Watchman, What of the Night?

Isaiah 21:6 For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.
Isaiah 21:11-12 The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir,  Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? 12 The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come.

In vs. 11, the opening words, “the burden of…” means, “the harsh prophecy for…” Numerous times in the book of Isaiah, the prophet begins his words toward a people, person or nation with this phrase. In this case, he is about to describe the peril of a place in Arabia called Dumah. Interestingly the Hebrew word “Dumah” simply means, “silence”.

We could read this verse as, “Following is a difficult message about the peril of silence.”

Out of the mountain of Seir, they call to the watchman on the wall, “Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?” In other words they are desperate to know, “Watchman, is there hope of deliverance for us?”

The prophet, or watchman, replies that there will be a short time of favor, but then more peril. “You can keep asking if you’d like, but the answer will remain the same. The only way to receive a better report than this is to repent and turn back to God.”

Those who turn a deaf ear to the cry of the preacher, and continually respond with silence, will find that their sorrows never stop. They will live from sorrow to sorrow, with only splinters of hope scattered through it. The only way to end the cycle is to repent of their sins and turn back to God.

I just pray they never stop asking, “Watchman, what of the night?”, and that one day they’ll listen and obey.

There is another angle to this passage as well… and that is the responsibility for the watchman to sound the call in the night.  “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”

So the question is ours to answer, and a desperate world is calling out, “Watchman, what of the night?”

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