The Morning and The Night
“The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night” —Isaiah 21:12
A prophet was raised up of God to foretell events. Future and secret things belong to the Most High; yet, sometimes He sent one of His servants to tell the people of his own day that which was yet to be. Speaking thus from the mouth of God, the prophet spoke unequivocally and with dogmatism. Isaiah was called to this holy office to foretell the destiny of empires, kingdoms, countries, and realms. He was a watchman standing upon his tower peering into the darkness, listening most intently for the sound of an advancing enemy. The air was filled with expectancy and with suspense. The night was dark. All around vibrated with premonition. Sounding through the gloom could be heard the challenge from Mount Seir, “Watchman what of the night ?” “Watchman what of the night?” The voice emerges from the midst of Israel’s foes, relentless and cynical foes. The prophet with dignity and solemn mien answered in sober language, “The morning cometh, and also the night.” In our minds the question naturally arises, what morning, what night? What morning could it be, but the morning of Israel’s glory, and what night could it be, but the night of Edom’s doom?
Now at the time we are considering, circumstances were doleful for the people of God, but prosperous for the Edomites. The ten tribes had been carried into captivity, and soon the remaining two would go in exile to Babylon. Sin and moral rebellion were rife in Israel. The children of Edom were strong and powerful, their formidable fortress in the mountains of Petra was symbolic of their military might. Nevertheless the prophetic words were uttered, and history abundantly confirms them as far as Edom is concerned, and soon, very soon, it will confirm them in relation to Israel. Where are the Edomites now? Are the impregnable rocks of Petra populated with their thousands? Far from it, for darkness and desolation mark their former place. Prophecy crystallizes in history and provides a witness to Divine Inspiration. Morning will inevitably arrive for the Jew after the long drawn out night of his dispersion. We Gentiles, who have come into blessing because of Israel’s rejection of God’s Christ, turn our faces toward Jerusalem and pray, “Peace be within thy walls and prosperity within thy palaces” (Psalm 122:7).
“The morning cometh and also the night.” Shall we make an application of our text, and say that for the child of God, “The morning cometh,” and that for this poor world which has rejected God, “also the night”? The night is far spent! It is the last hour! The night of the Church’s weary pilgrimage has lasted long, and often it has been accompanied by sorrow, grief, trial, and affliction, as well as by Satanic persecution. The passing of the centuries has made prominent foes such as, Pagan Rome, Papal Rome, rationalism, and infidelity. Had any other institution been subjected to the same opposition, it would have succumbed long ago. Inasmuch as the life of the Divine Founder has been, and is, in every limb, and because He Himself has said, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” the Church remains as immovable as the Throne of God.
The Master said to His foes, “This is your hour and the power of darkness,” and that hour and that power have stretched out until the present. During the Church’s suffering, Christ has often gone to the aid of His persecuted people. It was this blissful consciousness that kept the martyrs steadfast amid the flame and fire. If we ask, will the darkness last forever, will there be no alleviation, no end to its power? The assuring word declares, “The morning cometh,” a morning without clouds, a morning radiant and fair. With the morning come light, vigour, hopefulness, and joy.
“Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face.” Life for the child of God is often surrounded by the mysterious and the puzzling. The Christian cries, why this and why that! “Thou shalt know hereafter,” says the Omniscient Master. When in His presence, we look back over the past with the aid of the light of the morning, we shall have to confess with Israel, He led us by the right way, and has brought us into a city of habitation. Yes, tried believer, the light of the morning will put everything into its right perspective.
How many enfeebled saints there are! We sometimes think the Church is like a huge hospital filled with the sick and the sorrowing, feeble in mind, feeble in body, and feeble in the ability to grapple with adverse circumstances, but when the morning dawns, our “Weakness shall change to magnificent strength.” We shall have a body fashioned like unto the body of His glory. Mark tells us that when the women looked into the grave of Christ they saw “a young man sitting,” a young man, the symbol of strength and energy. For the much worn saint of God, there arises from the grave of Christ the fair flower of immortal youth and strength.
They that wait for the morning have their hopes realized. A new complexion is put upon the face of things. When the morning comes the vast vista of endless pleasures stretch out before the vision of those that stand upon the shore. Hope is never really crushed, nor is it confounded. In heaven our experience will eclipse totally the brightest ray of hope.
If the redeemed soul now “rejoices with joy unspeakable and full of glory,” what unthinkable pleasure will then be his! Possessing a redeemed body as well as a redeemed spirit, the perfect man, every whit as God would have him, will know joy commensurate with his state.
Thank God for the morning of glory soon to burst upon the vision of the saints of God. What then of the night! How dismal and forbidding! The night cometh, a night dense and unbroken for the ungodly, a night of gloom, distress, hopelessness, and regret. Never will a streak of light announce the approach of dawn; never a thought of comfort to dispel the distress; never a ray of hope to alleviate the constant state of misery. The soul of man is so infinitely important to God, that its very nature requires infinite atonement. This, thank God, has been effected, but man must make his choice. One shrinks from contemplating the unutterable woe of the lost soul. Yet, Who spoke upon this theme with more authority and with more definiteness than our Holy Lord. Many were His solemn warnings of eternal punishment, and, as faithful stewards of the manifold grace of God, we must not, “Smooth down the rugged text to ears polite, And snugly keep damnation out of sight.”
Let us rather ascend the watch tower with Isaiah, and with him have the double vision. First, the vision of “Glory yet to be,” and in second place, the vision of “A night to be remembered.” Let Edom’s doom and Israel’s destiny teach us to appreciate increasingly this sure word of prophecy.
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“To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). A certain prince named Pharnaces rebelled against Caesar, put at the same time sent him a crown. Caesar returned the crown with this message: “Let him return to his obedience first, and then I will accept his present.” God delights more in obedience than in sacrifices.