Watchman, what of the night?
The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.
— Isaiah 21:11-12
The year is 689 BC and the world is in turmoil. The Babylonian Empire is under attack by the Assyrian Empire. All of the nations in that area hoped against hope that Babylon would be able to defeat the Assyrian aggressors to their north. However, it was not to be! Babylon fell to the Assyrians and everyone knew they would not be stopped until the entire region was under their domination. Against this backdrop of war and a certain attack upon the nation of Israel, God commands the prophet Isaiah to assume the role of a watchman. Isaiah is to look to the prophetic future and tell the people what he sees approaching.
This message might have been given nearly 2,700 years ago, but it remains relevant in today. Think about the 9/11 terrorist attacks then, on another level of thought, the rising tsunami of sin in our world. Old convictions and standards are being swept away right before our very eyes.
Let me ask you a question: Are you on God’s side or on man’s side?
Today, just as it was in Isaiah’s day, there is a need for the people of God to assume the role of a watchman. There is a need for us to take our stand, look at what is approaching and open our mouths — crying out, according to Isaiah 58:1
I will expound on the question that is voiced in verse 11: “Watchman, what of the night?” Through this passage, I understand that we are living in dangerous and perilous times. The enemy’s desire is to see our ministries, our families, and our churches dashed upon the rocks of failure through change of the responsibilities of the watchman. We really need to evaluate the work of the ancient watchman and understand the truth that his ministry is needed as much today as in the past. I will share three revealing facts that this passage gives us concerning the watchman: The Mission of the Watchman, Watchman Warns of Coming Danger, and The Watchman and His Message.
1. THE MISSION OF THE WATCHMAN
In ancient times, those who lived in walled cities were considered blessed individuals. By being inside a city with walls, they had two forms of protection: One was the wall itself and the other was the watchman. The wall stood as a barrier between that which was acceptable and that which was not. The wall was a formidable barrier to trouble.
2. Watchman Who Warns of Coming Danger
Whether he saw anything approaching or not, he was to give his report to the people within the walls when asked of conditions outside. As we look inside the church, we need a pastor a leader of the congregation that the people can go to and know that they are safe. The ancient watchman had a duty to watch and to warn.
3. THE WATCHMAN AND HIS MESSAGE
Some say it is the question of a careless heart. They believe that it is asked in a voice of sarcasm; the questioner not really caring if he receives and answer or not, because he does not plan to change or prepare for what is coming. Or it may be a question born out of contempt. Of course, it may be a question from a concerned heart. What do you think? If you needed a Savior, what kind of heart would you have?
The watchman tells those who hear him to enquire, return and come. He is calling the wayward ones back to God. He is saying: There is great danger on the horizon, but there is still time to make a change. In the night you cannot see what is coming but in the light of the day you can see. So the watchman cries out — Come to God! Repent and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior.
This column is the opinion of Reverend Gracie Jackson , Pastor of Grace Ministries in Eagle River and Executive Director of Love INC of Eagle River.