Picture, if you will . . .
A watchman on the wall. That watchman is you, and your shift is about to begin. Your personal items are stowed in your locker; you’ve poured yourself a steaming cup of java. You’re ready to go to work. As you take your station, you lift your prophetic binoculars to your eyes and ask the previous shift for an update on their findings. An adjustment here and there, and the horizon comes into clear view while you listen.
“The morning comes, but also the night . . .” (Isaiah 21:12).
You lower your glasses and give him the eye, knowing full well he’s not saying, “You know, same ole, same ole thing—days and nights all run together after a while”. He’s saying, “I’ve got good news . . . and bad.”
Of course, when asked which you prefer to hear first, you choose the good. Because after all, good helps buffer the bad. You can already tell by the look on his face that he’s not talking about morning-and-evening cycles in general, or those morning seasons of prosperity, and nights when calamity and trouble strike. Nor is he talking about the natural rise and fall of nations that happen throughout human history. He’s referring to the one, big, prophesied event that watchmen have been monitoring for generations. It’s the one you’ve personally been waiting for.
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief, Ye are all the children of light and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:1–5).
As you listen to his report, your faith is once again stirred; your spirit man soars. Down through the ages, preachers and little praying grannies have told us, “Jesus is coming any day now.”. You’ve even said it yourself, hoping it would be today. Our hearts have been sick with love (Song 5:8), watching and waiting for that blessed hope, even the appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). Your thoughts go back to the Exodus when God liberated His people from slavery to Egypt. What a miraculous, extraordinary time of blessing and deliverance that was for God’s people—a mere shadow of Jesus’ glorious second coming. For children of light, His return is the morning we’ve longed for. Jesus is coming!
. . . but also the night.
As surely as His appearing will be the dawn of a glorious day for believers, it is for the powers of darkness and for those who reject Christ, a dreadful time of great darkness and gloom—the night to beat all nights. The King of kings and Lord of lords is coming to make His name known to His adversaries (Is 64:2), and to judge the lawlessness of mankind (Malachi 4:1). Heaven and earth will be shaken and all His enemies destroyed.
Your heart comes into fresh agreement with Him. Because they have poured out the blood of Your people (the saints) and the prophets . . . Lord God the Omnipotent, Your judgments (sentences, decisions) are true and just and righteous (Revelation 16:6–7).
But time is so short. Salvation (final deliverance) is nearer to us now than when we first believed . . . (Romans 13:11–12). That all-too-familiar uneasiness settles into your gut. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14)—it is there that He will execute His judgment.
You lift your prophetic binoculars and scan the hills. The day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night . . . Your heart is gripped with alarm as you once again picture in your mind the faces of those you know aren’t ready. What will become of them if they don’t repent?
You cry out, “Lord, how will our hearts bear up under the painful beholding with our own eyes the reward of the wicked (Psalm 91:8)? How do we balance the tension between: Thy watchmen shall lift up their voices; together they sing for joy; for they shall see eye to eye the return of the LORD to Zion (Isaiah 52:7–8)—and My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart is disquieted and throbs aloud within me; I cannot be silent! For I have heard the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war (Jeremiah 4:19)?
God's answer is immediate, bringing comfort to your heart. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? (Ezekiel 18:23). I have set watchmen upon your walls, O Jerusalem, who never hold their peace day or night; you who [are His servants and by your prayers] put the Lord in remembrance [of His promises], keep not silence, And give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes her a praise in the earth (Isaiah 62: 6 –7).
Watchman on the wall . . . yes, that’s you. You breathe in an encouraged breath, clasp your hands in prayer, and get to work being the watchman you were called to be. “Lord, save us! Lord, heal! Lord, deliver!”