll get to it tomorrow.  That’s all fine and good, until we run out of tomorrows.
Instead of living in confusion, seek clarity.  Listen to what God is confirming in your heart today.

If Micah ended at verse 9, this would be a very depressing text. But his thoughts continue in this salvation oracle.  Yes, this dire situation may seem hopeless, but something good can come.  Out of the pain of labor, comes new life, a new joy.  Sobs of sorrow change to tears of joy.   There is a solution to this mess.  Do you want to hear it?

Expecting the counsel of God leads to liberation!
God’s counsel provides us a path to lead us from distress to deliverance.  It was never part of God’s perfect peaceful plan to let us be mired in the pit.  It was never part of his plan for us set up camp in destruction.  He calls us out.  He guides us forward. But you must be looking.

Micah spends this verse scattering Exodus language all over the place.  He calls on the people to remember how God took them out of bondage, out of Egypt, led them through the wilderness, and into the promised land.  All the people had to do was look up and follow the clouds by day and the fire by night.  The hand of God, the counsel of God guided their every move.
But as the people of Israel had learned through this new time of exile and destruction, the promise of God is not just in the getting us to some place.  It’s getting us through some place.  The destination is great – but the journey is where the stories are made.

When I tell people of our vacation trips to family, I normally don’t relate the time we spent bowling, or playing games, or watching movies or eating.  I tell of the time we spun the 360 on the icy mountain path.  The times we waited for the tow truck to get u moving again.  The time we saw giant vultures in the middle of nowhere off the beaten path, the time we pitched our tent in the middle of downtown Las Vegas.  We tell stories about the journey, because there are lessons to be learned there too.

So, Micah says, look up, follow God’s counsel, and he will lead.  Even if it means the opposite of the exodus.  Because God is still leading the people of Israel, even though in this case it is from the promised land, through the wilderness and into the Babylon bondage.  At first glance, this isn’t the happy ending we were looking for.   But then the message sinks in.  When we follow God’s counsel, it doesn’t matter what we go through – he is always there and will take us through it.  Liberation is not in a place – liberation is found in following the Counselor.


The place of detention can become
the place of redemption!

This is the dramatic irony of the gospel.  When we follow Christ through thick and thin, even when it appears the enemy is winning, this is where redemption becomes so powerful.  This is true salvation.

In fact, detention is the only place that redemption is valid.  This is where we see the true work of Christ on the cross.  The reality is that we are detained by sin, beset by afflictions, paralyzed by fear in so many areas of our lives.  Yet the counselor calls us to redemption.

He offers us the get out of jail card.  Then he anoints us for ministry in the very place we were. Christianity is not about all great things all the time.  But it is all about peace for where you live.

It is this verse that gives us all hope.  The covenant promise is not limited to those who live in one geographical area.  It is offered to all those who have ever been captive anywhere.

And what is this promise?  It is the offer of redemption by the one who loves us.  Micah introduces the specific term kinship redeemer.  We may recognize that as a unique term, one used by Boaz in his agreement to marry the foreigner Ruth and save her from a life of a poor immigrant female, setting up an anointed lineage that would include David and eventually the son of Mary.  This time, it is us who live in Babylon, we are the strangers in a strange land, and Christ offers to redeem us with his wise counsel.


This Christmas, he wants to be your Counselor.  Will you let him?

Shall we pray.