Sunday, March 06, 2011

Isaiah 62 - Watchmen on the Walls

Contextual Notes:
Isaiah’s prophecy focuses on one Royal, Priestly, Suffering, Divine Son of David. For 39 chapters He is the King coming to judge sin, then beginning at chapter 40, He is the comforting Servant who through suffering, dying, and rising (53), fulfills all God’s covenants (54-55), changing our future despite our present sinful condition (56), if we will repent of their sin, finding healing and peace (57:14-21), not in religious activity (58:1-5), but in serving like the Servant Himself (58:6-10) in blessing and restoration (58:11-14).

Sin separates us from God (59:1-8) and others (59:9-15a), but through the Redeemer’s intercession for those who repent (59:15b-21) we have hope (60:1-9), honor (60:10-14), transformation (60:15-22) -- the Messiah Himself who proclaims Royal favor for His people (61:1-3a), prosperity for the land (61:3b-9), and the joy of salvation (61:10-11).

The bridegroom (61:9-10) now turns to his delightful bride, his people, (62:1-5) and urges them to be watchmen in prayer for Messiah’s purpose (62:1-7), people (62:8-10), and proclamation (62:11-12).

Key Truth: Isaiah wrote Isaiah 62 to teach Israel the importance of being a watchman on the wall for God’s purposes, God’s people, and God’s proclamation.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about being a watchman.
Key Verse: Isaiah 62:6-7
Pray and Read:  Isaiah 62

Sermon Points:
1.   Be a watchman for Messiah’s purpose (Isaiah 62:1-7)
2.   Be a watchman for Messiah’s people (Isaiah 62:8-10)
3.   Be a watchman for Messiah’s proclamation (Isaiah 62:11-12)

Exposition:   Note well,

a.   62:1-7 – The announcement of salvation in 61 is followed by the announcement in 62 of restoration. The bridegroom (61:9-10) looks for his bride (62:2b-5). Immediately there is a commitment to intercede for the deliverance of Zion to come, for her deliverance is assured (v. 2-7) by the power of God (v. 8-9). And they will come from everywhere to the Holy City (v. 10-11), and they will be called the holy people, redeemed by the Lord (v. 12).
b.   Who is the speaker? Most commentators immediately default to Isaiah as the speaker (62:1, 6) who commits to intercession for Zion, but there is no change in the text besides a superficial chapter break. The context instead points to the speaker still being the Messiah. His intercession for those repenting (59:15b-21) is here brought to fruit (62:12). Verse 6 seems to settle the issue.[1] If the speaker is indeed the Messiah, then he will not rest until he accomplishes his purposes. Also, if Messiah is the speaker, then there is no doubt that he is the chief Watchman on the Wall, the Chief Intercessor, and we join our intercession with his. If the Messiah is ever living to intercede here, then Israel has a future, repentance has a reality, and the Church and Israel together have a common eschatological destiny as the Bride (62:1-5) and the redeemed of Zion (62:12). Here we see echoes all the way back to 40:1-11.[2]
c.   Romans 8:34: Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.   Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
d.   Imagery First there is a focus on the light (62:1-2; 60:1-3, 19-20), then the image of a bride, a crown of the Lord (62:3; Proverbs 12:4; Phil 4:1; 1 Thess 2:19) with a new names (62:2b) indicating new purposes of “delight” and “married” (62:4, 12). No more shame (62:4; 54:1, 7). He has sought her (50:1-2; Hosea 1-2).
e.   APPLICATION: There are some of us who live in the shadow of Deserted and Desolate: rejection, fear, hopelessness, depression. We have embraced so much less than that Lord has planned for us. The Scripture calls us to new purposes without shame. He is pursuing you and wants you to walk in the light (62:1-2) he has provided. Will you do it? Will you do it today?
f.    62:6 – hammizkarim et YHWH (secretaries –lit. “one who reminds” of YHWH). This word is interesting. Young says the word should be taken as a vocative.[3] Calling something to God’s attention, importunate prayer.
g.   ILLUSTRATION: Very often I will be out doing what I do as a pastor, perhaps visiting a hospital, interceding for the church and our people, checking email, talking on the phone with someone in ministry or someone in need of encouragement, praying with a person, studying and meditating on the Word, posting to a blog, and I will get a text or a call or a visit to my office door from our church secretary. “Gene, don’t forget you have xyz appointment today at 3.” Or “Gene, just a reminder to go over the bulletin for Wednesday night.” Or “Gene, don’t forget we have xyz event coming up and we need to get things finalized for that.” She is my secretary, or as political correctness dictates, a personal assistant. She reminds me. She calls to attention. She puts herself in front of me, gets my attention, and encourages me to get something done. She is interceding with me on behalf of a needed action on my part. She does not have the authority to act on it. I have that authority to give the word to ask her to move forward or to do it myself.
h.   Now God knows the end from the beginning and does not need a reminder about anything, but in his economy, he has involved us as his secretaries, his reminders, his intercessors, to remind him of his purposes and encourage him to move forward. Is it some indication of his slowness or incapacity? No, but it is an indication of our readiness to walk before him in obedience and action. When my secretary appears to remind me about something, she will usually be involved in that work. She may be creating work for herself, but she will be working in response to the reminder she gave. Intercession is similar to that. We remind God of His purposes, and that means that we are joining him in his work. Effective intercessory prayer results in action, both on God’s part and ours.
i.    APPLICATION: Under the leadership of the Great Intercessor Himself, our intercessory prayer is an encouraging call to be a reminder, a secretary of the Lord, to remind him of his purposes and that they need to move forward in our lives, in the lives of our family and friends, in our church and our nation, in Messiah’s ultimate purposes on earth.
2.   BE A WATCHMAN FOR GOD’S PEOPLE (Isaiah 62:8-10)
a.   62:8 – God makes an oath with his right hand and strong arm: his integrity and mighty strength to back it up.
b.   62:9 – Corn/grain and new wine. Symbols of God’s providence. Those who have a right to it will eat and drink it. The eating results in praise of the covenant, drinking in the holy courts (Deut 14:22-27).
c.   62:10 – The language reflects 40:3 and 57:14. The Jewish exiles and nations come from the ends of the earth, from estrangement to the household of faith. (Ephesians 2)
d.   APPLICATION: What people are you being a watchman for? Are you watching in prayer for your spouse? Are you watching in prayer for your parents? Are you watching in prayer for your children or grandchildren? Are you watching in prayer for those who are without a relationship with Jesus and without hope? You need to give the Lord no rest, keep reminding him, ask and keep on asking, for him to bring that person to Christ, to keep them safe, to make them whole.
a.   62:11 – The second half is parallel to 40:10.
b.   62:12 – They will be called the people of holiness. Exodus 19:6. The church is not a human institution but a people of holiness. Zion will be sought after, and the complaint of 49:14 will never be raised again.
c.   APPLICATION:  God has a plan for the end-time. Are you praying, “Lord, come quickly?” Are you asking the Lord to move his end-time plans forward and redeem this world for himself? Are you watching our nation and the nations and the news and the upheavals in politics and oceans and tectonic plates and social issues for the hand of the Lord? Are you standing before him on behalf of nations to come to know Christ? Are you asking the Lord to come and establish his kingdom? He will do it, but we are called to join him in his Great Commission to take the name of Jesus to the nations and to our next door neighbor.

[1] Also, the verbs of the first clauses of chap. 62 are found in 18:4; 42:14; and 57:11. God is the subject of each of these references. Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, 3:467, “Most commentators think that the speaker is the prophet himself, but it may be that it is the Lord.” The phrases point to the Servant of 42:4, 14; 57:11; 65:6.

[2] F.F. Bruce, gen. ed., International Bible Commentary, 760-1, whose commentator's hermeneutic of Isaiah has been more liberal and historical rather than literary and Messianic, agrees with me about the speaker.

[3] Young, 471.