WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
From: Kingdom Concepts
A morning is coming and also a night. God is creating deliverers (Nehemiah 9:27; Obadiah 21)—strong saints who will be able to stand and assist many throughout the night that is coming, a night during which we shall not be able to go forth into the Gospel work as we do now.
Do you want to be one of the Lord’s deliverers during the great hour of opportunity, the hour of spiritual famine? Then store up the corn of the Word of God now.
We are to take full advantage of the blessings from Heaven that are falling today so we will be able to stand in perfect victory as Christian people until the morning of the Lord’s return. Also, we are to rejoice because the coming spiritual and material pressures will provide many opportunities for service (as was true of Joseph) for those who have allowed God to prepare them to stand in the evil day (Ephesians 6:13).
There is a morning coming and there is a night coming. If we have a heart to seek the Lord, to find what His attitude is, what He intends to do, what shortly will come to pass in the earth, then the Lord invites us to return to Him.
WATCHMAN, WHAT OF THE NIGHT?
The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come. (Isaiah 21:11,12)
Jesus spoke of our need to work the works of God during the daytime, and also of the night that is coming during which no one will be able to work (John 9:4).
The above passage from Isaiah sets forth the burden of the Holy Spirit in the present hour. There is a morning coming and there is a night coming. If we have a heart to seek the Lord, to find what His attitude is, what He intends to do, what shortly will come to pass in the earth, then the Lord invites us to return to Him.
In this brief article we shall think of the “morning” as referring to the time of blessing that is upon us now and also of that greater morning when the Lord returns and the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth. We shall view the “night” as the age of moral horrors, of temptation, of tribulation, that is to follow the present, “latter-rain” revival.
The Lord Jesus will not be harmed by the calamities that are ahead. If we will come along with Him we too will be able to dance with Him at midnight on the waters of tribulation.
Because thou hast kept [observed carefully; guarded] the word of my patience, I also will keep [watch carefully; guard] thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
The term keep, used twice in the above verse, means to imprison under strict observation and control (Acts 4:3, for example). If we will observe carefully, guard, control the word of Christ’s endurance He will guard, control, and watch over us carefully throughout the night that is coming, as He did the children of Israel throughout the seven years of famine and throughout the plagues that fell on Egypt.
The Lord Jesus keeps (guards) us from the evil one (John 17:15). If we will exercise patience and endurance to the end of our life, we will be saved.
It is our understanding that the story of Joseph and Israel, from the time that Joseph dreamed his dreams until the day that Moses led the children of Israel through the Red Sea, is one marvelous portrayal of the events that will take place from the present hour until the moment the Lord Jesus appears and delivers His saints from the power of death.
The pattern of events can be viewed in three major aspects: (1) the preparation of a deliverer; (2) a period of blessing and a period of tribulation; and (3) judgment and redemption.
The preparation of “deliverers” has been going on for some years now. It always has been true in God’s Kingdom that He prepares His saints for what is ahead. The time of blessing, corresponding to the “morning” of Isaiah 21:12, is at hand. The time of tribulation, corresponding to the “night” of Isaiah 21:12, soon will come to the earth.
Finally, judgment and redemption, the greatest “morning” of all, will visit the earth with the return of our Lord Jesus Christ with His saints and the elect angels.
There are two important concepts we wish to convey in this brief essay. The first concept is that we are to be taking full advantage of the time of blessing that now is upon us, because we and those to whom we are ministering will need all of our stored spiritual strength in order to survive throughout the “seven years of famine”—the period of spiritual oppression and gross darkness that will come to the earth before too long.
The second concept is that not only will the Lord Jesus keep the saints under His wings of protection through to the end of the present age, but in addition great spiritual good will be wrought in and through the saints until and including the very midnight hour.
All things will continue to work for good to those who love God, to those who have been called according to His eternal purpose in Christ.
Glory, opportunities, and responsibilities are ahead for the willing and obedient believer. Man’s distress always is an opportunity for God to help. Wherever sin abounds grace superabounds. The darker the night the brighter God’s stars shine.
For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:2)
The promises of Scripture never will be suspended for the saint—not now, not during the coming desolation, not when the universe melts “with fervent heat,” not ever!
A morning of blessing is here now, and the night of spiritual darkness is appearing on the horizon. God is creating deliverers (Nehemiah 9:27; Obadiah 21)—strong saints who will be able to stand and assist many throughout the coming night, a night during which we will not be able to go forth into the Gospel work as we do now.
Do you want to be one of the Lord’s deliverers during the great hour of opportunity, the hour of spiritual famine? Then store up the corn of the Word of God now.
We are to take full advantage of the blessings from Heaven that are falling today so we will be able to stand as Christian people until our Lord returns. Also, we are to rejoice because the coming spiritual and material pressures will provide many opportunities for service (as was true of Joseph) for those who have allowed God to prepare them to stand in the evil day (Ephesians 6:13).
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. (Joel 2:32)
Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them [in whose heart are the paths to God]. Who passing through the valley of Baca [of weeping] make it a well [a fountain of waters of life]; the rain also filleth the pools [speaking of the blessings of the Spirit of God that the strong saints bring to the places of weeping and distress]. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. (Psalms 84:5-7)
Are you allowing God to make you strong in the Lord so you can bless and strengthen the weak and oppressed now and in the day of trouble?
The preparation of a deliverer. It is customary for the life of Joseph, the deliverer, to be applied as a type of Jesus Christ. Certainly Joseph is a type of the Lord Jesus. But the life of Joseph is also, as we understand it, a type of the preparation and ministry of strong saints to whom Jesus assigns the responsibility of sharing His riches with His people whom He loves dearly.
It always is the Lord’s will for us to bless and feed His lambs and His sheep. By so doing we prove our love for the Lord (Romans 15:1). Perhaps the story of Joseph can help us understand some of the ways in which the Lord Jesus deals with us as He prepares us for our responsibilities in the Kingdom of God.
Notice that the Lord began Joseph’s preparation with a dream (Genesis 37:5). It often is true that someone whom God has chosen for an area of responsibility will receive a supernatural visitation well in advance of his or her time of employment in the Lord’s vineyard.
Also, it often is true that the believer on being called by the Lord will blurt out what he has been told, bringing about his own rejection and his own preparation by various sufferings. How often we create our own teachers!
The more we mature in the Lord the less we are given to nonessential speech. We pray carefully about everything we say. We pray without ceasing.
Joseph, God’s deliverer, was tested in the same manner in which the Lord Jesus was tested and in which each of the saints is tested.
The first preparatory examination is that of physical survival. Joseph was thrown into a pit in which there was no water (Genesis 37:24). Lack of water in a hot country can be fatal.
We must learn to serve the Lord whether or not we can understand where our necessities will come from. Man cannot live by bread alone. We have been commanded to seek first the Kingdom of God. When we do our needs are met. The individual who will not do God’s will until he knows how he will survive physically shall not be able to pass this first examination. He cannot be a deliverer in the hour of need. He surely shall fail.
The second preparatory examination is that of resisting sin. Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife. She may have been glamorous but the flames of Hell were burning intensely in her filthy heart (Genesis 39:12; Proverbs 7:27).
The strong saint, the deliverer, flees from temptation as did Joseph. If we succumb to the carnal delights of the world we will fail the second examination. The morally weak believer cannot serve as a deliverer from the bondages of Hell.
The third preparatory examination is that of imprisonment on the pinnacle of restriction and futility. Joseph was confined in prison because of his righteous behavior (Genesis 39:20).
Our third preparation is that of enduring patiently and cheerfully the years of waiting as we are left seemingly deserted in a “prison” of suffering and restriction.
Every one of the Lord’s strong saints must be tested in each of these three areas, and there will be no release until the Lord’s appointed hour.
Our tests and trials, our pains and perplexities, our hindrances and frustrations, do not originate in Satan even though he may be the instrument that the Lord is using to perfect us. Our pain does not originate with the world, with evil, perverse people. Our discomfiture is proceeding from the Lord if we are serving Him.
Every suffering of the saint is for a specific and eternal purpose. We are to look to Jesus in every instance. If we complain, murmur, blame other people, we only will delay the hour of our usefulness in the Kingdom of God. In order to escape from God’s prison we must break God’s laws. We may lose (perhaps for eternity!) our appointed role as a nourisher of the people of the Lord, and of the whole earth, in the day of trouble.
Joseph was not a complainer, he was one of God’s “stars.” He was in prison by the Word of the Lord (Psalms 105:17-19).
When Joseph’s “word” came he was exalted to a position of supreme influence in the world. The present earth and all of the people who live on it belong to the Lord God of Heaven (Psalms 24:1). The pressing need today is for saints who will allow Jesus to prepare them so they may be able to nourish the Lord’s people, and also the rest of earth’s population, throughout the terrible desolation that soon is to appear.
A period of blessing and a period of tribulation. “The morning cometh, and also the night.”
A time of unprecedented spiritual blessing now is upon us. It will be followed by years of unprecedented spiritual leanness.
Spiritual oppression and material desolation soon will fill the entire earth (Matthew 24:21). How soon? Perhaps during our lifetime; almost certainly during our children’s lifetime.
What does this knowledge mean to us?
It means we are to be taking advantage of every opportunity for spiritual growth and service placed before us in the present hour.
We are to be storing up spiritual strength and understanding, spiritual food, spiritual grain, spiritual corn—the knowledge of the Lord and His precious Word.
The believer who allows the present hour of spiritual opportunity to pass by unheeded, wasting his time and strength in the contemporary life of material pursuits, most certainly will suffer greatly and will be of no use in the Kingdom of God during the dark hours that even now are on the horizon.
He or she will not be able to help others during earth’s great opportunity. Also, he himself will panic in fear and unbelief during the dark hours because of lack of preparation now.
We are to be redeeming the time. We are to be buying back the time because the days are evil. We are to be putting on the Gospel armor so we may be able to stand in the evil day.
In the dark hour the Lord will have an army of saints ready to help those in need. The days of trouble will bring the elect among the Jews to Christ and turn the nations of the earth to the Lord (Genesis 41:56,57). That which would have resulted in total destruction for everyone will be alleviated because of prepared saints. Also, the days of trouble will be shortened for the elect’s sake (Matthew 24:22).
“The morning cometh.” Days of unequaled blessing are upon us. The Word of God is being revealed as never before. The ministries and gifts of the Spirit are available to each believer who will prepare his heart to receive the Presence of the Lord.
The conquering power through which we can overcome the world, the devil, and our own flesh and self-will is being given to us through Christ. The Holy Spirit is being poured out. The yokes of worldliness, lust, and self-will are being broken. Miracles are being performed in Jesus’ name. The sick are being healed. The dead are being revived. It is an hour of revival even though some of the members of many congregations are living in the lusts of the flesh and are following their self-will.
The Scriptures speak of the “former” and the “latter” rain, meaning that an outpouring of the Spirit of God watered the planting of the Gospel Seed in the first century and a more copious outpouring of the Spirit will bring the Lord’s “wheat” to maturity just before the great tribulation and the gathering to the Lord of the harvest of the earth.
Truly, Jesus has kept the good wine until now.
We find the same pattern of revival followed by tribulation, and then final victory, portrayed in the life of Joseph.
Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: (Genesis 41:29)
The problem is this: how are we to respond to the period of unequaled abundance? Our usefulness as one of the Lord’s trusted and prepared workers depends on how we respond, and how we teach others to respond, to the abundance being given to us now.
One part of the deliverer’s role is to bring the wisdom of God to the day in which we are living so we can understand what it is we are to do.
If Joseph had not been able to inform Pharaoh of the seven lean years of famine that soon would come to the earth, the seven years of abundance would have witnessed a widespread wasting of grain. The people, supposing that such bountiful harvesting would take place forever, would have been careless with the grain. They would have filled their stomachs and left the remainder to rot.
So it is today. God is pouring out His blessings. But in some instances God’s people are busily pursuing their own fleshly interests, supposing that they always will be able to obtain as much “oil” and “grain” as they need.
An hour of unequaled darkness, oppression, and temptation is drawing near to the earth. We are to be taking full advantage of the present spiritual abundance so we will be able to stand and assist other people to stand throughout the years of spiritual famine that are ahead.
The wise saint of any period of the Christian Era takes advantage of each day of his pilgrimage, being in the world but not of the world. He always is strengthening himself in the Lord so he can stand, and help others to stand. He always uses the time well because the days in which he lives are “evil” (Ephesians 5:16).
How much more, then, should we be serving the Lord diligently today, when both the Scriptures and the burden of the Holy Spirit are warning us that a period of trouble and temptation without equal in history will come upon the earth before the Lord returns. (Matthew 24:21).
And there shall arise after them [after the years of abundance] seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; (Genesis 41:30)
The lean cows will consume the fat cows. The desolation will destroy the land because man is making himself God. Only those who have prepared themselves during the period of blessing will be able to resist Antichrist and to stand in faith until the coming of the Son of Man.
Watch ye [keep on the alert] therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy [may gain full vigor; may have strength—Rotherham and others] to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:36)
… These [the great multitude of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues] are they which came out of [the] great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14).
Let us serve the Lord as if our life depended on it. It does!
Perhaps most of us know the remainder of Joseph’s story from our Sunday school instruction. The famine covered the face of the earth (Genesis 41:56). Joseph, God’s prepared deliverer, was able to save not only his own family and the land of Egypt but also the starving multitudes of other countries as well.
How like the Lord! For those who are in God’s will, even the time of disaster becomes an opportunity to demonstrate the wisdom and power of God. Joseph, now with a wife and two boys, was reigning in Egypt. His father, Jacob and the rest of the family were provided for in every way. The famine brought desolation to the world but blessing and glory to God’s anointed people who were performing His will.
God makes all things work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His eternal purpose.
The promises of God are sure to us no matter what may take place on the earth. The believer who seeks the Lord diligently today may find that in the near future he will have more opportunities to bring the goodness of the Lord to people than he ever thought possible.
Judgment and redemption. Now we come to the type of the Lord’s actual return. It is the midnight hour. There is no help for Egypt now, its destruction is at hand. There is no Joseph who can avert the wrath of God that is ready to fall from the heaven.
Israel has become millions of people. A pharaoh was in power who did not remember Joseph. At the same time the Lord God of Heaven was preparing a deliverer for His people. Our God is a God of preparation—provision always is made for those who serve Him. The baby Moses, the future deliverer, was protected from Pharaoh’s edict.
Speaking figuratively, the time had come for the stars (the saints) to withdraw their shining (to be persecuted by Pharaoh); the sun (Christ) to withdraw His light (darkness in the land of Egypt); and the moon (the Church) to be covered by the Passover blood. We believe that these events will take place in the physical universe at the time of the coming of Christ; but there is a strong type here.
The people of Israel were placed under the hand of the Lord’s protection in Goshen in the northeast corner of Egypt. Then the wrath of God fell in acts of vengeance on the many gods of the Egyptians. Plague after plague struck Egypt until the land was destroyed. The nation lay in ruins, but Goshen was spared totally although it was part of Egypt. What lesson can we learn from this concerning the keeping power of God?
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. (Psalms 91:7)
The blood was placed over Israel. The firstborn, the strength of Egypt (Egypt being a type of the world), were slain by the Lord. The cloud and the fire appeared and Moses led Israel out of Egypt (the resurrection from the dead). Will our Lord Jesus come with clouds “in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God”? (II Thessalonians 1:8).
Egypt was judged and destroyed; Israel was redeemed in the same action at the same time. All the events worked together for good for the Lord’s people even in the hour of judgment. A gracious attention to detail took place here: not one of the Egyptian dogs was able to bark at the departing Israelites—and this at midnight! (Exodus 11:7). The Israelites carried off the gold, silver, and bronze, and other valuables of the Egyptians, and used these materials at a later time in the construction of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
Our Lord is coming again to free us from the bondage of physical death. He will revive us in the presence of our enemies, but not until He is ready to judge and destroy the gods of the world. We shall go forth to meet the Lord in glorious victory, not a “dog” being able to lift its tongue against us.
Christ is coming soon. but first there must come a period of blessing and a period of tribulation. Are you preparing yourself in the Lord today? Are you returning to the Lord in diligent repentance?
“Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?
The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return! come!”
(“Watchman, What of the Night?”, 3754-1)