Watchman, what of the night?
Centuries ago the prophet Isaiah heard this question coming to him from afar, even from a neighboring country. (Isaiah 21:11) He stood as watchman upon the walls of Sion, jealously guarding the City of God against the sneak attacks of the enemy, and at the same time alert throughout the night for the coming of the dawn, even the dawn of the new day. He heard a voice of inquiry from Seir, which is Edom; from one who realizes the darkness of the night and longs for the morning. “What of the night?” He even repeats the question in eager anxiety.
Was it possibly a convert from Edom? Or was it one of Jerusalem’s children who had wandered off to Edom for carnal security, and there found the darkness of sin pressing heavily upon his soul in anguish of death? It appears to have been the latter, but in any case, he is representative of those who are spiritually concerned and seek their help from God’s servant in Jerusalem.
And this servant answers: “The morning cometh, and also the night!
Strange answer, one would say. “The morning cometh,” does not that bring an end to the night? And if the night still lingers beyond the hour of dawn, how can the morning ever come?
The answer lies in the summons of the watchman: “If ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come!” From the watch tower at Jerusalem the Word of the Lord reaches out to Edom. Those of you who are burdened, seek, yea, keep enquiring. But you must not seek your dawn in Edom. Edom is Esau, and Esau is the reprobate. So that Edom represents the world of wickedness that is making its measure of iniquity full unto the day of judgment. Edom is the land of curse and death, of perpetual night. There is no dawn there.
But in Jerusalem the day dawns. For out of Sion must come the Deliverer, from the root of Jesse and out of the dead stump of David. Do you seek the dawn of the eternal day in the coming of the Christ? Then come, for you find it only in Jerusalem, in the church, where the eternal Word speaks and where the Spirit dwells.
And they undoubtedly came.
And saw the dawn. For the dawn did break. The Christ did come.
But it is still night.
The night of sin and death in an evil world.
The prince of darkness still rules in the hearts of wicked men, who arise in proud defiance against our God and His Christ. The fool still says in his heart: God is dead!
And since God is dead “sin” has become a bad word. They tell us that there is no such thing as sin. Social disorders? Yes. Racial inequality? To be sure. Economic problems? Many. Individual frustrations? Overwhelming. Man is “sick, sick, sick.” But a sinner? NO!
God has been replaced by the vain idol “Man”. Man’s intelligence and wisdom, man’s ingenuity and skill, man’s inventions and accomplishments deserve the admiration of all the world. Man will bring about social reform, racial equality, world-wide peace and prosperity.
There will be more time for recreation, sports, vacations, carnal satisfaction. The effort will be intensified to banish God from their thoughts and quell the plaguing voice of conscience. More cursing, more Sabbath desecration, more defiance of all decency, law and order, will fill man’s day. Hatred, immorality, sexual atrocities, theft, lying, slander, whisperings are all excusable, and can be perfectly proper, even good, if done “for the good of others.”
Wickedness already abounds.
The darkness thickens.
Watchman, you do hear us?
Thou art the Christ, the Word that became flesh.
Thou hast spoken through the prophets of old. Thou hast dwelt among us in the flesh, so that our hands did touch Thee, our ears heard Thee, and our eyes even saw Thee.
Thou art the Lamb of God that was slain and lives; All power is Thine in heaven and upon the earth.
Yet Thy Holy Scriptures are being torn in shreds. We are told not to believe any more that Thou hast infallibly spoken to us on every page of Scripture. Much of the Bible, they say, is but wrapping paper. They do not tell us how much. But we are not to take the life and the walk of the saints too seriously, for much of that might be folklore. Their example and their warning evidently should not mean too much for us.
Even Thy Words and Works while Thou didst tabernacle among us, are being questioned. And Thy holy apostles are accused of listening to old wives fables.
If we lose Thy Word what have we left?
Watchman, what of the night?
The morning cometh!
Tell My people: All flesh is as grass, and all its glory is as the flower of the field that fadeth. But the Word of the Lord abideth forever. And this is the Word which by the Gospel of the Scriptures is preached unto you.
The Lord reigneth, let the nations tremble. Come ye out from among them.
The night is already far spent.
Our King cometh unto us!
Let Sion now rejoice and be glad!