Ministry Sermons

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.

Ministry Sermons

Isaiah and Ezekiel Watchmen

Currently my family is ministering among an unreached people group in the 10/40 Window.  At the present time, because we have just moved here, our ministry is pretty basic:  Getting the language down so that we can communicate the good news of Jesus!  

But before we moved here, someone introduced me to the concept of the Isaiah Watchman.  This is a ministry that anyone can have to an unreached people group… whether you are living in the country or not… whether you know the language or not.  So before we left our home country, we started several Watchmen prayer groups where anywhere from 2 to 20 people come together monthly to pray for the advance of the gospel.  These intercessors are our “Isaiah watchmen.”  Let me explain…

Two kinds of watchmen in the Bible

In the Old Testament, both Ezekiel and Isaiah talk about being a “watchman”, but they use the terms in two very different ways:

Let’s look first of all at the Ezekiel Watchman.  In Chapter 3, God is commissioning Ezekiel as a prophet and he says this in Ezekiel 3:16-19

…the word of the LORD came to me:  “ Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel.  Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.  If 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, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.  but if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.”

An Ezekiel watchman, then, is someone who is appointed by God to proclaim  a message of salvation to the wicked.  It is a warning message, “You shall surely die!”  It is an announcement both of the tremendous predicament we all find ourselves in because of our wickedness, (we are facing the death sentence).  But it is also an announcement of salvation.  Verse 18 says that the warning is given to bring the wicked to repentance in order “to save his life”!  

So the ministry of the Ezekiel watchman is a ministry of proclamation.  

This is a responsibility that all of us have, not just those of us who live among unreached peoples.  We are to proclaim the gospel that all men are facing the wrath of God for their sin but that because of Jesus, when they come to God in repentance, they will be saved from God’s wrath.

All of us can be Ezekiel watchmen, warning the lost people around us and sharing with them the good news of Salvation.  Everyday we come in contact with people who need an Ezekiel watchman in their lives.

But the ministry of the Isaiah watchman provides a way for those who may not live among unreached peoples to play a major role in reaching them with the Gospel. This role is described in Isaiah 62:6-7

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.

What do these watchmen in Isaiah have in common with the watchman of Ezekiel 3?  First of all, they are also chosen by God.  God says, “I have set watchmen on your walls o Jerusalem.”  God put them there.  He gave them this responsibility.  And also, like the watchmen in Ezekiel, the Isaiah watchmen are speaking.  It says… “they shall never be silent”.  But here is where the two watchmen begin to be distinguished.  In Ezekiel, the watchman speaks to the people, to the wicked.  He gives a warning.

But in Isaiah, the watchman speaks NOT to the people, but to GOD.  They are speaking to God!  Isn’t that what we usually teach our children as a definition of prayer?  Prayer is speaking to God.

So God says here that he has established watchmen who will speak to him in prayer.  As I am preparing to be an Ezekiel Watchmen among the unreached people where I am living, it encourages me immensely to think that God is taking the initiative to establish for this people Isaiah watchmen who will pray that God’s Kingdom will be established here.  

But it gets even better when you consider what God establishes these Isaiah watchmen to do!  I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

Bible Study Cross-Centered Life Sermons Theology Uncategorized

Isaiah 1-2 How God sees sin (part 2)

This post is based on a SERMON that is available by clicking here.

In an earlier post I talked about how God sees our sin, and that if we want to be victorious in our battle with sin, we need to see it from God’s perspective.  When God sees our sin, he sees the pervasiveness of our sin, and in his holiness, he rejects us in our sin.  The way Jesus saves us is by being rejected for us.  When Jesus declared on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” he was being rejected in our place, so that we might be accepted by the Father.  Understanding this perspective on sin is the crucial first step to living in victory over sin.

In this post, I want to talk about what we can do to make our perspective on sin more in line with God’s.


1.  We must humble ourselves by confessing the truth about ourselves

In our struggle with sin, we have to come to the point where we admit the truth of what God has shown us in Isaiah 1:5-6  the whole body is sick.  

The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.  From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds…

 I think we have an amazing ability to accept our total depravity as a theological proposition, and yet fail to ever make it a personal affirmation.  

When was the last time you saw yourself in this way?  If you look at your life and your behavior, chances are that you will not come to this conclusion about yourself.  Oh, after a big failure, you may see it a little more clearly than you do at other times, but even then you will be likely to say, “but at least I’m not as bad as I could be.  At least there are some others out there who have done worse than I have.” 

We are like a soccer player who has fallen down on a muddy field.  And the whole left side of our uniform is covered with mud.  And yet we look at the other player, who fell on his right side, and we somehow think we are better because we haven’t dirtied the same part of our uniform as he has.  Or we look at him and say, “yeah, but at least my mud is cleaner than your mud!”

We fight to save our reputation, in our own eyes, before God, and before others.  But if we want to experience victory, there must be a humbling of ourselves.  Several times in Isaiah, pride is pointed to as what will ultimately bring us under the judgement of God.  

Twice in chapter 2, God’s judgement is spoken of as being against the pride of man.  Isaiah 2:11-12

The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.  For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up–and it shall be brought low.  (see also verse 17)

This is why both the Apostle James and the Apostle Peter quote Prov. 3:34 God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  And James adds in 4:10 Humble yourselves, before the Lord, and he will exalt you.  And how do we humble ourselves?  James goes on to tell us in 5:16:  Confess your sins to each other.

We humble ourselves by CONFESSING the truth about ourselves.  

 I have been amazed at how many times I have heard since coming back to the U.S., “Bryan, I just don’t have anyone I feel that I can open up to”  I’ve heard this so often its becoming a theme.  Even pastor-friends have told me this:  there is no one I can be honest with.  Brothers and sisters, together as a church we should be on our faces before God begging his forgiveness for the pride in our hearts that keeps us from confessing our sins to one another.  Do we want to see victory and blessing in our lives and in our churches?  Then let us humble ourselves before God, and confess our state of spiritual destitution before him and before one another!

I have found that when the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin, he almost always shows me to whom I should confess that sin.  There have been times that it has taken me days or even weeks to submit to his voice. (“Lord, there is no way that I can confess that to him!”) 

I can point to a turning point in my spiritual life as as teenager, when I confessed sin to my father that the Lord had been putting his finger on for a long time.  I have humbled myself on multiple occasions and gone to my sons and said, “I was wrong, will you forgive me.”  Countless are the times that I have confessed my sin to my wife, or to Christian brothers.  Confession of sin within the Body is an integral part of our lives as Christians, and it flows from our acceptance of the fact that we really have no reputation to uphold.  We are completely and totally depraved.  We are sinners of the worst kind, and nothing we can confess could make us seem worse that we actually are.  If we want to walk in victory, we need to rediscover this discipline of confession of sin.

2.  We look to Jesus and find our acceptance with God only in Him.

There is something extremely freeing in the fact that God rejects us as sinners.  When God forgives us and saves us, it is not as if he is just giving us a second chance.  It is not as if we have another opportunity to prove to him that we really can do it this time.  We no longer have to prove to him and to ourselves that we really aren’t that bad.  We are free to admit the truth, that we really *are* that bad.  We are free to reject our sinful flesh as totally unable to do anything that is pleasing to God.  And we turn in faith to the Lord Jesus, and trust him to do what we cannot do.

Your sinful flesh isn’t getting any better.  You are just as much in need of God’s grace today as you ever have been in your life.  When you fall flat on your face in your sin, God is showing you once again how much you need Jesus.  In Christ, he has rejected that sinful you, and He has given you a new identity in Christ.  So you need to reject that sinful you as well, and turn your eyes to Jesus and confess to him, It is only through your cross, Lord Jesus, that I can be acceptable to God.  Thank you for your grace!

It is only when we look at sin from God’s perspective that we can be victorious over it.

And what is God’s perspective on sin?

He sees the pervasiveness of our sin.  Our total depravity.  Will you agree with him about that, and confess your sin before him and before the Body?  

He sees that the sinner must be rejected.  And so his very Son was forsaken on the cross in your place.  Jesus died so that your sinful self might be forever and completely rejected.  Will you now live that out, by refusing to look for anything good in you apart from Christ?  Will you live that out by admitting that you are just as much in need of God’s grace today as you ever have been?

This post is based on a SERMON that is available by clicking here.