Saturday, July 09, 2005

The watchmen rejoice: Is 52:7-8

"How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, 'Your God reigns!' Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, they shout joyfully together; for they will see with their own eyes when the LORD restores Zion." (Isaiah 52:7-8)
Who are the watchmen? Biblically they fulfill two functions. First, they are seers. "Now David was sitting between the two gates; and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and raised his eyes and looked, and behold, a man running by himself." (2 Samuel 18:24) Watchmen are called to stand on the wall and watch. They are to search the horizon and to cry out when someone approaches the wall. They are a kind of early-warning system, giving notice and allowing the city to prepare for what ever is coming. In this sense, watchmen share a prophetic calling. The ministry of a watchman is the ministry of a prophet. God says to the prophet Ezekiel, "Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me." (Ezekiel 3:17)

Secondly, watchmen are intercessors. "On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth." (Isaiah 62:6-7) In this case, the watchmen are more concerned with what is happening inside the city than outside. Their job is to assess the needs of the people and to take those needs to the Lord. They represent the needs and wishes of the people before the Lord. In their intersession, they remind the Lord of what He has already promised. They remind Him of His word and they watch and wait for His promises to be fulfilled. They stand on the wall praying and watching for the good word of the Lord to be fulfilled. As intercessors, they too share a prophetic calling.

Isaiah prophesies of a day when the watchmen on the wall would rejoice. In Isaiah's day, most of the time the watchmen were sounding the alarm of war, yet God was speaking of a day when the watchmen would shout for joy. The reason for their joy was because they would see with their own eyes the coming fulfillment of all the good promises of God. They looked out and saw the promised restoration of Israel coming to pass. They shouted for joy to the people that God was bring to pass what He had promised.

I have been in some churches where, each week, people would go to hear what was wrong with them. Every Sunday they would hear about how God was angry with them over their sins and, if they didn't repent, how God would punish them. The watchmen cry doom and gloom, even though we live in the dispensation of God's love and grace for all men. Where are the watchmen of joy? Those who see not only the problems in the church but also the good things God is doing in and for the church? Where are those who can see past the sins of people to see the redemptive work that God is doing within them? God is moving in a mighty and awesome way. Maybe we need to be more focused on looking for and sharing the good things God is doing rather than all the bad we see around us. It's time to rejoice so let the watchmen begin!

David Robison

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