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2. There is the information on the morning light.
Isaiah 21:12a reads, “The watchman said, ‘The morning comes, and also the night.’” Dr. Geoffrey W. Grogan (1925-2011) calls the prophet’s answer “vague and enigmatic—perhaps even evasive”[i] in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Don Fleming explains, “The prophet has a short message for the people of Edom, who cry out from their stronghold in Mt Seir, asking how much longer they must be oppressed. The answer is not encouraging. They will get a brief relief from their sufferings, but then they will be oppressed again (11-12).”[ii]
While it will soon be the dawn’s early light for some, it will quickly become the darkness of night for others. This is a message of comfort for some and concern for others. Remember, the Lord told Isaiah to comfort My people (Isaiah 40:1).
Dr. Theodore H. Epp (1907-1985), founding director and speaker of the Back to the Bible broadcasts, writes, “Is your light shining today? When people look at you, do they react by saying, ‘How can he be so happy with all the problems and turmoil in the world today?’ As we pay attention to what the Word of God says about the future, we will have a bright outlook rather than being despondent and having a spirit of criticism.”
3. There is the invitation to the marvelous right.
Isaiah 21:12b reads, “The watchman said, ‘. . . If you will inquire, inquire; Return! Come back!’” Dr. John S. Wimbish explains this is the “Voice of the Almighty speaking through his servant, calling upon the Edomites to repent of their sins and yield allegiance to Jehovah.”[iii]
In a sense all Christians are to be watchmen. Jon Moore, Revivalist, North Richland Hills, Texas, shares the following: “The prophet Isaiah in chapter 62 of his book talked about those men on the wall. They were crying out day and night, giving themselves no rest and giving the Lord no rest until He once again made His people ‘a praise in the earth’ (Isa. 62:7). We need some men and women who will go back to their churches and stand on the wall and cry out to heaven day and night and give themselves no rest and give the Lord no rest until once again the cloud of God’s glory comes back to rest over His people.”[iv]
Remember the following words of James Russell Lowell (1819-1891):
Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right,
And the choice goes by forever ’twixt that darkness and that light. . ..[v]
Matthew 25:31-33 reads, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.” While we know this is the judgement of the nations, it illustrates the point that those on the right are those who are right with God. Therefore, those on the right are in the right. Our desire is to be right with God or something is wrong.
There were watchmen in the past. God had his watchmen in Israel. Isaiah 62:6a reads, “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night.” Ezekiel 3:17-19, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.” Ezekiel 33:1-9 reads, “Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’ ‘So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.”
There are watchmen in the present. God has His watchmen in the church. Acts 20:20, 26-31 reads, “how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house. . . . Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” Colossians 1:28 reads, “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Hebrews 13:17 reads, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”
Dr. Roy B. Zuck (1932-2013) senior professor emeritus of Biblical Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, shares the following: “Writers H.G. Wells [1866-1946] and George Bernard Shaw [1856-1950] were brilliant men, yet they rejected the message of Scripture. They placed their trust in their own systems of belief, which were based on human reason. Yet they could not find lasting inner peace, and they slowly lost confidence in what they believed. Wells’ final literary work, for example, has been aptly called ‘a scream of despair.’ And shortly before Shaw died in 1950, he wrote, ‘The science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt. Its counsels, which should have established the millennium, have led directly to the suicide of Europe. I believed them once. In their name I helped to destroy the faith of millions. And now they look at me and witness the great tragedy of an atheist who has lost his faith.’ [Shaw penned this pathetic confession in Too True to be Good ]”[vi] In the preface of his 1912 play titled, Adrocles and the Lion, George Bernard Shaw writes the following: “Christianity as a specific doctrine was slain with Jesus, suddenly and utterly. He was hardly cold in his grave, or high in his heaven (as you please), before the apostles dragged the tradition of him down to the level of the thing it has remained ever since.”[vii] He also wrote, “No sooner had Jesus knocked over the dragon of superstition than Paul boldly set it on its legs again in the name of Jesus.”[viii]
Dr. Theodore H. Epp writes, “Everyone who is alert to the situation in the world today is concerned about where we are heading. On every hand people are asking, What is going to happen? A sense of doom is hanging over many and the result is a gloomy attitude toward the future.
Questions about the future have not just arisen [lately]. The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, was also asked concerning what was ahead. The people asked Isaiah, ‘Watchman, what of the night? Watchman what of the night?’”
Dr. Epp reminds us “. . . there has always been concern about the future . . .. People are wondering if there will ever be a morning when there will be real peace and joy for the world.”[ix] Yes, but only in Jesus Christ the Lord! That is the outlook from the lookout!
[i]The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, gen. eds., Tremper Longman III & David E. Garland, Vol. 6 Proverbs-Isaiah, Geoffrey W. Grogan, Isaiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Company, 2009), 602.
[ii]Don Fleming, AMG Concise Bible Commentary (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publications, 1994), 254. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.
[iii]John S. Wimbish, “It May Be In ‘53” Sermon Notes (Isaiah 21:11-12).
[iv]Preaching with Passion: Sermons from the Heart of the Southern Baptist Convention, ed. James T. Draper, Jr., “Bring Back the Glory” by Jon Moore (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishers, 2004), 391. Database © 2004 WORDsearch Corp.
[v]English Poetry III: From Tennyson to Whitman. Vol. XLII. The Harvard Classics, James Russell Lowell, “The Present Crisis” (New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909–14; Bartleby.com, 2001), #805. Accessed: 12/23/15 www.bartleby.com/42/.
[vi]Roy B. Zuck, The Speaker’s Quote Book (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 1997), 109.
[vii]George Bernard Shaw, Androcles and the Lion: A Fable Play, “Preface On the Prospects of Christianity”, “After the Crucifixion” (London: Constable and Company, Ltd., 1920), lxxxiii-lxxxvi. Accessed: 12/29/15 http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924012967083;view=1up;seq=87 .
[viii]Shaw, Androcles, Preface, “Paul”, lxxxix. Accessed: 12/29/15 http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924012967083;view=1up;seq=93 .
[ix]Theodore H. Epp, “Death Struggle and Birth Pangs” Sermon Notes (Isaiah 21:11-12).