The Gift that Is Wonderful

Stefan Nitzschke November 26, 2023 Isaiah 9:1-7

With the Christmas season approaching, I want you to think back on a time—whether it was during Christmas or otherwise—when you received a gift that you would describe as “wonderful”

Maybe it was wonderful due to its timing—it was the right gift at the right time

Or maybe it was the level of generosity—you couldn’t believe someone would do that for you

Perhaps it was the thoughtfulness or the time that went into it

Regardless, it was a wonderful gift

In being a part of a church family, it’s cool to see the various gifts that folks give—many of which happened before my time

When I first started my internship, we lived out at Bethany Farms in the duplexes

*Allie’s mom was sick—people would give gas cards

*A generous man would give us a deer each year

Even the very land we were living on was a gift…

2. Back in 2005 a family from outside our church approached us because they had a “tax problem”…

- a house, 100 acres of ground, a barn that dated back to the 1800’s that had been partially restored, a house, some cash…

Now, what was once seminary housing is the home of our Men’s Restoration Ministries…

From a human perspective, all of this began with a wonderful gift that someone chose to give us…

3. Just a few year ago, the same thing happened with the land that’s next to our FE campus

Someone purchased the land and gave it to our church family as a gift…

Based on what we learned during the Stewardship Celebration last weekend, imagine all of the ministry that is going to take place on that lot of land

Being from Iowa, I have nothing against corn

But it’s suiting to think of the spiritual and character growth that will take place on the same plot of land that once grew corn and beans

Again, from a human perspective, it all started with a wonderful gift

I could use up the entirety of my time discussing the wonderful gifts we’ve received from my parents, or my in-laws, or our church family

But I’m wanting us to consider these matters as we prepare to read about the promise of an even more wonderful gift

- 2700 years ago, God made several very specific prophecies about a gift that He was going to be delivering to the human race...

This prophesy was made 700 years before the gift would be delivered—the Lord was building anticipation and hope for this greatest of all gifts

And it’s one that is not just for receiving, but a gift for sharing…

*turn to Isaiah 9 (492)

- this morning we’re beginning a new series for Christmas entitled Light of the World

We’re going to be taking a close look at the 4 words used to describe this wonderful gift that the Lord has given us—the gift of His promised Messiah

To state them outright, the are (*Wonderful Counselor | Mighty God | Everlasting Father | Prince of Peace)

Again, what we are about to read took place ~700 years before the coming of Christ!

For our part, we can’t say with 100% accuracy who’s gonna win the game today between the Colts and the Buccaneers

But for God’s Word to know exact details of the Messiah centuries before His coming is astounding

Prophesy is one of the more compelling aspects of Christianity—it’s one of the most convincing arguments of the validity of its claims

Anyone can guess at the future—it’s a whole other thing to declare, and to do so with pinpointed accuracy

When presented with such incredible evidence, there really are only two possible options: (1) believe in the God holding the pen, or (2) harden your heart

A short while ago, we heard Peter make a similar argument regarding the validity of prophesy (*remind as you read):

2 Peter 1:16-21 - For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

But I wanna zero in on one particular aspect of the passage:

verse 1:19 - ”and we have more sure the prophetic word...”

As we get into our series, it’s important to highlight this point

We’re not walking through 4 aspects of a prophesy that we hope comes to fruition at some point in the future

We’re not placing our hope in the gifts of man—as wonderful as they can be—but we’re placing our hope in the God who keeps His promises

And further, we’ve SEEN these prophesies come to completion in the person of Jesus Christ

We hope that as we go through each aspect of this wonderful gift of Christ leading up to Christmas, it causes you to love Him more and marvel at His unfathomable provision

Let’s look at this Word together…


Isaiah 9:1-7 – But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. 3 You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4 For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian. 5 For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. 6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.

this morning we’re thinking about The Gift that is Wonderful.

- from these verses, we want to think especially about Three reasons Jesus Christ is a treasured gift.

But before we get into these reasons, it’s worth taking a moment to look at one of the key words of our study this morning…

Meaning of the word “wonderful” in the Bible.

1. Unusual.

Isaiah 25:1 - O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.

There’s a lot going on in that verse

First, Isiah is showing that this mighty God of wonders is HIS God

Then, because of how awesome He is, Isaiah makes it his goal to lift His name high and give thanks for who He is and what He’s done

But then he talks about these works, describing them as… wonders

It may be helpful to think about what isn’t wonderful

This can be anything from the awful to the mundane

But works that are wonderful tend to stand out and catch our eye

They delight us and draw us in,

Imagine going about your typical day—whether that’s at the office or at school or out running errands—and hearing the most delightful singing voice you’ve ever heard

What will that do?

It stirs up something in your heart, prompting you to investigate further—you need to know more about that voice, where it’s coming from, who’s voice it is, so forth

How much more wonderful are the works of the Lord!

Far from usual, they’re often what He uses to draw us to Himself

Think back on your own life—times where God has metaphorically been that painfully gorgeous voice cutting through the mundane

Those where His wonderful works, calling us to the One who is more delightful than all else

And I hope you can say the same of your own relationship with YHWH (*repeat verse)

- another way of saying that is that God and His ways are....

2. Extraordinary

Psalm 77:11-15 - I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate on all Your work and muse on Your deeds. Your way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples. You have by Your power redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.

If you use a word enough times, it tends to lose much of its meaning

One of those words for me is “awesome”

I use it to describe everything from the birth of a child to a really good high five (but it has to be REALLY good)

But in a literal sense, “awesome” is intended to mean “a person, object, or event leaving someone with a sense of ‘awe’”

And as good as high fives can be, they can’t measure up to this standard

Ezekiel was in awe when he saw visions of the Lord—he literally says “I sat there overwhelmed among [the people at Tel-abib] seven days”

John was in awe when He saw the glorified Christ—it caused him to fall at His feet like a dead man

“Wonderful” is quite a bit like “awesome”

We use it to describe a really good day or a satisfying slice of cheesecake

While I’m not lobbying for us to omit those words from our vocabulary unless we encounter something truly wonderful or awesome, I do want us to allow the word to be used as it is intended in our passage this morning

His works are far better than a really good slice of cheesecake or a perfectly executed high five

The extraordinary nature of the person and works of our God defies words, but “wonderful” will have to do

Lastly, another emphasis to point out is the…

3. Unique.

…nature of His being

Exodus 15:11 - Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?

There is something altogether different about who our God is and what He does

When clamoring for comparisons or similes, we see the authors of Scripture all coming to the same conclusion: all they can do is… point

It’s almost like they’re saying, “I can’t think of anything to describe what He’s like, so just look for yourself!”

Or “His works are so much different than anything you’ve seen or experienced, you just need to train your eyes on Him…”

It reminds me of John’s account at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry when He starts calling His disciples…

John 1:43-46 – The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Is Jesus really that wonderful of a gift?

Brothers and sister… come and see

First, Jesus is…

I. Wonderful Because of His Completeness

The first part of our passage is important

...a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us, and the government will rest on His shoulders...

- what’s the emphasis there?...what’s the point?...

This gift will have it all—it’s not a “batteries not included” sort of situation

*wasn’t that always such a disappointment growing up?

But this gift will be EVERYTHING—that’s part of what makes it so wonderful

Looking at it piece by piece, it’s promised that…

A. Child who will be born.

Don’t miss the utter significance of this

This speaks to one of the unique qualities of the Messiah that was to come—He would be the Son of Man, emphasizing His humanity

Two chapters earlier, Isaiah would have emphasized this point…

Isaiah 7:14 - Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

This gift would be wonderful—awe-inspiring—from the very beginning

You don’t need to know intimate details about the birds and the bees to be caught off guard by the incongruency of a virgin getting pregnant

But the Adamic sin-nature needed to be bypassed

And He could not be fully God if He was conceived by a regular guy—He need to the be the Son of man AND the Son of God

And in a wonderful mystery, The Lord perfectly carried out this marvelous work in a way only HE could accomplish

And this resulted in… Immanuel (God with us)

- the apostles never got over that...

John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Colossians 1:27 - to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

This wonderful gift was a child who was to be born, a…

B. Son who will be given.

As mentioned just a minute ago, Jesus is also the Son of God...

“a child will be BORN, a son will be… GIVEN”

If I’m giving you something, what is the implication in terms of its existence?

I already have it

Shockingly, this speaks to the preexistence of Christ

In one sense, He will be born (specifically of a virgin)

In another equally-real sense, He has no point of origin

Do you?

In terms of concept, no—God has known you since before the foundation of the world, according to Jer 1:5, Psalm 139:16, and Eph 1:4

But in terms of your actual existence, you certainly have a beginning date, threading back to the day of your conception

Not so with Jesus—He is totally unique in His Person—He’s unlike anything else

Again, all I can seem to do is point—specifically to…

C. A king who will rule well.

- the government will be on His shoulders...

This is going to come to its ultimate fulfillment when Christ returns and establishes His 1000 year rule on this earth after the 7-year tribulation

But from a spiritual sense, Christ is already seated upon His throne and reigning over His kingdom

Again, John helps us with this…

John 18:36 – Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

This, of course took place right before the cross

But the author of Hebrews continues…

Hebrews 1:3 – And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high

Which is to say, He is reigning with power as we speak

So, piecing all of it together, we understand that this prophesy is about one who will be human, divine, and lord

As Pastor Viars says it, “He is personal [a child will be born], perfect [a Son will be given], and He’s powerful [the government will be upon His shoulders...]”

Now, with all of that, you may say: you’ve received a good deal of commentary on the passage, but this hasn’t yet passed the bar for a sermon

Which is to say, we’ve talked a lot on what the passage is about, but not a whole lot on what to do about the passage

But I hope you haven’t missed the implications!

There are a lot of gifts flying around during this season

Literal gifts, gifts of time with family, gifts of fruitful ministry, gifts of rest for many of us

And with all of it, we can miss the Gift that’s the complete package!

Don’t forget where God’s Word in Isaiah is pointing this Christmas season:

- we needed someone who was a child was born...

- we needed someone who could pay for our a Son was given...

- we needed someone who could lead our a ruler was provided...

What is the first description of this Messiah who was to come?

He is wonderful—for all the reasons we’ve talked about and infinitely more

But Isaiah also says He’s wonderful…

II. Because of His Counsel

Now in a church like this, we could get really carried away with this point

We love the Word of God and how it’s used in the process of discipleship

A huge part of this is the giving of counsel, or “counseling” as it’s more clinically referenced

And it’s pretty awesome (there I go again), that the first way the Messiah is described is as the “Wonderful Counselor”

But the purpose of this message is to… point

So to get a better understanding of this Messiah’s wonderful counsel, let’s look at what differentiates it from conventional counsel

In his top-rated commentary, John N. Oswalt says…

“Throughout the first part of the book especially, the folly of human wisdom is derided, for usually such counsel lacked any spiritual wisdom… By contrast, the Coming One would give wondrous counsel, unfailing in the depth of its wisdom. For it is true wisdom which knows that in weakness is strength, in surrender is victory, and in death is life… So this counselor is a wonder because his counsel goes beyond the merely human.” – John N. Oswalt, Isaiah 1-39 NICOT, 247.

Most often, human counsel is pretty predictable:

“He dumped you? Well then, mail all of his stuff back via the garbage truck, block him from your phone, and snub all his friends!”

Or “If you wanna get on top, it’s a dog-eat-dog world—cloaks and daggers is how you get ahead in business”

But the counsel of the Lord is altogether different… it’s…

A. Wonderful in that His words are often so unexpected.

There are times in Jesus’ ministry where we think: “I never would have dreamed of saying that…”

A rich guy asks Jesus how to attain to eternal life and he says: sell all your things, give to the poor, and follow Me (*what are you doing! (*revealing his idolatrous heart))

Or a woman comes to Him asking for her daughter to be healed and He says, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs…” (*insensitive! (*revealing her humble heart))

Or we could go to one of the most renown passage in all of Scripture...

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

- we would have expected just the opposite...

- [develop – the gospel of works...]

But this wonderful counsel brings up a challenge in our hearts…

- do you want a God who is telling you things you would have already expected, or who is surprising you at every turn?...

What happens when we ask for advice and get a response we didn’t expect?

We have a choice to make: did I ask for the sake of validation or consideration?

In other words, do I reject counsel that I haven’t already thought of for myself (i.e., I’m seeking to validate my decisions) OR am I open to the consideration of another?

The best test for this is found in God’s Word: when I find myself in disagreement with what He says, who wins the internal argument?

That will determine who is the “Wonderful Counselor” in your life: Christ, or you

If the sober answer is “you”—where will you always be pointing?

Those who humbly look to the Counsel of the One who is Wonderful seek out all sorts of opportunities to point others to Him

This is the reason many of you signed up for the Living Nativity coming up these next few weeks—you want opportunities to point to the Wonderful Counselor

And many of the folks will be caught off-guard by the counsel given

Some may be convinced that heaven is something we can work our way towards (*opportunity to share about Christ’s work)

Some may think there’s no place for someone like them in God’s church (*opportunity to share about God’s wonderful love)

As we point to Christ, let’s make sure we’re praying that the Lord would open their eyes to hear His counsel and see the Wonderful Counselor, who’s counsel is also…

B. Wonderful in that His words are worthy of remembering.

You never want to forget the things that are wonderful—like the first time you heard your spouse say “I love you”, or the moment God’s Word became sweet to your ears

Things that we deem “wonderful” are worthy of committing to memory…

Psalm 77:11 – I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.

His Words and deeds are worthy of committing to memory

But you’ll only actually DO it if you see Christ as He is: wonderful

Do you believe Jesus is the One…

Colossians 2:3 - in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Or do you pray…

Ephesians 1:17 - that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.

And have you been so enamored by Jesus that…

1 Corinthians 1:23-24 - but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

But we see a negative aspect to all of this—please turn ahead in your Bibles to ch 29 in Isaiah

Looking at vv 13-14, we see other appearances of the word “wonderful” and “marvelous”

Isaiah 29:13-14 – Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.”

- do you see our word wonderful?...”wonderfully marvelous”....normally we would think about that in a good way...but in this is exactly the opposite...we could say it like this...

C. Wonderful in that there are consequences to disobeying His counsel – Isa. 29:13-14

We all have a choice—are we going to see His counsel as wonderful and follow what He says?

Because, while you can choose to disobey His counsel (i.e., His Word), you can’t choose the consequences of that decision

Obedience to the counsel of the Lord has great blessings that come in tow—many of us would attest to that

But to reiterate a passage that Pastor Viars mentioned during our stewardship celebration last week: whatever a man sows, this will he also reap…

Unfortunately, many of us could speak to that as well…

But praise God for his wonderful counsel…

III. Wonderful Because of His Ability to Change People

His counsel has immense power

Point to the Wonderful Counselor because He alone has the ability…

A. To draw people to Himself.

We see this is His gentle, shepherd-like care…

Matthew 11:28 - Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

- [develop – gospel invitation – for some here today, that is exactly what the wonderful counselor would say to you]

Point to the Wonderful Counselor because He alone is able…

B. To fill our hearts with hope.

Conventional wisdom would say that those who are weak need to fight for power

Is that the hope-filled counsel of He who is Wonderful?

2 Corinthians 12:9 - And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Those who see Jesus as wonderful want nothing more than Him

And if that’s attained through weakness, then bring on the weakness!

This isn’t what you’ll hear from the world—you can only get it from Him, so…

Point to the Wonderful Counselor because He alone gives us the ability…

C. To know how to relate to one another.

The UN-wonderful counsel of the world tells us to look out for #1 at the expense of others, but the Wonderful Counselor says…

Matthew 22:37–39 - And He said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

When I follow the personal, perfect, and powerful Messiah, I don’t need to worry about how others treat me—I only need to love Him and love others, irrespective of how I’m treated

This type of counsel is senseless to a world that seems to have it’s gaze fixated inward

That’s why we need to point to the Wonderful Counselor as He seeks…

D. To call us to a sacrificial and purposeful life.

Though we have our own idea on what a fulfilling life would entail, Jesus confronts that notion by compelling his disciples…

Matthew 16:24 - Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.

Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor, is pointing—but it’s in a beckoning manner, calling us to look to Him and follow Him

This Christmas season, let’s look together at the One who is wonderful, and follow His unmatched counsel as we point others to the greatest of all gifts… **Pray**


Stefan Nitzschke


Pastor of College Ministries - Faith Church

Director of Faith West Community Center - Community Ministries West


B.S. - Management Information Systems, Iowa State University
M.Div. - Faith Bible Seminary

Stefan has been serving on the pastoral team at Faith Church since 2016. He and his wife have a passion for discipleship and evangelism and are the blessed parents of four carefree boys and one sweet girl. Stefan is certified as a biblical counselor through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Christian Preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.