Isaiah 21:11-12 - The oracle concerning Dumah. One is calling to me from Seir, "Watchman, what time of the night? Watchman, what time of the night?" The watchman says: "Morning comes, and also the night. If you will inquire, inquire; come back again."
Isaiah described the world situation in his time, how great armies were on the march. The world powers of Assyria and Egypt were contending with each other, with little countries caught in the middle. Judah, Isaiah's home, was one of those little countries. Along Judah's northern frontier ranged the armies of King Sargon II of Assyria, and along its southern borders lay the coiled python of Egypt. On the walls of Judah's cities, watchmen were on round-the-clock alert. They surveyed the horizons for a glimpse of armor, a cloud of dust, that signaled an army's advance from one side or the other.
Another little country, Edom, a persistent adversary of Judah, was also caught in the middle. The callers from Edom inquired of the watchmen of Judah, "Watchman, what time of the night, And the callers from Edom were desperate: "What time of the night?" Yes, what of the night?
It is the cry of our time, too. Straining in a darkness of its own making, the whole world cries to discern something of its unknown future. "What about the anxieties we face, what about the uncertainties all around us, the gnawing aches in our hearts?" As in Isaiah's day, so in our own: "Watchman, what time of the night?"
Into this night, this night of fear and doubt, perplexity and despair, comes the reassuring voice of the watchmen: "Morning comes."
This is the voice of the church proclaiming the Word of God. The Word of God tells us that He cares. We have this Word in Person, in God's own Son, Jesus Christ. He became a Man for us all; He died for us all; and He rose from the dead to give light to you and to me. To you and me the watchman says, "The night is departing. The day is approaching. Put on the armor of light. Have confidence in Christ. Receive the forgiveness He alone can give. Let Him dispel the darkness and lead you into the light."
God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (see John 3:17). God sent His Son to be a Man, that He might reconcile the whole world unto Himself. Into this world of ours, gone haywire, derailed from its original course, distorting the intent and design of God Himself, into this world Jesus Christ came—recovering, restoring, and renewing people with faith and hope that they might live again as children of God amid the brightness of His household, though everything should be dark all around them.
"Watchman, what is left of the night?" The morning is coming. It is God's daybreak for you in Jesus Christ. Follow Him and hope in God. Trust in His Son, your Savior, with a hope that cannot be denied—because it is a hope founded in God.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, though we sit in darkness, may the light of Your Son dawn in our hearts. In His Name we pray. Amen.
From "The Impatience of Hope," a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Oswald Hoffmann, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. Are you an impatient person? Who could easily confirm this?
2. How fearful do you think the night was to those who lived thousands of years ago? Why?
3. Has the coming of morning light ever comforted you after a bad dream? Do you remember what you were dreaming about?
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