"Go, set a watchman..."

Who's watching for trouble today?

Prophecies against Israel: Isaiah 13-23 (5)

Pray Psalm 83.1-4.
Do not keep silent, O God!
Do not hold Your peace,
And do not be still, O God!
For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
And those who hate You have lifted up their head.
They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.
They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”

Read Isaiah 20, 21.

1. Isaiah’s work was primarily one of word – primarily, but not exclusively. How else did God use him to warn the people of Jerusalem?

2. Is there a role for “watchmen” in the Church today? Explain.

All the words of judgment Isaiah pronounced against the nations – here returning to Babylon and including Edom and Arabia – came to fulfillment, just as he prophesied. Those who lived to see this judgment of God would understand that His Word was reliable and sure, even if it tarried for a while in its fulfillment. God intended this preaching of judgment to give His faithful people hope that, as surely as He accomplished all He had promised of judgment, He would accomplish all He had promised of blessing and restoration.

God sends Isaiah to undertake a little “performance art” to enhance the message he was proclaiming to the people of Jerusalem (20.1-6). This must have been rather shocking, to see the naked prophet walking about the city. This drama would have reinforced the message of God’s Word, making it more visible, palpable, and shocking. God frequently uses the arts to add emphasis to His Word, although most of the time, the arts He employs are rather more conventional than what we see here.

Babylon, Edom (vv. 11, 12), and Arabia (vv. 15-17) will also be judged. Isaiah is not specific as to how this will happen, but that it would happen we are surely to believe. Assyria and Babylon are God’s initial instruments of judgment, and the Medes and Persians are waiting in the wing for their cue. Sinful nations devouring other sinful nations is part of God’s plan to prepare the world for His grace. As we see how horrible sin can be, it makes us long for something more charitable, hopeful, and secure – and we only find this in the Kingdom of the Branch. Wherever we see the world coming under the judgment of God (cf. Rom. 1.18-32), we should be preparing to be His agents of grace for  healing, renewal, and salvation.

“Go, set a watchman…” (Is. 21.6). The watchman’s job was to keep an eye out for coming trouble and call the people to action. He worked from a tower, above the city, so that he could see to the far horizon, and inform the city of trouble long before it arrived. The great fear of the people is that trouble will come in the night (v. 12). The watchman assures them that night – and its troubles – will come, but a new day will dawn as well. 

Where are the watchmen looking out for the Church today, warning her that it is time for judgment to begin at the house of God (1 Pet. 4.17)?

1. What would the role of a watchman look like today? Whose responsibility is this?

2. God’s judgment doesn’t usually happen all at once, but gradually. Is our world under the judgment of God today (Rom. 1.18-32)? How do we know? What should Christians be doing in the light of this? 

3. The false teachers of Jerusalem were telling the people, “You’re going to be fine; it’s all going to work out. God loves you.” The true watchmen had a much more urgent, pointed, and serious message. Why do we need to hear both these messages today? 

“The morning comes, and also the night.” For by his presence has a new light shone out upon the world, and yet the former darkness remained in the hearts of unbelievers. Gregory the Great (540-604 AD), Morals on the Book of Job 2.6.34

You have set me for a watchman, Lord, so that I will…

Pray Psalm 83.

Today as you pray this psalm, pray for the Lord to have mercy on the nations, so that they might seek Him (v. 16) and a great revival and awakening might sweep the world.

Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 83 (St. Chrysostom: We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought)
O God, do not be quiet now; do not be silent, nor be still!
See how Your foes erupt in a row and those who hate You chafe at Your will.
Shrewdly they plan, conspiring as one, against Your daughters and Your sons.

“Come, let us wipe them out,” they say. “Let Israel’s name no more be heard!”
Bold they conspire to do us away, and covenant against You, O Lord.
Peoples and nations cast in their lot for this ambitious, wicked plot.

Deal with them, Lord, and bring them down, as You against old foes prevailed,
When You Midian cast to the ground and all her kings and princes assailed – 
All who Your pastures sought to possess You brought to ruin and deep distress.

Make them like whirling dust, O God! Scatter them like the windblown chaff!
Rage like a fire consuming a wood, like flames that burn a mountain pass!
Blow like a tempest, bring them to harm, and terrify them with Your storm!

Fill with dishonor every face that they may seek Your Name, O Lord.
Bring them to shame, dismay, and disgrace, and let them perish under Your Word,
That they may learn Your infinite worth, O God Most High of all the earth!

T. M. Moore

Where do the prophets fit with the rest of Scripture? How can I be a better student of God’s Word? Our course, Introduction to Biblical Theology, can help you gain a better approach to and understanding of the Scriptures. Watch this brief preview video, then register at The Ailbe Seminary and enroll in this free online course.

Forward today’s lesson to some friends, and challenge them to study with you through this series on Isaiah. Each week’s lessons will be available as a free PDF download at the end of the week. Get a copy for yourself and send the link for the download to your friends. Plan to meet weekly to study Isaiah’s important message.

If you value Scriptorium as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button  at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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