Watchman, What of the Night? Part 1

Isaiah 21:11  •  14 min. read  •  grade level: 14
The watchman of that early time, and as under the spirit of prophecy, said, “The morning cometh, and also the night; if ye will inquire, inquire ye, return, come.” God has never let the night-time of the ruin of creation and of man—no, nor yet of Jerusalem and of His people Israel—pass out of His own hands; and to them that look for Him, all will, yet issue in “a morning without a cloud,” when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise, with healing in His beams.
Another (and he, the anointed apostle for these last times) sent to us from the risen Son of man, exalted above the night of chaos and of ruin,, and seated in the glory of God, cries, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand, let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” The prophet and the apostle are each right, and in the mind of the Lord, in their respective occupations and seasons, giving out these varied lessons to the people of God.
Isaiah, in the midst of the earthly family, is directing their thoughts as to the night and morning, in relation to the two centers of the earth, Jerusalem and Babylon. Paul, in the midst of the heavenly family, is instructing the elect Gentiles what to do, and what to be, in these present church ruins, and in the night time of an evil world. Paul writes to those united to the Lord, who has been cast out of it till the morning comes, and the word by this watchman to us is, “Ye are all the children of light, and of the day, we are not of the night, nor of darkness, therefore let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober,” &c.
Many of those who are instructed in the school of God, know that the ministry of an Old Testament prophet, and his prophesyings, can only find their opportunity and place, when the people to whom he is sent have failed in the original blessing where God had set them, for, as we have said, God never allows even the ruin to pass out of His own hand. The ministry of “an apostle by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead,” is of a different order, and reveals the hidden things which were “kept secret from before the foundation of the world, and which God ordained to our glory,” with Christ. The blessing of the church in the heavens, by His divine callings and separations in a risen Lord, and the final prosperity of Israel, and the nations on the earth, by their bounds and divisions, together with the deliverance of a groaning creation, into redemption-light, are alike in the counsels of the living God, and to be manifested in glory. It is equally in His own hands to meet and set aside Babylon and the Gentile nations then, as to establish Jerusalem, and make her a praise in the whole earth, with Christ hereafter.
The watchman said, by Isaiah,” The morning cometh, and also the night: ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come;” and these are the alternations which lie before us for inquiry and examination. Originally everything in creation that God saw was good, and there was no evil; but, as in a moment, all was changed, and everywhere there was evil, and no good. Originally too, the blessing of God that maketh rich rested on every creature, but, as in an instant, the blessing was nowhere, and the curse of God lay heavily on all around. In creation the evening and the morning made each day, but in history with man, it is the morning cometh, and also the night, alas! Still, He has not cast away the heavens and the earth that He created for His own pleasure with the sons of men, nor will He suffer the mighty ruin to pass into the power of the enemy of God and man. But what will He do, in whose hands are the issues of life and of death? Only to think for a moment of God Himself standing in the breach, and acting upon the supremacy of His own goodness, over all the evil and the misery; yea meeting the usurpation of Satan, and the outbreak of sin in the creature, by falling back upon His own sovereign power and electing love. God's only resource was in Himself, nothing could challenge His omnipotence, or escape His omniscience, or go beyond His control. He alone can say, “Hitherto shalt thou go, but no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.” How will He, and how can He, bring down His own immensity and infinitude in grace into the circle of morning and night? How connect them with Himself inside the range of men and things, where all is now in ruins and wretchedness, and when all that was morning has become night, and gone down into darkness?
He who said, Let there be light, and there was light, and who made a firmament in the midst of the waters, to divide the waters from the waters, can bring in a sunrise to form a morning where there is none. In the earliest records of His ways, He did it after this creation-pattern of dividing the one from the other, when He acted as the Possessor of the heavens and the earth. For example, “when the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.” When this supremacy of God, by act and deed, in dividing the nations, is anything more to man than an historical fact, it becomes a very wonderful thing. Marvelous indeed to set their bounds, and, further, that God should come out into the midst of mankind, to divide them, and to act upon His own sovereignty in grace—yea, to begin a register, by which to chronicle an earthly family for Himself in their generations! This supervision and care makes one understand that some purpose of God, which He has ordained for His own glory, and the blessing of His creatures, is to be ultimately reached in the circle of manhood, notwithstanding the expulsion of Adam from paradise. One only begins to discover what this divine secret can be of dividing a nation from all others, and a race from races of men, when we recall the promise that “the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head.” This wonderful registration was therefore strictly maintained till after Jesus, the Immanuel, was born, to whom God pointed, according to the genealogies that went before, and which closed by His incarnation.
It is remarkable, too, that our early progenitors were guided to call their sons by names, not only significant of their own faith in this promise, but that their offspring were the rightful heirs. The two books of Chronicles, which contain the generations of Israel, and their kingly history, maintain these facts in their general character, and prove likewise that God held that elect nation always in His mind, by starting their genealogies from Adam and Seth. The first, of these books is in harmony with the dividings and distinctions in the six days' work of creation, and with God's intention of thus bringing out a seed for the accomplishment of His purposes, and the establishment of covenanted blessings in the midst of Israel and the tribes, as “an elect people” on the earth. The second book opens grandly with the record of this accomplishment, in the typical David and his son Solomon, reigning on God's throne in Jerusalem. The king and his kingdom are established in Israel, and divided off from the nations, as the wonder and admiration of the whole world. Consistently with those objects, the first book begins its genealogy of the family, or household of God, in the elect line of Adam, Seth, and then Enoch. It commences thus the history of the elect tribes, in the registry of Jehovah and His people, by going back to the man created in the image of God; and closes their antediluvian ancestry with the Enoch who walked with God, and was translated that he should not see death. A precious type this of the heavenly family caught up, on the one hand, and an early intimation that Israel will really be connected with them, and in blessing likewise, in the time of their happy millennium.
It is a point of much interest and significance to notice here, that in this Book of Chronicles, where God is writing up His people, or setting Israel as a firmament to divide the nations from the nations, the Spirit refuses to introduce or make any mention of Cain, that wicked one, and his posterity. I judge this was that the earthly family might be rightly identified by descent, and as born after the flesh, with the promises of Jehovah; and, moreover, distinguished and divided off from all others, as they afterward were, by circumcision. Indeed we may ask, in passing, how could the man who went away out of the presence of God, and became a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth, be a link in the chronicles of an elect people? On the contrary, Seth, or the substituted and appointed one (instead of righteous Abel, whom Cain slew), is the man with whom the generations of men and their genealogies begin anew in Gen. 5 “And the days of Adam, after he had begotten Seth, were eight hundred years. And Seth lived, after he begat Enos, eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters.” Israel's genealogies, which include the birth of the Messiah and finish with it, are on this account full of interest; nor is there any other ancestry or generation worthy of record, save it be “the dukes of Esau, and the dukes of Edom,” which stand apart in an unenviable place of their own, and outside.
Succession in the flesh was thus established by God, and became their pride—yea, everything—to a true Israelite. On this account, as “an elect people,” it was their only remaining glory and boast, on coming up out of Babylon, that they could be still reckoned by their genealogies and families, because the promises were made to “the Seed” of their father Abraham. Thus “the Tirshatha” says, in Neh. 7, “My God put it into mine heart to gather together the nobles and the rulers of the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy, and I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first,” which identified them with the city of Jerusalem and the first Book of Chronicles. Morally and prophetically, we may add, as well as by adoption and birth, they were the descendants of an elect seed, to be brought out in due time as the ordained family, and an appointed nation, for the introduction of covenanted blessing upon the earth. This was promised through Abraham, the friend of God, as the heir of the world, and confirmed to David, the man after God's own heart, as the anointed king, whose greater Son is yet to rule and reign over it, from the rising to the setting of the sun.
It may be further observed, that the First Book of Chronicles closes its earthly and typical program with David's charge to Solomon, and with the transfer of all the measurements and patterns which he had received by the Spirit of God, concerning the temple of peace, and rest, and glory that was to be built. For the palace,” as he says, “is not for man, but for the Lord God,” who was coming to take up His abode in their midst. Nor can David happily close his eyes upon that day and generation until he, as the head of Israel, unites with the chief of the fathers, and with the princes of their tribes, in offering their gifts of gold, and silver, and precious stones, to make the place of the Lord's feet glorious in that hour of their morning As the sweet psalmist, under the anointing oil, he exceeds them all when he sings or plays upon the harp, touching their bright millennial day; or when, as a worshipper before the ark, he dances on its way to the place of its rest; or as now joyfully making preparations for the temple to receive it. How excellent is he, too, as the leader of the prayers and praises of the great congregation: “Now, therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name ... .O Lord our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thy holy name, cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own.....And all the people blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the Lord and the King.”
The first book of genealogies, and its arrangements of order and service for the throne and the kingdom, together with the magnificent architectural plans and buildings, with its yet costlier gifts and preparations, is in manifest distinction to their accomplishments and construction in the Second Book of Chronicles. Who can measure, for example, the contrariety and the distances between the opening verses in each book? Or who would attempt to fill in the immense gap of time and circumstance between them, by a narration of the historical facts, except as gathered from the word of God? It is like coming up out of the night of chaos into creation again, with a new company, as we open the first book, and read of an “Adam, Seth, and Enoch,” who was translated that he should not see death. Nor is this feeling of surprise lessened when we open the Second Book of Chronicles, to read, as in the morning light, “that Solomon, the son of David, was strengthened in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly.” What a tremendous chaos is thus being filled up by God in history! It is like a new beginning in the midst of other and elect creatures, and of a better creation, so that one scarcely knows where we are in this new genealogy, which has given birth, by the letter and order of the first book, to such a man as this Solomon of the second; and yet a man endowed with wisdom such as never had been, or shall be; and invested with honor and power, by the hand of the living God, such as Adam had not before the fall.
Within the beauty of this enclosure, too— “Immanuel's land” —one might ask again, “Watchman, what of the night?” and what has become of the curse on the ground, when all flows with milk and honey? In the presence of this Solomon, inducted into the highest place out of heaven, and invested with royal majesty as a king, before whom all other kings bow and pay tribute, and queens do homage, one may almost think of the fall, and of the man whom God drove out of Eden, as a bygone thing, a dream that is past away with the night, and obliterated in the peace and prosperity of this new center of the world's jubilee. The earth seems to invite the heavens to come out, and hail the new morning that is come, and make merry and be glad with the elect people whom God is leading into His “rest in Zion.” Moreover, Jehovah has left the tent and tabernacle, in which He dwelt and journeyed with the twelve tribes of these genealogies in the wilderness, and is ready to accompany them, and the ark of the covenant, out of the First Book of Chronicles into the Second, and to draw out the staves, when its final resting-place in the temple is completed. The Lord will Himself then appear, and fill the whole house with His glory, so that there shall not be room even for the priests to enter in, because God is in His holy temple.
(To be continued.)