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Isaiah 21:6-10

WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?

Intro: 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 is just what Isaiah does in out text.

This message might have been given nearly 2,700 years ago, but it is as timely as today’s headlines. War rages in our world today. People are losing their lives by the thousands to terrorist attacks, freak natural disasters and the horrors of war. On another level, the tsunami of sin in our world is rising. Old convictions and standards are being swept away right before our very eyes. The winds of change are blowing all around us and fearful things are just over the horizon.

Today, just as there was in Isaiah’s day, there is a need for the people of God to assume the role of watchman. There is a need for us to take our stand, look at that which is approaching and open our mouths and sound the warning.

I would like to take this passage and preach around the question that is voiced in verse 11: “Watchman, what of the night? As I read this passage, I understand that we are living in dangerous days. We are living in days when the enemies of the Lord and the Enemy of the soul, Satan, would love nothing more than to overrun or lives and our churches. The enemy’s desire is to see our ministries, our families and our churches dashed upon the rocks of failure. If we are to avoid that end, then we need to consider the work of the ancient watchman and understand the truth that his ministry is needed as much today as it ever was. Let me share three facts that this passage gives us concerning the watchman. You listen to the voice of the Lord as I try to preach on the thought: Watchman, What Of The Night?

 

I. v. 6 THE WATCHMAN AND HIS MISSION

(Ill. In ancient times, those who lived in walled cities were considered blessed individuals. By being inside a city with walls, they had 2 forms of protection. One was the wall itself. It stood as a barrier between the citizens and their enemies. It stood as a barrier between that which was acceptable and that which was not. The wall was a formidable barrier to trouble. The city of Jericho was an ancient city that placed great value in the defensive nature of its vast, thick walls, Josh. 6:1.

A second form of protection those in walled cities possessed was the watchman. He is mentioned in our text and he was essential to the proper function of the wall. He stood upon that wall and kept watch over the surrounding countryside. When invading armies or other dangers came into his view, he sounded the warning and those inside the wall knew to prepare. Both the watchman and the wall were essential to the survival of the city itself. Without the watchman, those inside the wall were blind and without the wall, the watchman would have been unnecessary. Verse 6 points out the two-fold duty of the ancient watchman.)

A. He Was To Watch The most important duty of the watchman was for him to watch! He was to stand in the towers or upon the wall and his eyes were to scan the countryside for any signs of trouble. From his high and lofty perch, he could see the glistening of armor, sword and spear; he could see the banners of war as they waved; and he could see the clouds of dust raised by the drumming of thousands of feet upon the desert sands. He was to be in his place, with his eyes open. He was to watch!

B. He Was To Warn Whether he saw anything approaching or not, he was to give his report to the people within the walls when they asked him of conditions outside. When trouble arose in the distance, he was to lift up his voice and sound the warning so that the people within the walls could prepare themselves and so that those who lived outside the city could run in and find refuge. This same thought is seen in Isa. 58:1, where the prophet Isaiah is told to “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. and Hos. 8:1, where Hosea is told to “Set the trumpet to thy mouth. The ancient watchman had a duty to watch and to warn.

 

(Note: If there was ever a time when watchmen were needed around the church, the home, the family, the schoolhouse and the community, the day is now! We need people of discernment who know the Word of God. We desperately need people who know the enemy and keeping an eye on him and what he is doing, 1 Pet. 5:8. We need people who will watch and warn others of what they see coming. Whether the news is good or bad, we need men and women who will look at the world around them and raise the warning.

Whether we see it or not, every area of life I mentioned earlier is under attack! The enemy is doing everything he can to invade the church and lead us down the wrong path. He wants to change our worship, or Bible, our hymnbook and our message. We need watchman who will see that and sound the message!

The home and family are also under severe attack this evening. Children have forgotten the meaning of submission and obedience. Husbands and wives have no concept of faithfulness, fidelity and “unto death do us part.” Parents have forgotten how to apply the board of education to the seat of learning, and we are raising a generation of rebels who know nothing about submission to authority.

God has been kicked out of the schoolhouse! His book is off limits and children are forbidden to pray. They are taught that God is a myth from our repressed past. They are told that man evolved from a single amoeba that formed countless ages ago in a puddle of primordial soup. If God can be marginalized and children taught that He does not exist; if they really believe that they are the result of evolution; then there are no rules, and no speed limits. They can careen down the highway to Hell without thought to the consequences.

Things are no better in the community! People outside the walls do not want to be bothered with thoughts of God, His will and His Word. Some are trying to prevent President Bush from placing his hand on a Bible during the swearing in at next week’s inaugural. Some want prayer banned at that event as well. The cry from the lost world is rising ever louder as they demand freedom from God’s laws and even from God Himself. They say, “Away with the Ten Commandments! Away with right and wrong! Away with morality! Away with Jesus, the Bible, God, Christianity and the cross!”

Yes, we need watchmen in our day. But, sadly, I see very few who are responding to the need.)

II. v. 7-10 THE WATCHMAN AND HIS METHODS

A. v. 7-8 He Was Vigilant In His Watching Verse 7 tells us that “he saw. It also says that “he harkened diligently with much heed to what he saw. He took great care in watching and great care in noting everything he saw. In verses 8, he compares himself to a “lion.” Lions, as you may know, have very short eyelids. Even when they are asleep, they have the appearance that their eyes are open and watching. He tells us that he was in his place both day and night. He did not leave his post, but remained there to make sure that nothing occurred on his watch that he did not see.

This watchman sets a great example for those who would be watchmen in our day. In 1 Pet. 5:8, we are told to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: The word “sober means to be calm and collected in spirit.” The word “vigilant means to be watchful.”

The idea here is that the Lord’s watchmen are not to get caught up in the excitement of the times. We are not to be disturbed by the events around us, but we are to be ever watching. We know how things appear when there is calm. When we see trouble on the horizon, we are to sound the warning!

The world is changing all around us tonight. And, it is changing fast! We are not to be disturbed by the things we see happening around us, but we are watch always and warn when necessary. Without giving the devil any glory, he is a slick adversary, 2 Cor. 11:14. He will deceive you, trick you and trap you, if he is able. Therefore, keep your eyes on him and refuse to give him so much as a foothold in your church, your family, your home or your life, Eph. 4:27.

B. He Was Vigorous In His Warnings When this watchman saw trouble approaching, he did not keep the message to himself. Instead, he opened his mouth and shouted out the warning for all to hear. He told everyone within earshot that trouble was coming.

Again, there is a lesson for the watchmen in our day as well. As we watch the enemy approaching ever nearer the walls of our churches, our homes, our families and our communities, we have a responsibility to sound the warning. Some would say, “What’s the use? No one is listening to us! I would answer that by reminding you that one of these days we are going to face our Savior at The Judgment Seat of Christ. On that day, we will give an account of how well we raised the alarm in our day. I think this truth is illustrated well by our Lord’s words to the prophet Ezekiel, Eze. 33:1-9. Therefore, let us take heed to the certain signs of the enemy’s approach and let us warn them to flee the judgment to come!

 

III. v. 11-12 THE WATCHMAN AND HIS MESSAGE

(Ill. Isaiah declares a prophecy against the people of Edom in verses 11-12. They are pictured as someone who approaches the wall, yells up to the watchman during the night and cries, “Watchman, what of the night? This question has been interpreted in many ways.

1. 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.

2. It may a question born out of contempt. The questioner may be saying to the watchman, “I know what you think you see and I hear what you say, but I do not believe a word of it and I will not heed your warning.

3. Of course, it may be a question from a concerned heart. The questioner might be asking, “Watchman, tell me, is everything alright? When will the morning come? Is there hope?

Regardless of the condition of the heart that gave birth to the question, the watchman has a threefold answer. This is the same answer the watchmen of our day need to have ready for those we are to warn.

A. He Speaks Of Dawn The watchman say the morning cometh!” He sounds out the glad note that the night is nearly spent and that dawn is about to break. You see, the night was the most frightening time of all. The watchman could not see as well and the enemy had a better chance of sneaking in for the attack. In the day time, the enemy would be far more easily exposed. The news that dawn was coming brought comfort to the hearts of the people in the city.

I’m not sure how great of a watchman I am this evening, but I am glad that I can tell you “the morning cometh!” It won’t be long brother and sisters until the Lord comes to take us home to Heaven. He promised He could come, John 14:1-3; 1 Thes. 4:16-17, and He will! In fact, His last recorded words are “Surely I come quickly,” Rev. 22:20. Hang on church! It may look dark right now, but morning is about to break and we are leaving here! Thank God, with the morning comes joy, Psa. 30:5!

B. He Speaks Of Doom He tells the people that after the morning passes, night is coming back again! For the people of God, there is a bright, happy morning on the horizon; but for the lost sinner, there is nothing but the dark night of eternal separation and eternal punishment in Hell. Things are looking up for the people of God; but the lost man has nothing to look forward to but the undiluted wrath of Almighty God, John 3:36; Eph. 2:3; Heb. 10:31; Heb. 12:29.

C. He Speaks Of Decisions The watchman tells those who hear him to enquire, return and come. He is calling the wayward ones back to God. He is saying them, “There is great danger on the horizon, but there is still time to make a change. Come to God! Return to Him! That was the message they needed to hear in that day and that is the message that still needs to be trumpeted by the watchmen of our day!

Danger, great danger, looms on the near horizon, but it is not too late. God is still saving souls. He is still changing lives. He is still receiving all who will come to Him by faith. That is the message we need to share with this lost world tonight. They need to hear the news that there is still hope. All is not lost! They can be saved is they will come; if they will return to God.

 

Conc: Where are the watchmen who are gazing out over the horizon? Where are the watchmen who see the danger of approaching judgment? Where are the watchmen who see the enemy creeping ever closer to the walls of our churches, our families, our homes and our communities? Where are the watchmen who will set the trumpet to their lips and sound the warning?

Are you doing everything you can tonight to comfort those looking for hope and challenge those headed to Hell? If the Lord has dealt with you tonight about being a better watchman, I want you to come to Him. If He has shown you that the enemy is closer than you think to your church, your family, your home and your community; I challenge you to come to Him and bathe those areas of your life in prayer. Maybe He has shown you that you are outside the walls. Maybe He has shown you that you are not saved. Maybe He is calling you to come to Him and get inside the safe walls of His salvation before the end comes and you die lost. Maybe your heart cries out, “Watchman, what of the night? If that is you, then dear friend, morning is coming for the redeemed, but the blackness of darkness is reserved for those who do not know God! If He is speaking to your heart, you need to obey to His voice.

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