Isaiah brings two related visions from God. He is the watchman for both. His cry is a warning that the people MUST heed! The watchman’s cry is for Israel.
I’m going to come straight out and admit that this section is NOT clear and concise. It’s not easy for me to understand. Even after reading my bible helps, I’m scratching my head. There are a few things that I have figured out and can follow.
First, this vision is intense for Isaiah. He speaks first about where the vision is coming from geographically. It is a region associated with destruction and betrayal. Then he tells us of the intensity of this vision. He is doubled over in pain, barely able to breathe because of the weight of it. “My heart staggers; horror has appalled me” (verse 4a). He also likens the pain of this vision to the pain of a woman in labor. I can tell you right now, that is NOT a pain that can be ignored. It is one that demands your attention. But it is also one that does not go on forever. Once its purpose is accomplished, the pain ends. There IS a purpose to the pain Isaiah is enduring.
Second, Isaiah is placed in the position of the watchman for Israel. When I was first reading this passage, I thought that Isaiah was supposed to appoint a watchman to tell him about the ‘riders’ that would come. I’m not 100% convinced Isaiah didn’t send a physical person to be a watchman for him but my bible helps leads me to believe that this watchman was actually Isaiah. This makes sense, as Isaiah is the one warning Israel of what is to come. Even if Isaiah did send an actual person who reported to him, Isaiah’s job was still to warn Israel; to be God’s watchman and warn the people of what he saw.
Third, the watchman remains at his post. “Upon the watchtower I stand, O Lord, continually by day, an at my post I am stationed whole nights” (verse 8b). “’Watchman, what time of night? Watchman, what time of night?’ The watchman says: ‘Morning comes, and also the night. If you will inquire, inquire; come back again.’” (verses 11b-12). This same watchman stays on guard through the hard times. He doesn’t give up his post or turn away when things get intense. He also welcomes those he is watching over to inquire about what he sees. He will not withhold the truth. He may not have al the answers, but He will keep watching, as long as it takes.
Fourth, there is war going on during this time. It is NOT a time of peace, but there are still those who will lend a hand. It isn’t in the usual places, but there are those who have escaped and will share what they have. The battle being waged is going to have a decisive end and has an established time for it by God. Those who fight in this war consider themselves ‘mighty men’ but they will be defeated. NOT by military tactics but by God’s spoken word. They cannot stand against the will of God, no matter how big their army is. “For the Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken” (verse 17b). THAT right there says it ALL.
So, how does this apply to our lives today (my life today)? I have asked this question again and this is what I feel I have received. I’m going to stick with the same points that Isaiah walked through.
First, there IS a time of GREAT trial approaching. We see the evidence of it already occurring in this world. And we have read about it in God’s word. We KNOW that this time will be intense for those who have to walk through it. We should be in ‘labor’ over those whom we love that are in danger of walking through this time. We would be callous if we didn’t care.
Second, we have been called to be the watchman. To announce what we see coming and to warn the people. No. Not everyone will listen, but to those who do, invite them back to learn more. NO. We don’t have all the answers but we are to point to the One who does. And we are to return to inquire of Him as often as possible for the answers and warnings we need to pass on. WARNING: If ANYONE tells you they have all the answers, RUN AWAY. God is the ONLY one who knows everything that is to come. We just have to call out the signs we see. God even gave Isaiah the ‘interpretation’ of the riders on two horses.
Third, Jesus tells us to stay alert. He will come at a time when we least expect it. Even He is not given the exact hour of His return. He stays alert to the voice of His Father; waiting for His command. Continue in God’s word. Spend time with Him every day. Be about His business. This is the ONLY way to be ready when that time comes. And the only way you can give accurate information as a watchman.
Fourth, THERE IS A WAR GOING ON. There are PLENTY of physical wars raging across the globe but an even bigger war is being waged for man’s hearts. It is a spiritual war that doesn’t end. Yet, there is comfort for those who need it. We are to be God’s hands and feet, even in the midst of this mighty battle. We have escaped from the drawn sword, from the bent bow, and from the press of battle. We have run to His arms and found safety and refreshing. We have to go back into battle but we do so with HIS armor and weapons. And we are to offer refreshing to those who will accept it from His hand. Show them to the Source of our hope and salvation. He will take it from there. But He will also use us as encouragement to walk along side those who come to Him. Be His hands and feet, even in the midst of the battle.
Father God, thank You that You NEVER fail to answer my question of; “what would You have me learn” from Your word. Thank You that You are my source in this warfare. I see from Your word what lies ahead. I PRAY You send a ‘watchman’ my children and grandchildren will listen to. I think my voice is too familiar to them. But I would LOVE it if they would come and inquire of me concerning You. I would gladly give them whatever You would have me say. But, if not for them, let me be a watchman for whomever You would bring to me. Don’t let fear keep me from speaking of You AND Your truths. ‘Oil my shield’ Lord with Your Holy Spirit. ‘Sharpen my sword’ with Your word. And ‘strengthen my hand’ with Your love.