Have you made plans for Christmas yet? I haven’t. I like to plan, but often my plans don’t come to fruition. Not so with God. When God plans something, it doesn’t change. God’s plans are so certain that the Old Testament authors speak of them in the past tense, what scholars call “the prophetic perfect.”
When God spoke to His people about His plans, however, He used future tense. We call them promises, and the Old Testament prophets gave us many of them. What a comfort it must have been for the Israelites to carry these promises into captivity in a foreign land!
But let’s back up a few years.
The twin nations of Judah and Israel were threatened on all sides by larger, more powerful, more ruthless nations. Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC, but Judah escaped by allying with the Assyrians. (Bad idea!) The Babylonians conquered the Assyrians, then in 586 BC, the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. God’s people faced deportation…mass migration…exile.
God’s promises are
Their plans for the future—both individual and national—were dashed. All they had left were God’s promises. But remember, His promises are actually definitely-going-to-happen plans.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. –Proverbs 19:21
How appropriate, then, that one of the most familiar promises, one of a coming Savior/Messiah, names Him first as an amazing planner!
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. –Isaiah 9:6
Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor.
The Hebrew word translated counselor refers to a king “who determines upon and carries out a program of action” (NIV Study Bible notes for Isaiah 9:6). He is a leader who makes a plan and follows through with it. That’s the kind of leader I like to follow—a determined, confident planner. He knows where he’s going, and he knows how to get there.
All this comes from the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent. –Isaiah 28:29
Plan and wonderful are from the same root words as in 9:6.
For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back? –Isaiah 14:27
“Purposed” is planning
with a punch!
Purposed is such a good word here: decided to do it and determined to follow through. That’s planning with a punch behind it.
I think of Jesus in the wilderness, tempted by Satan yet He never succumbed (Luke 4:1-13).
I think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, resolutely facing the cross despite His fears (Matthew 26:36-42).
And wonderful? We all know what that means. Jesus’ miracles were full of wonder, as were His answers to questioners. Even as a twelve-year-old, He spoke to the temple leaders, and “everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:47). *More on this.*
Jesus came to earth with an amazing, wonder-filled plan to call us “out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9; there’s wonderful again).
Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. –Isaiah 25:1
And He continues to do them.
My Christmas plans may fall through, but God’s long-term plan, His purposed, sure-to-happen promise has already been fulfilled, in both a past tense and a prophetic perfect kind of way. The #bestplans are #NotAboutMe, via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)
What do you think about Jesus as our wonderful, confident Planner? How do you see this promise fulfilled in the Gospels or in your own experience? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
As we prepare for Christmas, join me next Friday to reflect on Mighty God.
Want something different? Here’s the first in a previous Christmas series: The Cast of Christmas.