"Watchman, what time of the night?"

Do you know those nights when you turn and look at the clock every 10 minutes to see if it’s morning yet? Maybe you were woken up by something that won’t let you go back to sleep and the morning holds promise, hope that things will look better in the light. That’s how the people in Isaiah’s oracles feel, and thus, the question posed by one: “what time of the night?”

Things are dark, and not just for Judah, but for all the nations, all the world. What happened to the promise in chapter 2 that all the nations shall flow to the house of the Lord? That it would be a place of peace? Where’s that place and how long do we have to live like this? How long? What time of the night is it? Is it almost morning?

“The watchman says, morning comes, and also the night.”

Morning comes… It’s not exactly the time stamp we were hoping for. Is it midnight? Half past two?

Morning comes... As surely as the morning follows the evening, so the light of God’s promises will follow the darkness.

Once again, Isaiah gives us a taste of the extent of God’s promise to gather all the nations, ALL the nations… even Egypt. Egypt was Israel’s archenemy, the oppressor of their ancestors, representing all that was evil and harsh and cruel and contrary to God. But here…

“Blessed be Egypt my people and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel, my inheritance”

The nation once commanded to “let my people go” is now “my people.” That’s how far the promise extends. That is the morning that the nations wait for.

It is only fitting that in order to be numbered with God’s people, the nations in Isaiah waited. Because God’s people are a waiting people. Abraham waited for a son… just one son in order to make his descendants as numerous as the stars like God promised. The Israelites waited to get into Canaan. Over and over in the psalms we read the phrase “How long, O Lord?” as well as the counter-phrase “Wait for the Lord.” God’s people waited for the promised Messiah and we wait for the day when He will make all things new.

But we’re not just a waiting people, we are an expectant people. We wait in hope because we expect that what God promises, he will do. And he gives us glimpses, foretastes reminding us that yes, this is a God who is good, who is merciful, who is abounding in love, and faithful to his promises.

  • I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
  • and in his word I hope;
  • my soul waits for the Lord
  • more than watchmen for the morning,
  • more than watchmen for the morning.
  • -Psalm 130:5-6