I post watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they should keep praying all day and all night. You who pray to the Lord, don’t be silent! – Isaiah 62:6 NET
This verse conjures up an interesting and somewhat contradictory image. In it, you have God appointing watchmen to man the walls of the city of Jerusalem. Their job, as their name suggests, was to watch. They were to stay alert and keep an eye out for possible danger. They were also to act as an early warning system, alerting the inhabitants of the city and calling the army to assemble. But in these verses, God is appointing watchmen to pray. The English Standard Version translates this verse as follows: “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent.” But The Net Bible translates the same verse as “they should keep praying all day and all night.” It would seem that the context is that of prayer. It is an intended juxtaposition that replaced the watchman’s primary role of lookout to that of intercessor. He was to pray all day and all night and never be silent. Verse seven elaborates on his newly appointed responsibility. “Don’t allow him to rest until he reestablishes Jerusalem, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth” (Isaiah 62:7 NET). The watchman was to pray incessantly and persistently until God answered by reestablishing Jerusalem. It’s interesting to note that a watchman was primarily responsible to look for danger, but in this case his job was to relentlessly remind God of His promise of restoration. He was not to look for pending danger, but promised blessing. God had promised, “You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you” (Isaiah 62:3-4 ESV). The watchmen God had appointed were to eagerly look for that promise to be fulfilled and to not stop praying for its fulfillment until it happened.
God was going to punish Israel for her persistent sins and allow them to suffer the humiliation of defeat at the hands of the Babylonians. They would spend 70 years in Babylon, forcibly removed from their land and carried off as captives. But God had promised vindication. He had promised restoration. Some of what He promised was fulfilled when He returned them to the land after the 70 years was completed. But there is a future fulfillment of God’s promise that has yet to happen. Isaiah records, “Look, the Lord announces to the entire earth: ‘Say to Daughter Zion, “Look, your deliverer comes! Look, his reward is with him and his reward goes before him!” They will be called, ‘The Holy People, the Ones Protected by the Lord.’ You will be called, ‘Sought After, City Not Abandoned’” (Isaiah 62:11-12 NET). The day is coming when God will restore Jerusalem to its former glory and His Son, Jesus Christ, will reign and rule from the throne of David, in fulfillment of the promise He made to David. The watchmen were to wait, watch and pray for that day.
There is a sense in which each of us is a watchman appointed by God to look for and long for the fulfillment of the promises of God. We are to pray for God to bring about all that He has promised in His Word. It is so easy for us to look for disaster and keep an eye out for coming destruction. The world seems to be falling apart as we watch. But we know how the story ends. We know that Christ coming back and our side wins. God is not done with Israel yet. He has great plans in store for them. Jesus Christ will return to earth one day as a conquering King and mighty warrior. He will put an end to sin, death, and Satan once and for all. He will establish His kingdom on earth and bring about peace and justice. It is for that day we should look and persistently pray.
Sometimes we lose sight of all that God has promised to do. We forget that this story has a happy ending. We are victors, not victims. We are winners, not losers. But while we watch for and long for that day to come when Christ returns, we must remember that none of us know the day. Not even Christ Himself. So while we are more than welcome to watch for it, we would be better off praying for it. It is God who must bring it about. It is He who has decided the date and time. So let us give Him no rest until that day comes. May we learn to pray for the final fulfillment of God’s plan for Israel and for the whole earth. Watch and pray. Deliverance is coming. Victory is assured. Christ is returning. Righteousness wins out.