This week’s devotion is from Sheena.
Read Isaiah 21:8-14 or the whole chapter if you have time.
“Day after day, my lord, I stand on the watchtower; every night I stay at my post” Isaiah 21:8
Standing on top of a stone tower, eyes narrowed looking out to the horizon, you can just see in the East that the sky is lightening but there are plenty of stars and still more as you look above you. It’s quiet, the town is asleep, someone is walking down the street and you recognise the top of the baker’s head as he opens the shop to start preparing dough. There is the faint baa of sheep in the fields and a fire that looks more like a spark from a match it is so far away on the hillside. The shepherds are keeping themselves warm tonight.
Watchmen were crucial in the Old Testament – needed to keep crops and livestock safe from those who would steal them. To protect towns and cities from invasion. Watchmen also see the coming and going of everyday life as they watched the hustle and bustle below them.
No wonder God describes the prophets as watchmen. They keep their eyes on their horizon and their ears open for God’s voice telling them prophecy, what might be a threat, what to do next. Steering the people they are responsible for in the right direction.
To you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. Ezekiel 33:7
And God’s watchmen had a crucial job to do, explaining to their people the word of God. It is a task not to be taken lightly, earlier in Ezekiel 33, God says that if an individual is warned and does not take heed their own downfall is their responsibility. But if a watchman does not warn those around him the blood is on the watchman’s hands.
Watchmen have not been left behind in the Old Testament. Churches are led by watchmen and women and in Hebrews we are told to ‘Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.’ Hebrews 13:17
Watchmen and women are the go to people when you suspect there may be trouble on the horizon. From their vantage point they may have a better idea of what is coming.
“Watchman, what is left of the night?
Watchman, what is left of the night?”
The watchman replies,
“Morning is coming, but also the night.
If you would ask, then ask;
and come back yet again.” (Isaiah 21:11-14)
We are human and are each going through struggles of different kinds, and sometimes it feels like we are in the middle of the night and there is no light. But as Christians we have a light to guide us home, Jesus is described as ‘the bright morning star’ Revelation 22:16. The bright star seen in the horizon before morning. Morning is coming for us all.
… but also the night. We have a morning to look forward to, but not everyone does. For some there is always night, there isn’t a hope of salvation. They don’t hear and understand the good news. And I have found that difficult to understand, I thought, or hoped, that everyone had a ‘God button’ that if I said the right phrase, quoted the right scripture or looked at them in a certain way then I could click the right button and they would ‘get it.’ But it’s not true, and so morning comes for some and night for others. But we have to talk about God, we have to ask, if we don’t we miss those who are just waiting for the invitation to come with us.
I thank you for the watchmen and women You have used to steer your people through the ages. Help me to be attentive, to listen for your voice and to keep my eyes on the horizon. Is there something you are telling me to do? Is there something on the horizon I need to be attentive to?
Help me to watch over our city and our strath. You have placed me exactly where I am supposed to be, let me be a light that shines for you in my workplace, in my neighbourhood, with my family, at the school gates.
From this vantage point I see our grass covered field, already full of life. I pray for the future of our church, that it is built on a firm foundation – both physically and spiritually and I pray for wise leadership in guiding the project. I pray that it becomes the cornerstone of the community and it caters for and nurtures and that people are drawn to it. I pray for houses and businesses yet to be built in the area and that You are guiding the hands making our church and surrounding buildings.