The Ministry of the Isaiah Watchman
Yesterday, I talked about the difference between the Ezekiel watchman who has a ministry of proclamation, and the Isaiah watchman who has a ministry of prayer. The Ezekiel watchman is probably the better known of the two, but consider what Isaiah 62:6-7 tells us about the important ministry of the Isaiah watchman. In this post, I’ll point out three important aspects of the Isaiah watchman’s ministry:
6 On your walls, O Jerusalem,
I have set watchmen;
all the day and all the night
they shall never be silent.
You who put the Lord in remembrance,
take no rest,
7 and give him no rest
until he establishes Jerusalem
and makes it a praise in the earth.
1. The watchman reminds God of his eternal purpose.
“You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give HIM no rest UNTIL he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.”
God is saying this: “I have chosen watchmen who are going to tirelessly ask me to do what I have already determined and promised that I am going to do! If you read the rest of Isaiah 62, you will hear God declaring all of the wonderful things that he is going to do for Jerusalem. And then God says, “these watchmen are going to REMIND me of all these promises I have made.” Think about what this verse implies about prayer.
Prayer is putting God in remembrance! Prayer is NOT convincing God to do something that he does not want to do, or that up until the time you asked, he hadn’t considered doing. Prayer is not giving God advice about what he should do. Prayer is not adding some ethereal power of “faith” to God’s power to accomplish something.
Prayer is an assignment, given to us by God, to faithfully remind him of what he has already revealed to us that He is going to do.
Now do you think we REMIND God of these things, or “put the Lord in remembrance” as it says here because he has FORGOTTEN? Or because he is so busy with all that he has going on in the world that he needs us to act as his secretary reminding him of his commitments? Of course not!
The fact is, God could do what he has decided to do without us ever praying at all! Prayer is one of the great mysteries of the Bible, and part of this mystery is that God uses our prayers to accomplish his eternal purposes.
Now some people see in that an excuse not to pray. “Well, if God already knows what he is going to do, and has already determined to do it, then what is the point of me asking him for it!? That sure seems like a waste of time.”
And I think THAT objection is a good place to bring in the second aspect of what it means to be an Isaiah watchman.
2. The watchman (as he prays) expresses his desire to see God’s purpose fulfilled.
Those who use this excuse (God’s gonna do what he’s decided to do, so there’s no point getting involved through prayer) betray that they don’t have a heart for lost people. When God reveals to us that he wants us to pray for the lost, and we do not do that, we are saying that the lost do not matter to us. Dare I say that using this excuse to not pray for lost people may even betray that the person with this attitude has no relationship with the Son of Man who CAME to seek and to save the lost?
The Isaiah watchman doesn’t pray for God’s purposes to be fulfilled because he’s obligated to, but because he has been chosen by God for such a glorious task
One of the great reformers (Calvin) said that prayer is digging up the treasures that God has already prepared for us.
I would add, NOT PRAYING shows that we don’t value what God values. We don’t treasure what he has revealed to us that he is going to do. And if we truly treasure gold or silver, we are willing to toil in our digging to get to it, and when we truly value what God values, we will toil in our prayers until we see his purposes accomplished.
The text says that these watchmen “shall never be silent” and they “take no rest”. Do you see in these phrases the revelation of what is in the watchman’s heart? It is an ever-present desire that God’s eternal purposes would be accomplished. And that heart attitude that is always present frequently erupts into a verbal expression of longing for God’s will to be done. And that’s prayer!
So the Isaiah watchman is reminding God of his eternal purposes because he longs to see those purposes worked out. But there is still one more aspect of this watchman’s ministry to point out.
3. The watchman prays for the establishing of Jerusalem.
In the Bible Jerusalem represents the meeting place between God and his people. We know that as holy history has unfolded, that place is no longer a geographical location in the Middle East. Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” The CHURCH, not the cathedral, or the sanctuary, but THE CHURCH, the Body of Christ, made up of Jews and Gentiles, Male and Female, Slave and Free… this is where God meets with his people. So the establishing of Jerusalem is the establishing of Christ’s Church!
That is what these watchmen are commissioned by God to pray for. That is what they are to remind God of constantly: that he has sovereignly determined to build his church!
How I desire for God’s people to see that prayer for missions is so much more than just praying for the messengers. There’s certainly nothing wrong with praying for missionaries. Paul asked the churches to pray for him. But in your prayers for missions, don’t forget to pray for those lost people that Jesus desires to bring into His Church!
And as you pray for the lost millions of whatever people God has called you to be an Isaiah watchman for, here is what is so wonderful: GOD is the one who commissioned you to pray for them! And he is asking you to remind him of what he has already determined to do! And he WILL find those lost people whom he has chosen, and for whom you are praying.
In Matthew 18, vs. 12-14, we read this…
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that ONE of these little ones should perish.
Do you see what this parable is teaching in Matthew? The man is not going to rest until all the sheep are saved. Jesus compares this shepherd to his Father. He says, “It is not his will that one… should perish.” The Father is not going to leave a single sheep behind! He is going to “establish Jerusalem.” He already knows those who are His among the people here where I am living, and HE WILL save them. Speaking of his followers, Jesus said in John 6:37…
“All that the Father gives me will come to me.” In verse 39 he said, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose NOTHING of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”
In John 10:16 Jesus said,
“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I MUST bring them also…. and then in verses 27-29 “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Jesus has sheep right here in… (where I live)… that the Father has given to him! Right now, they are lost, but they WILL BE FOUND. As the Good Shepherd, he has committed himself to that, and he wants us to remind him of it!
As an Ezekiel watchmen preparing to labor among this unreached people, that encourages me! And it should encourage you whom God is calling to be an Isaiah watchman for this people group.